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Making cowardice a capital offense strikes us as a kind of barbaric survival from a rougher age, a time, that is, when few doubted that courage ranked higher than pity or prudence in the scale of virtues. And if many of us today believe that capital punishment cannot be justified even for the sadistic torturer, what a shock to discover that, as an official matter at least, Congress reserves it for the person who cannot kill at all.


Published as Miller, William I. "Weak Legs: Misbehavior before the Enemy." Representations 70 (2000): 27-48. © [2000] by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by [the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Sponsoring Society] for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [JSTOR (] or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,