Editorial Roundup for Tuesday — December 20, 2005

• On the death penalty

On the death penalty

La Repubblica, Rome, Dec. 14, 2005:

There is no more decisive issue than the death penalty … separating Europe from the United States. Even more than the use of torture or preventive war.

If an explanation, rather than a justification, can be put forward for the American tenacity, this lies within the nature of the U.S. democracy, so profoundly different from European democracies. In a direct democracy, in which the relationship between elected and electors is far more immediate than it has been in Italy until now, if the citizens are in favor of the gallows, their representatives do not have much choice. They can be, and many are in private, horrified. But very few … have sufficient courage to offer resistance.

Naturally, the key to direct democracy does not help us understand why two-thirds of Americans, and the large majority of those who claim … to be devoted Christians, continue to believe in the punishment.


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