Tuesday, October 24, 2006

If you're talking to a Spaniard and he starts giving you crap about where you come from, which is not unusual, he's likely to bring up the death penalty if you're American.

(Digression: What is it with this Spanish thing about giving foreign people crap about their home countries? I've heard it done not only to Americans, who are admittedly a large, easy-to-hit target, but also to Brits, French, Germans, Italians, Australians, and even Dutch. I believe the only Third Worlders who get handed crap about their nationality are Argentinians, however. Not saying that Americans are perfect, but foreign people are not likely to be criticized about their nationality in the States. If anything, Americans will bend over backward to be polite.

One extenuating circumstance: Spaniards will give other Spaniards crap about where they come from, too, and it's not just Catalans versus Madrileños. In fact, giving people crap may be the chief conversational artifice in Spain, sort of like talking about the weather in England.)

Well, what do y'all think about this guy getting the injection? I say good riddance, myself.

I'm not sure what's so awful about the death penalty. The US executes around a hundred people a year or so, and they've all been convicted of particularly heinous murders. There is no solid evidence that anyone innocent has been executed since capital punishment was restored in 1977. Also, the three largest established democracies in the world by population, India, the United States, and Japan, all use the death penalty, as does leftist sentimental favorite Cuba. Not to mention the country whose market Spain's entire business class is rubbing its hands at entering, China. Japan still uses hanging, as does Singapore.

Besides, the death penalty in the US is carried out exclusively through the legal process. We don't have government death squads, unlike, say, Spain in the 1980s.

Remember the GAL? In case anyone's forgotten, the GAL was a death squad created by the Socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez in the early 1980s. The GAL, composed of both police officers and hired mercenaries, killed and kidnapped people it thought were part of ETA. Some of them were and some of them weren't. Such high-ranking Socialists as Jose Barrionuevo and Rafael Vera, the interior minister and his right-hand man, were convicted and sent to prison. Felipe maintained deniability, but I'm convinced he knew what was going on, just as Reagan and Bush maintained deniability about Iran-Contra, but must have known what was happening.

That was done in Spain, and not under the Franco dictatorship, but under Saint Felipe Gonzalez's democratically elected Socialist government. Here's the Wikipedia link, which smells rather as if it had been written by someone sympathetic to Basque nationalism.

I would say there are a whole lot of worse things about the US than the death penalty.

Want a list? Precarious health care for 10% of the population or so. Agricultural subsidies and other forms of protectionism. Crime in bad neighborhoods in most large cities. A sometimes incoherent foreign policy, though, to be fair, the world is so complex that it's hard to be coherent. Poor public schools in many places. Draconian drug laws. Bad infrastructure in some older cities and rural states. An incoherent immigration policy. And I've just gotten started.

Note, though, that my list is generally made up of facts rather than opinions, and doesn't mention the people, either favorably or not.

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