Philosoraptor presents one of those kinds of cases which is often used to justify the death penalty, a case where it is very difficult emotionally not to want a death by slow torture for the perpetrators. Certainly that's my reaction, and I'd even add the same for anyone who has an ounce of sympathy for the perpetrators. But I try to recognize that this is not very productive; burning hate does not tend to produce good public policy.*
It's pretty well established what's actually needed to help improve situations like this. Give women more power, and things like this happen less often; giving women more power seems to make just about everything better, based on comparative studies of various communities and societies, but in particular it definitely helps women. So we should be reaching out to women in the communities where these situations occur, doing what we can to increase their educational and economic opportunities and working to fight all of the oppression they are subject to, not just the most horrifying high profile headline-grabbing examples of oppression.
Further, even from the point of view of satisfying our emotions rather than public policy, the form of death penalty under discussion is virtually never that; the form of the death penalty which is under debate is supposed to be painless and humane. I'm not sure why it's more emotionally satisfying to subject someone to a painless death than to subject them to the horrible conditions in prisons. So I don't really see how test cases like this are particularly informative concerning the death penalty debate.
* One respect in which emotions are very bad guides; I'd like to think that I'd be no less horrified by the case if the victim were not an attractive young woman, but I'd be lying to myself. My emotional reactions are not as politically enlightened as my intellectual responses, though over time my intellectual responses do have some tendency to train my emotional responses to be a little less horribly embarrassing.
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