Slava Novorossiya

Slava Novorossiya

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My response to Werner Herzog’s opposition to the death penalty

Written: Sunday 29 April 2012 at 17:44pm
Posted: Sunday 29 April 2012 at 6:50pm

            I read this article by Werner Herzog and I would like to explain that I strongly disagree with what he said about capital punishment. But first, let’s read what he was interviewed:

Werner Herzog: Capital punishment can never be justified

Director Werner Herzog tells Metro what he learned from making Into The Abyss, a documentary looking at the impact of a triple murder on all those involved.

By Anthony Gibson - 19th April, 2012

Why did you choose a real-life triple murder for your documentary Into The Abyss?
In other murder cases, a burglary going awry or maybe a bank robbery where somebody gets shot, that’s within the boundaries of my comprehension. But in this case it was so nihilistic, which really is kind of disquieting.

Was your main intention to humanise the crime and its fallout?
That was part of it; you get to see the victims’ families but you also get to see all sorts of people – including those connected to the perpetrators – as protagonists in the film.

What is your stance on capital punishment?
I do not think that any state, no matter what the circumstances are, should ever be allowed to kill anyone off.

But do prisons work?
That’s a huge question, one I can’t really answer. The US has an excessive amount of people in prison and a lot of things are wrong. In prison generally you have a huge over-representation of people coming from poverty and a racial distortion of things.

Did you look at capital punishment in other countries?
Since I live in America, I was interested in some sort of American Gothic but we have to be aware that many of the most populous nations have capital punishment. There are some encouraging signs: Russia, for instance, abolished it last year. But there are no signs that it’s going to disappear.

Into The Abyss is out now in cinemas and on DVD and Blu-ray on April 30.
I would like to respond to one of Werner Herzog’s comment. 

Quote: “I do not think that any state, no matter what the circumstances are, should ever be allowed to kill anyone off.”
Rebuttal: If the state cannot execute a guilty criminal, then the state should abolish the armed forces and police cannot carry firearms anymore. Werner Herzog, here are two quotes for you:

First, a quote from French Philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau… In J.J. Rousseau's The Social Contract written in 1762, he says the following: “Again, every rogue who criminously attacks social rights becomes, by his wrong, a rebel and a traitor to his fatherland. By contravening its laws, he ceases to be one of its citizens: he even wages war against it. In such circumstances, the State and he cannot both be saved: one or the other must perish. In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen as an enemy. The trial and judgments are proofs that he has broken the Social Contract, and so is no longer a member of the State.”

Second, a quote from 19th century American theologian, Alexander Campbell: “Wars are either defensive or aggressive. But, in either point of view they are originated and conducted on the assumption that man has a right, for just cause, to take away the life of a man. For it needs no argument to convince anyone, however obtuse, that man cannot rightfully kill a thousand or a million of persons, if he cannot lawfully kill one! I wonder not, then, that peace-men are generally, if not universally, in favor of the total abolition of capital punishment.”

Werner Herzog, I do hope you understand that the state has the right and duty to protect its citizens from dangerous and violent people.

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