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Moss, D. (2002). Notes on the Death Penalty in the Context of the September 11 Attacks. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 3(2):197-215.

(2002). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 3(2):197-215

Notes on the Death Penalty in the Context of the September 11 Attacks

Donald Moss, M.D.

As of September 11, 2001, a rogue and criminal entity has sentenced us to death. The sentence makes no distinction between the innocent and the guilty. Its authors proceed as self-declared sovereigns exacting limitless retribution. The terrorizing extremity of their program reveals some of the malignant determinants in the pursuit of both sovereignty and retribution. Some of those determinants, also operative in judicially sanctioned executions, are as the focus of this paper.

Proponents of the death penalty want something from it. For them, having the State kill the convicted party seems to promise the kind of relief not available from any other form of punishment. This essay, using cultural and clinical material, addresses some of what might be wanted from the death penalty and some of what it seems to promise. The pursuit of such promise can be undertaken only as an exercise in sovereignty. Such pursuit depends on the unquestionable belief in one's absolute right to the imaginary fruits of retribution. This puts into question some of the determinants of that belief and that right.

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