Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Douthat's Negotiation

I think Ross Douthat was a wise choice as the new conservative voice on the New York Times' op-ed page. (He starts the job soon; I'm not sure when.) In this post, he does something I see him do pretty often, which is negotiate between the left and right, and wisely assume that there's more room for agreement than is often admitted. I'm not saying he does this all the time, but he does it. A taste:
Just because a criminal deserves punishment doesn't mean that he deserves any punishment. Indeed, if you want a legal system in which punishments are designed to fit crimes, then that's arguably all the more reason to want a prison system that metes out punishments as they're designed to be meted out, and that doesn't permit or practice cruelties above and beyond what legislators, judges and juries have asked for.
Douthat is responding to the latest piece by Atul Gawande, about solitary confinement. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but it's near the top of my list. Gawande is consistently brilliant and fun to read.


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