human sacrifice and death penalty

Jean Fezas jean.fezas at WANADOO.FR
Sun Apr 26 07:56:11 UTC 1998

At 06:13 PM 25/04/1998 +0200, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:
>You may regard
>the death penalty as such as a kind of sacrifice if you like, but it is
>first and foremost based on the idea that it will scare other people from
>doing the same kind of crime as the executed criminal (and then, of course,
>there is the revenge part!). The "terror component" of the death penalty
>should make us wary of facile comparisons between the death penalty and
>sacrifice. They belong to two different spheres of concepts.

Apart the fact that I wonder what "spheres of concepts" may mean, and as this
list is supposed to  discuss indological topics not personal prejudices, I'll
let medhAtithi (around the 8th century ?) answer to Dr. Fosse.

Commentary on Mn.8.318 : [Translation of Ganganatha Jha]  :
... people may have the following idea : - "protection of the people is not
possible without hurting (criminals), and protection serves the purpose of the
king; how then can the corporeal punishment be held to serve the purpose of
person punished?"
[...] why should protection of the people be not possible without the hurt
(involved in the punishment)? If the hurt is inflicted with the idea that if
the man were not punished, he would repeat the act, - this purpose could be
served even by reprimanding and such other means. If the idea be that on
him punished others would desist from similar acts, - the suffering meant
to be
caused could be brought about even by fines. Then again, even though criminals
are punished, thousands of men are found to do the same act again and again.
> From all this it follows that the corporeal punishment, while tending to
'protection' (of the people) has to be regarded as serving the purpose of
purifying the person punished. It is for this reason that there are rules laid
down regarding the cutting of limbs and other forms of corporeal punishment*.
All these produces an invisible effect in the persons punished, and at the
time serves the purpose of the king (in the form of protection).

As far as answers can only be given to arguments, I think that George Cronk,
who wrote :

>It may be (although I'm not sure) that some criminals actually DESERVE the
>death penalty as punishment for the awful crimes they have committed.  In
>other words, the point may not be deterrence; and revenge and retribution
>are not (necessarily) identical.  I agree, however, that this has nothing to
>do with human sacrifice in any religious context.



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