If there is one issue in the United States that seems even more divisive than gun control and abortion, it seems to be whether or not the death penalty is a suitable punishment for wrongdoers. Yet, it is also the arena of major cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, we have protests against applying the death penalty to men who may have been sentenced or convicted based on racial prejudice (or even just wrongly convicted in general). On the other hand, we have screeching demands for the immediate execution and/or torture of those who have been involved in incidents of racism. There's one defining factor behind all this: passion.
Passion and all the vested interests can completely flip someone's view of the death penalty. But here's the thing: Historically, the death penalty has been applied far more rampantly, and yet it rarely involved the passion, persuasion, or ideology of those calling for it.
In Ancient Greece, around the 7th century B.C., lived a man named Draco; he's the first Lawgiver for whom we have records. During that era, basic laws were not codified in a constitution; they were essentially oral traditions, often based on prior blood feuds. What Draco did was write them down and apply a series of punishments for crimes.
He set up this legal system during the 39th Olympiad, about 622-621 B.C.
There are two reasons we know of this today: first, the severity of the punishments he prescribed, and, second, the establishment of a system that allowed people ...