I’m Google’s No. 1 for ‘executing children’ following my earlier post of that name which highlighted an Amnesty International campaign and the brutal killing of a 16 year-old Iranian girl in particular.
I’ve no news on Iran, but I’m pleased to have come across news that the USA has now taken it’s name off the list of child executing countries: the remaining four are Iran, China, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And it’s come via a US Supreme Court judgement that’s bound to wind up the American right as it says executing children violates ‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society’ and refers to ‘the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty’. So an acknowledgement that such executions are indecent and an implication that foreigners might have higher standards. Oh dear.
One pundit likely to see red is Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, who’s argued executing children is a myth, mainly on the basis that the US takes so long about it, they’re adults by execution time. If we adopted that principle, anyone who ever had a playground fight could now be rounded up on assault charges. A factious point, perhaps, especially given that these kids have committed horrific crimes. But as the US Supreme Court again implies, a mature society doesn’t need revenge. It punishes crime robustly and consistently, but is always careful not to sink to the level of the evil doer: it makes society safer by understanding (without excusing) and learning from mistakes rather than seeking the short term satisfaction of an execution.