Magazine article The American Conservative


Magazine article The American Conservative


Article excerpt


I appreciated John Roddens irenic review of George Orwell's "A Hanging" ("View to a Kill," Sept. 2011). I had never read Orwell's essay, and Rodden prompted me to find it and read it: marvelously written, poignant, haunting. It stays with you.

However, if the essay's intention was to promote abolition of the death penalty, I missed it (Rodden's citation: "when a murderer is hanged, there is only one person at the ceremony who is not guilty of murder" is not found in the two editions of the essay I read. Perhaps it was removed. Orwell did say elsewhere that most folks are in favor of capital punishment, but few want to be the hangman.)

Not that I would look to George Orwell for guidance on this issue. Which brings me to my concern: we conservatives ought to look at more transcendent, not to say eternal, authorities with regards to these matters, ought we not?

As great and influential a writer as he was, Orwell could not hold a candle to the Apostle Paul who, in his appeal to Caesar, said, "if I... have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die..."

The death penalty is all around us and will continue to be so: it's either administered lawfully-two or more eyewitnesses, i.e., overwhelming evidenceor unlawfully-via the promiscuous shedding of blood in the streets. And I suspect that if the former were done more consistently and timely, the latter would be less frequent and widespread.

Nevertheless, you cannot escape it, but you can ponder it, and, as Rodden suggests, Orwell's essay is a good place to do so.


Mansfield, Texas


At the end of her review of The Wichita Divide (July 2011), Marian Kester Coombs quotes Mark Steyn as saying-as many pro-lifers do-that legal abortion in the U. …

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