Monday, April 06, 2009

Radical: the death penalty itself, or getting rid of it?

marjorie says...

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White has started a new political action committee intended to "repeal the repeal" of the death penalty. In addition to a petition drive to get enough signatures to put it on the ballot, White's Pac will conduct a public information campaign to:

“aggressively combat the misinformation campaign waged by the radical opponents of the death penalty and educate the public on the issue and the circumstances surrounding its repeal.”

"Radical."

There are several ways to interpret the word "radical."

One, it means to get at the root cause of something. In this respect, its interesting usage. The death penalty is one of the elements at the root of a criminal justice system gone awry in the United States. We have the largest per capita percentage of people behind bars in the world, which is an utter travesty. The death penalty bolsters a mindset in this country of vengeance no matter the cost--in this sense its one of the underpinnings of a social orientation that perpetuates this massive prison complex. So getting rid of it can be considered radical, if indeed we're talking about root causes.

But somehow I figure Darren White is using the word pejoratively, to suggest that the positions of death penalty opponents are somehow extreme, or beyond the pale.

Which is kind of odd. Because I can't think of much that is more extreme than killing people.