The Death Penalty :Revenge Is the Mother of Invention

Socrates was lucky. Found guilty of heresy and "corruption of the young," he was condemned to drink a cup of hemlock, a relatively honorable and painless death. By the standards of history, his execution in 399 B.C. was singularly humane.

Not until the Enlightenment, 200 years ago, did societies seriously question the states' right to kill. Until then, the only dilemma had been to find the most ingenious and cruel methods of execution. Boiling, burning, choking, beheading, dismembering, impaling, crucifying, stoning, strangling, burying alive—all were in vogue at various times. The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ was, for its day, only a routine...

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