June 07, 2007

Killing no Murder

Is it acceptable to kill tyrants after a revolution in a trial even if one opposes the death penalty in most other cases? Michael Walzer has suggested that it is permissable to execute a tyrant- even if one does not beleive in the death penalty- in the magazine Dissent. I at Bits of News have respectfully disagreed with Professor Walzer.

The quotation in my title above is from a pamphlet written by Edward Sexby in the late 1650s about killing Oliver Cromwell because of Cromwell's tyranny, Cromwell was one of the signatories to the death warrent of Charles I in 1649 and Sexby had served as an officer in Cromwell's army. The irony I hope is interesting.


Vino S said...

It is interesting that Sexby - having been on the parliamentary side in the civil war - was keen to justify an excecution of Cromwell. Perhaps he was someone who, like the Vicar of Bray, swayed from side to side depending which one was winning ;)

Anyhow, in regard to the substantive question, I do see questions as to what to do with tyrants are funadamentally _political_ ones and not _judicial_ ones. As such, i do not think it is possible to give a 'fair trial' to former rulers of a state. A political decision thus has to be made by the new rulers as to what to do. And I personally can see why they execute the previous ruler. It is the last act of the old order and hopefully closes the book on the brutality of that period.

Lord Nazh said...

I don't agree that the death penalty is wrong.

But! if you think that the death penalty is wrong, then it should be always wrong.