Crime, punishment and moral relativism

The Honorable Tobes does his best to defend the US from the charge made by Mr Armoured Dinner Jacket that the US is hypocritical for accusing Iran of barbarism. He cites the examples of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and the recent execution of  Teresa Lewis in Virginia who had an alleged IQ of 72 who ordered a hit on her ex-husband. What Hon Tobes doesn’t explain is the fact that the two hitmen were given life sentences while Lewis was executed.

What Hon Tobes fails (or refuses) to understand in his haste to ratchet up the pre-war rhetoric is the fact that minors and those with learning difficulties were once executed in states such as Texas until fairly recently. However Tobes falls back on the allegations made by the prosecution which are, in any case, flawed.

One thing that often gets overlooked by critics of capital punishment in America is just how robust the legal process is. I’m not denying that innocent people have been executed in the past – and the possibility of that happening is a powerful argument against capital punishment – but Teresa Lewis wasn’t innocent and the chances of anyone innocent being executed in contemporary America are slight.

On the one hand, Hon Tobes says that the US legal system is “robust” and then admits that innocents have been executed. You can’t have it both ways, Tobes. But let’s be clear, miscarriages of justice in the US are as common as they are in Iran and indeed Britain.

He finishes with this,

This is the key difference between the United States and Iran. It’s not the fact that the two countries have different laws – though, God knows, making adultery a capital crime is barbaric. Rather, it’s that America is characterised by the rule of law, whereas Iran is a tyrannical theocracy, riddled with corruption, ruled by a religious maniac who can throw anyone he likes into a dungeon where they are then subjected to rape and torture before being stoned to death.

Yes and if you have the money, you can quite literally buy justice in the US. Just ask OJ Simpson and William Kennedy Smith. Tobes’ argument smacks of moral relativism. I am not defending the Iranian state or its legal system but what Hon Tobes is trying to do is make the spurious argument that the US is morally superior to Iran because of its adherence to the ‘rule of law’. By the same token, the rule of law exists in Iran but it is alien to our understanding of that phrase. Stoning a woman for alleged adultery is barbaric but the execution of minors and those with learning difficulties is equally as barbaric.

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