I was hopeful as we lurched further into the 21st century that we would agree as a nation to close the door forever on the most brutal unenlightened elements of our past. But once again there are calls for the return of the death penalty, inspired, as they usually are in modern times, by the killing of a police officer.
The details of the deaths of the two female officers in Manchester on Tuesday make for harrowing, sorrowful reading.
Fiona Bone was 32, described as a 'calm, gentle woman' who was excitedly gossiping about her wedding invitations with colleagues the morning of her murder. Nicola Hughes (23), was a lively 'chatterbox', the 'beautiful child' of her now grieving, thunderstruck family. The man currently being held on suspicion of their killings was on bail after being questioned over another shooting in June.
Yes, it makes you sick and it makes you angry. But does it make you want to drag this country back to a time when killing people was validated by the state?
That pillar of progressive thinking Norman Tebbit says yes.
He believes the thought of 'an early dawn walk to the gallows' would put murderers off targeting police officers.
He has weighed up the 'risk' of miscarriages of justice - ie innocent people being killed by their government - and concluded that it's one worth taking, bearing in mind the 'extra care' juries would apply, knowing what terrible power they had.
A few things, Norman. One: are we to deduce then that merely sending innocent people to prison for most, if not all of their lives, destroying their families and stealing their futures, is not enough to inspire juries to take maximum care with their deliberations now?
Two: what proof do you have that the threat of capital punishment (which you describe with such rousing, if somewhat outdated, poetry) would freeze a rage-filled madman halfway through an act of violence?
Hugh Orde, drawing on knowledge acquired when he was PSNI Chief Constable, says he doesn't believe it would have any influence on even the clinical, ideologically motivated killer who has time to weigh up the consequences of their actions.
There's also the issue of rehabilitation and I know the many born again Christians in Northern Ireland will be 100% behind me when I say the possibility of making a good man out of a murderer is enough argument to put the return of the death penalty out of the nation's collective head for good.
But most important of all is a consideration which has nothing to do with the mind of the criminal or the effectiveness of deterrents.
It goes beyond even the issue of bringing a sense of justice or closure to the victim's families. It is about the kind of country we want to live in.
There is a picture bigger and broader than Norman Tebbit's to think about here. Rejecting capital punishment is about cultivating a culture which believes in the ultimate sanctity of life and rejects mass recrimination. It makes clear the difference between the state's standing on humanity, and the cold-blooded killer's.
Ask me if I'd want to kill someone who murdered one of my children and I'd say yes.
Ask me if I want to bring up my children in a country which kills its citizens, and I'd say no.
Only one of those answers comes from a good place.