Jonah Goldberg

Well, I say enough. I favor the death penalty. I don't support killing insane or mentally disabled people who are truly not responsible for their actions, but I don't believe that committing an "act of madness" necessarily makes you a madman. But committing an act of wanton evil makes you an evil man.

Evil and madness are not synonyms. Societies that cannot distinguish between the two are destined to get more of both.

If the death penalty is always wrong, let us have an argument about James Holmes, a man many Americans are aware of, informed about and interested in. Let us hear why the inequities of the criminal justice system require his life be spared. Fight the death penalty battle on this battlefield.

That won't happen. It won't happen in part because nobody on the Sunday talk shows wants to debate the death penalty when the case for it is strong. They like cases that "raise troubling questions about the legitimacy of the death penalty," not cases that affirm the legitimacy of the death penalty.

But it also won't happen because death penalty opponents understand that when the murderer is unsympathetic, the wise course is to hold your tongue until the climate improves.

It remains an open question whether Colorado will seek the death penalty. Prosecutors know that doing so would add years and millions of dollars in extra costs because opponents have so gummed up the legal works. That way they can complain about the outrageous costs of a mechanism they themselves have worked to make prohibitively expensive.

I say, let us give Holmes a fair trial. If convicted, execute him swiftly. If you disagree, explain why this man deserves to live.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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