Contrary to Jeff Jacoby’s contention (“Tsarnaev and the death penalty,” Op-ed, May 8), the adoption or abolition of the death penalty is not a popularity poll. It is an issue that hinges on the definition of what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, which our Constitution prohibits.
What punishment can be more cruel than the societal murder of another human being? If polls were taken in the Deep South during the 1950s, they would have shown overwhelming approval for vicious segregation laws. That did not make them right or constitutional.
A society that exercises revenge as its ultimate legal principle is a society that rejects the possibility of redemption in the human condition. Nothing can be more cynical.