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“Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders.” — Albert Camus

Jul 06, 2010 “Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders.” — Albert Camus

The Death Penalty News ("DPN") blog — which sadly is over-riddled with cookies, popups and a mousetrap, so I do not post its automatic link here, but instead spell it out as deathpenaltynews[dot]blogspot[dot]com — has a great list of quotes about the death penalty, running from Sister Helen Prejean’s spot-on quote below, to Justice Scalia’s chilling quote that follows it. Sidetracking the quotes, though — as addressed further below — is whether the quotes are misquotes, even if they capture the essence of the speaker’s words.

I met Sister Prejean at an NACDL-sponsored gathering at the Capitol around 1994. When I went to speak with Sister Prejean after her talk — asking how to reconcile her message against government-sponsored killing with killing through warfare — she drew me fully into her sphere both with her spirit and with her taking me by the forearm. She said that we should not let that sidetrack the abolitionist message. Her answer did not satisfy me, but I was still taken by her riveting self.  As to Justice Scalia, see my account of my 1988 encounter with Justice Scalia at my law school. 

DPN quotes Sister Prejean as saying: "The death penalty is a poor persons issue. Always remember that: after all the rhetoric that goes on in the legislative assemblies, in the end, when the deck is cast out, it is the poor who are selected to die in this country." PBS’s website quotes the phrases as having been placed in a different order.

DPN quotes Justice Scalia as saying: "This is an execution, not surgery. Where does that come from, that you must find the method of execution that causes the least pain?" A Google search reveals that he said the first sentence separately from the second sentence, several paragraphs down during oral argument in Baze v. Rees.

Accuracy is critical when advancing a position. At least I can credit DPN for providing a starting point for seeking correct important quotes on the legalized murder that needs to be stopped right now.

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