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We all live on death row
JohnH
I hate the fact that I live in a country that kills its own people. I accept that there are some that must be removed from society. I cannot accept that it is acceptable for the state to kill. By my bare hands if necessary to protect myself or my children that is acceptable, not by the state.
 
seeker
Is this about the Anwar al-Awlaki killing?

I tend to see this more like a hostage situation. Al-Awlaki was essentially threatening to kill any US citizen he could and wasn't going to just turn himself in. He had already been identified as the mastermind behind other terrorist attempts.

Ideally we would want to catch any suspect and try them in court but if that isn't possible and we have a high degree of certainty that leaving this person alone would eventually result in the death of innocents, there is no pretty option. Once the US opened the door in the late 70's by funding and training Al Queda to fight against the USSR we set ourselves up for this kind of trouble. This is a great illustration of how responding in kind can turn you into your adversary.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Bob of QF
JohnH wrote:

I hate the fact that I live in a country that kills its own people. I accept that there are some that must be removed from society. I cannot accept that it is acceptable for the state to kill. By my bare hands if necessary to protect myself or my children that is acceptable, not by the state.


I hate it as well-- I see each personality, no matter how messed up, as a unique event in human history.

And forcibly ending even one, no matter how horrible, diminishes us as a race in some way.

Do not the worst of the worst serve to give us pause? And help to keep things in perspective?

Lock'em away for their whole lives, fine. Kill'em? I do not agree-- that's wrong. Involuntary ending of another's life is simply wrong.

And yes-- I also agree individual self-defense is valid; a shame when one has to resort to such measures, but needful from time to time.

I would also support national self-defense, at need. But never aggressive moves (such as Iraq).

The state is too vulnerable to faults, to be given the responsibility of deliberately ending a life-- the very act of doing that, both undermines it's validity (IMO) and helps to increase it's inevitable corruption.

As Larry Niven wrote about in a fictional future, where life was cheap? They eventually made having too many unpaid parking tickets a capital offense...

... and when the state becomes involved in forced-killing? The value of human life is cheapened as a result.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
I am very conflicted about this. I live in TX, the execution champion of the USA. I am convinced that TX overdoes it to a considerable extent. However, memories of the "the worst of the worst" are strong enough whether the person concerned is alive or not. Everyone remembers Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, and they are not alive. What point is there in locking some monstrous individual away, at public expense and out of the public view, if he is meant to serve as an example? Should he be trotted out once in a while, like Charles Manson?

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to observe an execution, or worse yet be the one who administers the fatal concoction(s). And a life sentense without possibility of parole might well be worse than a relatively painless death, if punishment is the goal. And it doesn't seem that death sentences deter crime all that much.

As I said, I'm very conflicted.
 
Theory_Execution
It is in no way an easy subject, I could easily be whipped into a murderous frenzy - I watched a documentary about healthcare staff torturing their mentally handicapped patients, I could easily see myself knocking a whole lot of the staff on their arses.

So to say you would defend your life and that of your families by committing murder, but not the families of others is a conflicted thing - I would not join an army that is marched across the world chasing oil - but I would join one to defend real people - which means there is no army that would have me.
 
JohnH
Damn, I am happy that I hit several nerves. Seeker it was the Troy Davis execution I was responding to. If I read it correctly he was convicted on coerced testimony because the victim was an off duty police officer.

I am with Bob of QF, the state cannot always behave correctly, therefore it should not allow itself to kill.

Catman, I understand the conflict. I can anoint myself as capable of murder under the correct circumstance. But I cannot accept that the state has that moral certitude. An egotistical belief but I think most people on this board share it. We need no myths to tell us what is correct.

TE, I have been thinking about buying a rifle. I would defend my home with my life. I would not defend standard oil with anything but a piece of paper. I find no conflict in that.
 
seeker
I'm with you as far as state executions go. Our legal system is dominated by overzealous prosecutors and judges who are trying to demonstrate how tough they are on crime. A perfect formula for mistakes.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Bob of QF
Catman:

I do not see life sentences as a deterrent at all-- what's to deter? You've (we've--the state--same thing) has decided to permanently ostracize this individual from normal society. There is nothing left to deter, here... considering it strictly from the individual basis.

On the other hand, I would not put into place draconian prevention against suicide either-- I'm definitely not in favor of that.

I firmly think that if a person is otherwise of sound mind? But wishes to exit stage left, in the manner of his/her own choosing? Provided such an act does no one else harm, who are we to say nay? The lesson of Dumbledor should not be forgotten. (and yes, it's neither new nor unique to that story)

So, I would be against treating these so ostracized as some sort of exhibit or animal-specimen. I'd insist (if I were magically in charge) that wherever possible, human dignity be maintained with even the worst of the worst.

To treat them as animals, would be to stoop down to their level-- the treating of human life as worthless-- and that would be as bad as anything they might have done.

One of the many reasons why I reject religion is exactly that: one of the principle lessons most religions teach is that "humans are basically scum". What is "all have sinned", but a lesson that everyone is worthless scum?

So, even the worst of the worst should be treated with as much respect/dignity as you can, but never forgetting he/she is to be sequestered from the rest of us.

Okay, you may now feel free to call me a bleeding idealist...

... I find I do not mind that label at all.

Smile
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
seeker
Hey, maybe from now on we can just convince murderers and rapists to commit suicide. Its either that or make them all politicians.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
Bob: What I stated was that I don't see death sentences as much of a deterrent to those who commit crimes for which the death sentence is to be applicable. I don't understand how a life sentence could deter someone upon whom said sentence has already been imposed. It's too late! Or did I misunderstand your post?

I don't buy the 'stoop to their level' argument. The only way to do that is to commit the same crime they committed. Still, I'm not in favor of exhibiting them as animals.

In most cases, if a criminal thinks he will be caught and punished, he will not commit the crime. But most think they will get away with it.
 
Theory_Execution
JohnH, I see no conflict there either - my point was conflict in defending your own family, but not that of your neighbour, or the family of the guy three doors down, the next block, a town over... another country.

At some point people will rationalize their 'family', for most in discussion it is the immediate participants in their life, and I would hope for most in practice it is much wider than this.

In my opinion (idealistically) the government should be there to maintain those who appoint it (and by proxy, say through trade, that of other goverened peoples). This will inevitably involve the government stepping in on behalf of the families it speaks for to limit the freedom of a few people (the criminals).

Now is it that we all agree that would be the best possible thing - if only the governments were not so incompetent/deliberately wankerish?


To deterrents: I do not care if death sentencing and punishment for crimes comitted act as deterrents, they perfectly deter those punished from committing crimes ever again. To me that is the purpose of a death penalty - this particular person has shown themselves to be incapable of cooperation and has caused loss/harm to another agreeable member.

There is an argument to bannish them, but where to? What if it happens a few times to many creating a rival population that goes after your resources?

But most think they will get away with it.

A very good point. Partly because many do not get arrested, and partly because those who do are pardoned and partly because those that are arrested and charged have a pathetic (or sometimes benefitial) punishment meted out.
 
seeker
One thing that is important to consider is that a lot of times the crime is unplanned. Do we treat a guy who catches his wife with another man and murders them the same as we might a guy who carefully plans to murder, then murders, his business partner?

The deterrent factor is completely absent when it comes to crimes of passion.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Bob of QF
catman wrote:

Bob: What I stated was that I don't see death sentences as much of a deterrent to those who commit crimes for which the death sentence is to be applicable. I don't understand how a life sentence could deter someone upon whom said sentence has already been imposed. It's too late! Or did I misunderstand your post?

I don't buy the 'stoop to their level' argument. The only way to do that is to commit the same crime they committed. Still, I'm not in favor of exhibiting them as animals.

In most cases, if a criminal thinks he will be caught and punished, he will not commit the crime. But most think they will get away with it.


No, I think we're both on the same page here, after your clarification-- it was me who misunderstood. My bad, sorry.

To me? Treating human life as useless garbage would be stooping to the level of many criminals-- for is that not their attitude? (upon close examination) They feel that they have more "worth" (whatever that may mean to the individual) than whomever it is they are robbing, mugging, threatening, etc. And that such "worth" is motivation enough to risk harm to others, whom they see as "worth less [than they]".

I do not know if they ponder these things, but their behavior seems to indicate that is how they view the world.

And I would deplore any systematized institution who codified this idea into law and/or regulation: that criminals, being convicted, are now worth less than non-criminals. And I see treating them as garbage, or excess baggage as exactly that.

I also see the deliberate killing anyone (against their will) as declaring they are somehow worth less than those we do not kill (the rest of society).

I freely admit it's a personal bias, and I do not have any deeper arguments apart from what I've presented so far.

The bottom line to me, though is the finality of death: there is no "load the save file", or undoing death. (and I know you know this as well as I).

What if there comes a day, when science finally unravels much of the mysteries that motivate people? That is, they are able to identify what went wrong in the psychopath's brain, such that they were able to commit serial murders?

And they know exactly what it would take to instill what the rest of us have, a working/effective inhibition to wanton slaughter of others?

Now, I'd be opposed to forced utilization of such technology-- far from it! But. I would be in favor of offering a locked-up psychopath the choice: submit to the procedure, or remain locked up. Not much of a choice, really.

But? If we kill his ass? We cannot offer even that Hobson's Choice, can we?

And, as I hoped I'd made clear-- I would never bar an incarcerated criminal the right to end is own life if he so chooses. So he always has this third option available...

The bottom line?

I think law should >>never<< be about revenge, but about consequences. And to me, forced killing is more about revenge than consequences.

My bias, again.

Merged on 10/05/2011 13:49:
seeker wrote:

The deterrent factor is completely absent when it comes to crimes of passion.


Alas... that is ever the conundrum: the veneer of civilization is so very, very thin in us mere humans....

... one day, maybe... we'll be able to teach ourselves the lesson that Kirk expressed so well:

"Today, I will not Kill."

Smile

One day at a time is the best any of us can manage, it seems.

I like to rephrase that sentiment this way:

"I will do my best to not kill anyone, today."

And George Carlin expressed it as:

"Try not to kill anyone".

Merged on 10/05/2011 13:49:
Cool! Auto-Merge!

Ain't that just slickern' snot on a hotplate?

<laughing my ass off>
Edited by Bob of QF on 10/05/2011 14:49
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Theory_Execution
Seeker, I dont find murder to be the worst crime. In most instances I imagine it is a crime of passion or when people are on drugs (no stats to back that up in my head).

I would say child rape and rape in general... but you do have the case of women crying rape after feeling ashamed of their actions.

Bob of QF
...that criminals, being convicted, are now worth less than non-criminals...


I would spin that as 'people, having committed crimes, have handed over the inherent worth of their life' - in electronic equipment terms, they have scratched the 'void' seal - rendering their guarantee (human rights) null and void.

Now where we draw the line at a scuff on the label (theft of a loaf of bread) or torn completely off (rape) is the difficulty - I told you all I am not consistent on this.

I would be in favor of offering a locked-up psychopath the choice: submit to the procedure, or remain locked up.


Why? You would still be killing that person (persona). So why not do away with them and make room for the needy, someone who didnt get all the chances they did?

And to me, forced killing is more about revenge than consequences.


As with my above reply, you can see I think of it from a practical standpoint. We could stand around here all day trying to rehabilitate this guy - why bother. But again, I am for rehabilitation of those whos crimes are not that bad.
 
Bob of QF
So long as the justice system is good? (It'll never be perfect.)

Then your arguments have some merit.

As soon as corruption seeps into the Justice system? Then a state killing always has the risk they are innocent.

If you can garuntee zero corruption, I have no beef with certain selected crimes ending in death, as a purely practical response.

I will still lament the loss of that unique personality from human society.

But I can see the practicality of it-- if:

If killing them does not cost in resources and face*, far-far more than simply locking them away would.

Currently? It's roughly 5 to 10 times cheaper to simply lock them up for life, than it is to try to win the death penalty in court.

______

* By "face" I mean that intangible thing we have veneered over our society that helps gives us the motive to both participate in it, and protect it somewhat. Whenever society at large looses "face", we no longer feel obligated to either participate or contribute, but rather would help to see it's demise.

There are any number of examples in the world, where the society at large, has lost all "face" with major fractions of it's people. Chaos is not far behind.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Theory_Execution
Currently? It's roughly 5 to 10 times cheaper to simply lock them up for life, than it is to try to win the death penalty in court.


Is this due to appeals? Or due to there being a separate trail which decides sentence from that which decided guilt?
 
seeker
Theory_Execution wrote:

Seeker, I dont find murder to be the worst crime. In most instances I imagine it is a crime of passion or when people are on drugs (no stats to back that up in my head).

I would say child rape and rape in general... but you do have the case of women crying rape after feeling ashamed of their actions.



I guess that depends a lot on how you define 'child rape'. Here is the states 'child rape' can include cases where a 19 year old guy is seeing a 17 year old girl.

I do agree though that rape is possibly the most vile of crimes. I'm just not sure I'd include statutory rape as rape.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Theory_Execution
I agree there Seeker. At 16 you can legally have sex, but cant drive a car nor vote nor drink in a pub - something is messed up there lol.
 
Bob of QF
Theory_Execution wrote:

Currently? It's roughly 5 to 10 times cheaper to simply lock them up for life, than it is to try to win the death penalty in court.


Is this due to appeals? Or due to there being a separate trail which decides sentence from that which decided guilt?


All of the above, coupled with most states requiring a higher degree of certainty, if the death penalty is to be invoked. Thus the evidence trail cost far more to maintain, etc.

Typical death penalty cases also require more people on the State's side of the bench, so many more paid employees are working on that one case, instead of separate lessor-sentence cases.

And most states have automatic appeals; not that they are needful-- any lawyer worth his degree will automatically appeal a death sentence-- even if he loses, he earns "credit" in the lawyer community for having tried. Death penalty cases always make the local news, too, so there is $$ to be made on all sides.

But the extra news coverage also brings an additional price-- extra security around the defendant.

It all adds up, such that most are 10 times more costly to prosecute, than a simple life-without-parole.

Merged on 10/08/2011 19:55:
seeker wrote:
... I'm just not sure I'd include statutory rape as rape.


Statutory rape is a very sticky-wicket, I agree. Especially at the 'edges' when either party is close to the arbitrary age of "consent".

I'm of mixed views on this one-- true rape (wherein the victim does not want what happened to happen) is as horrible as murder. Maybe worse.

But statutory rape? That's a purely arbitrary act, as defined by the culture in question, and goes directly against the free will of the participants. Or it can.

On the gripping hand? Young people are often easily swayed by the sophisticated arguments that adults can put forth. So is a young person really willing? Or are they simply victims of a smooth talker? Who decides >that< one?

It ain't easy to figure out. So, the Law typically errs on the side of arbitrary standards, simply because there is little choice. We cannot read minds.
Edited by Bob of QF on 10/08/2011 20:55
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
JohnH
I agree that statutory rape is indeed a sticky wicket. Sex between people more or less of the same age but one is under the age of consent is difficult to find deserving of significant jail time, perhaps better to allow counseling or injunctions to stay away until the younger person reaches legal age. Sex between people of widely different ages is a whole other matter. Particularly when there is a possible power arrangement such as teacher and student. I think that is why some laws tend to be rigid in their interpretations, do not let a jury mess with certain things because they could be swayed by noise.

I was amazed by TE's suggestion that the age of consent is 16, in California for example it is 18, but then I looked it up. There are many states with the age of consent 17 and down including Hawaii and Idaho at 14. This could add some real confusion to a young couple traveling from Idaho to California, whose laws would they fall under.

Interesting that several people mentioned the cost of execution. I have quit arguing against executions on any kind of moral or philosophical basis but strictly on cost. Hard core death penalty advocates tend to blow this argument off. It is just the cost of doing the states business. Of course if the state quit killing its citizens these same good folk would not want the savings applied to the schools in the areas where most criminals come from.
Edited by JohnH on 10/09/2011 01:24
 
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