Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Arguments against Capital Punishment

By spammacus in Op-Ed
Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 01:20:54 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

While reading the news recently, I have found two things that depress me more than any others. They make me doubt my faith in human nature. They are (1) the crimes people commit; and (2) the desire for vengeance of the victims. That (2) depresses me as much as (1) has led to several heated arguments with friends and family. Therefore I should like to set down the major reasons why I believe capital punishment to be a fundamentally Bad Idea.

There are the usual arguments. "Capital punishment is the mark of barbarism", "Deterrence doesn't work", "We routinely convict innocent people", etcetera. These are all valid. They are not the arguments that affect me the most. I prefer the (not-so-simple) calculus of the general good. In other words, can we arrive at a punishment that is constructive for the society that administers it, instead of arbitrarily causing more harm? In light of this, I propose the following arguments:

  1. Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right
  2. Vengeance Is Not Restitution
  3. The Paradox of 'Restitution'


I. Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

I was brought up according to this maxim. Therefore I find it hard to understand how the the addition of the execution of a criminal (wrong #2) can possibly improve the situation caused by the commission of a crime (wrong #1). Some of you will doubtless argue that the execution is not a wrong, so we are at worst adding a wrong and a neutrality. However, I was also brought up to believe that killing is wrong. Period. When someone is killed, two things happen:

  1. The victim is deprived of his/her remaining life.
  2. The family and friends of the victim are permanently deprived of the victim's presence.

I think we can agree that both of these points are negative. Crucially, they both hold regardless of the killing being committed by a "criminal" or a "judicial body". The negative effects occur in either case. Therefore I submit to you that killing is wrong, no matter the motivation. To argue that executing a criminal will prevent him/her from killing others in the future is disingenuous in that you are committing the very thing you are attempting to prevent.

II. Vengeance Is not Restitution

One of the fundamental philosophies behind most justice systems is that a criminal must make amends for his/her crime. This concept is commonly known as restitution, as is in my opinion reasonable. However, there are two ways to look at the statement above. Does 'making amends' mean:

  1. "The criminal must pay", or
  2. "The victim (or his/her family) must receive"?

This distinction is subtle, but important. Most people will assert that in an ideal world, both these conditions must be met for restitution to occur. I submit to you that capital punishment only meets the first of these and is therefore vengeance, not restitution.

What is the difference? Vengeance accomplishes nothing constructive. It is attempt to achieve catharsis by inflicting your sorrow on someone else. Putting a criminal to death merely punishes him/her. It does not help society, neither does it help repay the victim (or family member in the case of murder) for his/her loss.

Restitution, on the other hand, accomplishes something as well as punishing the criminal. Examples include:

  1. Person A steals something from person B. Person A must therefore replace what was stolen, and perhaps perform some onerous task for person B's benefit.
  2. Person A kills person B. Obviously, person B cannot be replaced. Person B's family may not wish to accept restitution from person A, since his/her presence could impede their healing process. Therefore restitution must be given to society. There is an almost endless variety of work that needs to be done, that is at the same time sufficiently distasteful that being forced to do it would be a fitting punishment. I'm not being a bleeding heart here: I'm thinking of stuff like cleaning sewers, toxic spills, etc. A beneficial side-effect of this is that the criminal may develop a small amount of discipline through hard work. Our ancestors had it almost right when they had criminals breaking rocks - only I propose that they break rocks that society needs to have broken.

To summarize, vengeance casts your hurt onto others, accomplishes nothing constructive, belittles those who desire it, and is therefore to be discouraged at all costs. A victim has my sympathy up until they start calling for vengeance. Once this happens I regard them as equally distasteful as the criminal. Call me a hard-ass.

III. The Paradox of 'Restitution'

This point follows directly from section 1. For those of us who confuse restitution with vengeance (as described in section 2), we stumble into a paradox. Simply put:

  1. Person A kills person B.
  2. The family of person B suffers.
  3. The family of person B calls for the execution of person A, erroneously thinking that this is 'restitution'.
  4. Person A is executed.
  5. The family of person A suffers...

Chances are, the family of person A was not involved in the crime, in which case the state is punishing innocent people. Who will provide restitution for their loss? This riddle has no satisfactory answer.

IV. Conclusion

Modern, Western justice systems have many flaws. However, in an era that seems increasingly characterized by a fundamental lack of compassion, I feel moved to speak out against capital punishment in particular. What do you think?

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
Capital punishment?
o Unacceptable 68%
o A necessary evil 12%
o Good 9%
o Irrelevant, because they'll never catch me. 9%

Votes: 91
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by spammacus


Display: Sort:
Arguments against Capital Punishment | 318 comments (288 topical, 30 editorial, 0 hidden)
YHWH commands it (1.50 / 12) (#4)
by Gina Mission on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:51:06 AM EST

Capital punishment for certain crimes is ordained by YHWH for the benefit and well-being of the greatest number of his children.

End of story.

NO. (1.85 / 7) (#6)
by esrever on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:22:03 AM EST

That is the law of death; which was nailed to the cross with Jesus.  Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.  Judgement belongs to Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God; not to Man.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
Right. (none / 1) (#10)
by Red Rat on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:26:18 AM EST

Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.

s/abundant/eternal/

[ Parent ]

John 10:10 NKJV: (none / 3) (#14)
by esrever on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:16:55 AM EST

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
Jesus Freak. (none / 3) (#34)
by Red Rat on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:14:17 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Aww, does that scare you? How cute. [nt] (none / 1) (#73)
by esrever on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:51:48 PM EST



Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
No, (1.33 / 3) (#105)
by Pvt Pyle on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:38:04 AM EST

but using the KJV does - why use an incomplete bible, with poor translations?

[ Parent ]
NKJV == New King James Version [nt] (none / 0) (#134)
by esrever on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:41:37 PM EST



Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
i hate when this debate comes up (2.80 / 10) (#5)
by fleece on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:20:16 AM EST

because I'm always in two minds about it

To look at it from another angle though, just say you believe jail shouldn't be used as a place to punish people, but instead only be used when absolutely necessary - to keep dangerous people off the streets. (so far, this is what I believe, by the way)

Now imagine - and to polarise the issue I'll use a nice emotive one - a guy that rapes and kills children, shows no remorse, and guarantees he'll do it again first chance he gets. Now he is obviously dangerous, and needs to be kept of the streets, but if you wanted to be matter-of-fact about it, if he is permantly removed from society, why don't we permantly remove him literally, and put him to sleep, not for revenge, just because we've deemed him unsafe, don't believe he can be redeemed, and don't want to spend taxpayer dollars keeping him alive for the rest of his life with no greater societal gain.
there's some powerful arguments against this kind of thinking, which I can also be swayed by, but you see my point - it's not about Vengeance, Restitution, or "Wronging a Right", but it's still a valid argument for the death penalty. I don't think you've addressed this one adequately.



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
That's kinda like allowing torture (2.80 / 5) (#12)
by Empedocles on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:02:42 AM EST

to only be used in "extreme cases." It might start off only being used in extraordinary circumstances; time and human nature, however, will inevitably lead to a broadening of the "extreme cases" to include just about anything.

As far as tax dollars go, executing a man is more expensive than merely imprisoning him for life. You also have the small problem of becoming what he is (a murderer) by the act of executing him.

---
And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home

[ Parent ]

really? (2.75 / 4) (#16)
by WorkingEmail on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:10:02 AM EST

The death penalty started out as quite common, and now has been restricted to 'extreme cases'.


[ Parent ]
cost (none / 0) (#167)
by dke on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 01:15:37 AM EST

Really? I sure didn't know that.

Well, unless you're aiming somewhere in the "he'll spend rest of his life doing some forced labour" stuff.. in which case yes, he'll probably produce
more than his own upkeep is worth, and therefore
will be a bit more beneficial for the state.

Hmm, in fact.. that doesn't sound so bad at all..
but it's still not entirely acceptable for the
victim's family/relatives etc.. well, assuming
they agree with the "you get what you give" principle.

I think quite a bit should be made towards making more efficient use of that forced labour, like giving more specialized labour depending on the inmate's abilities/educational background etc..

Humm, otherwise.. i don't agree with death penalty.. but that's not saying that i wouldn't try to shoot anyone who like killed my cat ;-)
Nothing is ever easy
[ Parent ]

it SHOULDN'T be more expensive (none / 1) (#283)
by thepictsie on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 06:49:57 AM EST

As far as tax dollars go, executing a man is more expensive than merely imprisoning him for life. This is because we use astoundingly stupid methods of execution, apparently on the theory that the more expensive and complicated they are, the more civilized they are. Done properly, hanging is a clean, fast death (cleaner and faster, I believe, than electrocution), and it's cheap. The guillotine is nearly as inexpensive, and it was designed to be clean and fast (and it's harder to get wrong than hanging). This is not intended as a troll. Please do not bite my head off. I am not actually suggesting the use of either of these methods of execution. I am in favor of the death penalty, viewing it as amputation of incurably diseased members of society. I do think that the methods of execution we use in the US are extremely stupid, and that we need to find better ones if we're going to continue to have capital punishment. I also think that it is almost inevitable that it will cease to be practiced in the US, in time, though it may never leave the books (or may take a very long time to do so).

Look, a distraction!
[ Parent ]

missing the point (none / 1) (#288)
by Polverone on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 03:45:54 PM EST

Execution is more expensive because of the greater legal wrangling that goes on with prisoners sentenced to die, compared to those sentenced to life in prison. This isn't about the cost of the electric chair vs. the cost of rope.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]
thank you (none / 0) (#291)
by thepictsie on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 06:05:16 PM EST

I stand corrected.

Look, a distraction!
[ Parent ]

I'm not sure I understand, but ... (none / 2) (#72)
by Belligerent Dove on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:51:45 PM EST

You start from thinking of jails as a last resort and as used for the protection of society only. From there you go to advocating death penalty for psychopaths that are certain to relapse in their cruelty. Correct?

Now, I accept your view on the purpose of jails. I'll broaden it to mean that, yes, punishment isn't something to be proud of, but we'll punish it if we really deem it necessary. You can agree to this broadening of the scope of your original assertion to one defining the purpose of the criminal system, right? Ok...

For the sake of the argument I'm also willing to accept that we have an exemplar of a psychopath whom we know of with absolute certainty that he will rape, brutalise and murder again. Lets also postulate that only jail and death can protect society of this dangerous individual.

I'll then accept that it would be reasonable to lock him up for life.

But how do you go from all those premises to finding death penalty acceptable?

I don't believe you can do so unless for the sake of protecting society, you're also willing to forego moral boundaries at some point beyond having deemed someone a danger to society. That is, your reasoning only goes if you understand the purpose of the criminal system to be only relevant in deciding if someone is a danger to society enough for punishment to be legitimite.

While this is evidently a first application for your guiding philosophy, a second application intuitively arises. Namely, one would expect it to be used also as a guiding principle for deciding the severity of punishment.

And once you do, you will find that still using the same principle, death penalty is not an option. It is not an option because in the hierarchy of punishment, killing someone is worse than locking them up and we agreed that punishment should be used only if it's absolutely necessary.

Some people stop short of this objection. Indeed, it seems quite common to dehumanize murderers and rapists to the point that we can dismiss moral principles when dealing with them. If your comment was a request for a sketch of that, then I hope my comment helpful. If you were presenting a serious objection, then please do tell more about it.

[ Parent ]

i probably didn't explain myself properly (none / 1) (#100)
by fleece on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 06:43:08 AM EST

I apologise for that.

The first paragraph was my point of view. The rest was a 'typical' point of view that wasn't addressed in the article, an article which (I thought) intended to undermine the commonly held views for the death penalty.

My point of view is that the author forgot to include the for-the-death-penalty argument that believes the death penalty is a solution for individuals that are seen as both a waste of space and taxpayer dollars. It doesn't necessarily represent my point of view. In fact, I live in a country that doesn't have a death penalty, and I am fully supportive of that.

I will say though, this is a _real_ tough issue. I'd argue that anyone who has a strong opinion either way on this one probably hasn't thought about it properly.



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
I don't think it's a tough issue at all (none / 2) (#107)
by Belligerent Dove on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 10:08:45 AM EST

I don't see any significant difference between capital punishment and murder. As I hold as a fundamental principle that humans have a right to live. I believe that violations of that right to be morally reprehensible unless there is an extreme likelyhood of an otherwise extremely high cost associated to that right. Say, I might condone the killing of someone to save a thousand others.

That is, I accept that there are moral dilemmas in which I'd rather choose to kill someone than to accept the alternative. So in the scope of such dilemmas I could accept that criminals are executed, and that their criminal past or their psychopathic mind has part in that decision.

However, such moral dilemmas tend to be of a mostly academic nature. They don't just happen in reality.

And just as I don't advocate giving the state the right to execute non-criminal citizens if the conditions are right, I will protest capital punishment. The step from accepting the possibility of a certain type of scenario in which something is justified, to codifying and institutionalising (more) killing is just too extreme.

Worse than that. It would seem that the likeliness of variables being such that we encounter a moral dilemma in which capital punishment is justified are extremely small. They may well be so small that if such killing were legalised, there would be a relatively frequent outcome of having misapplications of that law compared to the rare occurance of having a correct applications. So even an extremely weak law allowing capital punishment might be disapprovable on utilitarian grounds.

In any case I require such a heavy burden of proof to show that the killing of someone is justified, that the very fact that I can't think of a realistic situation in which capital punishment would be the correct course of action, is proof that it shouldn't be legal at all.

[ Parent ]

nice troll (none / 1) (#139)
by fleece on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 06:58:43 PM EST

I didn't even realise you were until the last comment,

...the very fact that I can't think of a realistic situation in which capital punishment would be the correct course of action, is proof that it shouldn't be legal at all.



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
Excuse me? (none / 1) (#170)
by Belligerent Dove on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:39:17 AM EST

The emphasis is yours.

I'm just saying that if an average person (excuse my haughtiness) can't think of a really good excuse for why a killing would be moral, then it really isn't.

I am not a troll.

[ Parent ]

yeah but you're trapped by your own prejudices (none / 0) (#172)
by fleece on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 04:46:51 AM EST

maybe the moral dilemma isn't the most important one.



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
I think you're confused (none / 0) (#182)
by Belligerent Dove on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:55:55 AM EST

Could it be that you're conflating prejudice for the emotional/esthetic (quite irrelevant here) basis in that moral argument?

[ Parent ]
nah i reckon you're confused (and trolling still) (none / 0) (#201)
by fleece on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:08:16 PM EST

look at your own posts. You equate the "correct course of action" with the moral action.

My original post (which I made quite clear was not necessarily representative of my opinion, but you missed that too) basically said, "Hangon, fuck the moral issue. I can think of arguments "for" based on good, old-fashioned pragmatism." For you to then say bad idea, it's a slipperly slope, whether someone deserves to die or not. (yes I'm paraphrasing) isn't about the moral dilemma, it's about the legal dilemma of setting a precedent.



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
I am not a troll. Stop accusing me of that. (none / 0) (#238)
by Belligerent Dove on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:12:35 AM EST

To say that the "correct course of action" is not always the correct moral action in this domain strikes me as false. Pragmatism or not. I just don't see what else it could possible be.

I did read that your original post was not necessarily representative of your opinion. I never claimed otherwise and I don't see why you're assuming the worst of me again. I do think, however, that it's an important enough point for you because you keep responding to it and because you're convinced that if you hold a strong opinion on this topic then you probably haven't thought it true. It's this latter prejudice which I disputed in my second post.

You may think that you're paraphrasing my argument, but I did not argue that it was a slippery slope. That's an attempt at an oversimplification that misses the point completely. My argument wasn't based on slippery slope because that would mean that I said that the legalisation of death penalty would lead to more acceptance and from there to a more liberal application or creation of even tougher laws. My argument, however, was probabalistic and was about the assumption that every now and then there's going to be misapplication of any law.

You were correct that I did go from a moral dilemma to the legal dilemma of setting a precedent, though. But first, the switch from the moral to legal domain is obviously justified because we're discussing law and we both live in democracies. Secondly, I do think it's reasonable to consider abuse of a law when deciding if you want to instate it or not.

[ Parent ]

fair enough (none / 0) (#239)
by fleece on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:20:27 AM EST

you're probably right. you win.



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
Is it a huge problem? (none / 3) (#185)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:10:01 PM EST

Are there really that many of these people? I understand that we love a good news story about a child-murder, but are there more than a handful of these every year? My belief is that it's very rare to encounter someone who is truly 100% evil. Maybe there's no good argument against executing your hypothetical evildoer, but in the real world people commit crimes for reasons. Necessity, passion, sociopathy. As a society we have a duty to care for our fuck-ups, not to kill them.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
hmm. (none / 1) (#187)
by Gumpzilla on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:28:41 PM EST

As a society we have a duty to care for our fuck-ups.

I must admit, I find this to be a strange comment coming from somebody who I believe to be a staunch Libertarian.

[ Parent ]
The uncaring libertarian (none / 2) (#200)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:00:22 PM EST

I am not. People shouldn't be punished for being mentally ill. Our society needs to take care of sick people, including deranged murderers. I have every sympathy for the families of victims, but bloodlust isn't one of their options.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Chemical Castration. Far cheaper. (n/t) (none / 0) (#269)
by stalker on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:08:36 PM EST



[ Parent ]
You're missing one thing (2.80 / 15) (#8)
by godix on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:44:19 AM EST

The point of the justice system isn't always rehabilitation or restitution. Sometimes the point is simply to prevent someone from repeating his crimes again. If I were on the jury of a potential death penalty case I would ask myself is this mans life worth more than the small but real chance he escapes jail and repeats his crimes someday. It would take a VERY extreme crime before I'd say yes and I'd have to be absolutely positive the defendant did it but there are crimes where I think the perpetrator should be executed. The point isn't to punish him for the crime he did but rather to prevent the crimes he could and has already proven would do. The death penalty may not be a deterrence to others but it's one hell of a deterrence to the guy who's killed.

That being said, I do not support the death penalty as America currently practices it. Most criminals I'm at least semi-familiar with aren't put on death row for potential danger but rather because of race (theirs or the victims), political pressure to make an example or scapegoat, poor defense lawyers, etc. Until those reasons are eliminated from death penalty cases I'm glad that my state has a moratorium on state executions.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans

Ignoring the difference in costs: (none / 3) (#42)
by alby on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:50:18 PM EST

I don't believe I can ever be in favour of the death penalty as an alternative to life imprisonment; I don't believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent in any greater way than that of long-term imprisonment.

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

You don't? (2.71 / 7) (#75)
by godix on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 08:22:35 PM EST

I don't believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent in any greater way than that of long-term imprisonment.

I have heard of criminals escaping from jail and commiting crimes. I have yet to hear of anyone coming back from the dead to commit crimes (well, aside from slasher horror movies I mean). It may or may not deter other criminals but the deterrent for that specific criminal is obvious. I honestly can't understand your position, how does killing someone NOT deter them from commiting crimes in the future?

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]
The deterrent argument . . . (1.40 / 5) (#112)
by vegetablespork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:26:11 AM EST

. . . is obviously that capital punishment deters other people from committing the same crime. Either your're being disingenuous or you're a moron. I'll leave decision as to which as an exercise for the readership.

[ Parent ]
Can you read? (none / 3) (#140)
by godix on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 07:11:43 PM EST

It's not like I'm pulling a Michael Moore here, I specifically stated (twice) I was not saying the death penalty deters other people. I know you probably aren't going to understand this, but not all peoples beliefs follow your narrowminded preconcieved notions. If you aren't capable of reading and understanding what others say then please do me a favor, STFU because I refuse to dumb down my thoughts to fit some simpletons limited and wrong constraints on viewing the world.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]
I know that. (1.40 / 5) (#141)
by vegetablespork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 07:27:26 PM EST

The point that your apparently deficient reading skills seems to have missed is that when capital punishment is talked of as a deterrent, it doesn't refer to recidivism on the part of the recipient.

While I find your invective somewhat amusing, I don't think that "dumbing down" your thoughts is a possibility given what I've seen demonstrated so far.

[ Parent ]

As you have said elsewhere (none / 3) (#144)
by godix on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 08:00:00 PM EST

Thanks. Your having called me an idiot certainly brings me around to your point of view.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]
And as you said . . . (none / 3) (#145)
by vegetablespork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 08:04:42 PM EST

. . . the point is not to convince. Good day.

[ Parent ]
I don't. (2.40 / 5) (#123)
by alby on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 01:09:05 PM EST

Surely the death sentence as a deterrent for *one specific criminal* is only a deterrent after they've been sentenced?

I don't deny that killing someone "deters" them from committing crimes in the future. My point is that I am dubious about how well it acts as a deterrent to future criminals.

Envisage a "crime-of-passion" scenario when some guy finds his wife in bed with another man. At the moment he pulls out his gun to shoot them both dead, which of the thoughts in his head is the bigger deterrent:

  • "If I do this I'm gonna end up dead. It'll take a year or two on shitty fucked-up Death Row but basically, I'm a goner."
  • "If I do this I'm gonna spend the rest of my life, say the next 50 years in a shitty fucked-up prison."
I've never had this experience but I imagine the second argument would be a bigger deterrent; if I was mad enough to shoot someone in the first place I might not be too bothered about dying.

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

Then we agree (none / 3) (#142)
by godix on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 07:40:36 PM EST

I don't deny that killing someone "deters" them from committing crimes in the future. My point is that I am dubious about how well it acts as a deterrent to future criminals.

All I'm addressing is the issue in the first sentance and it appears we agree on that. I have yet to address the second issue at all.

Since you mention it though, I think that capital punishment in the US is not consistantly used enough to be a real deterrent. Even if a person was afraid of recieving the death penalty there is a real doubt on if they would or not recieve it regardless of what crime they did. For the death penalty to be a deterrent FOR OTHERS we would have to consitantly say 'Being found guilty of (insert crime here) automatically recieves the death penalty no matter what'. Once people know that if they're conviced they will die with no chance of avoiding it then the death penalty might actually be a deterrence TO OTHERS. I do not think the US will adopt the type of sentancing guidelines that would be required for this (and personally I'd oppose any attempt to do so) therefore I doubt capital punishment will ever be a true deterrence FOR OTHERS in the US.

However I still stand by my earlier statements. Killing someone deters THAT PERSON from commiting crimes in the future. Because of this there are some rare situations I personally would support the death penalty.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]

principles (none / 2) (#165)
by gdanjo on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 12:03:00 AM EST

However I still stand by my earlier statements. Killing someone deters THAT PERSON from commiting crimes in the future. [...]
No it doesn't - it prevents them from doing it. To deter the criminal you'd need them to be alive and NOT commit a crime.

The distinction is an important one - we do not prevent people from being able to murder people in general society - knives, for example, are still legal - but we do attempt to deter them.

The question is, should mere humans be able to act as though they were God? Are you comfortable in knowing that people you pass in the street could be a God-like entity? And I'm not talking about control - which is the domain of humanity - but ultimate (binary) control that only Gods (may or may not) have.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Killing someone ... (none / 0) (#228)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:36:34 AM EST

... also deters them from doing anything in the future!

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

thoughts when pulling the trigger (2.50 / 4) (#143)
by thepictsie on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 07:51:09 PM EST

Crimes of passion are (I believe, I could be wrong) rarely tried as first degree murder, since they lack malice aforethought, and so typically the death penalty isn't even an option. Usually, the death penalty is reserved for preplanned murders.

Look, a distraction!
[ Parent ]

Sentencing. (none / 1) (#227)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:35:14 AM EST

I don't know what the sentencing guidelines are but for me, in a highly unstable state of mind, a year on death row still beats ten years in jail.

Not that I've given it great thought!

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

Oh really? (none / 0) (#304)
by clambake on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 05:19:02 AM EST

The point of the justice system isn't always rehabilitation or restitution. Sometimes the point is simply to prevent someone from repeating his crimes again.

If that wew at all true, then in MOST cases the best way to stop people from comitting crims in the future is to make them fabuously wealthy.  A millionaire isn't going to be knocking over liquer stores.  He won't be poisoning his wife for insurance money.  If this were really an aim of the justice system then you'd see a whole lot of people having thier social situation righted so that they don't feel the need to go nutso.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, right (none / 0) (#308)
by godix on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 08:17:01 PM EST

Because being wealthy has done such a good job in making sure Martha Stweart, Mike Tyson, and Kenneth Lay follow the law.

They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet...
- Michael Moore describing Americans
[ Parent ]
But killing people is freakin' awesome (1.58 / 12) (#13)
by qpt on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:15:50 AM EST

To a angst-ridden, pimply teenager like me! Go death! Bitchin'!

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.

Encourage (3), GOTH ENOUGH (1.20 / 5) (#70)
by Master Shake on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:10:21 PM EST

That is all.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (2.42 / 7) (#15)
by WorkingEmail on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:06:42 AM EST

Revenge is not the only reason for capital punishment. Actually, it's not even reason, as you've pointed out.

And in addition, all discussions regarding death should bear this simple fact in mind: Everyone is going to die eventually, anyway.

If you sentence somebody to prison, you are taking their life. Not the whole thing, but a portion of it. Killing somebody just means you've taken the rest of their life.

The only distinction lies in the emotions of the judge - whether he goes home feeling that he has killed a man or not.


No worries then. (2.83 / 6) (#51)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:32:58 PM EST

If everyone dies, then why put murderers to death? They've only hastened the process a little, after all.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Heh (2.75 / 4) (#17)
by melia on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:59:29 AM EST

I propose that they break rocks that society needs to have broken.

You know, I have no doubt this is wrong, but I always thought one of the ideas behind "breaking rocks" is that the work is pointless, and that helps break down the spirit of the criminal. A bit like having one man dig holes while the other fills them in.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong

Bush's Bureaucracy (none / 3) (#18)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:41:37 AM EST

A bit like having one man dig holes while the other fills them in.

Sounds the government's military-industrial-congressional complex. One part of the government gets us in to wars, the other part gets us out (eventually). Nothing is accomplished, but a lot of money is spent.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Wrong. (2.75 / 4) (#50)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:31:02 PM EST

American military companies make lots of money. The economy is stimulated because the government spends wads of cash on the war. Something is achieved, all on back of the misery of war victims.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Wrong (none / 2) (#77)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:40:28 PM EST

The economy would have been stimulated anyways since the government would have spent the money regardless. The warring accomplished nothing.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Wrong! (none / 0) (#317)
by CorwIn of Amber on Mon Aug 16, 2004 at 06:15:53 PM EST

The government didn't have to take that money in the first place. The economy works better when the citizens spend their money instead of giving it to the State for it to spend.

Thus :

  • Fire Congressmen
  • Put the military industry workers (including Army) in other businesses
  • Lighten the taxes
Now THAT's a good idea...

-Do you realize the suicide rate we'd have if people killed themselves just because they're stupid?
-Yes, an acceptable one.


[ Parent ]
:-) /nt (none / 1) (#78)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:40:44 PM EST



"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
-1, bleeding heart tripe. (1.07 / 13) (#19)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 08:07:14 AM EST

There could be meaningful conversation on this subject with people other than the author, but it won't happen here. He needs to wait until a family member has been murdered, and then ask himself if a lifer having this 30 cents per hour garnished is an acceptable substitution for seeing the guy fry.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
Nice idea (none / 3) (#24)
by thejeff on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:46:52 AM EST

Lets have all criminal laws written by victims (or victims families) of that particular crime.

We'll wind up with extremely harsh punishments with no rights for accused criminals. Wouldn't want that murderer to get off just because the police beat a confession out of him. We know he did it and we need to have closure.

On the other hand having those that lost their life savings in the Enron collapse determine Ken Lay's punishment might be a good idea.

[ Parent ]

Keep in mind (none / 1) (#36)
by WorkingEmail on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:52:32 PM EST

If you really want revenge, more than anything else, you will consider breaking the Law. A sniper aiming at the prisoner's common should do the trick.


[ Parent ]
off topic (none / 0) (#37)
by WorkingEmail on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:53:33 PM EST

The website in your sig is borken.


[ Parent ]
Sure. (none / 1) (#48)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:28:28 PM EST

While we're about it, why don't we let the families the state put to death enter the fray. I'll bet that would lead to some interesting conversation!

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Think of the... (none / 1) (#186)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:14:43 PM EST

"Won't somebody think of the families/children/victims/puppies/soldiers/..." dammit, SHUT THE FUCK UP with this stupid argument already.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Criminals v. society and family (2.63 / 11) (#21)
by adimovk5 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:41:06 AM EST

Putting a criminal to death merely punishes him/her. It does not help society
Putting a criminal to death prevents the criminal from committing any other crimes. In that sense it does help society. Resources are not wasted on the pursuit of a known criminal. Police are free to do other policework. Investigators can do other investigating. Prosecutors can do other prosecuting. Prisons can work on rehabilitating.

Also, we don't have to see another story about another family whose beloved was taken from them by a repeat offender. We won't see a story about a jury refusing to convict based on procedural error. We won't see a story of another liberal judge giving a minimum sentence because he believes in the criminal.

Chances are, the family of person A was not involved in the crime, in which case the state is punishing innocent people.
By your line of reasoning, the state punishes the family of any criminal it imprisons. The state is separating the criminal from his family. The family has done nothing wrong. Why are they being punished?

It is not the fault of the state that the crime was committed. It is the fault of the criminal. The family is a victim of the criminal not the state. He is the source of their pain.



Prevention (2.50 / 4) (#23)
by thejeff on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:38:32 AM EST

Your first point makes no sense. In almost any case where the death penalty would even be considered the  alternative would be a long prison sentence, most likely life without parole.
Given that, the police, investigators and prosecutors can work on other cases. The point about prisons working on rehabilitation may be valid, if you assume that all potential candidates for the death penalty are either unrehabilitatable or will never be released. Unfortunately our current prison system is as likely to make hardened criminals as it is to rehabilitate.

As for your news stories, how often have you actually seen a story of someone who could have gotten the death penalty, but got a lesser sentence actually being released and killing more people? As I suggested above, the usual alternative is decades in prison at least.

And why would juries and liberal judges act differently in death penalty cases than in other cases?

[ Parent ]

murder, parole, and repeat (2.71 / 7) (#28)
by adimovk5 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:03:12 PM EST

REPEAT OFFENCES IN CANADA

How many murder offenders were released between 1975/76 - 1998/99 and how many were convicted of a second homicide offence?

2,666 day parole releases. Four (0.2%) of the 2,666 day parole releases of murderers were subsequently re-incarcerated for a repeat homicide offence.

1,465 full parole releases. Nine (0.6%) of the 1,465 releases of murder offenders on full parole were subsequently re-incarcerated for a repeat homicide offence.

REPEAT OFFENSES IN THE UNITED STATES

The Polly Klaas case isn't unique. A recent study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on early release practices in 36 states and the District of Columbia shows violent offenders serve only 37 percent of their imposed sentences. The average time served for murder is 5.5 years (in California, it's 41 months). For robbery, it's 2.2 years, and 1.3 years for assault. And government statistics show that the majority of early release violent offenders are rearrested for new crimes within three years, one-third of them for new violent crimes.



[ Parent ]
So you are arguing... (none / 0) (#43)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:51:34 PM EST

In favor of longer incarceration for violent criminals? Good, I fully agree with you on that point.

Now if we could only stop turning regular people into hardened criminals (via unnecessary prison sentences) by repealing the drug laws.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Now let me get this straight... (none / 1) (#47)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:26:13 PM EST

... you want to stop hardened criminals, but you're OK with increasing prison sentences. Hmm. Interesting.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Oh, come on (none / 0) (#52)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:38:45 PM EST

You know better than to put words in my mouth.

I fully agree with longer incarceration for violent criminals.

Now if we could only stop turning regular people into hardened criminals (via unnecessary prison sentences) by repealing the drug laws.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Well, that means... (none / 1) (#53)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:48:38 PM EST

... that all violent criminals are hardened criminals. That's what you're implying, anyway.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Not really (none / 0) (#54)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:51:23 PM EST

But if it makes you feel better, you can think that way.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
No no, this is your argument (none / 1) (#55)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:54:57 PM EST

You can't wriggle out of it that easily!

So back to the topic, you're actually saying that not all violent criminals are hardened criminals. Yet you just said you support the lengthening of jail sentences for violent criminals. Yet it's a fact that jail creates hardened criminals.

So do you or don't you want longer sentences for all violent criminals?

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

You can think what you want (none / 0) (#57)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:09:52 PM EST

I fully agree with longer incarceration for violent criminals.

Now if we could only stop turning regular people into hardened criminals (via unnecessary prison sentences) by repealing the drug laws.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
OK (none / 1) (#59)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:16:03 PM EST

So you believe that you'll stop all becoming hardened criminals by repealing the drug laws. I'd like to do this, just to prove to you that it would stop hardened criminals from being formed in the jail system!

Heck, you'd still have theives and small time crooks going to jail. They'd still be getting hardened.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Doh! (none / 0) (#60)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:16:38 PM EST

That should be "wouldn't".

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Sounds good. /nt (none / 0) (#62)
by truth versus death on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:20:22 PM EST



"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Mirrors (2.83 / 12) (#25)
by toulouse on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 11:19:10 AM EST

I feel moved to speak out against capital punishment in particular. What do you think?

I think this is predominantly an American issue. Canada doesn't have the death penalty. The UK doesn't have the death penalty. The vast majority of Europe doesn't have the death penalty. Australia and New Zealand don't have the death penalty. Turkey, in contravention of some hardline Islamic proclamations, recently dispensed with it.

Looking at the list of those countries which permit it, and those which don't, the U.S. and Japan are keeping some very fine company indeed, yessiree.


--
'My god...it's full of blogs.' - ktakki
--


Your Turkey remark (2.50 / 4) (#29)
by nusuth on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:05:31 PM EST

From your BBC link: "A moratorium on the death penalty had already been in place in Turkey since 1984." The reason it was not abolished sooner has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with terrorism Turkey had to suffer till year 2000. In case you are not aware, Turkey is officially not under Islamic law for the last 80 years and a lot longer than that if you consider how little of late Ottoman Empire's, and the early Turkish Republic's sharia is actually rooted in islam.

[ Parent ]
Quite right. (none / 2) (#30)
by toulouse on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:09:52 PM EST

Now, kindly, point out exactly where anything I said contradicts the point you just made.


--
'My god...it's full of blogs.' - ktakki
--


[ Parent ]
do I not read this correct? (none / 3) (#31)
by nusuth on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:17:13 PM EST

"... in contravention of some hardline Islamic proclamations ..." isn't that supposed to imply that one wouldn't expect Turkey to abolish death penalty because Islam supports death penalty quite strongly and that the civil laws are made considering Islamic arguments?

[ Parent ]
inference is not implication [nt] (none / 3) (#32)
by toulouse on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:19:47 PM EST


--
'My god...it's full of blogs.' - ktakki
--


[ Parent ]
homogeneity (none / 3) (#81)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:54:00 PM EST

If the hallmark of civilization is for everyone to slavishly have a single mentality, then you might have a point. But we don't. As long as we recognize the sovereignty of each state, they have a degree of freedom in establishing their own laws.

There's a reason why the Borg were enemies.

Americans may come to believe as you believe. I rather doubt it since much of what comprises the American identity is also what creates an acceptance for capital punishment. This would include things like individualism as well as freedom married to responsibility. This is why when we see someone commit the most heinous acts, we see it as fair that they receive what they gave to others. It's also one of the reasons we are reluctant to accept socialized medicine.

And we're going to stand by this sense of individualism for a good long time. We are not from a single culture, we are from all cultures and lack a single identity. As a result, a German will know that his German family and friends will be there to help carry them in their old age. We have no such expectations here. Here, we debate whether English is even our national language. This lack of uniformity (and the safety net that comes from uniformity) is the defining character of Americans. It's a mixed blessing of course. On the one hand, it breeds the adventuresome, aggressive, productive, inventive, industrious people. On the other, it also breeds an equally aggressive judicial system, one that has you bear the full consequences of your action.

While many people would counter this with a procedural argument (saying that the system is imperfect), you'll notice that this isn't the argument against capital punishment per se; presumably if the system were perfect, capital punishment would be acceptable. The fact that so many people discuss capital punishment along a procedural argument in America is evidence that we don't have a problem with the act itself. In some ways, this is the virtue of this article, that it argues directly to the heart of the person who opposes the death penalty itself. I disagree with him, but he's making the argument for the right reasons.

So, if you want to look only at effects and ignore all of the causes that bring them about, then yes, we're in terrible company. But what brings us into this rather dubious fellowship with some brutal authoritarian countries is more like a horseshoe than a balloon. We are not of the same mindset trapped inside together, but we are so far in the direction of liberty and personal freedom that we appear tyrranical. It is the difference between a revolutionary and a reactionary.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
still... (none / 0) (#163)
by gdanjo on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:11:06 PM EST

While many people would counter this with a procedural argument (saying that the system is imperfect), you'll notice that this isn't the argument against capital punishment per se; presumably if the system were perfect, capital punishment would be acceptable. [...]
Wrong. By that reasoning, if the system were perfect we could kill people for littering. After all, people should know that littering is wrong, and that the perfection of the system guarantees that you will be caught, so why did you litter? Obviously, you wanted to die.

You cannot seperate out the imperfection of the system from the underlying reason for the objection. It's a statement that, it is logically impossible to have a perfect system, therefore capital punishment should be banned.

So, if you want to look only at effects and ignore all of the causes that bring them about, then yes, we're in terrible company. [...]
You can rationalise yourself out of every "company" that you care to classify, but this does not mean that the company you keep says nothing about you. Sure, all my friends could be in the mafia even though I'm not; all my friends could be gangsters, and I'm not; all my friends could be of the opinion that George Bush is the greatest president ever, while I'm a democrat. But the company I keep still says something about my own morals and beliefs.

Similarly, while the USA may have legitimate reasons to keep the death penalty, the reminder of the company she keeps will hopefully give her a sense of what it is exactly that she is doing; rationalise it all you want, it's still killing, and it's usually something that only "bad" countries do.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

not really (none / 1) (#168)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 01:54:58 AM EST

By my reasoning, procedural arguments are a different class of argument. It doesn't argue whether capital punishment is a moral thing but whether each time it is exercised, we do it on the right person. Notice the difference: if we argue procedurally, we fear killing the wrong person--we're not concerned that someone is getting killed, just who.

Also, I don't think you need a perfect system to guarantee an effective use of capital punishment. Is there any doubt as to the guilt of Charles Manson? A perfect system, although desirable, isn't always a necessary condition.

But sure, the last time we accepted guilt by association as a legitimate argument was during the McCarthy hearings. If you're trying to get us in to a more enlightened less barbaric time, you're going to have to use better sophistry. The only reason I can see people employing guilt by association is to avoid thinking. I'm sure you know people who speed. I guess we should send a speeding ticket to your house, then? Why think about it since it only matters as much as the choice to use capital punishment.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
sure, but ... (none / 0) (#169)
by gdanjo on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:37:45 AM EST

[...] Notice the difference: if we argue procedurally, we fear killing the wrong person--we're not concerned that someone is getting killed, just who.
Sure, if we argue procedurally then it is not a contradiction to have the opinion that the death penalty is OK and also have the opinion that killing the incorrect person is wrong. But it goes the other way too: to assert the procedural argument is NOT to assert that the death penalty is OK in other cases; we can say "the death penalty is bad" as well as "the death penalty is bad when it kills an innocent person" and not contradict ourselves.

But sure, the last time we accepted guilt by association as a legitimate argument was during the McCarthy hearings. If you're trying to get us in to a more enlightened less barbaric time, you're going to have to use better sophistry. [...]
I specifically stated that the company one keeps tells us something, but to conclude that this equates to "guilt" is ludicrous.

To me, "more enlightened" means "to know more" and so guilt-by-association is to reduce the total amount of knowledge, since the reasons of the association are lost. But to go the other way - to say that association tells us nothing - is also a loss of information, since you deny the association that is clearly and irrefutably there.

Enlightenement - the state of "more knowledge" - is somewhere between ice-cold rationalisation and boiling-hot rhetoric. It is neither extreme.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

commanility is not an association (none / 0) (#174)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:28:37 AM EST

I have a penis just like half the people on the earth. What does this say about me? It tells me that I belong in the class of all humans that have a penis. Nothing more. There's a difference between extension and intension, you know.

Other than this point, though, I think we're in relative agreement. My entire point was that a procedural argument doesn't decide anything about capital punishment itself and vice versa. The funny thing (in the sense of something smelling funny) is when people make the procedural argument and then claim a moral victory solely on its merits. I think we can now see that it does not. And yet, the most often quoted argument opposing executions is the procedural argument.

The reason I bring this up is because if you really want to defeat the public's desire for capital punishment, then you have to speak to a person's desire for it in the first place. Otherwise, all that you've done is similar to declaring racism illegal. You haven't really done anything to change anyone's mind and as a result, there will be a constant to and fro about the merits of capital punishment since you really haven't done what it takes to convince people of its immorality. It's the more difficult argument, to be sure, but one that you have to make. This is why so often you see capital punishment banned in a state, and then lifted, and then banned again, and then lifted once more. No one is really convincing anyone because they are not really discussing the issue.

In many ways, I'm ambivalent to the issue. I haven't heard a satisfactory argument either way on the matter and after studying philosophy in college for 5 years, I've heard quite a few.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
my opinion (none / 0) (#179)
by gdanjo on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 08:27:23 AM EST

I have a penis just like half the people on the earth. What does this say about me? It tells me that I belong in the class of all humans that have a penis. Nothing more. [...]
It says that you're in the top 50% of all people likely to get cancer of the testicles; also, it tells me which bathroom you (should) use.

And the company that USA keeps tells of attitudes towards human life that, whether right or wrong, is not in sync with the rest of the countries that the USA may call their friend. That's all I'm saying.

In many ways, I'm ambivalent to the issue. I haven't heard a satisfactory argument either way on the matter and after studying philosophy in college for 5 years, I've heard quite a few.
I think the very fact that there is no decisive, instrumental, and self-evident answer either way is enough to err on the side of "good" - that is, don't kill if you don't need to, and this applies to your enemy as well.

But that's just my (emotive) opinion.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

some remarks (none / 0) (#282)
by khallow on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 05:36:02 AM EST

I have a penis just like half the people on the earth. What does this say about me? It tells me that I belong in the class of all humans that have a penis. Nothing more. There's a difference between extension and intension, you know.

Prove that there's a difference between intension and extension. Mathematically, it's not provable that there's a difference between the set of descriptions (or perhaps properties) of a set and the set itself. Eg, under ZFC (Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms plus axiom of choice), the most common axiom framework for mathematics, the two are indistinguishable.

Other than this point, though, I think we're in relative agreement. My entire point was that a procedural argument doesn't decide anything about capital punishment itself and vice versa. The funny thing (in the sense of something smelling funny) is when people make the procedural argument and then claim a moral victory solely on its merits. I think we can now see that it does not. And yet, the most often quoted argument opposing executions is the procedural argument.

OTOH, a procedural argument is more honest and efficient. Why should we consider whether capital punishment can be proper, if we can't implement it in a proper way? Why argue the issue at all?

The reason I bring this up is because if you really want to defeat the public's desire for capital punishment, then you have to speak to a person's desire for it in the first place. Otherwise, all that you've done is similar to declaring racism illegal. You haven't really done anything to change anyone's mind and as a result, there will be a constant to and fro about the merits of capital punishment since you really haven't done what it takes to convince people of its immorality. It's the more difficult argument, to be sure, but one that you have to make. This is why so often you see capital punishment banned in a state, and then lifted, and then banned again, and then lifted once more. No one is really convincing anyone because they are not really discussing the issue.

Is there something wrong with this process? This sort of flip-flopping on issues is natural. Society has to try different ways. Arguments alone don't convince.

I, for example, don't see anything inherently immoral with capital punishment or with banning capital punishment. Society can do well or poorly given either choice.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Oh, (none / 2) (#175)
by tetsuwan on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:44:44 AM EST

but you still think that capitalism should be enforced at the gunpoint?

What you are saying is basically: any value that is not American should not be allowed to spread.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Socialized medicine (2.83 / 6) (#212)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:44:25 PM EST

No, the reason we don't have socialized medicine like civilized countries do is because our government is beholden only to the corporations, and our populace is a bunch of brainless cows who listen to Rush Oxycontin.

The insurance companies would lose too much money. Can't let THAT happen!

Note that we do NOT have the best health care, but we DO have the most expensive health care.

My best friend died from lack of health insurance, so I'm very, very easy to troll on this subject. Anyone who works in any capacity for any insurance company is, IMO, going straight to Hell when they die.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Are there really no good insurance companies? (none / 0) (#229)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:02:44 AM EST

I'm not trying to troll you and I know most insurance companies are deeply evil; but is there not one good insurance company out there? Some sort of provident society insurance company? I'll admit I couldn't find much on google but I don't really know what I'm looking for.

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

I'm no expert (none / 0) (#248)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 10:07:29 AM EST

But I would guess that any "good" insurance company would soon lose money and get bought out by an evil one.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Why we don't have socialized health care... (none / 0) (#299)
by curunir on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 04:10:10 AM EST

I won't go into all the reasons why the US doesn't have socialized health care, but simplifying it to the "evil corporate interests" argument is pretty much wrong.

You're right to point out that insurance companies have much to gain with the current state of affairs, but they by no means represent corporate America. The vast majority of corporate America would love to be rid of the responsability of providing benefits to their employees. For example, Lee Iacocca is a strong supporter of publicly funded health care. When he was chairman of Chrystler, he was quoted many times about how for every vehicle he produced he started out $1000 (or so...can't remember the exact number) in the hole compared to his Japanese competitors.

Oh...and my experience with this issue comes from working for a PBM (Perscription Benefits Management) company. Not quite an insurance company, but somewhat similar. Having been to numerous conferences where these issues have been discussed, they are never as cut-and-dried as you've made them out to be. These are complicated issues for which there really isn't a single correct answer.

However, if I were forced to point the finger at the most blatant reason that medicine is so expensive in this country, I would point the finger at our legal system. A sizable portion (1/3 to 1/2) of what we pay for health insurance or medical treatment is spent to ensure our right to sue for malpractice. Putting a cap on malpractice claims would go a long way towards making insurance affordable to everyone.

Like you, I'm very easy to troll on these issues since almost any opinion expressed on these boards will likely be overly simplistic and lacking in real-world experience.

[ Parent ]
What the fuck? Racist. (none / 2) (#95)
by Harold Faltermeyer on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:17:25 AM EST

Lovely how you suggest the list containing the "U.S. and Japan" is somehow a list of awful countries with your sarcasm about "fine company". Do you have some sort of fucking issue with the following countries, at a very minimum, such that you're willing to say that they're somehow morally inferior or make bad company for respectable nations like the US and Japan?

Korea, South
Malaysia
Philippines
Singapore
Taiwan
Thailand
Vietnam

And I'm being pretty generous there too by not listing India, Pakistan, and other "questionable" or minor countries. No offense but I'd rather live in a lot of these countries than the US.

[ Parent ]

I have an issue (none / 0) (#318)
by aphrael on Sat Jan 14, 2006 at 01:49:05 PM EST

with the use of the death penalty for drug offenses, which is allowed in some of those countries.

[ Parent ]
Re: Mirrors (none / 0) (#273)
by drsmithy on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 08:18:46 PM EST

Looking at the list of those countries which permit it, and those which don't, the U.S. and Japan are keeping some very fine company indeed, yessiree.

Personally I'd be more interested in the public opinions of those places. Often, in countries without capital punishment, public support for the death penalty is quite high (ie: whether or not a country uses the death penalty is not always indicative of that country's opinion on the death penalty).

[ Parent ]

This has already been covered 10-fold (1.08 / 12) (#27)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 11:51:01 AM EST

Here, it's a book. Enjoy. -1, lacklustre rehash


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
Look here little boy (1.42 / 7) (#46)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:24:17 PM EST

Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it shouldn't be on Kuro5hin. Now go play in your sandpit and let the grownups talk.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Look here little boy, (none / 0) (#102)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 08:43:46 AM EST

perhaps you should do a little more reading within the realm of great Enlightenment thinkers. This story is perhaps one of the most trite treatments of the topic I have ever seen.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
Yeah? (none / 0) (#246)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 09:13:45 AM EST

Well, while you're flapping on about enlightened thinkers, there are people getting killed.

Fine words don't mean shit when someone's brother is getting killed. Apart from the fact that there's no second chance with the death penalty there are many innocents convicted wrongly.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Now here's a constructive comment. (none / 2) (#155)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:33:08 PM EST

So basically because a book has been published, all other discussion of the topic must cease?

As for 'triteness', you may not agree with me.  That is your right.  But I though better than to post the 20,000 words it would take to render the article to your satisfaction - some of us have more to do than read Kuro5hin all day.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]

Ahhh....this is soooo US centric....(nt) (1.20 / 5) (#35)
by Saad on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:18:01 PM EST


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
Is it? (none / 1) (#44)
by alby on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:54:36 PM EST

78 Countries have the death penalty as a legal form of punishment.

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

It is good to see... (none / 0) (#96)
by truth versus death on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:33:22 AM EST

The U.S. is in the wonderful company of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
I thought Iraq got rid...? (none / 0) (#98)
by gordonjcp on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:03:26 AM EST

I'm sure they'd got rid of capital punishment, but were talking of making an exception for Saddam Hussein?

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Just basing it.... (none / 0) (#128)
by truth versus death on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:36:06 PM EST

On the information at alby's supplied link. I'm not sure how authoritative the WikiPedia is.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Scratch that (none / 0) (#129)
by truth versus death on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:37:03 PM EST

WikiPedia is by no means authoritative.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
one thing bothers me about anti-death penalty (1.60 / 5) (#38)
by circletimessquare on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:15:11 PM EST

it is obvious that a way to distinguish between barbarism and civilization is fairness, and that has meant the death penalty for less and less things, as "fairness" has come to mean different things to people as the very notion of justice has evolved over time

however, it seems to me that you cannot rule out the death penalty completely, for there arises some crimes that it still seems appropriate for

so while i am against the death penalty for a lot of reasons and cases that it is used for nowadays around the world, i am not comfortable with taking the death penality completely off the table of the range of choices one can choose from for punishment for certain crimes

and if you asked me to name such crimes, i need not answer, i am merely saying that the death penalty should never be completely removed from consideration

when that crime happens where the death penalty is appropriate, we will know it


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Oh come on off it! (2.40 / 5) (#45)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:22:27 PM EST

You can't sit on the fence like that! Either come out for the death penalty, or don't at all. Firstly, you have to have laws that very deliberately and precisely define what you can put someone to death for. Can you imagine if a judge put someone to death arbitrarily?

Imagine you're in a Muslim nation (as religion seems to be the only way of stirring you up). Most of the population are Muslim, and an Atheist decides to exercise their ability to speak out against Mohammed. This is counted as blasphemy and the person is ordered to be put to death. Most people in the country agree with the court's decision because they "know" the death penalty is appropriate.

Like my little scenario? I'll bet you don't. But by having no definition of what a person should be put to death for and leaving it up to the masses this could be what happens.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

ok (1.00 / 4) (#58)
by circletimessquare on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:12:46 PM EST

someone of sane mind who kills a pre-teen child (for the sake of hiding their sexual atrocities against the child, for instance)

i assert this not for the eye-for-an-eye impulse: you took my child's life, you should die

nor for the preventative idea: if i kill you, less will be likely to do such acts

but simply because behaviors so outside the sense of moral outrage of 99.9999999% of the world's population (killing a child while sane is not near any culture's "ok" list) must be reaffirmed with our desire to prove to ourselves that their is bite behind our bark

in other words, what we believe is moral and right: is it just hot air? or are we willing to prove it?

if we assert a belief  in the most strongest possible language, and we are not willing to back it up, then where is the backbone to human existence and our life-affirming impulses?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Well, that's a bit different. (none / 3) (#61)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:20:01 PM EST

You've just defined a reason to kill someone. Now codify this in law so Judges can, like, actually have something to judge against!

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
100% right (none / 3) (#63)
by circletimessquare on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:25:13 PM EST

you called me on my evasiveness in my original comment, and you were 100% right to do so ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
lol! (nt) (none / 3) (#64)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:27:04 PM EST



---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Sane mind? (none / 2) (#211)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:42:41 PM EST

How could anyone who was in the least, tiniest bit sane ever kill a kid for any reason? How could anyone with the tiniest bit of sanity ever commit sexual atrocities against a kid?

In fact, I believe it would be impossible for a sane person to commit murder.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I don't buy your premises. (2.50 / 4) (#39)
by Polverone on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:28:34 PM EST

As you suspected some might, I don't consider the lawful execution of a murderer to be a wrong. Apart from the one-way nature of execution, your arguments would hold equally against imprisonment. I think that imprisonment is often brutal, due mostly to inmate-on-inmate violence, and it doesn't seem to do a very good job of reforming criminals. It's also expensive (execution even more so, in the US). That said, I don't have a superior method to offer.

Your idea to have criminals do difficult and dangerous work to pay back society sounds loopy. If you don't provide them with adequate health and safety protection, congratulations; you've reinvented the slow-motion execution of the gulag. If you do provide them with adequate protection, they're doing jobs that free people formerly did for pay. This is not to mention the training and supervision needed before I'd trust convicted criminals to deal with chemical spills. There are no jobs that need to be done that aren't already done by free citizens or machines. Anything you come up with will either be busywork punishment or undermine the free people already doing similar jobs.

My opposition to the death penalty is based simply on the fact that innocent people have been wrongly convicted of capital crimes, and there is no guarantee that this will never again happen. If we had an oracle that could perfectly determine innocence/guilt, my opposition to the death penalty for (at least some varieties of) murder would melt away.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.

Don't have a superior method? (2.88 / 9) (#41)
by ShooterNeo on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:47:05 PM EST

Actually, a superior method exists.  In Sweden, imprisonment is FAR laxer, with shorter sentences.  A study found that prisoners are fed higher quality food than typical university students.  Job training and jobs are available to prisoners that pay going market rates.  For nonviolent offenders (cheating accountants), security measures consist of a daily bed check.  A prisoner's boy or girl friend can visit for sex.  Prisoners are also segregated by crime.  

Life sentences are rare, only about a dozen individuals in all of sweden (they have more murderers than that) have been sentenced to life.

Result?  One of the lowest crime and recidivism rates in the world.

There's hysteria, there's emotion, and then there's the truth.  This is the truth.

[ Parent ]

Sweden (3.00 / 6) (#82)
by nstender on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 11:02:53 PM EST

The lower rate of crime is more a result of Sweden maintaining "one of the world's most advanced social welfare systems" [1] than anything else. Everybody has access to edcuation, healthcare and unemployment benefits. For a price. Income taxes can go up to 60%, VAT is usually around 25%.

Greenland is another example of a liberal system. "Nor does Greenland have a penal system as known by the correctional services in Western countries. The Greenland Criminal Code does not mention punishment and has no penal limits, but offers a number of special sanctions, from which the court can choose the sanction which seems best suited to prevent the offender from relapsing into crime." [2]

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 3) (#94)
by ShooterNeo on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:00:41 AM EST

So basically, give 'criminals' a job and prevent horrible things from happening to them that might incite a crime, BEFORE they commit one.  You can't actually establish which is causing the effect, its a more complex problem.  I just know that crime rates went down when they made the punishment less about punishment and more about productive improvements in the incarcerated.

One fact needs to be noted.  As a whole, if doing things that help the criminal, or even are pleasant for the accused, does IN FACT (yes conservatives will jump on any suggestion that makes prison anything but hell as making recidivism and further crime more likely) reduce crime, it IS justice.

Why would treating a criminal and giving them job training be justice?  Shouldn't the victim(s) of their crime get their vengeance?  It is justice if it IN FACT reduces crime, even if the reason for it is not logical according to popular reasoning.  This is because in most cases the criminal must eventually be released, and anything that truly prevents FUTURE victims is also justice.  (society can't really give life sentences or death for the majority of crimes....well, it COULD, but that could have grave consequences)

[ Parent ]

It occurs to me (3.00 / 6) (#152)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:28:23 PM EST

That the US penal system as it stands is a major _cause_ of recidivism.  Having visited a friend in jail, I can tell you that no matter who you were before you went in, you must become much worse in order to survive the other prisoners.  And that was in a small jail in the middle of nowhere.  I shudder to think what some of the larger, maximum security ones are like.  Basically if you're not a maniac when you go in, you either come out as one or in a body bag.  This is a clear example of where "that *sshole must pay" results in the "*sshole" becoming much, much worse - lets throw him in with a bunch of other, organized, criminals.

I suspect that Sweden's system is a result of both better education/social welfare and jails where they aren't ineffectual enough to allow organized crime.

Obviously I'm not an expert or I wouldn't be on Kuro5hin.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]

My friend's brother (none / 1) (#210)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:41:55 PM EST

...spent five years in prison for the crime of being stupid. To make a long story not quite so long, the biggest drug dealer in town asked him for a loan and Jimbo loaned him the thousand bucks. His crime was conspiracy.

The drug dealer only spent 2 years, as he ratted out all the users, most of whom spent more time in prison that Jimbo. This was a big deal in Cahokia at the time; half the people Evil X went to high school with were in prison over this one dealer.

But at any rate, Jimbo was sure of himself, relaxed, OK with the world. He came out pretty jumpy, although I sw him a few weeks ago and he's almost normal now, after being free for the last ten years.

And the coke dealer he loaned the money to is, of course, selling coke again.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

That brings up another little gripe I have... (none / 0) (#250)
by spammacus on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 10:14:39 AM EST

About the war on drugs. Why don't they go after the people _selling_ the stuff instead of filling the jails with users and other related people? The dealers are the real problem. Most of the users are the type of 'criminal' that actually may have a reasonable change of benefiting from a community service type sentence. But I guess this is a whole 'nother can of worms.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
They go after the dealers too. (none / 1) (#289)
by Polverone on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 04:22:08 PM EST

As far as I can tell, the food chain works like this:

growers, manufacturers, or large-scale smugglers
dealers who supply dealers
dealers who supply users
users

Unfortunately, people can be treated as "dealers" regardless of whether or not there's records or other evidence of customers or transactions. They can be charged with "possession with intent to distribute" simply because they have over a threshold amount of a drug (and the thresholds can be low). This bill from West Virginia, for example, sets those thresholds at 3 grams for cocaine and 45 grams for marijuana. This man has 5 grams of cocaine in his possession! Only Superman and dealers can use that much coke! Let's lock up this dealer!

Facetious question: is possession of 3 or more vehicles prima facie evidence of intent to deal? Should you be considered a car dealer if you have 4 cars, even apart from any evidence of sales taking place?

Making sure that only actual dealers are convicted as such is too much work, so you should expect future efforts to "go after dealers" to also encourage crackdowns on users with slightly larger stashes. Further, a lot of users are also small scale dealers, so even a system that did just convict dealers could end up wasting a lot of money and lives compared to the hoped-for benefit.

Basically, I think that drugs can help people seriously screw up their lives but the War on Drugs causes a lot more misery than the drugs alone would. Fighting harder or better isn't the answer; ending the war might be. The fear is that in a society with few controls on drugs, many more people would end up unproductive drug abusers. We don't know whether or not this is true, and the federal government of the USA is not likely to allow any states to experiment with alternatives to the War, so evidence may remain scarce for a long time (Netherlands etc. provide evidence of limited use, since culture is different too).
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Vengeance (2.50 / 4) (#209)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:40:39 PM EST

"yes conservatives will jump on any suggestion that makes prison anything but hell as making recidivism and further crime more likely"

Those "conservatives" are the same people you see in church every week. They should be informed that their Bible demands that vengeance belongs to God, and Man should not attempt to steal that vengeance.

Some Christians truly ARE Christians, visiting the killers of their children in jail to tell them they are forgiven.

I don't think I'm that good od a Christian. If somebody killed one of my kids I'm not sure I could keep from torturing the killer to death, let alone forgive. But I know what I'm supposed to do.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I am against the death penalty. (1.80 / 5) (#49)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:31:01 PM EST

I inherently have a problem with state sponsered murder. When the state does it, the execution is a political act. The death penalty is unevenly and unfairly applied. The only situation is which I could see the death penalty being an option is when our laws are perfect, and the application of them uncorrupted.

When will that happen? Probably never. That said...

Just because I'm against capital punishment doesn't mean I don't think that some people deserve to die. You kidnapped, raped, tortured, and killed a little kid? Maybe several little kids? Watch your back. I am in full support of that child's family coming after you and slicing your balls off and killing you. You kill someone I love in cold blood? Brother, I'm coming after you until one of us is dead.

In other words, state execution: no. Vigilantism: yes.

This is one aspect that I think the (haha) justice systems in the Muslim world have the edge on our pastel-postcard Christianity. In Iran, if someone murders a woman, they'll let that woman's husband or their father strafe the sonofabitch with an AK. Not that Iran is a great support of women's rights or anything, but if they tone down some of the more extreme parts of their Sharia, I think they'll have something good going on.

Please give an example of this. (none / 1) (#56)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:59:05 PM EST

Just one will do, I'm interested to see if you can back up the AK argument with an example.

Incidently, if they tone down the more extreme parts of Shariah law, then won't this take away the killing of a person by the victims families. Oh, and just out of interest - what makes you think that a vigilante is going to be any better at finding out the true perpetrator of a crime than the existing legal system will?

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Okay... (none / 2) (#65)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:39:38 PM EST

Years ago, I remember reading a quick article on a man sentenced to death in Iran for murdering a young woman, and that woman's father was the one who executed him, using an AK. However, I cannot find that article again.

I did dig up this, which pretty much makes my point. The relevant info comes in the middle of the page:

Iran's version of Islamic law gives the family of a murder victim the right to demand death, or grant mercy in the form of a prison term. In one famous case at the beginning of last year, 17-year-old Morteza Amini Moqaddam, hands cuffed, tears streaking his face, was already in the noose and seconds from death when the victim's father told authorities to call it off. He had been moved by pleas from the boy's family and many of the 4,000 onlookers.

Perhaps the case I stated earlier is a rarity, but it is in keeping with Iranian Sharia.

As for my take on vigilantism. Of course there are obvious mistakes an abuses of vigilantism that should be avoided (you know, like lynch mobs). But if you catch someone in the act, or their caught and confess (assuming of course the confession isn't beaten out of them, and there is physical evidence to back up their conviction) what's wrong with finding a lifer in the same prison they're being sent to, hooking them up with three cartons of cigarettes and a subscription to Hustler in exchange for shanking your buddy in the shower room? It's the same ends as the death penalty, but much cheaper, not to mention much more satisfying.



[ Parent ]
I can think of one good reason. (none / 1) (#66)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:50:57 PM EST

What if you just say that you've caught them in the act because you don't like them, then kill them and say you caught them committing a heinous crime? Where's the burden of proof, and more to the point, what's stopping someone doing this to one of your loved ones?

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Easy. (none / 3) (#68)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:05:36 PM EST

It is illegal to murder someone. If you have murdered someone, no matter what the circumstances, you should be arrested and tried for murder.

Now, there are mitigating circumstances. Let's say you murdered in self-defense or the defense of others. After an investigation, your sentence will be less (and maybe none at all) depending on how justified the murder was. And if there is no record of violent crime in your past, or a pattern of these acts, you may just get probation. Someone who is just trying to set someone up because they don't like them, well, they deserve to go down, and likely will.

Also, there is an insanity defense. I think that coming home and finding your toddler hemorraging out of his butthole and some pervert zipping his pants up would be a mind bending experience (I'm sure a first year law student could make it fit the M'Naughton test also.)

You misunderstand me when I say that vigilantism can be morally justified. When I say that, I don't mean it should be *legally* justified, because then it becomes nothing but a loophole for the state.

If one of my loved ones was killed when they were seriously harming another person, I'd be sad, but I'd understand that when you fuck with the bull, you get the horns. So much for the cycle of retribution.

[ Parent ]

I agree with the Psycho (none / 3) (#85)
by speek on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 11:42:55 PM EST

I may need to have my head examined. Frankly, I consider myself above the law. If I feel something needs doing that the law disallows, screw the law. I may be sent to jail, but only if I get caught and don't get away. My own sense of morality is not owned by the legal system, and I'm not giving it up for anything.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Wow. (2.00 / 3) (#104)
by Pvt Pyle on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:29:24 AM EST

Congratulations, you're Chaotic Neutral!

[ Parent ]
sounds about right [nt] (none / 0) (#110)
by speek on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:19:07 AM EST


--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Legal doesn't mean moral. (none / 3) (#126)
by Psycho Dave on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 02:52:03 PM EST

The truly free man is not obliged to follow a law he disagrees with.

Oh, that's arrogant? Have you ever driven over the speed limit? Driven even though your BAC is over .08? Ever smoked pot? Or spit on the sidewalk? Are those actions immoral?

No, but each is illegal.

What if we were living in more fascist times? What if it was illegal to hide Jews in your attic? Or to teach black people how to read? Would you obey the law because it's the law (bahh-bahhh) or would you follow your own code of ethics?

[ Parent ]

I wasn't being sarcastic at all, btw [nt] (none / 0) (#153)
by speek on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:28:54 PM EST


--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

P.S. (none / 2) (#67)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:53:18 PM EST

I'm glad to see you found an example. I forgot to comment on this, and that seems rude.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Who decides guilt? (none / 2) (#199)
by ghjm on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 05:43:48 PM EST

Do you have a courtroom trial, and then the state issues you some sort of 'vigilante permit' that gives you permission to hunt down and kill the murderer (if you can)? Does this happen out in the streets, or do they just strap him to a wall for you? If it happens in the streets, what happens if you accidentally peg someone else with a stray round?

Do we want America to be a place where legalized vengeance killings happen at the mall? Who has to pay to clean the brains and blood off the wall at the Gap store?

-Graham

[ Parent ]

You're wrong (none / 1) (#207)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:37:52 PM EST

ALL criminals deserve to die, as well as all of the rest of us. And die we will, every last one. The phrase "he didn't deserve to die" is stupid.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

-1, NOT GOTH ENOUGH (1.09 / 11) (#69)
by Master Shake on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:08:27 PM EST

This topic has been covered before. The story is not particularly revolutionary. Please edit accordingly.

Screw you... (1.20 / 5) (#74)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:52:28 PM EST

You're a lameass who probably thinks that Evanescence is goth. Or worse, an Insane Clown Posse fan, go shove a two liter of Faygo up your ass and fuck off.

[ Parent ]
I'm not goth. (none / 0) (#76)
by Master Shake on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:15:27 PM EST

And you have been trolled.

[ Parent ]
No shit. (nt) (none / 1) (#127)
by Psycho Dave on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:23:56 PM EST



[ Parent ]
If you feel moved to speak out against (none / 3) (#79)
by mami on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:19:24 PM EST

capital punishment, son, just go and speak out.

You are on the right track and doing the right thing. It's also about time that U.S. catches up and joins the 19th century.

I happened to read the first German Constitutiona from March 28th 1849. Paragraph 135 states that ... "the punishment of civil death shall not be executed". We are now in the 21rst century and people here are still not "getting it".

Actually, that was paragraph 139 (nt) (none / 0) (#80)
by mami on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:21:23 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Let's get Godwin out of the way... (none / 1) (#120)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 12:41:48 PM EST

As we all know, the germans have been gentle pacifists for thousands of years, as evidenced by their 1849 constitution.

In all seriousness, I suppose I can accept that Hitler was a madman who broke that rule, and that I can't hold it against the german people or their constitution. However, are you saying that if he had been captured alive, he should have been put in prison for life? How about the other high ranking nazis?

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

No, not at all - It's worthwhile to study (2.80 / 5) (#136)
by mami on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:00:28 PM EST

what constitutional legal conditions helped to dismantle the Weimar Constitution in the late 1920s and allowed the presidential powers (of the Reichstagspresident in the early 1930) to become inappropriately strong, which then became also the trigger for the collapse of all constitutional human rights legislation, once Hitler was nominated and dissolved the German Reichstag only two days after that.

Once you have no functioning democratic constitution, which respects human rights, you are in a "lawless" state. This "lawless" state of the "Third Reich" was defeated by the Allies as of May 45 and Germany was legislated by and under the military supreme command of the Allied Armed Forces.

Only as of May 8th, 1949 the three Western zones under the Allied Command of the U.S., France and Britain, established the new German Grundgesetz for the Federal Republic of Germany, and only as of May 30th 1949 was a marxist-leninist constitution established for the German Democratic Republic of the zone that was under Sowjet control.

If Hitler had been captured alive before 1949, he would have been sentenced by Military Tribunal of the Allied Forces, which of course can rightfully include the death penalty.

If Hitler had only been found alive AFTER May 1949 on German territory, I think, he might have been sentenced under the new German constitutions for the FDR and GDR, dependent where he would have been found. (FDR's constitution not having death penalty). But I am not even sure of that. I think he still would have been sentenced under a Military Tribunal of the Allied Command. I simply don't know.

The issue of the death penalty being appropriate for POW, which Hitler would have been had he been found alive between 1945 and 1949, I think, is independent of the magnitude of the evil he was responsible for, it's just dependent on which laws were applicable at the time of his finding.

If you think that in a constitutional democracy the Armed Forces military role is solely to defend the democracy, security and freedom of its citizens and to defeat any powers that try to destroy them, it is clear that military law in a constitutional democracy can include the death penalty, whereas IMO death penalty shouldn't be part of civil criminal law. It's a pretty useless law considering punishment and deterrence, it's also not humane, nor Christian, nor cheap, nor smart, nor civilized.

BTW, I am not quite sure how you know so much about German's thousand year-old gentle pacifism, I hadn't had a chance to study that. May be you study a bit of the U.S. 250 year-old democracy and respect for human rights for a change? That might broaden your view points eventually.

[ Parent ]

OT (none / 0) (#312)
by kurioszyn on Sat Jul 24, 2004 at 10:42:16 PM EST

"Once you have no functioning democratic constitution, which respects human rights, you are in a "lawless" state. This "lawless" state of the "Third Reich" was defeated by the Allies as of May 45 and Germany was legislated by and under the military supreme command of the Allied Armed Forces."

There you go.
I knew the war against Saddam was justified.


[ Parent ]

Castrate instead. (none / 2) (#83)
by Sen on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 11:17:17 PM EST

That can surely rehabilitate. I did it volunatrily, and my grades went up!

Interesting thought. (none / 1) (#195)
by FieryTaco on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 04:17:43 PM EST

Even though this is likely a troll, it's an interesting thought. Chemical castration is available and as long as the substance is in the body, production of testosterone and similar substances is reduced or eliminated. People sometimes receive court ordered chemical castration. It should be a part of the water supply in all prisons in order to reduce aggression and violence.

[ Parent ]
"Likely" a troll? (none / 0) (#235)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:37:55 AM EST

I know they (used to?) put Bromine in the water on Army Camp...

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

Yeah, yeah. (none / 0) (#311)
by Zerotime on Sat Jul 24, 2004 at 01:54:18 AM EST

And saltpeter in the coffee.

---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
Several deep problems (2.71 / 7) (#84)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 11:29:26 PM EST

If vengeance is not acceptable, then no law should be punitive? So, no more speeding tickets? No more building codes or health regulations? Helmet and seatbelt laws? No crime to commit tax evasion? What if a person fails to pay restitution? In all of the above cases, jailtime or fines are always punitive.

This is part of the problem in trying to cast all sanctions as restitution. They are not. One of the old definitions of law is that they are sanctions that establish the norms. Law has almost never been concerned with making sure that there was an equitable balance between the criminal and its victim. Instead, if you commit a crime, when you are caught you will face a consequence that was established long before you did what you did. If it happens to be paid to a family or if it is served in jail these are the sanctions from deviating from the norm. And in a way, this is how you have to think about it; otherwise, to whom do you pay restitution if you didn't have two witnesses when you composed your will (thereby making your will nullified)? The idea of restitution doesn't even make sense in this case.

Another deep problem is in holding two wrongs do not make a right. You have to expand that section to the size of a book if you really want to make that case. What you are stating is nothing more than a rule of thumb; an ethical shortcut. But as soon as you press into the question of what it means for something to be wrong, suddenly, the idea of murder becomes something neutral. Murder is acceptable in self-defense, for example. Or war. Or, in the eyes of some, in the case of abortion. Euthanasia is also acceptable by others. So, to establish that murder is wrong is premature. The state is the only entity that has a monopoly on the use of force; if it can use force up to 99% of lethality, you need to make a more thorough explanation of why it cannot go that last 1%.

Let me pose some questions: would you accept capital punishment if the criminal's family wanted it too? What if he had no family alive who objected? What if he killed his family? And this is that last deep problem. You put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the execution affects the family. This is problematic as my questions show. In fact, the more emphasis you put on this, the more difficult the problem becomes. If the acceptability of capital punishment is in proportion to the amount of harm caused to the families, this leaves orphans and the homeless increasingly vulnerable. Also, there is the line of thought that law expresses the social will. Presumably, each family's will has been expressed by the types of laws on the books, including the laws surrounding capital punishment. It follows then that the criminal's family, in their desire to see justice served have given their consent to executions generally and to his execution in particular. Of course, this statement is problematic for other reasons that you can easily find, I haven't given it too much thought, but the briefness with which you present this leads me to believe that you haven't fully thought through this. It's an interesting line of argument but I don't think you've done it full justice. At least not yet. It is in the edit queue, after all.

-Soc
I drank what?


Restitution? (none / 1) (#87)
by irrevenant on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 01:07:19 AM EST

"If vengeance is not acceptable, then no law should be punitive? So, no more speeding tickets? No more building codes or health regulations? Helmet and seatbelt laws? No crime to commit tax evasion? What if a person fails to pay restitution? In all of the above cases, jailtime or fines are always punitive."

Surely speeding tickets and fines constitute restitution?

Violations of building codes, health regulations and helmet & seatbelt laws are all crimes, rather than society's response to those crimes, which is what is under discussion here...

[ Parent ]

How is a speeding ticket restitution? (none / 1) (#89)
by Polverone on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 01:43:54 AM EST

The general reason given for speed limits is that going faster than those limits places you and the people around you in (statistically) greater danger. Unless you're given the ticket following an accident of some sort, it's clearly punishment rather than restitution because there is nothing to make restitution for. The same is true of fines for code violations when no harm has come of the violations.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]
Risk. (none / 1) (#91)
by irrevenant on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 02:25:31 AM EST

I guess this touches on the question whether putting people at risk is something that requires restitution, or whether something bad has to happen first...

[ Parent ]
not really (2.50 / 4) (#101)
by SocratesGhost on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 07:16:40 AM EST

If I put them at risk, that's one thing. But if I hit you and cause damage to you and your property, at that point I really would pay restitution. So, if we're already doing this whole culpability at the point of the accident, then speeding laws are basically charging twice for the same crime. Under this story's guidelines, this would be excessive. It's not as though, when I crash into you that I get another ticket and the damaged party receives a windfall from the government paid out from an account of accumulated risk violators. If I'm at fault, I pay the full amount of damages (or my insurer does).

No, in these cases, the laws are designed to provide a disincentive for speeding, partly because of the risky behavior but also because it helps to conserve fuel. But consider the flip side to speed maximums which is to have speed minimums or laws about impeding traffic. Few would argue that driving slowly is inherently more dangerous (under the right conditions, yes, but it's seldom enforced because of the potential dangers), but because one person's use of the public space may exert inordinate costs on the rest of the society, we accept speed minimums as a way of improving the efficiency of our roadways and commerce.

We do this very often. Most of our laws are to enforce a certain set of behaviors which makes living in society easier. People who oppose our current drug laws or sentencing guidelines understand this all too well. Or, here's another one: to whom does a hooker pay restitution when the police arrest her?

But we also do this in so many more areas including requirements to include nutritional information on food packaging, or for regulating accounting, business and medical practices. This is why defining laws as being so single dimensional is so tricky, because the way we arrive at legal consequences derives from so many different areas, the quest for justice being only one of them. A harmonious society is one of the other reasons, but these two can often work at cross purposes.

So, to bring this back on topic, capital punishment could be a deterrent to murder. There are those who will argue that it may encourage a person who murders once to murder many times, even shooting at the police; they're going to die anyway so they may as well do everything they can to protect their life. And while I do not know if there are statistics on this aspect one way or the other (how do you poll the people who didn't commit murder but almost did?), the deterrence argument is one more way to consider the type of consequences we assign to a crime, in addition to rehabilitation, punishment and restitution.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Those are not "crimes". (none / 0) (#194)
by FieryTaco on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 04:15:29 PM EST

Actually, if you go read your local code, you'll find that things like not wearing your seatbelt is not a crime. It a violation of the law, but not a violation of the criminal code. Which is why people who are on probation are not incarcerated when they are caught speeding, it's not a crime and therefore not a violation of their probation.

However it should totally be up to me to decide if I want to wear a seatbelt or helmet. I'm given the choice to smoke, have poor nutrition, sit at home and slice off bits and pieces of myself. Why don't I have the choice to splatter my brains across the pavement?

[ Parent ]

Purpose of punitive actions (none / 0) (#275)
by MorePower on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 08:45:30 PM EST

I think it depends on intent. If you believe the speeding is a bad thing (because it causes risk to others) and people who do bad things deserve to suffer (in this case the minor suffering of the fine), then no, I would agree with the author that 2 wrongs don't make a right.

If your intent is that by causing the offender to suffer, you can deter people from speeding and cause less suffering in the future (by reducing the number and sevarity of accidents) then it becomes arguable. At that point it becomes a debate over how effective the deterent is and what the costs to society of implementing the deterent are.



[ Parent ]
justice for what (none / 2) (#88)
by cronian on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 01:11:35 AM EST

I think the real question needs to be what is the point of the justice system. Should it try to foster greater economic development? Should it prevent revolutions.

The current justice system for the most part has no coherency. The laws and crap are mostly just made for political bullshity--like after the media hypes up some crime--reasons, or to protect certain corporate interests. Loopholes are allowed so that people with enough money can get out of it. So, I suppose it does serve the elite in some way. Although, it really isn't all that well planned out, and is often cruel for no real particular reason.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
I. Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right (2.57 / 14) (#92)
by bobsquatch on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 02:35:31 AM EST

I was brought up according to this maxim. Therefore I find it hard to understand how the the addition of the kidnapping of a criminal (wrong #2) can possibly improve the situation caused by the commission of a crime (wrong #1). Some of you will doubtless argue that imprisonment is not a wrong, so we are at worst adding a wrong and a neutrality. However, I was also brought up to believe that kidnapping is wrong. Period. When someone is kidnapped, two things happen:
  1. The victim is deprived of his/her liberty.
  2. The family and friends of the victim are deprived of the victim's presence.
I think we can agree that both of these points are negative. Crucially, they both hold regardless of whether the kidnapping was committed by a "criminal" or a "judicial body." The negative effects occur in either case. Therefore I submit to you that kidnapping is wrong, no matter the motivation. To argue that imprisoning a criminal against his/her will will prevent him/her from kidnapping others in the future is disingenuous in that you are committing the very thing you are attempting to prevent.

Curious... (none / 1) (#215)
by Zealot on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 07:51:14 PM EST

I was bought up to believe that kidnapping was sometimes justified, and killing was always wrong. (Period.) Go figure.

Anyone here bought up to believe in Father Christmas? (Question Mark.)

[ Parent ]

You mixed up terminology.. (none / 0) (#99)
by sudog on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:13:12 AM EST

..you called the killer a victim in your first intro bits, and then you switched the meaning of "victim" to a killer's victim after that. The changeover is jarring.


Actually, I didn't (none / 0) (#158)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:37:31 PM EST

The victim is the victim.  I argue against blind calls for vengeance _by the victim_ to be enacted on _the accused_.

But perhaps I could have worded it better.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]

In the name of making a point you... (none / 0) (#260)
by sudog on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 01:09:25 PM EST

...made it less readable. I didn't say it was incorrect. I said it was jarring. It would be better writing to be able to avoid jarring the reader while still making your point.

This suggests you 1. don't fully know who your target audience is supposed to be, 2. most likely didn't take the time to eliminate untransitioned shifts in context, or possibly 3. weren't aware of how jarring it was to begin with.

Just to reiterate, I didn't say it was incorrect. I only meant that it's irritating to read that kind of prose.


[ Parent ]

fair enough (NT). (none / 0) (#285)
by spammacus on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 10:14:26 AM EST


-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
Argument For... (none / 2) (#103)
by Xptic on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:12:11 AM EST

I think that we can all agree that dangerous people need to be removed from our society.  Rules need to be drafted, debated, pondered, revised, and finally enacted as law.  My right to live without the fear of someone taking my life should be unquestioned.

But what makes you respect my right to life?

I think the answer is knowing that if you take my life, your too will be taken.  It gives you a moment of introspective thought about what the rest of your life could be.  Will you have kids?  Grandkids?  Ever own your own home?  A new car?  Will you die in bed next to a woman you have loved for 60 years?

If you take my life, there is a good chance these questions will never be answered "yes."

Just knowing that, it gives you a little respect for what I too can become.

Now, how should a murderer be removed?  Well, we can deport them, detain them, or kill them.

1.  Deporting them.

Probably the least cruel of the options.  We set up a remote location and send our worst criminals there.  It could be a large, open prison, or a remote island.  The point is you remove the criminal without ending his life.  But do you feel comfortable sending a hardened rapist-murderer to the same location as a beaten wife who finally killed her husband?  Most people would argue that the deporting option is, in fact, a death sentance.

2.  Incarceration.

Basicly, build a huge building filled with small rooms.  Place the person in the room and close the door.  Murderers should, by default, only be allowed out to shower, exercise, and for medical attention.  The murdered will never leave his box, so why should the murderer?  However, how a person reacts to this mental torture still remains to be seen.  I use the word "torture" because that's what it is.  But if there is no down side to murder, then potential criminals have no reason to resist.

3.  Death.

Probably the least cruel option for the majority of murderers.  Put them to sleep with vallum and then inject them with moriphine until their heart stops.  Sure, they convulse, deficate, and vomit, but they are not aware of it.  Much less could be said for how they took the victim's life.

In all honesty, I think the murderer should be given a choice:  22 hours a day in a cell, or death.  It's that simple.  At any point, the prisner should be allowed to ask for death.  Just as I have a right to live, the prisoner should have the right to die.


Um, no. (2.80 / 5) (#106)
by localroger on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:38:47 AM EST

But what makes you respect my right to life? I think the answer is knowing that if you take my life, your too will be taken.

You'd be wrong. What makes me respect your right to life is knowing that whether or not justice is actually done, it would really suck if you killed me, therefore I understand it would also really suck whether or not justice is ever done if I killed you.

There is also the fact that your life is something I can't replace if I take it. If I steal your car I can give it back to you, or if I wreck it I can buy you another one; and it is good and proper for the state to hunt me down and make me do that if possible.

But if I take your life, I can't put it back. So when the state hunts me down, no matter what they do to me I can't undo the harm. It's a one-way operation. As the article argues, anything the state does only causes more harm.

Sadly, there are people who kill, and the state has to do something to discourage this. Study after study shows that the death penalty is no more effective than incarceration at deterring people. But there is one major difference. Can you see where I'm going with this?

If the state jails me by mistake they can let me go. I can even sue them for the lost opportunity and income. If nothing else I can salvage whatever is left of my life. But if the state kills me, then cries "oops," what are we to do to them to discourage them from making such mistakes in the future? And what possible restitution is there to me?

Whether you're an individual or a state, you shouldn't fuck with things you can't fix. For me, that settles the matter.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Tragic (none / 2) (#137)
by Znork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:12:09 PM EST

"But what makes you respect my right to life?

I think the answer is knowing that if you take my life, your too will be taken."

Fear is not respect. And fear is not the reason most people respect others right to life. Empathy, belief in the principle of inalienable human rights, religious belief, or a host of other reasons, but fear of getting killed does not come very high on the list of reasons why people respect your right to life.

Turn the question around and ask 'what would make someone _not_ respect your right to life' instead.

[ Parent ]

dude, you're already a psycho (2.50 / 4) (#190)
by vivelame on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 03:13:50 PM EST

if the only thing preventing you from killing someone is fear of retribution.

I live in a country where capitam punishment has been abolished for the last, like, 23 years? and i still don't want to kill anybody... Empathy, you know, is such a demanding mistress.

[ Parent ]

Life without fear (3.00 / 5) (#208)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:39:29 PM EST

"My right to live without the fear of someone taking my life should be unquestioned."

The government can't provide that for you. Courage only comes from within.

Someone WILL kill you and there's absofuckinglutely NOTHING the government, you, or anybody else can do about it.

He may get some cracked out whacko from the projects to help, but the Grim Reaper WILL pay you a visit, and he WILL kill you. The only question is "when".

Best start preparing for it now, son.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I agree with you (none / 1) (#240)
by outis on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:47:20 AM EST

that a criminal should have the right to choose death instead of a long prison sentence. They should be able to commit some kind of "honourable suicide" by way of showing acceptance of and apology for the hurt they have caused others.

[ Parent ]
-1, Boring (1.00 / 8) (#108)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 10:25:59 AM EST

Dead men don't commit crimes.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
And it thus follows . . . (3.00 / 4) (#113)
by vegetablespork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:27:25 AM EST

. . . that the road to a crime-free society is paved with the dead bodies of its citizens. No living people, no crime.

[ Parent ]
It's a Start (none / 0) (#115)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:43:25 AM EST

I imagine that when you kill all the dangerous criminals, you'll find a limiting function exists on the number of crimes being committed.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Probably :). (none / 0) (#116)
by vegetablespork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:58:24 AM EST

nt

[ Parent ]
Word. (n/t) (none / 0) (#149)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:09:29 PM EST


-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
-1: Dead men don't Troll [nt] (none / 0) (#135)
by esrever on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:44:04 PM EST



Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
I think the question should really be (2.80 / 10) (#109)
by RandomLiegh on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 10:42:34 AM EST

Should the state be granted the power of life and death over its' citizens? Can it be trusted not not abuse it?

Which is the greater risk; that someone serving a life sentence will escape and reoffend, or that an innocent person will be killed for a crime they are not guilty of?

---
Thought of the week: There is no thought this week.
---

we have a winner! (2.60 / 5) (#111)
by wobblie on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:22:36 AM EST

You are absolutely right, this is the single issue at hand, not even mentioned in the article. It is the only issue worth arguing over concerning capital punishment. Of course, more cynically speaking, crime is the priveledge of the state, so it may dispose of its citizens any way it deems fit ...

[ Parent ]
not as much as you think (2.33 / 6) (#124)
by SocratesGhost on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 01:48:15 PM EST

This type of argument is a procedural argument. Presumably, if we could make the system perfect, where only the truly wicked get the axe, capital punishment is a viable punishment then?

This is the sole merit of this article that it doesn't even mention this. Disagreement on the grounds of procedure is a different class of disagreement. This is the same as a criminal getting off on the basis of a technicality, but says nothing about whether the act was actually wrong or not when properly employed.

So, no, it really isn't the only argument. Once you fight capital punishment only on the basis of procedure, I think you have a less honest discussion about it. Honest isn't exactly the right word, but it's closest to what I mean. This isn't to say it's not a worthwhile argument, but it's also not trying to get to the heart of what makes capital punishment wrong.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Nice sig. Made me laugh. NT (none / 0) (#151)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:14:43 PM EST


-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
That's exactly what we must discuss (none / 2) (#224)
by scruffyMark on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 12:24:12 AM EST

I'd argue, that the only useful way to argue about capital punishment, or anything else for that matter, is precisely to argue about it in the context of this world right here. Sure, we could argue about whether it would be right in a world where one could easily buy a passing omniscient deity a beer, and pick its brains about the facts of a case, but who cares?

To make ethical decisions, which must be made here on earth, we need to discuss ethics here on earth. And I think, here on earth, the impossibility of certainty is precisely what makes capital punishment wrong.

If we discuss capital punishment in a perfect world of omniscient judges, and decide it's wrong - great, then we can make an ethical decision and oppose capital punishment on earth. But if we decide it would be alright, assuming certain impossibilities, then we have no basis for ethical decisions, since we still haven't addressed capital punishment in its true context. This has two problems:

First, from a rational point of view - it allows us to usefully decide only one way - against capital punishment. There is no conclusion to this hypothetical discussion that allows us to logically support capital punishment.

Second, from a practical point of view - a lot of people don't notice the first problem. They conclude that capital punishment would be alright in a world of perfect judges, and leap to the only conclusion that is not logically available to them - that it's alright here too.

I find that not a lot of supporters of the death penalty (the real one, not the cloudcuckooland one) are willing to agree that they would be willing to see their wife or child executed for crimes they didn't commit. And yet, by supporting the death penalty here on earth, they logically must support someone being wrongfully executed.

[ Parent ]

indeed it is the question (none / 0) (#117)
by treat on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 12:01:37 PM EST

Which is the greater risk; that someone serving a life sentence will escape and reoffend, or that an innocent person will be killed for a crime they are not guilty of?

If the money spent on incarcerating a prisoner throughout his life could have been used to save 1000 lives, what now?

[ Parent ]

That's just crazy talk (none / 0) (#119)
by RandomLiegh on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 12:17:44 PM EST

I mean, that's almost like asking 'what if we spent the money we used in our questionable iraq escapade on roads and education instead' ... that way lays madness!!

Ok, in all seriousness when you say "to save a thousand lives" what do you specifically mean, or are you just running a theoretical propsistion up the flagpole to see who salutes?

If the latter, the possibility of innocent people being killed is not theoretical; in fact it's happened to a disturbing degree.

---
Thought of the week: There is no thought this week.
---
[ Parent ]

saving lives (none / 1) (#131)
by treat on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:12:45 PM EST

Ok, in all seriousness when you say "to save a thousand lives" what do you specifically mean, or are you just running a theoretical propsistion up the flagpole to see who salutes?

North Carolina pays $22,787/inmate/year.

Take a murderer in his 20s who might take 40 years before dying in prison, that's 40*22787=$911480. Divide by my theoretical 1000 lives to save, gives you $911.48 per person to save your life.

Now what you consider the cost to save a life will depend on a lot of factors. Do non-white people count? Non-Americans? Do white eastern Europeans count? I'm sure that the figures are available to calculate the value of a life depending on country, race, wealth, and whatever other factors influence these things. You must also define what counts as saving a life. If I educate someone, allowing them to rise from a life of misery to a life of prosperity, have I saved a life? What if they now have fewer children as a result, have I killed? But what if these children would have died before their first birthday? What if I cure a disease that only had a 50% chance of killing them? What if it was a contagious disease?

Obviously it's a lot easier to save people in poor countries. People are dying for easily preventable reasons, and you can cheaply hire local help to assist you. I'm confident that with $900k I could save a thousand lives in a poor place. $900k would provide a lot of clean water, medical training, medical care, irrigation equipment and training in modern agriculture, education, vaccination.

For $900k I could set up a lab in Africa making AIDS drugs in violation of patents. I only need build a facility, hire one chemist, and some cheap local assistants. Possibly it could be turned into a sustainable business if the marginal cost for materials is sufficiently low. A project like this could save many tens of thousands of lives.

[ Parent ]

One nit to pick (2.75 / 4) (#138)
by Polverone on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:26:49 PM EST

"For $900k I could set up a lab in Africa making AIDS drugs in violation of patents. I only need build a facility, hire one chemist, and some cheap local assistants. Possibly it could be turned into a sustainable business if the marginal cost for materials is sufficiently low. A project like this could save many tens of thousands of lives."

No, for $900,000 you could not set up a facility to produce antiretroviral drugs, not in Africa or anywhere else. Cutting-edge pharmaceuticals are about the most sophisticated synthetic chemical products available, and producing them isn't cheap (by the standards of the poorest nations) even when patents are waived. Part of the current debate over drug availability is that pharma companies want to permit the poorest countries to make their own drugs without patent restrictions, but not to permit any richer countries to make and export drugs to the poorest countries without patent restrictions. Brazil and India can produce the drugs needed. The poorest nations of Africa can't, and your $900,000 won't change that. If it was that inexpensive to set up production facilities, philanthropists would have done it already.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Welcome to the American legal system... (none / 0) (#300)
by curunir on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 04:24:05 AM EST

...where it costs more to execute someone than it would to incarcerate them for the rest of their lives (better references available, but this one dealt specifically with your example of North Carolina.)

So, in order to not condemn innocent people who could have been saved with the money saved by not executing someone, shouldn't we suspend executions until such time as we can figure out how to do them cost effectively? (and no, limitting appeals is not an acceptable way to achieve this)

[ Parent ]
But I believe capital should be punished (1.16 / 6) (#118)
by nkyad on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 12:09:02 PM EST

I partied this week when the blond bitch was send to jail. I openned cans upon cans of cheap beer when Enron executives were caught.

The big capital and its many hunchmen should be fought, destroyed and punished at every possible instance - they are the ones behind everything bad happening to everyone on Earth. So I say, let us punish the Capital all we can!

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


You missed an arguement (none / 3) (#121)
by lukme on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 12:47:04 PM EST

What if the person sentenced is innocent?

Although there are not many, there have been several who were on death row accused of crimes they didn't commit. What does this say of a society that executes innocent people because someone must pay for the crime?


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
Many? (2.75 / 4) (#130)
by Znork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:12:26 PM EST

"Although there are not many"

Illinois instituted a moratorium after more death row inmates had been released after proof of innocence was uncovered than had been executed.

I'd say that qualifies as 'many'.

If you look at the politics surrounding death penalty cases you'll find the prosecution opposing DNA evidence, exonerating evidence supressed, etc. It appears almost impossible to implement a fair trial once the stakes go high enough.

[ Parent ]

Yeah! (none / 0) (#234)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:33:38 AM EST

There was that guy from "Hurricane"!

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

Capitol Punishment (none / 1) (#122)
by ShiftyStoner on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 12:49:19 PM EST

My problem with capital pnishment are (1) the insane amount of money spent on it, more than is spent on life inprisonment. (2) Alot of inoccent people are murdered.

You say 2 wrongs don't make a right. That would mean that anykind of punishment for murderers would be wrong. If you put them in prison you casuing the same negative effects as death and you cant say locking somone in a cell letting them get assraped is not wrong, as long as you thin execution is wrong.

The truth is however 2 wrongs do make a right in many situations. Killing the murderer may prevent him from comiting other murders. May prevent others from killing if they hear about him. And will help stop him from putting his genes out into a another generation. Having said that I don't think that execution is wrong. I don't think it's wrong to give somone what they deserve.

Now, all the money spent on the death penalty should be fixed, rather that getting rid of capital punishment. Find out if he is inoccent or guilty, if guilty kill him on the spot. This will send a message to murderers, this will pevent him from breading and recieving/spreading aids. And it will save alot of fucking money. A lot of changes need to be made in the procces of finding somone guilty, im not gana get into that now. Anyway, I think imediat death is better than a lifetime of being dead.

Rather than things stay the way they are though I think they should let murderers live a full life as slaves.

 
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

The problem (none / 3) (#148)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:07:06 PM EST

Is that determining whether someone is innocent or guilty is not a trivial thing.  As for putting genes into another generation, criminal behaviour is not is most cases genetic.  Sure, certain mental conditions that may lead to violence may have a hereditary component, but I doubt that these account for more than an almost negligeable percentage of cases.  Most crimes are either due to desperation or a desire to f*ck the society that marginalized the criminal.  It's a vicious circle.  Millenia-old dogma is not the way to break such a thing.  Hell, societies have been executing people since time immemorial but we still have crime.

As for killing someone before they commit other murders, this sounds a lot like invading Iraq before they attack us.  Man oh man.  Obligatory crass pop-culture reference on this one is "Minoriy report".

On the other hand, turning someone completely free is not the same thing as executing them.  Punishment may not deter others, but at least letting criminals clean the streets/sewers/insert-disgusting-item-here will result in clean streets/sewers/etc.  I beleive I made a reference to this idea but perhaps it wasn't clear.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]

What a joke... (none / 1) (#166)
by ShiftyStoner on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 12:31:41 AM EST

 Letting every innoccent person go and convicting every guilty person is imposible in any future. However the system could be incredibly more effective than it is. The main reason is because the governments view is if the cops got him hes guilty. It's just their job to make sure he goes to prison. Either that or there are some scary conspiracies against poor people.

Inoccent people would be better off getting killed. No anal rape, no aids, no being locked in a cell for the rest of their lives. Sure some end up getting found inoccent that's a small minorety.

We still have crime, I hope we always have crime, no crime would mean the government has absolute control over people. Not with fear or habilitating, control to the point everyone might as well be labatomized. Still, if people were getting executed on national telivision for murder I garantee you the murder rate would go down. Same if rapist and childmolesters were castrated without anestetic, which they deserve. More importantly though, along with execution, more effort would need to be spent on catching murderers and preventing murder. Like if they stoped blowing money on catching people whom do nothing wrong, and stoped blowing money on locking people up for life, or years before executing them and spent it on catching murderers.  

I agree it's mostly a psycological thing, rather than genes the environment they grew up in. However criminal behavior does tend to be picked up by the children of the criminals. So genes are inolved more than you think, in any case murderers should not have children.

As for the Iraq invasion comparison. Don't play little fucking games it's a far fucking cry from that. More like nuking japan after pearl harbor. No, really it's a guy who has murdered and is capable of murder again and whom doesn't deserve to live even if they wont kill again.

As for turning somone free being diferant from executing them. I'm wondering why I'm even responding to you myself. I said with the system we have today, Id prefer turning them into slaves rather than executing them. Doing things such as cleaning gutters, in shock colars capable of killing them if they stray from a designated zone without the anal rapes. That's only because of the waste of money and the amount I believe to be inoccent.  
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

saving money (none / 1) (#205)
by tgibbs on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:35:14 PM EST

Now, all the money spent on the death penalty should be fixed, rather that getting rid of capital punishment. Find out if he is inoccent or guilty, if guilty kill him on the spot.

Unfortunately, what costs so much money is the "find out if he is innocent or guilty" part. All of the extra costs reflects the complex legal apparatus that has been found to be necessary to catch mistakes in order to minimize the number of innocent people mistakenly murdered in the name of justice. And still, mistakes are made.

[ Parent ]

Innocents Murdered? (none / 0) (#233)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:27:39 AM EST

(2) Alot of inoccent people are murdered.
Anyone got a link for this? I keep hearing people saying innocent people have been executed in the US. Maybe I'm misunderstanding?

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

In recent history... (none / 1) (#256)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 12:15:19 PM EST

...no, there is no evidence which clearly exculpates someone executed for a crime, but there are plenty of cases where someone was executed on the basis of highly questionable evidence of their guilt. It can't be claimed with certainty that the US has executed an innocent person since the reinstatement of the death penalty, but given what we know about false conviction rates and the particulars of certain cases, it does seem very likely.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
70s psychology (1.80 / 10) (#125)
by SanSeveroPrince on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 02:17:32 PM EST

One of the things that always upset me about the psychology and psychologists of the 70s is the blind refusal of the fact that sometimes the human brain just does not work right.

They were wrong. Look at Hanson record sales, for example. Lots of malfunctioning synapses out there.

I believe you commit the same mistake, in your article. The purpose of the penal system is to re-educate young latinos and negros so that they can behave like normal white people and hide their crimes properly, NOT to punish them.
The death penalty is not retribution, it should be the last resort for those poor souls who are simply too dysfunctional to ever participate in society again.

This of course includes anyone found in possession of a Hanson CD purchase receipt.

You are completely correct in all your points, except in considering the one final solution, to be reserved for anyone who will not, and could never, be a functional part of society. In the future maybe we can spare an island to drop them all off. Right now, not an option.

Oh, and please K5 readers spare me the liberal hogwash that will follow this comment: 'who are you to decide who's functional', 'by which parameters are you going to judge', 'who said you're wiser than Elvis'. There unfortunately, medically is a point where a brain can no longer be recovered and have proper functionality. This usually occurs after listening to Hanson for over 2.4 minutes. Face it.

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


I support capital punishment (none / 3) (#132)
by caek on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:26:16 PM EST

But only in cases when you're absolutely sure they did it.

And this is problematic (2.80 / 5) (#147)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 08:54:46 PM EST

I am 23.  In my short life I personally have known two people who went to jail only to be exonerated later, either my new evidence or as a result of investigations into police corruption.  Maybe this is an anomaly but it has influenced my opinion quite a bit.  Until prosecution in general does a hell of a lot to bolster my faith in its accuracy, there are several forms of punishment of which I am sceptical.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
YHBT. (none / 1) (#178)
by caek on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 08:02:52 AM EST



[ Parent ]
m'eh. NT (none / 1) (#192)
by spammacus on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 03:52:32 PM EST


-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
Your mother must be so proud [nt] (none / 0) (#232)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:25:42 AM EST



[ Parent ]
I thought it was quite clever (none / 0) (#247)
by caek on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 09:58:07 AM EST

when I read it in Viz.

[ Parent ]
I didn't see any mention of MY main beef with it (2.55 / 9) (#133)
by Kasreyn on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:27:14 PM EST

I mean, the things you mentioned are of course correct also, but my main problem is that the state is not infallible, and capital punishment is one of the few kinds of punishments you can't take back if you later discover the person was innocent. And what ratio can you accept, when it's human life on the line? What margin of error is ok? Is it ok that one in 100 executed criminals actually be innocent (1% error rate)? How about .1%? .01%? None of these seem too high until you mentally put yourself in the position of the innocent person awaiting wrongful execution - and then suddenly those chances seem dreadfully high.

You also failed to make the argument that capital punishment does not deter crime. Of course, maybe you didn't bother, since those who think it does are mostly complete idiots. I just wonder why it is that the old adage "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure" doesn't occur to people with regards to the problem of crime.

Execution by the state does not deter anything, it does not resolve anything, it does not make anyone appreciably safer than incarceration could, and it also happens to kill innocent people. It has to go.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
I totally agree (none / 0) (#146)
by spammacus on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 08:50:41 PM EST

I mentioned these in passing but I didn't go into detail.  I figure that most people are aware of these arguments, and that if they didn't accept them from more authorative sources they're not going to accept them from some random dude on Kuro5hin ;)

So I tried to focus on things that I personally hadn't heard before, although perhaps others have made the same arguments.

Some of the earlier editorial comments suggested that I flesh out the points you mention a bit more, but as people may have noticed life interfered and I didn't manage to respond before I got moved to vote.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]

This argument seems loose to me. (none / 1) (#189)
by Gumpzilla on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:45:37 PM EST

The conventional alternative to the death penalty, in the U.S. at least, is imprisonment. Depending on what kind of prison you go to, and how large and tough you are, you could be in for a rather unpleasant time. Prison rape has become such a commonplace of discussion in the U.S. that it has become a subject of humor. Getting raped and beaten while you are in prison is not something that the government can ever undo either. Fines can be undone, but imprisonment, even if you are later released, has not really been undone, in my mind.

Clearly it's a matter of degree here, but I think your argument can be used equally well to argue that there should be no imprisonment, because it's a form of punishment that occasionally tags people who shouldn't be there and it can't be undone. This seems like a conclusion that I doubt you'd agree with.

[ Parent ]
principle of least harm (none / 0) (#203)
by tgibbs on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:31:51 PM EST

Clearly it's a matter of degree here, but I think your argument can be used equally well to argue that there should be no imprisonment, because it's a form of punishment that occasionally tags people who shouldn't be there and it can't be undone. This seems like a conclusion that I doubt you'd agree with.

The principle here is that it is impossible to avoid injustice altogether (because it is also unjust to permit a guilty person to go free to harm others). But the action must be chosen to do the least harm. So while a person unjustly imprisoned cannot be given those years of his life back, he can at least be given some number of years of freedom, and conceivably other forms of compensation. Lifetime incarceration achieves the benefits of execution (protecting the innocent public) while minimizing the harm to innocent people who are unjustly convicted.

[ Parent ]

Indeed. (none / 1) (#225)
by Kasreyn on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 02:03:13 AM EST

It doesn't do too much good to exonerate the dead. If someone is imprisoned for life, he may get anally raped, but at least he's alive and could possibly be freed someday. I'm not sure if I'd prefer being a prison rape survivor to being dead, myself. But I'd like to be given the option (ie., hang myself with my belt when I get to jail if I prefer death).

Of course, some states *cough*Texas*cough* go out of their way to speed up the process. Hmm, could it be they're a bit embarassed at their error rate and wish to cover it up? "Fry 'em quick, boahs, b'fore the lib'rals let 'em loose!"


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
agreed (none / 0) (#202)
by tgibbs on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:24:47 PM EST

I also find this the most compelling argument. I have no moral objection to the execution of those guilty of heinous crimes. The possibility that it might make even one of their victims fell just a little bit better seems sufficient justification.

But...

Given that no human judgment is infallible, by adopting capital punishment the state endorses the moral position that it is acceptable to kill some number of innocent people in order to punish guilty people. This places the state in the same moral position as a murderer or terrorist, and offers a convenient moral rationalization to those who contemplate committing such crimes. The state should be permitted to kill innocent people only when it is an unavoidable consequence of protecting lives, and when there is a strong basis for expecting that the number of lives saved will exceed the number of lives sacrificed. In the case of capital punishment, the deaths of innocents are not unavoidable--there is an alternative, lifetime incarceration, that avoids the sacrifice of innocents.

[ Parent ]

I suppose the question here is (2.60 / 5) (#164)
by mcc on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:59:34 PM EST

What is the purpose of capital punishment?

If the goal here is actually a form of punishment, then it is very easy to argue it is not appropriate for this purpose, and you have done a pretty good job of doing so in this article.

If the goal here is as a deterrent, to scare those who have not yet committed murder into continuing to not do so, then your article here does not really do anything to show capital punishment to be a bad thing. However, it is very possible to argue capital punishment also inappropriate for this purpose.

There is a third possible goal of capital punishment, and this is as a mechanism for completely removing an individual from the society. I think that it is safe to say that such a mechanism is necessary under certain very, very extreme conditions; certain persons are simply such a danger to those around them that no reform or reintegration into society will ever be possible. I personally think that any attempt to argue in favor of capital punishment should be by way of this goal.

Of course there is the problem that the death penalty is not the only possible mechanism for performing this third goal; life without parole is another, and life without parole has the added advantage that you can release someone if they turn out to be innocent. Under the most extreme circumstances this may just not be practicable (what do you do about the case of someone who commits murder while in prison?). Under just general extreme circumstances however I think the question at this point simply becomes one of:

Once the decision has been made to remove an individual completely from the society, is it worth it to continue to expend the resources of the state needed to keep them alive?

I will leave you to answer this question for yourself.

How much is a human life worth? (2.87 / 8) (#171)
by Empedocles on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:52:42 AM EST

Once the decision has been made to remove an individual completely from the society, is it worth it to continue to expend the resources of the state needed to keep them alive?

The death penalty cost page from the Amnesty International Death Penalty section covers the monetary cost of the death penalty.

The pro-death penalty site of Wesley Lowe contains a section on cost that essentially advocates the reduction (or removal) of the appeals process to bring the cost of the death penalty below that of life in prison.

Don't forget the Abolitionist's Dictionary section of Mr. Lowe's page where he attempts (badly) to mock the "anti death penalty crazies [sic]" who have written to him.

---
And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home

[ Parent ]

Don't believe it (none / 0) (#301)
by clambake on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 04:56:14 AM EST

certain persons are simply such a danger to those around them that no reform or reintegration into society will ever be possible Well, the only people who can not be reformed at all are the mentally retarded, who we DON'T kill, no matter how dangerous. But everyone else could easily be reintegrated into society after an orwelling "reeducation" program. but in this society, that would be cruel and unuual, so kill em.

[ Parent ]
another point (none / 1) (#173)
by sian on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:17:19 AM EST

Looking at this article, I think its maybe worth drawing attention to something that it only hinted at: the psychological effects on a society when deliberate killing of a human being belonging to that society is seen to be acceptable. Suerly the overall respect for "the sanctity of life" is decreased. On a practical note, there is little statistical evidence to suggest that capital punishment reduces the rate of violent crime, and some to suggest that it can actually raise it. After all, the idea of a death penalty (even if only used for murder) could be seen as supporting, to some degree, the idea of vengeance killing in cases where a conviction is unlikely. Looked at in this light, gang feuds appear understandable. Ideally, punishment of a criminal should be in some measure constructive: either in deterring other criminals, in rehabiliting the criminal, or in allowing the criminal to make restitution to society or his/her victim (s). The death penalty is non-constructive, and only serves to prevent re-offense by the same criminal (in much the same way as a life sentence would). A life sentence, however, would at least leave room for some restitution. Not that it would always occur, by any means. Doubtless, some criminals deserve to die. But does society deserve to live with the effects of lessened respect for human life?

Why do (1.00 / 10) (#183)
by Bum Bum on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 12:37:19 PM EST

so many assholes here think they have such an obviously simple answer to such an obviously complicated question?

Here's a discussion question: why does K5 attract so many morons with huge ideals and no realistic approaches to life?

I don't know (none / 1) (#184)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:00:39 PM EST

Why did you spend your time reading it and then posting this comment?

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Er... (none / 1) (#196)
by ghjm on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 04:37:43 PM EST

If capital punishment is a necessary component of a realistic approach to life, then I suppose that Europe, Canada, Australia, etc., all reside in some non-existing fantasy-land?

-Graham

[ Parent ]

Basically everywhere except the US and Asia (none / 0) (#237)
by QuantumG on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:01:13 AM EST

i.e., all the barbaric countries.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Let's look at it this way (none / 2) (#188)
by runderwo on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:30:25 PM EST

The justice system and the rule of law is a contract. In order to live in society and reap its benefits, you implicitly agree to this contract. Part of this contract says, if you kill someone under certain circumstances, you will be put to death. Therefore, what can you expect if you then go out and kill someone (regardless of your personal morals on the subject)? You knew the consequences beforehand, and by killing someone, you accepted those consequences. These consequences are chosen according to their effectiveness as a deterrent, not by their humanitarian merit. And why should they be? It's _your_ choice to kill someone or not, and if you do kill someone, you are accepting the consequences, even consequences which may have been chosen by someone with a completely different value system.

Note: I'm not suggesting that capital punishment is or isn't the best deterrent for the types of actions which are currently capital crimes. What I am saying is that when you kill someone, you have made the choice to place your life at the mercy of the court. It doesn't matter what the consequences are (a slap on the wrist, torture, execution, whatever), you have communicated to society by killing another man that you wish to receive those consequences. Why else would you do it?

No it isn't. (2.40 / 5) (#204)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:34:52 PM EST

For it to be a contract, I have to agre with the terms. What's more, there has to be proof that I agreed to the terms.

Nowhere did I ever sign anything that states that I will obey all of the stupid, onerous laws we have. DMCA? Patriot Act? War on drugs? I never signed on to any of those.

It's not a contract, it's a threat. "If we catch you growing hemp, the third time you're getting life in prison while this murderer gets two years".

No way is it a contract. There isn't even an "implicit" agreement that "In order to live in society and reap its benefits, you implicitly agree to this contract." In fact, there isn't one single society with a set of laws that I agree with 100%. I agree to kill myself if I don't agree? Fuck that, no wonder there are so many anarchists.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

By continuing to live in the US (none / 0) (#278)
by runderwo on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 02:40:37 AM EST

you are putting forth your agreement. There's nothing that has to be written down anywhere besides the legal codes; this isn't a private contract between citizens. Those individuals elected to create the laws create them, those individuals who are elected to enforce the laws enforce them, and those individuals with the power to interpret the laws or throw them out do so as well. Their power comes from the citizens around you as well as yourself. If you don't like the way they do their jobs, vote them out of office, convince your fellow citizens to vote them out of office, pack up and leave, or deal with the fact that the legal system isn't going to suit your lifestyle.

This has nothing to do with capital punishment though, except that the decision of what punishment to lay out precedes the crime. No one in a free society can possibly argue that a crime depriving another of his life or liberty should go unpunished (as opposed to the examples you gave of the DMCA, WoD, etc). So the question is simply, how badly should they be punished? Ignorance is no excuse. If I'm planning to kill or intentionally harm someone, it's up to me to check the consequences beforehand and make sure they are in line with my expectations. If I don't, I'm making a conscious decision to place my life in the hands of the court. That is part of the planning process of a premeditated violent crime. How can the killer then become the poor misunderstood victim of the state afterwards? He knew exactly what he was doing, he knew that it was wrong, and he didn't make sure beforehand that he was in a state that wouldn't fry him for it. Who's to blame? The state, or the individual who made such a choice?

The death penalty would only be cruel and unusual if it were applied to crimes of passion or to accidents. Applying it to premeditated killers who planned their kill beforehand is only following up with society's end of the agreement - if you kill someone with full knowledge of what you're doing, you'll fry. Why should any other decision be laid down?

[ Parent ]

As an aside... (none / 1) (#280)
by vectro on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 04:05:39 AM EST

A few minor problems.

Children are subject to the law, but cannot leave the US without their parents permission. Those who have just turned 18 are subject to laws in existence at the time but have not had an opportunity to vote for public offices.

Finally, leaving the country requires one to pay passport fees and departure taxes.

These issues are minor, but I don't think the Lockean idea of a social contract really hold up these days.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

there's this USian meme (none / 0) (#293)
by QuantumG on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 12:18:01 AM EST

Ever see all them movies about kids trying for years to escape their home town. They end up living there and having 6 kids of their own and the whole time they go on and on about how impossible it is for them to leave. I never really understood it. I mean how hard is it to save $86 and walk down to the bus station?

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
It's not the money (none / 0) (#294)
by vectro on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 06:35:49 AM EST

It's the fear.

Leaving your hometown means leaving your family, your friends. It means going to a new place where you won't know anyone, you won't know where you'll sleep or eat, and -- most importantly -- you don't know how (or if) you'll find work.

At least, that's my perspective on it.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

I guess that explains something (none / 0) (#298)
by QuantumG on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 01:27:22 AM EST

Here in Australia we have an excellent welfare system so even if you don't find work you'll at least have enough money to eat.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Plus, (none / 0) (#310)
by Zerotime on Sat Jul 24, 2004 at 01:45:14 AM EST

If you don't feel like working, you can just stay on it forever. And, if you're Aboriginal, there's extra fun happy bonuses!

---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
doesn't work. (none / 0) (#302)
by clambake on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 04:58:40 AM EST

By continuing to live in the US you are putting forth your agreement. Sooo, by continuing to build thier society around me, the US is agreeing to MY terms? Just because somone was here first doesn't make them owner, just look at the indians. I say that I control where I am, and if you want to build your society around me, fine, but it'll be by my rules.

[ Parent ]
Coercion, therefore no contract (none / 3) (#222)
by scruffyMark on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:48:54 PM EST

A contract must be agreed to freely. Any court would strike down a contract that was signed under threat of death, yet this is exactly what you describe.

[ Parent ]
I've got a point IV (none / 3) (#191)
by cdguru on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 03:34:28 PM EST

IV. Eliminate the Problem
Capital punishment is the modern substitute for exile beyond the city, into the wasteland. Previously, it was possible to dispatch people that demonstrated uncivilized behavior to another place, away from "civilized" people where no matter what they did it would have no effect on the "civilized" folk.

Today, this isn't really possible. There are no placed on Earth where you can put people where they cannot interact with others. Generally others that we care something about. Exile therefore is no longer a solution.

The problem is unless you believe the criminal can be "rehabilitated" and made acceptable to society it is necessary to do something with them so they can't interact with others. There are two choices: kill them or put them somewhere where they cannot interact. Today, the only "places" like that are prisons. I do not believe prisons today fulfill any of the "no interaction" requirements for a number of reasons:

  • Possibility of escape, bureaucratic screwup that releases them, etc.
  • Interaction with other inmates. We have adequate evidence that prisons are not safe.
  • Possiblity of continuing interaction with outsiders. The whole point is to put them away. Getting a phone call a week from your spouse's killer is entirely possible today.

Now, in the US today the implementation of capital punishment is very, very flawed. It is not a deterrent as implemented today and it does not remove the criminal from society. I do not believe there is any "vengeance" component to capital punishment in the US today, although this might have been a factor earlier.

Further, the use of the prison system to permanently hold people with no hope of every rejoining society together with people that will be released someday is asking for trouble. The attitude of someone with nothing left to lose does not mix well with someone that you want to be able to rejoin society and be a happy and productive person. Spending five years as a cellmate of a "lifer" is likely to distort their view of the world unless they are a very strong person with a solid grounding in how the world works. Since they are already in prison, this strength is somewhat doubtful. So, unless you completely isolate such "lifers" from the rest of even the prison population there are unacceptable risks.

I believe the proper implementation of capital punishment - the swift and certain removal of some completely unrehabilitable criminals from society - has a valid function. Given a choice between life in prison and execution some criminals do indeed choose execution. If "life in prison" was true isolation (as it needs to be), it is clear that most would choose execution.

There is an additional point that needs to be made. Some religious beliefs would encourage capital punishment as it is not the elimination of a "soul" but simply pressing the reset button and starting them over again, with hopefully a better chance the next time around. This is not an exclusively Christian belief system. I think it is better not to give any weight to such beliefs, especially when considering capital punishment. Embracing this sort of belief can easily be used to justify capital punishment for jaywalking or talking out of turn in school.

Huh? (none / 2) (#193)
by FieryTaco on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 03:58:16 PM EST

I can't say specifically for state prisons, but... "Getting a phone call a week from your spouse's killer is entirely possible today." is absolutely not possible in the Federal system and in many local jails. In the Federal Prison system the people you can call have to be approved by your councillor. Barring the situation of your spouse's killer being your mother, it's unlikely that they would even consider approval.

[ Parent ]
Calling out from prison. (none / 2) (#231)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:13:53 AM EST

  1. Prisoner picks up 'phone, inserts payment card, dials the number.
  2. The 'phone system asks the prisoner to state their name after the beep.
  3. The call connects.
  4. The person on the other end of the phone hears the message: "You have a call from [Prisoner's Name], who is an inmate at [Prison Name]. To accept the call, press 1."

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

Why Capital Punishment is the only moral option (1.00 / 6) (#197)
by kurtmweber on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 05:13:06 PM EST

Simply put, it is just. Murderers deserve to die. Period.

It is not wrong to kill a murderer, any more than it is wrong to kill in self-defense. By committing an act of murder, the murderer renounces his humanity. He becomes a barbarian--a sub-human. And there is nothing wrong with killing a sub-human creature, only a human (there is much more to being a human than mere biology).

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
we are all potential murderers (none / 2) (#213)
by benxor on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:48:25 PM EST

and what about when a woman kills her abusive husband after one beating too many? she kills in self-defense, and then you're saying she should die for what she's done? after all, 'it is not wrong to kill a murderer, any more than it is wrong to kill in self-defense'. lot of sense you're making there.

the ability to kill is part of human nature. everyone has a limit, and if driven far enough, anyone would kill. to suggest you renounce your humanity when you kill is to suggest that there is some kind of permanent self that has control over it's own destiny, who can consciously and rationally choose, in all situations, whether or not to kill - this is simply not true. we call killers subhuman because we don't want to be them - either because we can't understand why they want to hurt some innocent person we love; or because we're toeing the line of social approval and disapproval.

loss causes suffering, and death is the ultimate loss - and causes the ultimate suffering when we lose someone close to us. vengence under those circumstances gives people involved some sort of moral satisfaction for some reason, but it serves no purpose. how do these people feel after they've watched their father's killer (or whatever) die by lethal injection? how has it helped them, a year later, a decade later? how has it helped anyone? it hasn't made them happier, it hasn't brought back the victim, it hasn't lowered the murder rate by making an example - because murder is mostly a crime of passion, an action without rational thought behind it - and it hasn't really done anything, except make sure that particular person can't kill again - as if, in 99% of cases, this would mean anything, because surprisingly few people convicted of murderer are insane serial-killing psychopaths. you could achieve the same by making that person rot in gaol for the rest of their lives.

oh, but we wouldn't want to pay our tax money for that, would we? well we pay tax so other peoples' children can go to school even if we ourselves have none, and we pay tax so people can go to hospital even if we ourselves never need to - we feel empathy with the family of a murder victim, who's children can have an education because we pay tax, but conversely, we wouldn't want our 'hard-earned tax dollars' going into paying 1/250millionth of the cost of keeping a human being alive in a tiny little room for 30 years, oh heavens no.

the baying for blood that comes with every murder trial is an emotional, irrational response; the insult we feel at being asked to pay exactly the same amount of tax as we always have to put someone in prison is an emotional, irrational response; and the joy and satisfaction we all feel when we here some bastard murderer has been put to death by lethal injection is either motivated out of intense feer for the safety of our own loved ones (and the knowledge they'll now be 'safer'), or the near-sexual gratification we feel from having power over another human being, and the exciting notion of being able to watch them die powerlessly.

all humans have the ability to kill, and all humans get sick enjoyment out of having power over someone. the fact that we justify it by saying the person being murdered is a murderer themselves is what we insert to allow us to fully enjoy the blooslust of that particular killing. have a look at the public executions that used to be common-place in the 1800's. murderers deserve to die? well we all deserve to die.

--
all generalisations are false - including this one
[ Parent ]

You completely misunderstood (none / 2) (#217)
by kurtmweber on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 09:34:37 PM EST

Killing a HUMAN BEING is wrong--and by doing so one renounces his humanity. Murderers, however, are not human beings--nor is anyone else who initiates violence against a human being (such as a wife-beater).

loss causes suffering, and death is the ultimate loss - and causes the ultimate suffering when we lose someone close to us. vengence under those circumstances gives people involved some sort of moral satisfaction for some reason, but it serves no purpose. how do these people feel after they've watched their father's killer (or whatever) die by lethal injection? how has it helped them, a year later, a decade later? how has it helped anyone? it hasn't made them happier, it hasn't brought back the victim, it hasn't lowered the murder rate by making an example
That does not matter. The murderer DESERVES to die; it's simply a matter of JUSTICE.

the ability to kill is part of human nature. everyone has a limit, and if driven far enough, anyone would kill. to suggest you renounce your humanity when you kill is to suggest that there is some kind of permanent self that has control over it's own destiny, who can consciously and rationally choose, in all situations, whether or not to kill - this is simply not true
Your rejection of the fact that it is in fact true--that a person is responsible for ALL his actions and can in fact choose in ALL situations whether or not to kill--is your fundamental error.

the baying for blood that comes with every murder trial is an emotional, irrational response;
No, it's completely rational. The barbarian made a choice to kill; thus, his life is forfeit. That's not emotion--that's justice. Cold, raw, rational justice.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Doesn't address false convictions (none / 3) (#223)
by ttfkam on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 12:08:04 AM EST

P = Premise
SP = Subpremise
C = Conclusion

P1) Killing a murderer is just
P2) We exact justice through the US legal system
P3) The US legal system is imperfect/unfair
  SP1) There have been people on death row who were not guilty of the crime
  SP2) There have been people who were executed that were not guilty of the crime
  SP3) You are much more likely to be executed if you are non-white
  SP4) You are much more likely to be executed if you are poor

C1) The death penalty in the US results in the death of innocents
C2) We cannot kill murderers justly

-----

Accepting some false positives (killing innocents by mistake) implies at least one of two possible personal assertions:
  1) We accept that anyone is expendable
  2) We presume that we (and those we care about) are not as likely to be executed falsely

-----

A question I pose to those out there: If someone is executed, they have been found guilty by a jury of their peers, lost or were denied appeal, and have been deprived of their life, liberty, and rights.  If they are later found to be innocent, aren't the appeals judge(s), members of the jury(s), the prosecuting attorney, the investigating detectives, the individual flipping the switch, and the governor (who could have pardoned him/her) guilty of murder if murder is defined as the willful killing of an innocent party?  Aren't they all culpable?  Why or why not?

Wouldn't they be more guilty than the accused?  If so, wouldn't it be even more justified to hold them accountable when in demonstrated error?  Wouldn't the justice system be more just if those judging were held to this standard?  What would be the likelihood of false positives in this scenario?

Note: I am not questioning the validity of the statement that it is just to kill murderers.  My focus is in saying, "Where is the justice if we're wrong?"

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]

huh? (none / 1) (#244)
by LKM on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:22:52 AM EST

>Murderers, however, are not human beings--nor is anyone else who
>initiates violence against a human being (such as a wife-beater).

So who *is* a human being? Nobody? Please define human being.

[ Parent ]

Definition (none / 1) (#253)
by Wildgoose on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 10:57:33 AM EST

We can make a good enough example by stating what a human being is not.

Those who deliberately maim, torture and murder other human beings forfeit their own humanity.

They were once human, just like a rabid dog was once a beloved family pet. But the end result is the same.

Having stated that, I am opposed to widespread capital punishment. As the Original Poster implies, that would be nothing more than Judicial Murder.

But that doesn't mean that I don't believe that Capital Punishment should not be on the statute books for crimes against humanity like genocide and terrorism. We can avoid its use, but in some instances (certain terrorist acts, etc.) then it is no different to putting down a rabid dog.

[ Parent ]

Silly (none / 2) (#221)
by scruffyMark on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:43:43 PM EST

Capital punishment is not about killing murderers. It is about killing people who have been convicted of murder in court. The difference is immense.

Our court system is flawed - any creation of humans is. There are wrongful convictions all the time. So, if you support capital punishment in the real world, where humans live, strive, and screw up all the time then you must, to be consistent, support the wrongful execution of the innocent. Because that will always happen.

To put it a bit more strongly, but no less correctly: If you support capital punishment in this imperfect world, then you must logically be willing, yourself, to be executed for a crime you did not commit, or to see your loved ones so executed. Anything less would be hypocrisy.

Any takers?

[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#264)
by kurtmweber on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:44:05 PM EST

Pragmatically, I agree with you. However, I'm arguing principle here, not pragmatics.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
I submit that I'm arguing principle too (none / 0) (#270)
by scruffyMark on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:42:11 PM EST

I suggest that I am in fact also arguing on principle, not pragmatics. I argue that, given that there is no way of achieving absolute certainty of past facts, there are certain irrevocable acts that are so grave, we cannot take them.

If I were arguing pragmatically, I would start getting into figures - well, if we could be sure of getting out false positive rate down below 10%, or 5%, or .05%, where "sure" means correct to within a quarter of a percent 19 times out of 20, then the net benefit to society might start outweighing the net harm...

But I'm not arguing pragmatically - I'm taking the principled stand that, when there exists any chance no matter how minute, that an innocent will be subjected to punishment for a crime, then the punishment for that crime cannot be death.

We simply cannot allow the state to have the right to kill people, no matter what.

And, incidentally, I don't agree with you that a murderer is not human, either. I can't even begin to argue it, because I find that position so disgusting I would just get angry.

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#276)
by kurtmweber on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 02:19:31 AM EST

Do you understand the principle I was arguing, though? Also:
I don't agree with you that a murderer is not human, either.
Then you happen to be incorrect.
I can't even begin to argue it, because I find that position so disgusting I would just get angry.
Well, get disgusted by objective reality and objective truth at your own peril, I guess.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
objective reality and objective truth? (none / 0) (#306)
by rywri on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 02:34:51 PM EST

Well, get disgusted by objective reality and objective truth at your own peril, I guess.
Could you please offer objective, fundamental proof that anyone who has committed murder once has permanently lost his/her humanity (and therefore deserves to permanently lose his/her life)? Especially given the definition of human: "A member of the genus Homo and especially of the species H. sapiens."

[ Parent ]
Well put! (none / 2) (#255)
by bob6 on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 11:05:30 AM EST

And the same could be said about those who don't worship my god the way I do.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Deserve to die doesn't mean we should kill them. (none / 0) (#262)
by Jman1 on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:37:22 PM EST

Simply because someone deserves to die doesn't mean that we should kill them. We have the ability and obligation to be better to people than they necessarily deserve.

[ Parent ]
Really? (none / 0) (#263)
by kurtmweber on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:42:09 PM EST

Ability, yes.

Obligation, no.

Justice is desirable for its own sake.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]

You say nothing (none / 0) (#303)
by clambake on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 05:07:23 AM EST

Ah yes, stating opinion as fact and ignoring the true complexity fo the situation.

Watch how simple it is to play this game:

Simply put, it is just. Women deserve to be raped. Period.

It is not wrong to rape a woman, any more than it is wrong to have sex with a woman. By wearing sexy clothes, the woman renounces her humanity. She becomes an object--a toy. And there is nothing wrong with raping a toy, only a human (there is much more to being a human than mere biology).

See, the problem is you don't actually ARGUE anything in your argument.  You say they become sub-human, but don't give any logical reason why.  Just opinion and complete lack of rational thought about the issue.  Maybe a man saw his wife cheating and flew into a fit of murderous rage, maybe somone was legally completely fucked out of thier life savings by a slick con-man who knows the law, and has no other recourse but cold blodded killin'.  It doesn't mean they become blood thirsty savages cover in feces and slashing people left and right.


[ Parent ]

I forsee some problems with that. (none / 0) (#309)
by Zerotime on Sat Jul 24, 2004 at 01:41:08 AM EST

If the act of killing someone is punishable by death, then killing someone for killing someone is also punishable by death, which can only lead to a vicious chain of killings, depleting the population as each person executes the executioner before them, leading to the last inhabitant of the planet being forced to pull the switch on themselves.

Unless you're one of those human extinction nutjobs, the eradication of the entire planet for one murder might be considered a bad thing.

---
"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]

My argument is simpler (2.80 / 5) (#198)
by ph317 on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 05:36:14 PM EST


The kinds of arguments you are making are subject to a lot of subjectivity and wordplay.  My argument against Capital Punishment has always been roughly this:

Our criminal justice system in the United States is imperfect.  It acknowledges its own imperfection.  Our convictions never carry the wight that the actions of the accused are 100% undeniable - only that they were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  In order for a modern justice system to function robustly on a large scale, such concessions are neccesary.  Therefore, regardless of the type of crime or punishment, there will always be a small minority of cases where a defendant is wrongly convicted of a crime they never commited.  Again, that's just something we have to accept, there is no better way around these problems in the current system.

Now, if I (as a judge or juror) send a guy to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison for life, or any lesser punishment for that matter, and he was in fact innocent, what has happened?  Society has wronged him, and harmed his life socially and financially, even stolen time from him.  But these things can be undone.  If, 40 years into his life sentence, we find the real perpetrator of the crime and oevrturn his conviction, we can let him go.  And during those 40 years, he still can breath, can raed, can learn, and can do many human things with his restricted life.

If, on the other hand, I killed an innocent man by lethal injection, and then proof of his innocence is found years (or horribly, minutes) later, there's really not a damn thing I can do to mitigate and undo the injustice.

Capital Punishment is, by its nature, the ultimate, final, and irreversible punishment.  Therefore only a 100% undeniable standard of proof would be sufficient to warrant it's use.  No mistakes in the use of capital punishment are morally tolerable.  We cannot achieve a zero error rate, and therefore we cannot use it.  Perhaps the  fabled omniscience and omnipresence of the Christian God would allow one to make that kind of final judgement, but we do not possess those attributes, not even as a collective society.

I disagree (2.71 / 7) (#206)
by mcgrew on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 06:36:14 PM EST

I'm against capitol punishment, but for different reasons you have.

First, we are all, every single one of us, under sentance of death. You will die, I will die, everyone will die. Chances are we will die horrible- burned up in a Ford, beheaded in Iraq, have a house fall on us in Kansas during a storm or in California during an earthquake, or slowly and painfully with cancer or Aslheimers'.

My late Grandmother, who died at the ripe old age of 99, said "I don't know why people want to live to be a hundred. It's no fun being old." She spent the last five years of her life in a nursing home, with a walker and wheelchair. In pain.

And when we die, it is almost always a surprise. We have little chance to change our minds and decide "hey, maybe Jusus DID die for my sins!"

Meanwhile, Tim McVeigh never had to have cancer, aids, a building fall on him, or any of those horrible ways most of us die. Instead, he was told exactly when he was going todie, giving him a chance to come to terms with his maker. Then he was humanely, without muss, fuss, pain or discomfort, "put to sleep" like a beloved pet with lst stage distemper.

I say, put them on prison for the rest of their natural life. Make them suffer like your grandparents suffered when THEY died. Should he die in his sleep, that's God's decision. Sometimes death isn't horrible.

Then there is the problem of killing the wrong guy. Here in Illinois the previous Governor (a terrible bad corrupt governor who did exactly ONE good thing during his single term) stopped the death penalty when he found out that half the people on death row were proven innocent!

If I pay a ten thousand dollar fine and it later comes out that I was in fact innocent, you can refund the money. If I have been in prison for 10 years you can at least let me out.

But death is final. The death penalty is at the same time too cruel, and too lenient.

And now the "straw man"- Folks here are bringing up prison rape. That is a completely different subject. However, getting into THAT, any time a crime is committed in prison, a guard, warden, and Governor are not doing their jobs. After all, at least in teh US th esupreme law of the land (our Constitution) outlaws any punishment that is "cruel and unusual". I'd call rape both cruel AND unusual, and allowing it to happen is as cruel as commiting the rape yourself.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

The Life of David Gale? (none / 0) (#230)
by alby on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:09:19 AM EST

I've heard of plenty of cases where some guy's been two days from the chair when suddenly it turns out he's innocent; but has any innocent person ever been executed?

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

The last person (none / 1) (#259)
by Nursie on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 12:31:12 PM EST

to be hanged in Britain (quite a while ago), James Hanratty I think, is a subject of some debate. I think it's been decided (sometimes at official levels) that he's innocent several times, and then guilty, then innocent......

What I can say is that we'd have blood on our hands in the UK if we still had capital punishment these days, for instance the famous "Birmingham Six" pub bombings in the UK were attributed to the wrong people. These people were convicted largely due to forced confessions under police brutality, convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The crime was of a nature that would have warranted death had we had it. We would have been wrong. As it is the six spent 16 years in jail and were eventually released and compensated, having missed a large part of their lives. How do you compensate a dead man?

Meta Sigs suck.

[ Parent ]
Is that a rhetorical question (none / 1) (#307)
by calimehtar on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 04:38:25 PM EST

Last time we're all sinners, but through the grace of God we're saved. I say kill'em all, God will know his own...

+++

The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


[ Parent ]
Undoubtedly. (none / 0) (#315)
by mcgrew on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 06:32:50 PM EST

New scientific methods (DNA sequencing) found that half of the fourteen inmates in Illinois' death row at the tiime could not have committed the crimes they were accused of. IIRC, a couple dozen or so men had already been executed since the death penalty had been reinstated in the 1970s.

Further investigation found that folks here were routinely railroaded by corrupt law enforcement and prosecutors. A few corrupt police officers and other government officials went to prison over it.

That's why Governor Ryan, an otherwise awful Governor, commuted the sentances on all the remaining death row inmates to life imprisonment.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Poorly argued (2.66 / 6) (#214)
by NateTG on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 07:42:21 PM EST

There is an intrinsic assumption that state sanctioned execution of criminals is intended as punishment in your use of the phrase 'capital punishment.'  Which is really a claim that you would be well off justifying.

I. Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

This argument is based on the assumption that executing a criminal is a wrong.  Since you're trying to argue that 'captial punishment' is wrong in the first place, this is a circular argument -- hardly an argument that I would consider persuasive.

II. Vengeance is not Restitution

This entire section argues about the execution as if the context was one of restitution.  'Capital punishment' is ipso facto punative, and not for restitution.  Consider, similarly, that fines and prison terms are not considered restitution either.
Even if the death penality were (invalidly) considered to be restitution by the general public, the lack of restitution hardly qualifies it as wrong, or as poor public policy.

III. The Paradox of Restitution
Section III was aparently added because there weren't enough sections in the article. It belongs in section II.

To argue cogently against the death penalty, you need to address the motivation for the death penality, or demonstrate that it is ethically wrong.

Regarding ethical wrong - the notion that all killing is wrong is generally not accepted.  Feel free to try to contradict me, but there are few religeons or societies which believe this.  Self defense, for example, is generally considered an acceptable reason for killing someone.  Regardless, it's difficult to see how any persuasive ethical argument can be made.

So, this leaves the arguments founded on the notion that the death penalty is not good policy.  A fairily solid argument can be made for the use of life in prison without the chance of parole instead of the death penalty, which can be quite solid.

Of course, like most public discourse about the death penalty, this is an emotional, rather than emmotional appeal with little substance other rhetoric noise and smoke in the form of red herrings and circular arugments.  It will be rightfully discounted by those by those who manage to read and think critically about it.

killing human beings is wrong (none / 1) (#241)
by LKM on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:55:36 AM EST

>This argument is based on the assumption that executing a criminal is
>a wrong.

No, it's based upon the assumption that killing a human being is wrong. Which is a view that seems to be shared by most people, since killing a human being is illegal.

The death penalty seems to be based not on the belief that killing human beings is right, but on the belief that there are cases when killing somebody is the better of two bad choices.

[ Parent ]

By that logic (none / 3) (#245)
by zakalwe on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:55:37 AM EST

Putting people in prison is wrong, since kidnapping is illegal. Rephrase your comment as:
The prison penality seems to be based not on the belief that imprisoning human beings is right, but on the belief that there are cases when imprisoning somebody is the better of two bad choices.
and it is just as valid. There are good reasons to forgo a death penalty, but this argument basicly boils down to "I think its wrong." Which may be true, but isn't persuasive to people who have different views on this.

[ Parent ]
Not always (none / 0) (#284)
by interjay on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 08:50:03 AM EST

[K]illing a human being is wrong. Which is a view that seems to be shared by most people, since killing a human being is illegal.

Actually, I bet that if you asked "most people", they would tell you that killing a human being in self defence is justified. They would say the same about killing people in a war. And both these actions are legal as well.

As for capital punishment, in some states/countries I'm sure that the majority supports it (and it is legal).

By the way, this post is not meant to be in support of capital punishment (which I don't endorse). I'm just pointing out that if you present invalid arguments like "Most people say killing is wrong, therefore it is always wrong" you will convince no one.

[ Parent ]

I disagree. (none / 1) (#251)
by spammacus on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 10:43:51 AM EST

Your response to (I) is not correct. It is not a circular argument since I explain my reasoning as to why I think killing is wrong right underneath.

As for that reasoning, you may not consider it valid. This is your right. Your are right in that at some level, ethical opinions are not carved in stone. However for brevity it is sometimes necessary to temporarily take generally-accepted concepts as axiomatic for the sake of further argument. In the context of our culture, killing is wrong; this is why it is a crime. To allow the state to sanction the killing of murderers is in some sense paradoxical. If you wish to cast doubt on all ethical norms, then it would be futile to have a discussion about a great many things. To reduce a social discussion into primary logical principles would take a very long time; and a lot more words than most users would have the time to read, I suspect. What I am not doing is basing my argument on my conclusion, as you suggest.

In section (II), you state:

"'Capital punishment' is ipso facto punative [sic], and not for restitution."

This is in fact my argument. Mere punishment is not a good enough reason for a penalty so severe; I require a solution that provides more benefit to society. Prison sentences as currently implemented North America are not very effective either, but at least they are not quite so irreversible. Fines can be used to repair the damage caused by a crime, so in they make sense for some lesser cases.

Your comment about section (III) is a valid editorial suggestion. It is not however a rebuttal.

Notice that I am not proposing an all-encompassing solution to criminal justice. I'm not that smart. I do however believe that it is important to generate discussion about what may be wrong with the status quo. The alternative is to roll over and let our corpo^H^H^H^H^H political masters do whatever they please.


-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
My bad, here's a more thurough rebuttal. (none / 2) (#266)
by NateTG on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:06:27 PM EST

You may be correct, Section I is more accurately described as a combination of a red herring, an unjustified appeal to authority,and an invalid generalization or two:


The red herring: "Two rights don't make a wrong"

This is orthogonal to the argument in Section I - the saying is about vengeance -- just or unjust reactions, and really belongs in section II.

Appeal to an unjustified authority: "However, I was also brought up to believe that killing is wrong. Period."

Since there are no universal moral authorities, the people who raised the author clearly do not qualify.  Even if it were possible to qualify someone as a sufficient authority, the article fails to do so.  (No offence intended. This is potentially personal but the upbringing is part of the original argument; consequently it is fair game.)


An invalid generalization: Because something (in your case killing someone) has negative aspects it must be wrong

Here are examples where the generalization fails: Paying for goods or services is a negative thing (a cost).  Consequently, paying for goods or services must be wrong.  Going to work deprives my friends and family of my presence. Therefore going to work must be wrong.


Another invalid generalization: Killing someone is always wrong regardless of the circumstances

The current status quo indicates that killing is moral in certain circumstances, for example in self defense, or in open combat.  Euthansia, or assisted suicide is a contentious issue in this country, but is also not considered wrong by many.


There may well be other problems with this section, and whether the notions of circular arguing or post hoc ergo propter hoc apply is debatable.

Section II makes a slew of unjustified claims:


Capital punishment is not restitution, so it must be vengeance

What about punishment?  Nah, that wouldn't be a motiviation for the death penalty.  Deterrent value, nope not that either.

"Vengeance accomplishes nothing constructive"

This is false.  Vengeance discourages somone who has wronged you from wronging you, or other people again.  It also makes an example for the benefit of others.

"[Vengeance] is [an] attempt to achieve catharsis by inflicting your sorrow on someone else".

Vengeance can also, for example, be an attempt to insure that someone else doesn't profit at your expense.

Puting a crimial [to death] doesn't help society

Assuming that the person who is put to death is a hazard to the rest of society, this is patently false.

Restitution, on the other hand, accomplishes something as well as punishing the criminal.

Resitution is not punishment, and people generally don't confuse the two.

The 'paradox' of vengeance

Aside from demonstrating the notion that vengeance is not justice (once again something that you might find from the dictionary), section III rather pointless, and certianly doesn't represent a paradox.

The state is punishing [the family of the executed crimial]

The punishment has effects on the family, but in the scenario, the state is not punishing the family of the criminal.

[Vengeance] is to be discouraged at all costs

Clearly, we must summarily execute all of those who practice vengeance.

The more I look over the article, the more I think that it's a troll.



[ Parent ]
World congress against death penalty (none / 3) (#216)
by Hillman on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 08:55:23 PM EST

If you're a student you might want to submit that paper to http://www.montrealforum2004.org It's a world congress against death penalty(http://www.montreal2004.org). Check it out.

A thought while reading this (2.60 / 5) (#218)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 10:13:30 PM EST

This is just a thought I had while reading this article and its comments. For some issues, particularly ones involving human rights and death, it seems that most of us form our opinion irrationally. It doesn't seem like there's much point in discussing the death penalty. I believe that humans have an innate right to live, and the only time we're justified in taking another human life is when it will directly defend other lives. I can't really explain how I arrived at this belief though, so I'm not going to take people to task if they believe we do have a right to execute criminals.

My opinion is irrational. Sure, I also agree with the practical arguments (not a deterrent, costs a lot, innocent people) but if those were solved I would still oppose the death penalty. You could call it faith, but more than that it's simply a belief that we'd all be better off if we didn't kill each other quite so much.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

Three Strikes (none / 1) (#219)
by nstender on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 10:39:20 PM EST

A related discussion is that of the Three Strikes And You Are Out law. RAND Corporation looked at consequences of this prior to a vote on the matter in California. RAND Research Briefs: California's New Three-Strikes Law: Benefits, Costs, and Alternatives.

No one (1.50 / 4) (#220)
by Typical Male on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 10:58:23 PM EST

But God has the right to decide when someone's time on this earth is up. I strongly believe that in the heart of every person is a good human being and even in the worst people this can be found and brought out. The goal of society should be to rehabilitate every criminal. Everyone deserve a second chance, God can forgive us for all our sins so we should also be able to forgive.

Killing someone never solved anything. We should make murderers into productive members of society, for the good of all society. This is the 21st century the eye for an eye mentality should be another part of history we frown upon.
I'm normal, what can you say about yourself.

Which "God" are you talking about? (none / 1) (#242)
by outis on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:02:13 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Second chances (none / 1) (#249)
by sirnaof on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 10:13:49 AM EST

"Everyone deserve a second chance, ..." How many second chances should one get? A kills B. A is "rehibilitated". A is released. A kills C. Now, is it worth rehibilitating A yet again, since he has already returned to his murderous ways? Only those who show a true desire to correct their ways should be rehibilitated and released. Or perhaps a slower release "schedule", where they are released to house arrest or something similar, then allowed to venture within a city, etc. Like probation, but more actively monitored. Then again, I might just be pulling this from my ass. It's been a while since I've argued about this particular topic.
-- Jeremy Baumgartner - sirnaof@hotmail.com CAE UNIX Systems Staff
[ Parent ]
by my definition of "second" (none / 0) (#292)
by QuantumG on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 11:44:20 PM EST

they should get one.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
A question for those who support death penalty (none / 2) (#226)
by bob6 on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:55:00 AM EST

Where are the numbers supporting the necessity of death penalty? How much is the correlation between crime and the presence of capital punishment in legal clauses? And between crime and the number of executions?

In other words, death sentences are immoral as well as inefficient.

Cheers.
Re: A question for those who support death penalty (none / 1) (#272)
by drsmithy on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 08:02:46 PM EST

Where are the numbers supporting the necessity of death penalty? How much is the correlation between crime and the presence of capital punishment in legal clauses?

To the best of my knowledge, no executed criminal has ever reoffended.

And between crime and the number of executions?

Irrelevant. The purpose of capital punishment is not (or shouldn't be) to act as a deterrent, it is to ensure someone is no longer a danger to others.

[ Parent ]

In that case (none / 0) (#281)
by bob6 on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 04:46:43 AM EST

No need for killing again. Life detention is sufficient and "more reversible".

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Been to Illinios lately? (none / 1) (#287)
by JohnnyCannuk on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 03:08:40 PM EST

Judging by the number of innocent men being freed from death row, it seems that not all of the executed may have been criminals. Which means that having the death penalty may actually help criminals evade punishment rather punishing them. After all, if the state has killed a guy for a crime, they consider it solved and won't look for the real killer. The real killer will get away.

Besides, according to the recidivism rates, most murders kill only once. They won't re-offend anyway.

If killing and murder is wrong, why should the state be allowed to do it?


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Possible solution? (none / 2) (#236)
by ovidiusoft on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:52:03 AM EST

Ok, we don't kill them. But this arrises two other problems, as we keep them locked:

- the costs
- the fact that the criminal's family still suffers the loss.

Possible solution, as I see it:
- let the criminal loose, under different degrees of rights loses - for example a criminal can't use the public transportation, can't use restaurants, but it can use a car or bike and eat in diners;
- "mark" the criminal with a GPS implant, so it can't escape, limiting his/her range of action. Eventually implement a warning when it leaves the designated perimeter.

What this would allow:
- the family does not suffer
- the costs are diminished - only supervision is necessary
- it will help re-integration


Yeah, that would work... (none / 0) (#243)
by outis on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:03:32 AM EST

for all of about 5 minutes before they reoffended.

[ Parent ]
Wrong.. (none / 1) (#286)
by JohnnyCannuk on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 02:58:20 PM EST

If you care to study recitivism rates, you'll see that those people that commit murder actually have the lowest rate. That is, most killers kill once and only once, even if they are not caught.

Now, we're not talking Bundy or The Green River Killer or anything. These kinds of killers are the exception rather than the rule and make up a miniscule percentage of murders (in the US, Canada and Britain).They just get all the press. The overwhelming majority of murders occur as "crimes of passion" or are one time occurences that are never repeated, even if the killer is not identified.

So capital punishment does not work as either general deterence or specific deterence - the US has capital punishment and still has the highest murder rate in the world and most of those that kill are not likely to kill again, so they don't need deterring.

You can dress capital punishment up as much as you want but it is still nothing more than blood-lust and revenge.


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Even so... (none / 0) (#295)
by outis on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 08:18:40 AM EST

...A murder perpetrated "with malice aforethought" is different from a "crime of passion".

I agree that a "crime of passion" should not necessarily incur a sentence of death, but surely you can see that a person who plots to kill a person for a while and then does it should be executed?

[ Parent ]

True but.. (none / 0) (#297)
by JohnnyCannuk on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 12:19:24 PM EST

these recidivism rates take that into account. It's for all murders.

My point was that most "murders" are actually manslaughter or second-degree murders and thus not capital offences. And of the few remaining, recidivism rates are just as low - again, even for premeditated murders, most murders do this only once. Serial killers and mob hit men are the exceptions not the rule.

So, to say that the death penalty is specific deterrence ("this criminal will never murder again if executed") is moot, since, statistically, they don't anyway. And if they are locked in prison for life, they won't anyway.

So if specific deterrence is not a viable reason and general deterrence doesn't work (again, the US has the most executions AND the highest murder rate, so it clearly doesn't deter murder), what is left as a motivation? Only revenge. And as the original story stated, revenge does not correct the situation or bring any real justice, it justs adds a number to the body count.

And what if the "murderer" is the wrong person? That has certainly happened more and more. Should a clearly imperfect and fallable justice system have a "perfect" and unchangeable penalty?

I sure don't think so...


We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another - Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

I'm not willing to take the risk (none / 0) (#305)
by outis on Fri Jul 23, 2004 at 06:43:54 AM EST

that a person who committed a "one-off" crime of passion against his ex-girlfriend (or whatever) won't do the same thing again.

Similarly, I think that people who have a history of violent assault (including rape) should be locked up indefinitely too.

I feel that automatic execution of the perpertrators od premeditated murder would be a good thing, although I'd allow for leniency in certain cases.

[ Parent ]

Really? (none / 0) (#314)
by labradore on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:22:45 AM EST

"The overwhelming majority of murders ... are one time occurences that are never repeated, even if the killer is not identified ...."
Care to state any other unverifiable facts?

By the way, I'm sure that these murderers are also great upstanding citizens who we would all love to have as neighbors. They're definately the type of people who should be kept around to help shape and direct our society.

Maybe it costs more to kill criminals. Note, however, that no one has mentioned that criminals sentenced to life in prison may also appeal. Also, why haven't any anti-death advocates produced links to hard, official numbers for the cost comparisons?

Yes, you kill less innocent people if you don't kill anyone. I don't care that much because there are bigger problems to deal with and I, personally, feel better knowing that people who kill and rape and torture are put to death. Maybe I would feel different if I was wrongly convicted and maybe you would feel differently if your loved ones were murdered.

[ Parent ]

Costs? (none / 1) (#267)
by stalker on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:16:20 PM EST

Capital punishment history in the U.S. has proven (beyond all reasonable doubt) that lifelong imprisonment is actually cheaper to implement and maintain.

Granted, a summary execution right after trial would far cheaper than either lifelong imprisonment and capital punishment as it's implemented today in the U.S.

Trouble is, summary execution is even less sustainable than the current death penalty system in the U.S.:
20th century has quite some examples of dictatorships collapsed under the burden (economical and social) of maintain a social system conducive to swift and definitive administration of "justice."

Should you doubt that lifelong imprisonment is far cheaper than capital punishment, please be so kind as to examine the following argument.

Imprisonment costs can be decomposed in, sensu lato, housing costs and warding costs, which, summed and scaled to actual duration of punishment, give a certain figure.

Capital punishment costs, likewise, can be decomposed in housing costs, warding costs (which are to be summed and then scaled to the duration of containment prior to execution) and appealing costs, which sum up to another certain figure.

To compare the two figures, we need to compare the respective durations of containment and the cost of appealing.

Past record shows that the respective durations are similar and, moreover, that the costs incurred by the society in granting itself a reasonable deegre of protection from error (id est execution of an innocent) more than offet the difference in costs due to the difference in containment duration.

Replacing the capital punishment with lifelong imprisonment brings only advantages to the society, namely lower costs and a better chance of rectifying errors: while it is true that no sufficient compensation can be given to a man who has spent unjustly the better part of his life in prison, no compensation at all can be given to a dead man.



[ Parent ]
Harvest their organs! (none / 2) (#254)
by omiKron on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 10:57:47 AM EST

I'm sure there's some damn-fool obvious reason why this is never even discussed, but why aren't the bodies of murderers used to save lives and even out the er, karmic balance? Don't dying people need fresh kidneys and such?

Justice is a funny thing... imagine an institution founded for the simple purpose of giving shelter and sustenance to the homeless dregs of the world... the conditions aren't ritzy, but they're good enough for living. Instead the downtrodden scrounge for morsels in alleyways and the killers are given room & board, paid for by the state... the institution has become a criminal college, with repeat offenders sometimes tasting little of liberty before they return to the fold. Perhaps prison offers a stability where the outside world has only chaos for some. I can't really say for sure - it's certainly not an area of expertise - but I do wonder at the whole process that leaves millions fed behind bars while little good is extracted from them. I don't know - would it be too much to ask for a bit of insulin, blood, or other useful human products? Perhaps something basic, like making a rug out of the shorn locks of the jailed?

Never mind this free-wheeling idea spinnerage. But what about the organ question... why is it not done or discussed? (genuine question)
MUTATE & SURVIVE

Been reading Niven, have we? (nt) (none / 1) (#274)
by ajdecon on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 08:39:11 PM EST


--
"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Nope, but do you have any recommendations? (n/m) (none / 0) (#296)
by omiKron on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 10:31:41 AM EST

...
MUTATE & SURVIVE
[ Parent ]
Sure. (none / 0) (#316)
by ajdecon on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 12:00:19 AM EST

Sorry this took forever to reply, and hope you notice this comment: I sorta went on vacation. :-) But I always like pushing good SF...

Flatlander is a collection of short stories by Larry Niven about the idea of executing criminals by harvesting their organs. His premise was that if we use condemned criminals to save other lives, the government will be pressured to condemn more criminals... for anything from murder to rape to tax evasion.


--
"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Consider This: (none / 2) (#257)
by MicroBerto on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 12:25:39 PM EST

If you were gunned down for absolutely no reason by some waste-of-life crook, what would you want to happen to him?

I, for one, want the person who killed me to be absolutely tortured to death. I did nothing to deserve death (except for being in the wrong place at the wrong time), and I could care less if that person goes and cleans toxic spills. I want that person stripped of his/her right to live, and in a manner that is 10x more painful than how I was stripped of it. I don't care why they did it, if they were pushed to do it, or any of that babble. The fact is that they did it.

Considering the above question might help you realize where you stand, although we don't like to think about our own deaths.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

your example sucks (none / 1) (#261)
by boxed on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 01:18:18 PM EST

This is EXACTLY what the article clearly denounces are "revenge" and is thus by definition meaningless at best and counterproductive at worst.

[ Parent ]
ummmm.... (none / 2) (#258)
by CodeWright on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 12:28:17 PM EST

....so you prefer lifetime enslavement to humane termination?

keeping in mind that guarding and disciplining this body of slaves you propose can have nothing but detrimental mental effects on the warders?

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

Your arguments, torn asunder and made a mockery of (none / 2) (#265)
by trhurler on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:52:39 PM EST

1) Killing is not always wrong. Murder is wrong. If you don't understand the distinction, you've got a lot of problems besides capital punishment. As one example, if I give you a choice, either I will kill you or you will kill me, but there is no other choice, which would you choose?

2) What sort of "restitution" do you suppose the victim of a murder can reasonably receive? This notion that friends or family count as victims of this crime is absurd; by that measure, the people who raised the perpetrator are the real criminals, too, right?

3) The "paradox of restitution" is only a paradox because you insist tht capital punishment exists only to get vengeance. It has a more honest purpose: the person who is put to death will never again commit a crime against a fellow human being.

The only practical alternative to killing the worst of the criminals we have is keeping them locked up for life. In what way does that not deprive their families of them? In what way is that "humane?" I'd rather be dead, myself, than know that I'm probably going to live half a century caged like an animal.

The only strong argument I've seen against the death penalty is that it cannot be revoked if a mistake is made. Other than that, all the arguments I've seen are the whinings of people who obviously spend their time in a sururban paradise and who secretly, fervently hope that if they wish upon a star, no bad things will happen in the world, murderers will become good people, and so on.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

The only argument? (none / 0) (#268)
by NateTG on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:43:08 PM EST

The only strong argument I've seen against the death penalty is that it cannot be revoked if a mistake is made.

I find the (US-Centric) argument that it's cheaper to put people in prison for life without parole is cheaper quite strong as well.



[ Parent ]
Cost (none / 0) (#271)
by drsmithy on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:48:22 PM EST

I find the (US-Centric) argument that it's cheaper to put people in prison for life without parole is cheaper quite strong as well.

Quite clearly, any such argument is not being made "with all else beng equal" and, as such, is invalid.

[ Parent ]

Nah (none / 0) (#290)
by trhurler on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 05:24:25 PM EST

That's an argument for reform, or at most a practical issue. It isn't an argument against the death penalty on any moral or other meaningful ground. Making executions cheaper wouldn't be that hard. Besides, it isn't hard to argue that they ought to be expensive, and that they are still preferable in some cases to life imprisonment. (And also, the cost of imprisonment is vastly understated by bureaucratic bullshit aimed at getting the bureaucrats promotions, pats on the back, and so on. Do a real cost analysis, and then come back and let's talk. You know, amortize all the costs that no one prisoner accounts for, not just the obvious costs. Things like that.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
A couple of more reasons (none / 3) (#277)
by chrisjowell on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 02:20:42 AM EST

First, it is my understanding that in the US justice system it is less expensive to hand down a life sentence than to go through the typical appeals process of a capital case, so capital punishment is more expensive in long run.

Second No court system is infallible so you are *guaranteed* to put innocent people to death eventually.

Third: It is not much of a deterrent, if one at all.

Forth: It is not applied evenly; I would hate to be a young black or Hispanic man in these circumstances. First off you are more likely to be found guilty; second, if convicted you are more likely to receive the death penalty.

1 + 1 = 2 (none / 0) (#279)
by ok on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 03:20:34 AM EST

To argue that executing a criminal will prevent him/her from killing others in the future is disingenuous in that you are committing the very thing you are attempting to prevent.

Disingenuous? Maybe...

Irrefutable? Absolutely.



Counterpoints (none / 0) (#313)
by Golden Hawk on Sun Jul 25, 2004 at 11:55:02 AM EST

I'm strongly against the death penalty too.. but I'm not sure I accept much of the reasoning set forth here.

I. Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

As was said, this argument doesn't make sense unless it's proven that capital punishment is wrong.  (Makes one wonder why it wasn't then presented last..) So it was said that killing in any circumstance is wrong:

I was also brought up to believe that killing is wrong. Period.

I think that killing in self-defense (or in the defense of loved ones) is universally considered morally right.

The question is not wether killing in general is wrong, but at which point it crosses the line from a righteous killing, into murder.

II. Vengeance Is not Restitution / III. The Paradox of 'Restitution'

I'm pretty sure when you hear people speak about restitution, they want restitution to be made to the dead, not their families.  (Eye for an eye and so-forth.)  For example, killing someone with no family or friends still makes you eligible for the ultimate punishment in the eyes of pro-deathers.

There is no repayment for the perminant destruction of something ireplacable (A point which pro-death people never dispute).  However, something can still be said for the benifits for revenge.  Vengeance against a murderer is an effective way to ease the pain of the family of murder victims.  (Be it via imprisonment or capital punishment)

Of course, making a victim's family feel better by killing someone may not be a laudable goal, it's irresponsible to pretend the benifits don't exist.

IV. Conclusion

It's a bit scary that the article didn't even mention the second most popular argument for capital punishment: Deterrence.

It is believed that the threat of death will scare people into obeying the law.  However, this is fundimentally flawed.  A culture where death is considered acceptable will breed murder among its citizens, and life in prison is a worse punishment anyway.

Also it skipped over the next most popular argument: Cost.

The cost of feeding and clothing an inmate for life is astronomical.  We essentially provide them with a free ride as part of their 'punishment', on the dime of the taxpayer.

This however, is NOT a valid argument for capital punishment, at least in the US.  Because death penalty cases are automatically appealed there, and the legal costs vastly outweigh the costs of housing the prisoner their entire life several times over.

If cost was truly our chief concern, we'd stamp out crime in its infancy by banishing ideals, such as 'killing is the answer', from young minds, and we'd clean up the prison system so that it successfully rehabilitates criminals before their crimes escalate to murder.

Golden Hawk's Arguments:
I believe we shouldn't have the death penalty for one simple and pervasive reason.  The death penalty is perminant and infallable.  Executing it invariably produces a corpse; a corpse which can never be reanimated.

However, the court system is not infallable or perminant.  Mistakes will and have been made, and people have paid the ultimate price.  Until we can be 100% sure that our system is absolutely perfect, we can NOT kill people for their crimes.  (Same goes for other perminant punishments, such as severing extremities, castration, lobotomies)

Also I believe that we should focus on rehabilitation.  A crime can never be un-committed, but some criminals can be fixed.  Our system of murdering and wherehousing criminals simply makes people leave from their stay in prison indoctrinated with values of violence and apathy, poisioning society like a festering wound.
-- Daniel Benoy

Arguments against Capital Punishment | 318 comments (288 topical, 30 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!