Why pro-abort is consistent with anti-death-penalty

September 10, 2012 § 7 Comments

In the previous post we covered the fact that in the traditional teaching (citing the Catechism of Trent) the State’s power to inflict the death penalty derives from its mandate to protect the innocent, not from an independent mandate to dispense transcendental justice. Obviously death must not be inflicted unless it is a just punishment in a particular case; but that death is a just punishment is not sufficient in itself.  The State is not God, and must not play God: its charter is to cultivate  and protect the common good in the practical domain, not to immanentize the eschaton.

In fact, as Evangelium Vitae tells us, the justification for the State’s very existence as an authority is the protection of the innocent. That is why a State which enshrines abortion (or any other form of killing the innocent) as an explicit fundamental right undermines its own existence. If it fails to carry out its mandate to protect the innocent from murder the State is superfluous; if it undermines protection of the innocent from murder in its explicit laws the State chips away at its own foundations.

And this is precisely what liberalism does and has ever done: it chips away at the foundations of legitimate traditional political authority.  By pedestalizing individual freedom and equality of rights as the transcendent foundation of legitimate politics – so-called ‘consent of the governed,’ with its concomitant rituals – liberalism attempts to abolish substantive politics, replacing it with procedures putatively designed to treat all substantive conceptions of the good equally.  Unfortunately for liberalism it is the very nature and essence of governance to authoritatively discriminate, restricting freedoms to enforce some substantive conception of the good, discriminating against contrary conceptions of the good.  By embracing equal rights and individual freedom as the primary justifications of the exercise of political power, liberalism sets up a contradiction between authority and its own legitimacy.  “Liberal governance”, when taken seriously, is a contradiction in terms: authoritative discrimination resting on the premise that authoritative discrimination is illegitimate.

Across the spectrum of liberalism, from the less developed property-centric classical liberalism we call ‘conservatism’ to more consistent modern liberalism, discriminating authority resting on a substantive conception of the good, restricting the freedom of autonomous individuals, is considered the very essence of political tyranny. Opposition to the death penalty and to legal restrictions on abortion are thus both, to liberalism, opposition to tyranny.   The most consistent liberal is always both an anarchist and a tyrant.

§ 7 Responses to Why pro-abort is consistent with anti-death-penalty

  • Gian says:

    The sentance
    ” but that death is a just punishment is not sufficient in itself.”
    is curious. If a punishment is just, then it is just. The concept “just” includes “sufficient”. Only mercy extends the justice.

    Protection of the innocent means that the innocents be identified first.
    Innocence is both a legal and moral category.
    One is declared innocent in a court of law i.e. one is innocent of breaking the laws of a State–a legal category.
    Obviously it does not apply to enemy civilians. Thus innocence is also a moral category.
    The concept of ‘innocence’ means that man is able to realize justice.

    The law by which the blood of innocents would be avenged was given to man. It was not something God has reserved for himself.

  • Gian:
    If a punishment is just, then it is just. The concept “just” includes “sufficient”.

    He who punishes must also have the legitimate authority to do so. That is why (for example) I mustn’t go out and execute people who deserve it myself. That authority is reserved to the State (or more generally the competent authority of the community); and it — the authority — derives from the State’s mandate to protect the innocent.

    So in order for the State to justly execute a criminal, it must be true – simultaneously and separately – that the punishment is just, and it is necessary in order to protect the innocent.

    Both must obtain. If I as a vigilante execute someone who genuinely deserves it, it is simultaneously true that he deserved the punishment as a matter of justice and I acted wrongly. That he deserved the punishment as a matter of justice is not sufficient in itself to make my act of executing him a just act.

  • Kevin says:

    Some wag once described pro-abort, pro-death penalty, pro-torture pols like Rudy Giuliani as believing in the seamless garment of death.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Ignorant Texas Anglican, here, but I don’t think this is sentence:

    In the previous post we covered the fact that in the traditional teaching (citing the Catechism of Trent) the State’s power to inflict the death penalty derives from its mandate to protect the innocent, not from an independent mandate to dispense transcendental justice.

    follows what is written here (from the Council of Trent link):

    The end of the Commandment is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence.

    It is the 5th Commandment that sends forth the mandate to protect the innocent. The fact that civil authority is given to certain individuals or groups by God to punish criminals is a separate matter. The authority or legitimacy of the civil authority is not bound by that authority’s adherence to the produce of the 5th Commandment, but God’s will.

    Aside from a functional understanding of Catholic tradition: What am I missing?

  • Sorry for the delay in replying.

    The authority or legitimacy of the civil authority is not bound by that authority’s adherence to the produce of the 5th Commandment, but God’s will.

    If I understand this correctly, you seem to be suggesting that God’s will and the fifth commandment are at odds with each other. That isn’t a premise I would accept.

    More generally, an act can be evil because it is per se evil as a chosen action, because it is done for the wrong reason, or because it is done in inapt circumstances. It isn’t good enough to say that the civil authority has the juridical right to execute a heinous criminal.

    Suppose the magistrate sentenced the criminal to death because he was a rival for the criminal’s wife’s affections. The magistrate doesn’t really care about serving justice or protecting the innocent: he does it precisely so that he can remove a rival. Suppose the criminal really does deserve death, so the act is not per se morally wrong; but it is nevertheless morally wrong because it is done for the wrong reason.

    Trent (and subsequently the Catechism) are telling us (it seems to me) that the State must only execute, not only when the criminal objectively deserves execution, but also when the State’s reason for doing so is, specifically, to protect the innocent.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    It seems to me that Satan is like that magistrate: himself evil, and yet prosecuting strictly according to the letter of the law. The only injustice in the case of the magistrate vs. the criminal lover, is that the magistrate is not yet punished.

    Nevertheless, the world has been given over to Satan’s dominion; which can only be for destruction. He is the Adversary. Should we accuse God of being at odds with the 5th Commandment?

    I don’t understand how that’s different, but maybe I’m just simply not understanding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Why pro-abort is consistent with anti-death-penalty at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: