25 JANUARY 1935, Page 18

[To the Editor of Tim SPECTATOR.]

Sin,—The essential preliminary to any serious discussion of so weighty a matter as the legal killing of human beings is

that our sadists on the one side, and our humanitarians on

the other, be summarily bundled out of the room. The next step is to rule out of order any reference to the matter either as a deterrent or as a retribution in respect of crime.

The point really is whether any individual can reach the stage when it can be fairly said that he is not fit to live, in the sense that his continued existence is a danger to the com- munity. I do not profess to be able to answer this question, but something seems wrong somewhere with our present method of dealing with the question on the punishment basis, when the victim of a persecutor, who in a moment of frenzy kills his tormenter, is sentenced to death, whilst the incorrigible prostitute who persists in infecting hundreds of citizens with syphilis is sentenced to a fine of 40s. and costs.

I suggest that we have now reached a stage in our evolution when our black caps and condemned cells and gallows can be relegated to the museums to join the specimens of racks and thumbscrews, and when we can consider the provision of comfortably equipped lethal chambers for those whose lives have become intolerable, either to themselves or to the community.—Yours faithfully,