The Penalty Of Death Mencken Analysis

782 Words 4 Pages
Is the death penalty really worth it? After all is said and done, was it really the right thing to do? There is much controversy upon this topic and H.L. Mencken, a professional writer and scholar, has written a positive view on capital punishment in “The Penalty of Death”. Mencken’s arguments against executor uncomfortableness and the death penalty’s deterrence to others are effective, while his argument against the period of time left on death row is not.
Mencken starts this essay by refuting two common points against the death penalty. The first point is that the executing of a man is uncomfortable to the executor and audience. He strongly argues against this by stating that there are many other occupations in this world that are unpleasant,
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Mencken argues against this by stating that deterring other criminals “is one of the aims of punishment, but it is surely not the only one” (464). He goes into further detail explaining that criminal punishment is really a form of elaborated revenge known as catharsis. Catharsis is an idealism by Aristotle that defines a type of revenge people yearn for that Mencken describes as “a salubrious discharge of emotions” (464). He states that the death penalty provides relief “to the immediate victims of the criminal punished, and to the general body of moral and timorous men” (464). Mencken’s argument that capital punishment is not just for deterring others, but is actually a form of catharsis, is completely agreeable. All humans have, at one point in their life, yearned for a type of revenge like catharsis. In Hammurabi’s Code, it states “an eye for an eye,” and “a tooth for a tooth.” This reveals an early form of catharsis. People during Hammurabi’s time had the same cathartic attitude to get beck for the killing of a family or community member as we do today. Although capital punishment nowadays is not to the extreme like in this code, humans have always had some form of …show more content…
He points out that executor jobs are just as degrading and uncomfortable as any other job can be, and also makes a strong statement on how the death penalty is a way of catharsis that directly affected victims and communities get. These points are effective in favor for the death penalty. However, Mencken’s argument that death row prisoners, after running out of appeals, should not have to wait long terms of time until they are put to death is not reasonable. These murderers should be allowed to suffer alive during the long wait because of their horrible

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