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February 18, 2013

"Koch Death Penalty Arguments Still Persuasive"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new commentary noting one aspect of the life of the famous former NYC mayor Ed Koch.  Here is how the commentary starts:

The passing of former New York Mayor Ed Koch on February 1 brings to mind one of the most controversial things he ever did as a Democrat in the heart of American liberalism. In 1985, the three-term (January 1, 1978 - December 31, 1989) mayor wrote an essay defending the death penalty. He even had the temerity to declare, "Life is indeed precious and I believe the death penalty helps to affirm that fact."

Though it outraged liberals and "progressives" among the nation's esteemed "intelligentsia," Koch's essay reflected the convictions of most Americans, then as now, as opinion polls have consistently shown a substantial majority in favor of the death penalty.

Though this new commentary did not link to the old Ed Koch essay being referenced, I found this reprinting of the Koch essay on-line.  This link reports that the essay ran under the headline "Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life," and first appeared in The New Republic in April 1985.

February 18, 2013 at 01:57 PM | Permalink


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Did it involve Jewish tradition or the Bible? Someone read it and tell me. If it did, I am ignoring this expression of the mentality of the hick clod hopper tribes people of the Near East.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 18, 2013 10:27:31 PM

Though it outraged liberals and "progressives" among the nation's esteemed "intelligentsia"

Such arm wavering is hard to take seriously.

One tidbit:

"Koch in his essay offered the following simple and compelling argument: If we reduced the penalty for rape, he asked, would that show a greater or a lesser respect for women and human sexuality? The question really answers itself."

Really? If the penalty for rape was unjust, it does not show "lesser respect" for women to end it. Coker v. GA ended a practice that showed "respect" for some women over others & a limited sort of respect at that (as many Southern women would tell you in respect to their rights overall in that era).

I read and disagreed with Koch's position on the d.p. in the past but even if I did not, this is not the best sort of defense of it.

Posted by: Joe | Feb 19, 2013 1:52:42 PM

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