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"I still don't know how I'm meant to have broken the law, but I wouldn't have respected it anyway since it is barbarous enough to approve the death sentence."

"Barbarous? Nonsense!" said the Minister. For the first time he looked a little annoyed. "The law is a democratic instrument, and the public demands retribution. We do not insult you with talk of the value of deterrence. The law pays you the compliment of assuming that you would rather take your punishment like a man than be lobotomised, forcibly preached at, or subjected to other methods of reform."

"Why are you going to kill me?" I cried. "I wasn't found guilty of hurting anybody."

"Evidence about actual harm done was, as you say, too insubstantial to convict you," he said stiffly. "But, as any sophisticated society recognises, retribution is proportionate to moral guilt, not to harm done. And there was no doubt about your moral guilt. Give me one reason why you are worth saving."

I could not think of anything to say. It had been just the same in court when Mr Prosecuting Deerhurst had demanded a catalogue