The Party of Death

posted at 4:04 pm on April 26, 2006 by Bryan

Kevin Holtsberry reviews Ramesh Ponnuru’s new book, The Party of Death.

Time and again Ponnuru cuts through the obfuscation, deception, and double speak to remind us of this simple principle. Either human beings have the right to life or they don’t; either they have this fundamental equality or they don’t. Some in the party of death will go to great lengths to avoid facing this because they don’t like where it leads philosophically or politically. But Ponnuru insists on holding their feet to the fire.

My take? The Party of Death is a fantastic book that marks the emergence of conservatism’s next great intellectual. Ramesh Ponnuru’s book is a must-read, must-understand, must-absorb tour de force. No conservative’s (and indeed anyone who places value on the right to life) library is complete without it.

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Hot Air Staff,

Thanks for the review and the heads up. Incorporate the service whenever possible.

CmmnSns on April 26, 2006 at 4:17 PM

Given man’s insatiable need to be free will be the eventual death toll of Islam. Islam is incompatible to all forms of liberty and therefore can only rule by force, intimidation and slavery. Islam will never become the religion of man because if that were to happen, man would cease to exist. Islam has warped and has horribly twisted and destroyed everything it has ever touched. Look no further than the lunacy that is present day Iran and you need no other confirmation of that basic fact.

mustng66 on April 26, 2006 at 4:25 PM

Does Ponnuru discuss the death penalty ?

moc23 on April 26, 2006 at 4:31 PM

Mr. Ponnuru’s book is particularly well-timed given the recent polling that demonstrates the following (I quote from Ponnuru’s recent post over at The Corner):

“The Polling Company has released a new poll of 1,000 adults conducted on April 13 and 14. The poll was commissioned by “Real Women’s Voices,” a project sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony List and other pro-life groups.

Among the findings:

1) Given six options–abortion should be illegal, illegal with an exception for the life of the mother, illegal with that exception and an exception for rape and incest, legal for any reason in the first trimester, legal for any reason in the first and second trimester, and legal for any reason throughout pregnancy–54 percent choose the three generally pro-life options, and 41 percent the three pro-choice ones. (The full results are 16, 16, 22, 21, 8, and 12. Only 12 percent, that is, support the legal status quo.) The 54-41 result is almost identical to the result of a Wirthlin poll from November 2004 that presented the same options.

2) Young adults (18-34), and especially young women, were more likely than others to choose the pro-life options.

3) While 65 percent of adults considered themselves “familiar” with Roe v. Wade, only 29 percent of adults were able to select the correct description of it from a list of possibilities. Fifty percent thought Roe was much more limited than it was. Even among those with post-graduate degrees, only 38 percent got it right.”


whatnext on April 26, 2006 at 4:32 PM

“Does Ponnuru discuss the death penalty ?

moc23 on April 26, 2006 at 4:31 PM”

I love this argument: Innocent, helpless babies vs cold blooded killers

DieselDude on April 26, 2006 at 5:14 PM

Okay, but who are you when you say “my take”? I mean, Michelle, Bryan and Allah have actual names/handles. You are so shadowy.

Alex K on April 26, 2006 at 5:24 PM

Typical liberal goobledygook that Ramesh I’m sure points out: leftist defend the guilty and condemn the innocent. Same principle as right is wrong, up is down, left is right, etc.

geekrunner on April 26, 2006 at 5:33 PM

Re: the Death Penalty
Ramesh is against the death penalty and says so in the book. But no, he doesn’t really discuss the issue at length as he believes they are significantly different. Here is how he addressed that question in a recent interview:

The most articulate defenders of abortion, some types of euthanasia, infanticide, and lethal embryo research argue for those things on the theory that the human beings they kill are not persons. My book argues against that theory and goes into the chilling implications of that view.

Articulate defenders of the death penalty and the Iraq war make very different arguments. They do not, that is, say that death-row inmates and Iraqi insurgents are “human non-persons.” Thus the death penalty and the war raise very different issues. This is not to say that the moral issues raised by the war and the death penalty are not serious. (I think the moral issues raised by the death penalty are sufficiently serious that I oppose it.) It is only to say that they are mostly distinct from the ones that come up in this book.

kevinh on April 26, 2006 at 8:15 PM

I believe that killing unborn children in abortions is immoral and wrong. I believe that human life is precious and should not be ended so cheaply.

I also oppose the death penalty for the same reason. I am aware that an innocent unborn child has done no wrong, where as an adult murderer has. Nonetheless, I think that it diminishes all of us when we kill our prisoners like that.

Don’t mistake this attitude as any sort of attempt to make excuses for criminals or murderers. I blame them for their crimes, not society. They chose to kill and do wrong. I have no opposition to the idea of a three strikes and you’re out, or almost any other sort of get tough on crime. I just draw the line at the death penalty.

So when is taking a life acceptable? I can think of a couple of examples.

1) A good cop killing a criminal to protect the innocent.
2) A soldier who is fighting the enemy.
3) Anyone who is acting in self-defense for himself or an innocent person.
4) A doctor who performs an abortion that is necessary to save the life of the mother because of some sort of true medical emergency.

However, I am willing to concede there could be some exceptions to my opposition to the death penalty. There is a link to a good article about the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang trial. I suppose that if you have a group of inmates who are already serving life sentences, and have nothing else to lose, perhaps that is a case where the death penalty may be necessary. The following are some quotes from the article in question.

“How exactly do you deter prisoners serving long sentences from continuing to terrorize and kill?”

“Of the 40 original defendants, 30 are already serving long sentences within the prison system. “What do you have left?” says Jessner. “Prison is where these guys live. If people expect to live the rest of their lives in prison anyway, why not…”

I don’t oppose boxing or the UFC. Heck no! That stuff is great. As well as hunting and red meat. All great things that build character in a young boy. And this isn’t some sarcastic comment. I fully intend for my son to learn boxing or karate or some form of martial art.

Oh well. Anyway, I stand by my opposition to the death penalty. As I said, there may be times when it is the only choice, and if that is the case, well, you do what you gotta do.

EFG on April 26, 2006 at 9:07 PM

Quite a title. Dead on accurate too. Would like to post a link to this thread or a review of the book on a large, well known Christian forum. However I am 100% certain liberals would so flood the moderators with “trolling” complaints the thread would be pulled. And, before that happened, they would bait pro-lifers into making replies they could also report. This is a discussion the left, so fond of “dialogue”, does not want to have.

Essex on April 26, 2006 at 9:33 PM

Thanks, the death penalty was not mentioned in the review, and I just didn’t see how a book with that title could not discuss the subject.

moc23 on April 26, 2006 at 9:47 PM

Excellent book and it really is a must read for all.

doll on April 26, 2006 at 11:03 PM

The “Death Penalty” is a valid part of a rational state’s set of punishments for crimes. Some felonies are trivialized by any lesser punishment. The crime cannot be undone, but the criminal can be. The administration of the “Death Penalty” within these United States is a disgrace. Maintaining these depraved convicts on Death Row for twenty years invites the contempt of interested observers for the laws and judicial processes that have placed them there. The deterrent effect of an infamous penalty for a notorious crime is dispersed by Time’s habitual breaths of forgetfulness. Executions, upon a jury’s determination of guilt, should be immediate, punctual, solemn, as painless as may be, and public. While too many criminals deserve torture, the moral effect of such punishments upon the law-abiding citizens, observing, or aware of, such applications of pain, tends to coarsen public discourse and personal tastes.

Waumpuscat on April 27, 2006 at 1:06 AM

Impossible for those opposed to abortion not to address capital punishment as that is the first objection liberals raise. Followed with great admiration for their patience my Catholic friends as they have calmly explained Church doctrine day after day in forum after forum for almost a decade now . Some liberals must know the difference between aborting an unborn child and executing a criminal but you would never know it by reading the questions they ask on the internet.

Essex on April 27, 2006 at 2:40 AM

You Go Ramesh!

Let us pray that the party of death would truly truly change their ways. I think we all know we can expect them to “change” their rhetoric somehow and not change their deeds (ie taking dollars from the abortion lobby).

tiercel76 on April 27, 2006 at 8:45 AM

What a strange coincidence! I had a political science professor that used to jump up and down screaming, “The Democratic party is the party of death!” in class. How fitting this book is named that!

The party of death will defend a serial killer tooth and nail until the bitter end. But an innocent who has done nothing to deserve its fate…rip ’em up and suck ’em out…truly they are the party of death.

hoosier_federalist on April 27, 2006 at 9:13 AM

Linda Chavez in her article “Now the debate on illegals can begin” JWR 3/26/06 writes:

“In his book “How Many Americans?: Population, Immigration and the Environment,” Bouvier and co-author Lindsey Grant advocated reducing the American population to 150 million by the end of this century — that’s almost half the current population. Although they’re guarded in suggesting any draconian measures to achieve this goal, averring that “Deliberate reductions in life expectancy to reduce population are, of course, out of the question,” their prescriptions are nonetheless chilling.”

How many “Deathocrats” have this as their ultimate goal?

right ascension on April 27, 2006 at 10:08 AM

Here’s the big biblical secret that a LOT of Christians miss when it comes to “thou shalt not kill” and the death penalty:

There is a difference between killing and murdering.

If Christians will take the time to go back to the Hebrew translation of the bible, they will note that this commandment doesn’t say “Thou shalt not kill,” it says “thou shalt not murder.” “Killing” is all inclusive. “Murdering” by definition, is killing an innocent person. (Kind of like aborting an unborn child.) The guy who killed his wife and child and got caught on tape and left a knife with his fingerprints on it is not innocent. A jury of his peers found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, he’s likely had 20 years of appeals to challenge his guilt. He is not innocent and therefore can be put to death in good conscience by the most bible reading spiritual Christian on Earth.

2wylde on April 27, 2006 at 10:25 AM

I’m pro-life, which means that when someone wantonly takes an innocent life, I want society to fully acknowlege the value of that life and the depravity of the murderer by making him forfeit his own life. If he pays a lesser price, I can’t help thinking that it says the victim’s life may have been important, but not important enough to make us look mean by imposing the ultimate penalty.
I have to wonder if death penalty opponents care more about their self-image as enlighted, civilized people, than they do about having a justice system that appropriately punishes crime.

NellE on April 27, 2006 at 1:06 PM

I love Ponnuru; he’s a fabulous conservative intellectual.

I’m ordering the book as I write this.

Tom Shakely on April 28, 2006 at 3:07 AM