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Bring Back Capital Punishment?

This will be a lively but serious discussion event to kick-off 2015, exploring whether there is now a case to re-introduce the death sentence in the UK.

Barbara Smoker, who is adamantly opposed to such a notion, will explain why this “barbaric" practice - outlawed across the European Union, was abandoned as a form of retribution in the UK in 1963. Indeed the Conway Hall Ethical Society (and Barbara) were at the vanguard of this campaign, viewing this form of punishment as unethical. Members generally continue to hold this view to this day.
Evan Parker will set out why we should now reconsider our thinking on this very emotive issue. He will present arguments as to why inconsistent, outdated and non-democratic thought processes have prevailed in determining the ultimate sanction, and that it is timely to revisit. He will describe how capital punishment could now be viewed as appropriate retribution, bringing potential benefits to our society and interpreted as an ethical practice.
Evan Parker held the Chair in Semiconductor Physics for 25 years at the University of Warwick. He continues to do research in nanotechnology and has strong interests in climate change, including geo-engineering. He has published widely, spun-out several companies including one in 2014. He is a Trustee of Conway Hall Ethical Society.
Barbara Smoker was born in London in 1923 into a Roman Catholic family. She served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service from 1942-45, mainly in south-east Asia. In 1949 she became an atheist. In 1951 she joined the South Place Ethical Society, in the course of time taking on all the major roles in the Society, becoming in1986 the Society’s only female Appointed Lecturer.

She was elected President of the National Secular Society in 1971 until 1996, representing the atheist viewpoint in print, on lecture platforms, speaking tours and on radio and television. A forceful debater, she was active in many social campaigns including abolition of the death penalty, prison reform, CND, the legalisation of abortion and for voluntary euthanasia.

Barbara was an early officiant at non-religious funerals, wedding ceremonies, and gay and lesbian commitments. In 2005, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Her publications include Humanism (6th edition 2014), an introduction for secondary pupils, and Freethoughts (2002), being selections of her contributions to The Freethinker journal.


Professor Evan Parker | talks | www
Barbara Smoker | talks | www


Date and Time:

11 January 2015 at 11:00 am


1 hour 30 minutes



Conway Hall
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
0207 242 8034

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