This horror cannot be unseen »« Episode CCLVI: America’s Best Christian explains prayer

Comments

  1. Jason Oguns says

    Exactly what I said. I’ll just leave this quote here:

    “If you support the death penalty and only one single innocent person is killed and killing an innocent person is murder, then you also become murderers. So, you also deserve to be killed. This is the paradox of the death penalty and you cannot avoid this paradox.
    — Agnes Heller

  2. andyo says

    Go over to Bad Astronomy, it’s in need of some pharyngulation, even if it’s just a couple of trolls. On a side note, it’s telling how “dick” blogs like this and (not-blog) WEIT have all but rid of such asshole “this isn’t science! Your politics sucks” trolls. Phil needs to dick up.

  3. ShockedISaid says

    This is the time to be deeply ashamed to be an American. What is wrong with our country that a state would execute a man who really might have been innocent? What a deeply immoral s act.

  4. says

    While I’m only opposed to the death penalty in a practical sense and not a moral one — I see nothing morally wrong with a murderer being required to pay for his crime with his own life, though I do recognize that our criminal justice system is too flawed and in many cases corrupt to ensure no innocent man will ever be executed — I am usually puzzled by this statement: “There was no justice this evening, only vengeance.”

    This is a favorite line of the anti-death penalty camp, and it seems to rest on a couple of simplistic assumptions: that justice and vengeance are mutually exclusive, and that the former is always right and proper and the latter is always wrong and bad. But why should vengeance automatically be considered a bad thing? Is it genuinely the case that there can exist no circumstance whatsoever in which a person has the right to avenge themselves against an act of evil perpetrated upon them? Would it be wrong for someone who’d lost his entire family to the Nazi death camps to wish to get revenge upon the Reich?

    And aren’t all forms of justice vengeful to one degree or another? Even if it’s the minor case of a kid shoplifting from a convenience store, if the store prosecutes him for it, aren’t they avenging the theft? So where does that line between justice (right) and vengeance (wrong) actually exist? Can any two of us agree upon it?

    That said, I think there was sufficient reasonable doubt in the Davis case to have commuted his sentence to life. And I think we ought to have a moratorium altogether on capital punishment as the whole problem of systemic corruption is too great (as my own state’s governor has almost certainly executed at least one innocent man that anyone knows of).

  5. Drascus says

    ShockedISaid –

    Nobody wants to look behind the curtain. If this guy is innocent, and we almost executed him, but then stopped, how many innocents did we miss? For a lot of people it’s better to know that you are executing innocent people, but not think about it because you don’t know specifically which ones are the innocent ones, than to reform the system and face its flaws.

    Plus people like blood when they’ve been wronged. The american criminal justice system is not set up for any kind of justice or fairness or anything like that. It’s set up to have the majority of the people feel good about the outcome.

  6. San Ban says

    Another man was killed by the government today: Lawrence Brewer, convicted of the racially motivated dragging death of James Bird, was executed by the state of Texas. His death was just as barbaric and pointless as that of Troy Davis.

    Bird’s son has campaigned to stop executions, including that of his father’s murderer. Good on him for not giving in to the savage bloodlust that drives the the death penalty lobby.

  7. L.S says

    I live in South Africa, ever since we abolished the death penalty, crime and murder has risen somewhat ludicrous. We have approximately 50 murders a day here due to robbery, high jacking and general crime. We have had close to 100off police murdered since the beginning of this year. Our justice system is also seriously floored in as much as thieves go free on a mere $100 bail, and most are never brought to trial due to corruption, and simply not catching the criminal.
    In your case I do find it hard to accept that all the evidence shows Mr Davis was innocent and that there is not enough evidence to prove his guilt. I simply can’t see a penal system putting him to death with scant evidence. Way to many times criminals get off due to a stupid technicality. Attorneys are always to blame for clouding a system and making it look as if evidence is not conclusive. Simple facts should prevail.
    Death penalty for murderers, hell yes, why should this type of person live on tax payers money. There are no morals in murder? If you kill, expect the same in return quite simply.

  8. Alexa says

    Hard to feel pity for the MacPhail family tonight. “Justice” to them is putting the Davis family exactly through what they had to go through, except 100 times worse. Somehow, making other people miserable makes them feel better. That sickens me, honestly. At least the MacPhails didn’t have to anticipate their loved one’s death for over 20 years…

  9. andyo says

    Bird’s son has campaigned to stop executions, including that of his father’s murderer. Good on him for not giving in to the savage bloodlust that drives the the death penalty lobby.

    Contrast that to the MacPhails. Yeah, as Alexa said, hard to feel pity for them.

  10. randomexcess says

    I have taken this time to remind my friends and acquaintances who support State Sanctioned Murder, they should feel morally obligated to support the Innocence Project ( www [dot] innocenceproject [dot] org )to fight to free wrongly convicted persons from suffering the ultimate punishment.

  11. andyo says

    I live in South Africa, ever since we abolished the death penalty, crime and murder has risen somewhat ludicrous.

    If all what you say is true, do you think it’s because there’s no death penalty? What about the obvious, which is everything else you state in that paragraph after you made that first assertion?

    In your case I do find it hard to accept that all the evidence shows Mr Davis was innocent and that there is not enough evidence to prove his guilt. I simply can’t see a penal system putting him to death with scant evidence. Way to many times criminals get off due to a stupid technicality. Attorneys are always to blame for clouding a system and making it look as if evidence is not conclusive. Simple facts should prevail.

    You simply can’t see? Yeah, that’s convincing. Do you have the “simple facts”? The problem is exactly that there are no simple facts. I don’t think most of us are sure of either his guilt or innocence, but that’s the point.

  12. Abbie says

    L.S., you are describing serious social issues that can not be solved by simply killing people.

    Life in prison serves the same goals (prevention, punishment, etc) as execution and has the beneficial of not being IRREVERSIBLE MURDER.

  13. L.S says

    It’s not hard to feel pity for the MacPhail family, they have had to live with the reality of a family member murdered, he being some ones child, lover, father? No I defiantly feel sorry for both families in this instance, it’s not the Davis family fault that Troy did what he did.

  14. amblebury says

    No, no, no.

    You do NOT illustrate that killing human beings is bad by killing human beings. That’s just stupid, knuckle-dragging, drooling, brainless, fucking idiocy.

    Sure, preventative detention – get them growing vegetables for the homeless ’til the end of their days. Or, say, ask yourself why the society in which you live is so crime-ridden. Then address that.

    But saying the death penalty is fucktarded, arse-before-face logic is an insult to fucktards.

    What do you do with rapists, fuck them with a broom handle? Grow up. Learn to spell ‘civilization.’

  15. andyo says

    What do you do with rapists, fuck them with a broom handle?

    I’m pretty sure many people would be happy with that. It would be interesting to see if there’s any correlation with such people and state murder supporters (wanna place bets?).

  16. L.S says

    On the idea of execution, yes it’s not really easy in a short process to explain my view properly here, but in simple terms tell you what, how about we send you all our criminals so you can look after them, feed them, cloth them, medical care for them. I’m now talking about those who we know are 100% guilty are murderers, will slit your neck for $10 in your terms. In my opinion there is no moral issue putting this type of human to death? If life is so cheap to them then obviously they must feel the same about theirs unless they view themselves as a higher being?
    Sorry, there is a place for the death penalty in my opinion.

  17. amblebury says

    Andyo – sadly no, I’m sure you’re right. That’s the mentality we fight against.

    Is ‘mentality’ the right word?

  18. amblebury says

    Here’s simple.

    It’s either 1/ Wrong to kill, or 2/ Yeah, what the heck.

    The ‘ooh, it’s pricey’ argument – how far does that extend?

    If you decry people for thinking life is cheap, don’t help them along BUY PUTTING A PRICE ON HUMAN LIVES.

  19. says

    Seven of nine “eye-witnesses” recanted and said that their testimony was pressured by police. One of the remaining two was a suspect in the murder.

    Why, LS, would you imagine that the state would NOT put a black man to death with scant evidence? Are you totally unaware of the Innocence project? Of Gov. Perry in Texas boasting about all the people he’s killed? I find the idea that the state would kill an innocent to be profoundly UNsurprising.

  20. says

    L.S:

    In my opinion there is no moral issue putting this type of human to death?

    Why are you asking us? It’s your opinion. I’d hope you’d know it.

    Sorry, there is a place for the death penalty in my opinion.

    For what are you apologizing? The fact you have an opinion? Or the fact that it’s morally bankrupt?

  21. SubTachyon says

    L.S.
    “I’m now talking about those who we know are 100% guilty are murderers”
    And how do we do that unless they admit to it themselves?
    You see even in this case there were 9 witnesses that helped to convict Davis. You would probably say that’s 100% guilty right? And yet 7 of them recanted their statement by now. Not even mentioning the DNA test.
    You can’t be 100%. In fact not even when they admit to it, but then at least you can think of it as euthanasia…

    I was in a debate championship in Turkey where one of the quarter-finals topics was “People should be imprisoned only based on their future threat to society” and the proposition won that debate by a landslide. As times go on I think I find more and more reasons why the proposition was right…

  22. San Ban says

    LS, does justice consist of sentencing according to the attitude of the convict towards a particular social more? Who would you appoint to mete out the appropriate sentence for a sadistic serial murderer that cannibalises his victims?

    Or maybe you see justice as something that can be bought or sold.

    I see justice as something than protects the wellbeing of society and the individuals in it, and I don’t see how killing people does that.

  23. Veltyen says

    Crime in south africa.

    Murder rate has gone from 66.9/100,000 (1994) to 37.3/100,000 (2008)

    Death penalty was abolished in 1988.

  24. lipwig says

    Thanks, Veltyen, was just looking up those figures when you posted.

    @L.S – you got it all wrong, dude. On a few levels. The one that gets my goat right now is you tossing aroung ramdom “facts” and “figures” about murder rates in SA. This is your perspective of SA and its wrong.

    Where do you live? In a security-patroled, gated complex in Rosebank?

  25. Adam says

    Why is it barbaric to euthanize a person and not barbaric to euthanize a bunch of fish? I bet the fish didn’t even have an appeals process.

  26. Tyler says

    “If you support the death penalty and only one single [sic] innocent person is killed and killing an innocent person is murder, then you also become murderers. So, you also deserve to be killed. This is the paradox of the death penalty and you cannot avoid this paradox.”

    Hmmm…

    “If you support imprisonment [or, hell, any legal penalty] and only one innocent person is imprisoned and imprisoning an innocent person is kidnapping, then you also become kidnappers. So, you also deserve to be kidnapped for the same amount of time. This is the paradox of imprisonment and you cannot avoid this paradox.”

    What utter fucking tosh.

    Any idea can be framed paradoxically. Of course, it makes the framer look like a goddamn idiot…

  27. Marcus Hill says

    There is no cogent moral argument for the death penalty. The criminal justice system and sentencing therein serves a number of purposes – preventing the offender from reoffending (in the short term by locking him/her up, but more importantly through trying to reform him/her) and deterrence are the most important. Vengeance should not feature on the list, and if you think the state should be helping victims of crime get revenge you’re immoral. All the evidence shows that the death penalty has no deterrent effect, and its irrevocable nature therefore makes any other sentence preferable.

    Some people claim it’s cheaper to kill someone than keep them locked up for life (as if putting a price on a life, even that of a criminal, were moral). This is plain wrong, at least in the US – due to their automatic access to extended appeals and being held separately from other prisoners, it actually costs more to get a prisoner from first conviction to execution than it does to keep them in prison for the rest of their natural lives, on average.

    There seem to be a number of people living in some sort of Platonic ideal world, advocating for the death penalty only when we’re “absolutely 100% sure” that the person did it, so we could then shoot them on the spot or something. Even if we assume that it’s OK to kill someone who actually did (insert your least favourite crime here), either there will still be miscarriages of justice (if the “100%” bar is set too low, or there is corruption, forged evidence, someone pressured into confessing through threats to their family, …) or there will be no convictions ever.

  28. says

    Fuck America.

    only if she puts a bag over her head first.

    You might wanna stop there, buddy. Let’s not fight bloodlust and racism with misogyny.

  29. says

    We have a disconnect, I think, on the line of pacifism PZ, but I absolutely agree that the death penalty is fucking barbaric. There is a quote I recall, that I may butcher here, that goes something like, “those who are for the death penalty are more closely related to murderers than those who are not”.

    I’ve been in, seen, and am aware of situations where killing someone was the most moral choice available. But after someone is subdued, murdering that person is fucking disgusting.

    And this case in particular is even worse than that. If you know for certain with insurmountable evidence that a person is responsible for reprehensible crimes, I can at least empathize without agreeing with the position of someone calling for someone’s death.

    But when (what seems to be) shaky evidence is called into question with multiple “witness” (as untenable as witness testimony is in the first place) testimony is recalled and said to be a result of pressure and not reality… and you STILL find it acceptable to kill a person… ugh.

    And, fucking-a the U.S. is making me fucking insanely pissed these days, Rick Perry killing 230+ gets the biggest fucking cheer during a debate………………….. ugh ugh ugh. ugh. ugh.

    Fuck.

    Ugh.

    It’s fucking with my whole program. I’m turning down jobs, and I really need to take a job right now… I’m turning down six figure jobs because they are government intelligence jobs, and I am really, really, really upset with those who are in charge of governance. Further, I don’t trust them to use what I produce for ethical purposes.

    Shit, I’ll end my rant now before I go too far off topic.

  30. whatsinaname says

    “… the death penalty is barbarous and irrevocable.”

    A thing’s unpleasantness does not invalidate the thing.

  31. Tenebras says

    He was a black man in the deep south. I’m surprised those mouth-breathing, ignorant fuckwits didn’t just take him out back and hang him from a tree.

    Sorry, but I’m not in the least bit surprised that this happened, and I never for a moment thought this guy had a snowball’s chance in Hell of coming through this alive. The American “Justice” system has never been about serving actual justice, especially not for minorities.

  32. shawnthesheep says

    Adam,

    Because we humans are so species biased.

    I think the issue isn’t so much the euthanizing as the motives for the euthanizing. I think most rationalists would support euthanasia for those who people who have an abysmal quality of life. Many of those same rationalists would also support the euthanizing of fish for the purposes of scientific or medical advancement.

    What’s at issue here is the execution of a person for a crime. Regardless of whether or not you support the death penalty in theory, I fail to see how any rationalist could look at the American justice system and not support the abolition of the death penalty in the US. The US system is too flawed, too racist, too skewed towards those with money and political influence, to prevent the execution of innocent people 100% of the time.

    And I haven’t even brought up the moral argument or how stupid it is to equate the life of a fish to the life of a human.

  33. says

    whatsinaname #35

    No shit, dumbass.

    Go on and explain how it is acceptable. The onus is on you, the one who endorses murdering a defenseless imprisoned person, who is therefore no threat to society at large, to provide justification.

    So your pithy response is worth exactly zero without this justification.

    I’ll be waiting.

  34. says

    What people lose sight of here is that in the initial instance of killing, it is a single person taking the life of another person unnecessarily. (Let’s avoid multiple murderers/victims for simplicity.) In the latter instance, it is a large group of people taking the life of another person unnecessarily. I’ve never understood why this so-called distinction ought to matter. It’s ‘might makes right’ put into practice.

    If murder is wrong murder is wrong murder is wrong.

  35. John Morales says

    Michael Hawkins,

    If murder is wrong murder is wrong

    Unless, of course, you’re a Christian (and therefore a hypocrite about the fifth “commandment”).

    (Then it’s just peachy)

  36. Adam says

    Exactly shawnthesheep, humans are species biased. That’s all there is to it. You say it’s stupid to equate killing a fish with killing a human but that’s merely your point of view from being a human yourself. I suspect if fish could elucidate their fishy opinions that they would favour humans getting the chop. Not that I particularly care whether some fish dies or some scumbag murderer dies, just pointing it out.

  37. says

    whatsinaname #40

    I’m going to have to assume you’re a fuckwitted troll. Why? Because “sure there is” is the response of an intellectually dishonest shit-stain. What is this moral argument?

    This is the last opportunity I give you before I move to abject ridicule and mockery.

  38. San Ban says

    whatsinaname says:

    ‘“There is no cogent moral argument for the death penalty.”

    Sure there is.’

    Let’s hear it.

  39. says

    I have to agree. The bottom line is FUCK the death penalty. It is the ultimate case of boneheaded cognitive dissonance. Have you ever heard of a murder that was prevented by the death penalty? Of course not. No one has ever stopped before plunging a knife or pulling a trigger and weighed the options: “Hm. Do I really want to go to prison? Well, I’ll only get life for this. Oh wait, they have the death penalty here? Oh. That changes everything. I should definitely refrain from this passionate killing of another human being.” Or planning a cold-blooded murder: “Well, I was considering throwing my entire life away to spend it in prison by murdering this person, but I realized that I might get the death penalty. I feel discouraged from my illicit behavior, so instead of killing that abortion doctor I’m gonna go get some pizza and harass abortion clinic escorts and patients. Later, brah!”

  40. Ms Ann Thrope says

    Another South African here (although I suspect I’m a slightly darker shade than my compatriot LS.). Firstly, I’m not certain whether there is a real increase in the crime rate since ’88 in SA. However, stats pre-92 (during apartheid) are notoriously unreliable, so Veltyen, I’m not sure where you got those numbers from, but I wouldn’t put too much faith in them… Nonethless SA’s crime problems are complex socio-economic issues that are not going to disappear unless the government decides to execute our 12850000 unemployed youth as well as the convicted murderers (Stats SA). Killing criminals achieves nothing, not vengence, not resurrection, not justice.

    And L.S’s whine about keeping prisoners alive with “tax-payers money” would mean more if that amount wasn’t peanuts compared to the millions of tax-payers money that goes “missing” into many politican’s pockets.

  41. Ms Ann Thrope says

    Another South African here (although I suspect I’m a slightly darker shade than my compatriot LS.). Firstly, I’m not certain whether there is a real increase in the crime rate since ’88 in SA. However, stats pre-92 (during apartheid) are notoriously unreliable, so Veltyen, I’m not sure where you got those numbers from, but I wouldn’t put too much faith in them…

    Nonethless SA’s crime problems are complex socio-economic issues that are not going to disappear unless the government decides to execute our 12850000 unemployed youth as well as the convicted murderers (Stats SA). Killing criminals achieves nothing, not vengence, not resurrection, not justice. And L.S’s whine about keeping prisoners alive with “tax-payers money” would mean more if that amount wasn’t peanuts compared to the millions of tax-payers money that goes “missing” into many politican’s pockets.

    (Apologies if this is a double-post).

  42. whatsinaname says

    tkreacher: “whatsinaname #35 No shit, dumbass.”

    I wasn’t looking for affirmation.

    tkreacher: “Go on and explain how it is acceptable.”

    In much the same way dumpster diving is an unpleasant but acceptable way for a starving person to acquire food.

    tkreacher: “The onus is on you, the one who endorses murdering a defenseless imprisoned person…”

    I don’t endorse murdering defenseless imprisoned people, “dumbass.”

  43. Bernard Bumner says

    …I’m now talking about those who we know are 100% guilty are murderers…

    Anybody found guilty of murder in the US is guilty beyond reasonable doubt, whether they actually committed the crime or not. Nobody is found 70, 80, or anything other than 100% guilty. The convicted innocent are as guilty in the eyes of the law as any other criminal.

    Your distinction is entirely fallible bullshit that will lead inevitably to the death of innocents.

    The death penalty doesn’t prevent crime, isn’t cheaper, doesn’t encourage contrition, leads to drawn out trial processes, the innocent cannot be reprieved, requires that defenceless people are killed, and further punishes many of the family and friends of the criminals.

    The only thing it does is provide some sense that vengence is had for those who want it.

    Since when were victims of crime the appropriate advocates for proportionate sentencing?

  44. Maronan says

    “If you support imprisonment [or, hell, any legal penalty] and only one innocent person is imprisoned and imprisoning an innocent person is kidnapping, then you also become kidnappers. So, you also deserve to be kidnapped for the same amount of time. This is the paradox of imprisonment and you cannot avoid this paradox.”

    Except that a wrongfully imprisoned person can be released and compensated for the lost time as best as society can offer, so the comparison falls somewhat flat. Though the compensation part rarely works in practice, that can be achieved through reform. The death penalty can never be reformed to even mitigate its mistakes.

  45. says

    whatsinaname

    “… the death penalty is barbarous and irrevocable.”

    A thing’s unpleasantness does not invalidate the thing.

    You mean the unpleasant fact that it is indeed irrevocable so that, since you’re not Jesus fucking Christ, you simply can’t bring back a person from the dead in case you got it wrong does not invalidate it?

    “There is no cogent moral argument for the death penalty.”

    Sure there is.

    So, care to enlighten us. What is that cogent moral argument we obviously have never heard before.
    I’m holding my breath.
    I assume it to be on the same level as the evidence against evolution I have never seen before and the pro-life argument that will convince me that I am less important than a bunch of cells.

    L.S.
    So you got it wrong about your own home country, you got it wrong about Troy Davies. But you still support the death penalty. You are indeed the living, breathing example of how the death penalty makes life worse for all of us, because it makes probably mostly decent people like you complicent in the killing of other, possibly innocent people.

  46. says

    whatsinaname #48

    Your response is incoherent and avoids all semblance of relevance. The most charitable interpretation I can muster is “passive aggressive bullshit”.

    Try again you fucking imbecile.

  47. whatsinaname says

    4theist4narchist: “Have you ever heard of a murder that was prevented by the death penalty?”

    Have you ever heard of ANY crime that was prevented by the penalties imposed after the crime was committed?

    :chortle:

    4theist4narchist: “No one has ever stopped before plunging a knife or pulling a trigger and weighed the options:”

    Yeah? Google “death penalty deters me” (in quotation marks)…

  48. says

    I have no problem believing that there are some people in the world whose actions and attitudes are so terrible that they can reasonably be seen as deserving to die. Moreover, the world would probably be a better place without these people in it. In fact, there are probably even people who are such remorseless and vile criminals that one could reasonably argue that they deserve rape and horrific torture and any other hideous punishment that the human mind can devise as a prelude to execution.

    What I have a problem with is the notion that we individuals or our governments should be in the business of meting out what we think people “deserve”, rather than that of doing what is necessary to prevent crime. “Just deserts” is an incredibly subjective and vindictive concept, which means that it’s just not an appropriate guideline for an ethical community. We already know that when taken to extremes, it can lead to orgies of savagery which destroy the innocent and the guilty-but-not-deserving-of-*that* with more surety than they punish those rare truly monstrous individuals whose evil might genuinely justify such retribution. Looking at justice in terms of simply removing threats to the community, on the other hand, is a philosophical approach which allows for much more dispassionate and objective grounding of one’s actions.

    In regard to the death penalty specifically, if it’s truly the case the only way to stop one person from hurting others is to kill that person (e.g. emergency situations), then, fine, I’ve got no qualms about seeing them dead. But it’s got to be incredibly rare that someone who’s already been captured and imprisoned presents such an enormous threat that the only way to end that threat with reasonable confidence is to make them dead. I don’t think we should ever be killing someone just because that killing makes us feel good. Killing because it feels righteous rather than because it’s unavoidably necessary seems to me precisely how one begins to become the kind of death-deserving monster one so vehemently claims the right to execute.

  49. Adam says

    @4theist4narchist “Have you ever heard of a murder that was prevented by the death penalty? ”

    Executed prisoners have a 0% recidivism rate. Perhaps you mean to ask if any prisoners have been released and gone onto murder again.

  50. shawnthesheep says

    If you want to assert that killing a fish is the same as killing a human, then the onus is on you to support that assertion.

    But the real issue I have is that you equated the execution of a human by the state with euthanizing fish. I fail to see how the two are comparable, especially since you didn’t say why the fish were being euthanized. Yes, the ‘why’ matters. Since fish are not subject to the criminal justice system, the two are hardly equivalent in any meaningful way. I assume you were making a comment to PZ about scientific research that involves fish being euthanized. I would argue that euthanizing fish for the purposes of scientific or medical advancement does more good than it does harm. This is the fundamental difference between euthanizing fish and executing Troy Davis. I fail to see any possible good that comes from executing Davis. But euthanizing fish to enhance our understanding of biology can lead to better, healthier lives for humans, fish and all other manner of species.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m a bit peckish, so I’m going to go murder a carrot.

  51. Holms says

    I hate to break it to you guys, but online polls never stood a chance at abaying the bloodlust for this guy’s head. They very rarely do anything.

  52. says

    Adam, the ethical status of fish lives is an interesting question, but it seems kind of tangential to the question of whether the state of Georgia was right to execute Troy Davis. Whether killing fish for research is okay or not, I think there’s still a pretty sound argument that the death penalty for humans is not okay.

  53. whatsinaname says

    tkreacher: “I’m going to have to assume you’re a fuckwitted troll.”

    That is your prerogative.

    tkreacher: “What is this moral argument?”

    Pick a crime. Then, pick a penalty for that crime which you find morally suitable. Then, morally argue for that penalty. Then, apply that moral argument to the death penalty.

    Any other questions?

    tkreacher: “This is the last opportunity I give you before I move to abject ridicule and mockery.”

    Does the term “regret” mean anything to you?

  54. Geoffrey Brent says

    Adam: “Executed prisoners have a 0% recidivism rate. ”

    And if you replace execution with life-that-means-life sentences, your hypothetical prisoner is still very unlikely to kill members of the general public. (Granted, murder does happen in prisons, but the death-penalty supporters don’t usually seem to be terribly bothered by that.)

    Meanwhile, the death penalty can provide an incentive for further murders. If Joe-Bob has killed one man and knows that being caught means the death penalty, he’s got nothing further to lose by killing witnesses and trying to shoot his way out when the police catch up with him.

  55. says

    @Adam, #56:
    “Executed prisoners have a 0% recidivism rate. Perhaps you mean to ask if any prisoners have been released and gone onto murder again.”

    And slaughtered innocents have a 0% recovery rate after state-sanctioned murder for crimes they didn’t commit.

    The official “rule of thumb” for the American Justice system is ~supposed~ to be “innocent until proven guilty” – and, theoretically, in capital cases the evidence must prove the guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    In this case, there was “reasonable doubt” in several areas – enough to justify an immediate stay of execution and change of sentence to life in prison while quite possibly justifying a new trial or a new case to investigate any irregularities.

    Failure to adhere to the alleged core principles of justice undermines the system, risks penalizing – ultimately and irrevocably – potentially innocent victims, and (in the event that the accused is actually innocent) it ALLOWS THE GUILTY TO GO FREE to kill again.

    There’s no justice in that. There’s nothing ethical in it. There’s nothing civilized in it.

    It’s just wrong.

  56. Bernard Bumner says

    Yeah? Google “death penalty deters me” (in quotation marks)…

    Focus on anecdote and the few controversial studies claiming that the death penalty is an effective deterrent. Or look at the large and growing body of evidence which shows that the severity of sentencing does not act as a deterrent.

    Explain why the murder rates in states with the death penalty are higher than those without the death penalty. (Could it be because the reasons for high murder rates are rather more complex than, and unrelated to, whether or not the offender fears capital punishment?)

  57. whatsinaname says

    tkreacher: “whatsinaname #48 Your response is incoherent and avoids all semblance of relevance.”

    You falsely accused me of endorsing murder and demanded I explain how such a thing is acceptable. You’re in no position to be deeming me incoherent and irrelevant, you “fucking imbecile.”

    tkreacher: “The most charitable interpretation I can muster is “passive aggressive bullshit”. Try again you fucking imbecile.”

    Does the phrase “psychological projection” mean anything to you?

  58. whatsinaname says

    #50: “Except that a wrongfully imprisoned person can be released and…”

    You completely sidestepped the issue.

  59. theophontes , flambeau du communisme says

    @ LS

    Blah,blah,privilege,blah … Sorry, there is a place for the death penalty in my opinion.

    Hou op met kak praat, boet!

  60. whatsinaname says

    Bernard: “[Yeah? Google “death penalty deters me” (in quotation marks)] Focus on anecdote and the few controversial studies claiming that the death penalty is an effective deterrent.”

    I have a better idea: You focus on the comment I was responding to instead of looking for any opportunity to spout the same old tired rhetoric about deterrence.

  61. andyo says

    Gee this darn new comment system seems to be truncating whatsinaname‘s posts right before s/he tells us this great coherent argument! Goshdarnit!

  62. Tom says

    The phrase you’re looking for, Michael Hawkins, is “Dilution of responsibility.”

    If, say, ten people take part in the process of executing one criminal, each of them can tell themselves they’ve only committed 0.1 murders. Then they just round down to zero before adding up all the instances. Execution by stoning is probably the most perfected form of the practice, but I expect any sufficiently bloated and cumbersome legal system will experience the effect to a strong degree.

    It’s the same mechanism by which Randroids and ultra-libertarians justify their utter rejection of things like charity, the very notion of economic coercion, and collective responsibility for the wellbeing of others: as long as you’ve only taken away a fraction of another person’s means of survival, only had a tiny contributory effect on making their economic product less viable in the free market by making them obsolete, you’re entirely innocent of their eventual death by poverty if everyone else just happens to do it to them as well. And that’s fine for everyone, in the eyes of such people, because everybody is only fractionally responsible, and fractions can be approximated to zero, ergo nobody is responsible – a murder has happened, but there is no murderer. J B Priestley made the point beautifully in ‘An Inspector Calls.’ It disturbs me greatly how many people continue to reject it.

  63. Jem says

    Is it genuinely the case that there can exist no circumstance whatsoever in which a person has the right to avenge themselves against an act of evil perpetrated upon them? Would it be wrong for someone who’d lost his entire family to the Nazi death camps to wish to get revenge upon the Reich?

    As a species who have a natural thirst for vengeance I don’t think anyone would blame the person in your Nazi scenario for wanting revenge, but yes, it would be wrong. In ALL circumstances. It achieves nothing other than causing more suffering.

  64. says

    Adam #30
    Euthanize?
    You are equating killing a perfectly healthy person with the possibility for someone who is terminally ill and in great suffering to put or request an end to their own pain?

    Mind you, considering the hell on earth these guys go through – apparently Davis was on suicide watch for his final week – I suppose in a twisted way it could be.
    /sarcasm

    Euthanasia my arse.

  65. whatsinaname says

    Giliell: “You mean the unpleasant fact that it is indeed irrevocable so that, since you’re not Jesus fucking Christ, you simply can’t bring back a person from the dead in case you got it wrong does not invalidate it?”

    That’s a fair assessment, if overly fucking melodramatically verbose. Or overly fucking verbosely melodramatic, whichever you please.

    I wouldn’t bother thanking the academy.

    Giliell: So, care to enlighten us. What is that cogent moral argument we obviously have never heard before. I’m holding my breath.”

    See #61.

    Giliell: I assume it to be on the same level as the evidence against evolution I have never seen before and the pro-life argument that will convince me that I am less important than a bunch of cells.”

    You may want to rethink your assumption.

    Just sayin’…

  66. David Marjanović, OM says

    Fuck America.

    only if she puts a bag over her head first.

    You might wanna stop there, buddy. Let’s not fight bloodlust and racism with misogyny.

    Where is the misogyny in there? As far as I can see, claiming that America is (and metaphorically looks) repulsive isn’t misogyny, and ichthyic implying he wouldn’t knowingly fuck someone who looks repulsive to him is only misogyny if he expects women to fuck him regardless of what they think of his looks. There are such men, but somehow I doubt ichthyic is one of those.

    If murder is wrong murder is wrong
    Unless, of course, you’re a Christian (and therefore a hypocrite about the fifth “commandment”).

    (Then it’s just peachy)

    Not if you’re Catholic. Since the 2nd Vatican Council, Catholicism has been against the death penalty.

    However, stats pre-92 (during apartheid) are notoriously unreliable, so Veltyen, I’m not sure where you got those numbers from, but I wouldn’t put too much faith in them…

    Veltyen cited numbers from 1994 and 2008.

    Pick a crime. Then, pick a penalty for that crime which you find morally suitable.

    That’s wrong-headed.

    The purpose of punishment is, over here at least, to pull criminals out of circulation for as long as they’re dangerous, and to provide deterrence – keeping in mind that most deterrence comes from the risk of being caught, not from any particular punishment.

    Very few crimes are committed by people who expect to be caught. Premeditated crimes are committed by people who think they won’t be caught because they’ve planned so well, crimes of affect are committed by people who don’t think at all. The remainder is made up of people with a messiah complex who want not just to be caught, but to be killed so they can become martyrs; killing those people is counterproductive.

    Meanwhile, the death penalty can provide an incentive for further murders. If Joe-Bob has killed one man and knows that being caught means the death penalty, he’s got nothing further to lose by killing witnesses and trying to shoot his way out when the police catch up with him.

    Bingo.

  67. Eichbaum says

    So, here’s my question: What can I do about it? Not Troy Davis’s execution, obviously, but preventing similar situations in the future (and, more generally, ending the death penalty in the U.S.)?

    I ask this here, rather than just googling it, since there are a good number of like-minded, intelligent people who may be already working towards such a goal.

  68. says

    Ahhh, I think I understand whatsinaname now.

    He’s read a little Shakespeare, hence his handle. He’s read a little Socrates, hence his “Socratic method”. He’s read a little in philosophy 101, hence his mental masturbation.

    Combine all of this in a stew of sophistry and his fucking nonsense makes perfect sense.

    Congrats, whatsinamane, you are immune to any critical thought!

  69. says

    whatsinaname
    I’m still waiting for the actual argument you’re obviously not going to provide.

    David M.

    Where is the misogyny in there? As far as I can see, claiming that America is (and metaphorically looks) repulsive isn’t misogyny…

    It is in the sense that it reinforces the idea that women have to be beautiful and if not have to hide themselves while no such standard applies to men.

  70. John Morales says

    David,

    Since the 2nd Vatican Council, Catholicism has been against the death penalty.

    Catholicism, maybe. Catholics, nope.

    I note the Supreme Court of the United States has nine members.

    Of those, six (a majority) are Roman Catholic:
    Sonia Sotomayor
    Samuel Alito
    Clarence Thomas
    Anthony Kennedy
    Antonin Scalia
    John Roberts

    The Supreme Court of the United States denied Davis’s petition for stay of execution.

    (Remind me what you call it when someone supposedly espouses a position they do not themselves follow?)

  71. redgreeninblue says

    “Pick a crime. Then, pick a penalty for that crime which you find morally suitable. Then, morally argue for that penalty. Then, apply that moral argument to the death penalty.”

    Done, and the death penalty keeps failing on my criterion of restorative justice. Whatever the crime, the perpetrator (assuming the justice system is perfect) is freed from any obligation to pay for their crime by performing useful tasks for the rest of society if you simply kill them.

  72. Bernard Bumner says

    I have a better idea: You focus on the comment I was responding to…

    Why? Looking back, your response gains nothing by giving special consideration to context. Google is not the arbiter of reality, and strange claims require more than a list of hits from a search engine to make them valid.

    …instead of looking for any opportunity to spout the same old tired rhetoric about deterrence.

    If someone reports that the death penalty was a deterrent to them committing murder, then it in no way demonstrates that to be true. The only way to assess the validity of that anecdote is to compare it to what we generally know to be true. (Otherwise, we may accept any anecdote concerning any subject as significant.) The only means to assess the deterrent effect of sentencing is to look at the evidence in the whole. The evidence, taken as a whole, strongly suggests that capital sentencing is not a deterrent.

    That is not tired rhetoric, it is a sytematic body of evidence that can be examined by anyone who wishes to do so. Nobody has to take my word for it.

    Your lazy argumentation hardly helps to make your case.

  73. Just_A_Lurker says

    Except that a wrongfully imprisoned person can be released and compensated for the lost time as best as society can offer, so the comparison falls somewhat flat. Though the compensation part rarely works in practice, that can be achieved through reform. The death penalty can never be reformed to even mitigate its mistakes.

    Er,nitpick here but I don’t even reformed compensation could make up for all the things lost and gone due to wrongful imprisonment. Like time outside of prison with family & friends, the people that still believe you are guilty and well, everything. Not to mention the horrors faced behind bars in the USA.

    But your point stands.
    Quite simply, the wrongly convicted will never get back what was taken from them but at least they get to live past that experience. There is at least at chance to get released. The dead don’t. There’s no coming back from that.*

    *As I wrote that I heard it in Biggie Smalls voice. So awesome.

  74. Just_A_Lurker says

    Me in 83, I meant I heard the last sentence only, not the whole thing. doh thinking quicker than typing again.

  75. says

    It is in the sense that it reinforces the idea that women have to be beautiful and if not have to hide themselves while no such standard applies to men.

    And of course, I’ve forgotten:
    It reduces a woman (in this case an anthropomorphised idea, of course) to her fuckablilty and ultimately degrades her to a moist hole. No matter how repulsive and disgusting she might be as a person, she still has a vagina you can fuck.

    John Morales

    The Supreme Court of the United States denied Davis’s petition for stay of execution.

    Of course I disagree heavily with their decission, but apart from the case at hand I prefer judges that follow the law of the land and not the pope.
    So, if I’m going to hold this decission against them, I’ll do so because it was the fucking wrong decission, not because the pope said otherwise.

  76. redgreeninblue says

    Not if you’re Catholic. Since the 2nd Vatican Council, Catholicism has been against the death penalty.

    Hmm. Why did it take them 1,929 years to get to Ex. 20:13? It’s only the second book out of seventy-three…

  77. Adam says

    anarchic teapot: “You are equating killing a perfectly healthy person with the possibility for someone who is terminally ill and in great suffering to put or request an end to their own pain?”

    No I’m not. I’m just wondering aloud why someone is okay with euthanizing a bunch of fish but not with euthanizing a human, calling it “barbaric”. BTW I’m not some kind of PETA member, I’m playing devil’s advocate here.

  78. Bernard Bumner says

    Hmm. Why did it take them 1,929 years to get to Ex. 20:13? It’s only the second book out of seventy-three…

    They probably assumed that the rest of text, bloated with bloodlust, murder, and rigtheous violence was meant to be meaningful too.

    The Commandments are strangely at odds with most of the rest of text. Not least of all the very next chapter, which gives a list of crimes deserving the death penalty.

  79. AZGeo says

    I have what might be a unique view on this discussion, so I thought I’d throw my two cents in.

    First off, I believe Mr. Davis should have not only been spared, but released. There was absolutely nothing like “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in this case and it’s a tragedy that he was murdered by the State of Georgia. I’m also opposed to the death penalty in the United States because of the serious flaws in our system and the risk of killing an innocent man. If it were up to me I’d stop all the executions in the US and just rely on lifetime incarceration for murderers who still pose a threat even in a perfect system, since it really isn’t necessary to protect the populace.
    On the other hand, I have a hard time condemning those who do support the death penalty, even those who wish to see it expanded to other violent crimes. I just can’t bring myself to feel any sympathy for rapists and murderers. I’m curious where this reaction of “It’s absolutely immoral to kill anyone except in self defense” is coming from. Did you people give it some consideration , or is it just a knee-jerk emotional response? Even those of you who are always opposed to killing another human have to realize that murdering some innocent person and killing a murderer (if you could know for sure he did it) aren’t morally equivalent. Or have I got that wrong?

  80. John Morales says

    Giliell:

    So, if I’m going to hold this decission against them, I’ll do so because it was the fucking wrong decission, not because the pope said otherwise.

    Well, if you think they were wrong in law, you’re claiming you have more expertise in US law than the members of the Supreme Court — something I seriously doubt; if on the other hand you think they were morally wrong, then supposedly so do they (given their religion) and so they are indeed hypocrites.

    (But then, it’s easy being a Catholic, as I well know.
    One can sin as much as one cares to, then go to confession and repent and all is forgiven. Yee-haw!)

  81. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Bernard:

    The Commandments are strangely at odds with most of the rest of text. Not least of all the very next chapter, which gives a list of crimes deserving the death penalty.

    Not really; they’re meant to apply to the Israelites (YHWH’s Chosen). Other people were just resources to be exploited.

  82. I'mthegenie!Icandoanything! says

    There’s always a few fans of the Death Penalty, everywhere, and they stink in much the same way and for similar reasons that extreme Libertaians of Xians do: they take a perverted, sick pleasure in believing that they are promoting a “simple, rational” view of the issue, while actually reveling in the abuse of power and justice taking place.
    You just know that they have no trouble excusing torture “in certain situations” as well.

    In fact, knowing others are suffering is the only thing that salves the emptiness and misery that makes up that yet-living portion of their lives.

    Such people need to get their minds back in the oven: they’re half-baked or less.

    And should we meet in person, the smile I hold as I walk away is to prevent my spitting in the piggish face that masks your piggish hearts and piggish minds.

  83. Bernard Bumner says

    @Adam:

    No I’m not. I’m just wondering aloud why someone is okay with euthanizing a bunch of fish but not with euthanizing a human, calling it “barbaric”. BTW I’m not some kind of PETA member, I’m playing devil’s advocate here.

    Then you are being obtuse, because the arguments are very obvious:

    1) That equivalent value is not given to the life of a fish and the life of a human (primarily on the basis of sentience).

    2) The ethical argument on the basis of benefit versus harm in each case.

    The arguments are, as I say, very obvious. Whether you argee with them or not.

    @AZGeo:

    Even those of you who are always opposed to killing another human have to realize that murdering some innocent person and killing a murderer (if you could know for sure he did it) aren’t morally equivalent.

    I’m not quite sure that your statement is incontrovertible, but the idea of justifiable killing is something that few would deny. Killing as self-defence is accepted by the vast majority of people.

    To make an argument that murdering and innocent and killing a murderer are morally different, you have to enact all sorts of moral judgements. You need to deconstruct the statement you made.

    To me, the thing that lies at the heart of it is this, does a murderer have less right to life than any other individual? If so, then by what justification?

    I would say no, because I believe that the only justification for killing is in self-defence (expanded to include in defence of others) because of real risk to life and safety. Once a convict is in the position of being executed, their freedom to act is ddenied by the state, and they are therefore no longer a threat to life and safety.

  84. Geoffrey Brent says

    redgreeninblue: “Why did it take them 1,929 years to get to Ex. 20:13? It’s only the second book out of seventy-three…”

    “Thou shalt not kill” is the catchy version that everybody remembers, but it’s often given instead as “Thou shalt not murder“. By my (non-expert) understanding the latter is a more accurate translation of the original Hebrew.

    So, if you’re Christian and looking to sanction capital punishment*, you can pick that interpretation. Certainly it’s pretty hard to read the Old Testament, or even the New, and come away with the idea that God never wants people to kill other people.

    *To avoid confusion, I’m neither; I am describing a view held by many Christians, not endorsing it.

  85. says

    John Morales

    Well, if you think they were wrong in law, you’re claiming you have more expertise in US law than the members of the Supreme Court — something I seriously doubt

    Does not follow.
    Of course I don’t have more experience in US law than they have. That doesn’t mean they cannot have made a mistake or could have come to a different conclusion based on their interpretation of US law.
    We know that a lot of Republicans are secretly hoping that SCOTUS in its current composition might overturn Roe vs. Wade if it were brought before them, even though the law itself hasn’t changed.

    AZGeo

    Or have I got that wrong?

    Yes, you have.
    Because you’re placing a different value on the lives of people. And you’re establishing that it’s OK to kill people for a good reason (beyond self-defence. Even there killing should be an accidential result and not the intent).
    And that’s where you run into a whole lot of trouble, because different people place different values on different actions. What is not even considered a crime here is an offense worth of death in other countries. Just like you can’t feel any sympathy with a murderer, they can’t feel any sympathy for an adultress

  86. says

    It reduces a woman (in this case an anthropomorphised idea, of course) to her fuckablilty and ultimately degrades her to a moist hole. No matter how repulsive and disgusting she might be as a person, she still has a vagina you can fuck.

    That is what I meant. I also don’t like the idea of fucking anybody as punishment or as a way of rejecting them. That is rape.

    Granted, that is always present in the expression ‘fuck X’ for any X. You can argue about whether this use of fuck has any relation left to any sexual activity, other than etymology. But anthropomorphising it like this reinforces this relation and not in a good way.

    Of course, I don’t think that ichthyic is a misogynist, or that he is wrong in claiming America — or rather its justice system — ugly, just that he might want to express it differently.

  87. Geoffrey Brent says

    AZGeo: “I just can’t bring myself to feel any sympathy for rapists and murderers. I’m curious where this reaction of “It’s absolutely immoral to kill anyone except in self defense” is coming from.”

    Borrowing heavily from Helen Prejean: just about everybody, rapists and murderers included, is a mix of good and bad. The people on death row, by and large, are there because of the worst things they ever did – but when you put them to death, you kill everything that they are, the good along with the bad. Collateral damage within a single person, if you will.

    I can think of circumstances where I’d find it acceptable to kill somebody else, in self-defense or the defense of others, but that doesn’t make it a joyous occasion.

  88. Dorothy says

    Whenever I got wound up about murderers in jail being supported by my tax money for the rest of their lives, and as a Canadian, I am shamed by the caliber of murderers we get up here sometimes, my husband would remind me of the ethical problem by repeating some names: Guy Paul Moran, Steven Truscott, etc.
    Protect the public, by all means, but, reading through the entries on this thread, I am reminded of a song from South Pacific.
    You have to be taught to hate. You have to be very carefully taught.
    Less hate, please.

  89. says

    The people on death row, by and large, are there because of the worst things they ever did – but when you put them to death, you kill everything that they are, the good along with the bad.

    To add to this, not only does it prevent “future bad” as in they cannot murder again, it also prevents any future good they could do. I definetly think that Tookie Williams was an exception in both directions: an exception in the extreme amount of bad he did and an exception in his later change of ways, but he was a real person who could probably still be doing lots of good, even from within prison walls and maybe prevent another kid from becoming a bad Tookie Williams.

    The whole debate leads back to the fundamental question of what is the goal of justice and punishment anyway.
    Keeping people from doing harm again is a real reason, but what’s more effective:
    -killing them
    -locking them up for the rest of their lives
    -making them see why it was wrong what they did and give them a real chance to do something good in return?
    Germany is discussing the problem of preventive custody. “Lifelong” in Germany means 15 years. Yes, that seems “soft” for a murderer. But I want you to think about what you did, experienced, enjoyed during the last 15 years.
    They can’t and that’s OK. So, unless somebody is a sociopath and therefore probably should be in preventive custody, do you think that any good will come out of keeping them prisoner for another 15 years?

  90. Bernard Bumner says

    @John and Geoffrey,

    Not really; they’re meant to apply to the Israelites (YHWH’s Chosen). Other people were just resources to be exploited.

    “Thou shalt not kill” is the catchy version that everybody remembers, but it’s often given instead as “Thou shalt not murder“. By my (non-expert) understanding the latter is a more accurate translation of the original Hebrew.

    I knew the difference really. I’m not sure that every self-professed Christian does.

    Murder has always been distinct from mere killing, but the KJV doesn’t sufficiently make the distinction for the modern English speaker, and is certainly the most oft quoted. The modern preference for murder probably also doesn’t really convey the sense of the original, written in an age when the niceties of killing were inextricable from rules on class, gender, and race.

    How little social dynamics have changed that class, gender, and race are still key determinants in many cases of whether an act is murder or simply killing, even if they are not made explicit in law.

  91. julian says

    Even those of you who are always opposed to killing another human have to realize that murdering some innocent person and killing a murderer (if you could know for sure he did it) aren’t morally equivalent.

    Apologies if this isn’t what you’re trying to say, but it sounds like you’re trying to quantify the goodness of different people to justify killing them. Not entirely sure I disagree with you but how do you define innocent? Is the murder of a drug addict less offensive than the murder of a heart surgeon because one has led a more wholesome life or is ‘purer?’ Or the murder of an adulterer who walked out on five children. More acceptable than the murder of a loving parent? What if the drug addict is the loving parent and the surgeon is the adulterer?

  92. Olav says

    Giliell, connaiseuse des choses bonnes:

    Germany is discussing the problem of preventive custody. “Lifelong” in Germany means 15 years. Yes, that seems “soft” for a murderer.

    Not exactly. Prisoners with a life sentence in Germany just become eligible for parole after 15 years. This does not mean that they are automatically released. Their request must be reviewed by a court which can decide to grant or deny the parole. Depending of course on the seriousness of the crime, the conduct of the prisoner and such.

    BTW, it’s “bonnes choses”, not “choses bonnes”…

  93. andyo says

    Well to be fair, Pope Ratzi did sing the thing alongside Jimmy Carter and many others. Being raised as a catholic, I always remember them being against the death penalty, though I wasn’t raised in the good ol’ US of A.

  94. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    I see that the topic of state sanctioned murder brings out the best and brightest.

    The population of a state where there is state sanctioned murder is complicit in that murder. State sanctioned murder makes everyone a murderer. If a person claims to be someone who would not commit murder, I find the level of cognitive dissonance required to justify committing murder staggering. I also find it unacceptable to people who do not support state sanctioned murder to be necessarily complicit in it. It degrades society and makes light of human life. I can’t see that a state values human life highly if it is willing to sacrifice citizens for mere vengeance.

    It seems to me that state sanctioned murder is much like religion in a certain aspect: it can have the effect of allowing people to do something entirely contrary to their personal constitution and feel that they’ve done the right thing.

    If people both don’t want to be murderers and don’t want people murdered, how can they support murder? There’s some interesting logic or semantic games required to reduce that cognitive dissonance. Unless, of course, people who support state sanctioned murder are okay with being murderers, though I wonder what other interesting logic and semantic games they have to perform to make some murder unacceptable.

  95. says

    For the mouth-breathing morons on this thread who are defending the death penalty, fuck you. I’m not in the mood to be patient with your bullshit or your crypto-religious ideas of vengeance. There is no way a rational ethical worldview can possibly accommodate the idea of revenge.

    Revenge is inherently irrational. The idea that some people “deserve” to die is nonsensical; the Kantian conception of retributive justice is not something that can be justified in the context of a rational secular worldview. There is no god that must be appeased, and no transcendent moral order that must be rebalanced. The idea that a murderer must sacrifice his or her life in atonement for his or her crime, a life for a life, is a pre-rational religious idea that has no place in a properly-thought-out system of ethics. To take a human life, merely because one considers that the person one is killing no longer “deserves” to live, is both cruel and arrogant.

    And I, for one, would rather live in a society in which the state doesn’t mete out brutal death to helpless unarmed prisoners. Killing someone in violent revenge for a crime isn’t “justice”; it doesn’t put anything right; it doesn’t undo the original crime or the pain associated with it. It just results in more dead bodies, more pain, and more bereaved families.

    The only rational moral framework is a consequentialist one. Killing a person might be justifiable, if it were the only way to protect the lives of others (say, shooting a gunman who’s about to rampage through a classroom). But the death penalty does not serve the purpose of saving human lives. There is no evidence that jurisdictions with the death penalty experience lower crime rates than those without it. Nor is it necessary for the purpose of containment: it’s no harder (and, in fact, no less expensive) to keep someone in prison for life than to execute him or her. So I conclude that there is no possible rational argument for the death penalty. Anyone who is in favour of the death penalty must either (a) have failed to think through the issues properly, (b) be in error as to the relevant facts, or (c) be relying on a religious or crypto-religious idea of vengeance and “just deserts” that has no place in a rational setting.

  96. KG says

    apparently Davis was on suicide watch for his final week – anarchic teapot

    That would be standard pratice, I would think. Can’t have people who’ve been condemned to death escaping justice by killing themselves.

    What do you mean that’s crazy?

  97. Marcus Hill says

    Crazy, but also indicative of the sadistic reasoning behind the whole affair. It’s not about ending the murderer’s life, it’s about ending it with a show for the benefit of the baying mob.

  98. Joe says

    I actually went to High School in Jackson, GA ( Butts County ), lived there most of my teen years. “Jackson Red Devils,” Alumni, a fitting name to such a medieval and barbaric community .. oooh. So I guess, I am wrong by association from the start.

    Setting the fact aside that there is not much there except the Prison, executions are no big surprise there.

    I don’t know Troy Davis, I expect his circumstances from what I have read are questionable and pose doubt. So if the system is broken, how do you suppose to fix it? Is it accountability on the parts of the prosecutors, the judge and law enforcement if an innocent man/woman is sentenced and serves their time until their death? I would say if they got it wrong, it will be and should be revealed and when it is, go after them to the letter of the law. Hold the justice system accountable if they get it wrong. Of course that leads to lesser convictions maybe? Perhaps, the magistrate involved are less likely to push the death penalty.

    Personally, I say capital punishment, to end the debate, should be abolished. Absolutely, lock them up and lets pay for their incarceration and hope they better themselves while in the big house. I am sure the success rate for rehabilitating inmates is on the rise these days, what, with the internet and all.

    So with that said, I pose the argumentative question again. What if a murdering rapist sets their target on your daughter, son, wife, hell anyone for that matter close to you? What is the appropriate response? I know the case of Troy Davis bares no resemblance, so I say this in defense of Capital Punishment by lethal injection. The punishment should fit the crime. Since 1989 a lot has changed and should continue to change as to how appropriate punishment is defined.

    We are all totally capable of calculating and executing the appropriate response under the right circumstances. Some prefer lobbying for laws, some capital punishment, and still some wait until time permits and new circumstances inflict the correct response on those who have it coming to them.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I really do believe that if their is doubt at all, then absolutely in these cases, he or she should sit in prison until the day comes when they are proved innocent or die of natural causes. I firmly believe that we should all be held accountable and suffer the consequences of our actions if the proof is there with out question.

  99. chrisc says

    Eichbaum @ 77 sez:

    So, here’s my question: What can I do about it? Not Troy Davis’s execution, obviously, but preventing similar situations in the future (and, more generally, ending the death penalty in the U.S.)?

    Well, for one, you can donate to the Innocence Project, who work to provide death row inmates with a reasonable chance of aquital on re-trial the legal means and forensic testing they need to do so. They’re an awesome group, but DNA testing and legal expertise is not cheap.

    More globally, Amnesty International has been working for years for the abolishment of the death penalty, and if you’re short on cash, they usually* have volunteer positions where you can donate your time rather than dosh.

    *Depends, of course, on where you live, your skills, blah, blah you get the drill.

  100. Olav says

    Giliell, of course the German law regarding life sentences is still very well thought out. It gives prisoners at least some hope that one day they may be free again. People are never totally written off, no matter what they have done. This gives them a reason to try to improve themselves in prison if they want it. We can reasonably assume it reduces depression, violence and other symptoms of “nothing to lose” mindset during incarceration.

    Of course even in Germany there are still people that you know will never be free again. But they are a small group and the system can handle them.

  101. Matt says

    This is disgusting. America is no different than Iran when it comes to putting people to death. Every American should feel ashamed (I know I would if it was my country that did this). Write to your representatives in Congress. Write to the President. Do everything you can to get the death penalty abolished. America needs to move forward, America deserves to be a just nation.

    Troy Davis didn’t deserve to die, and it is quite possible he didn’t deserve to be convicted in the first place. He must be the last.

  102. Frankensense says

    Well done Georgia, well done USA. Y’all keepin’ company with some other fine and enlightened states who see fit to maintain the death penalty : Iran, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, North Korea……

  103. Bernard Bumner says

    What if a murdering rapist sets their target on your daughter, son, wife, hell anyone for that matter close to you? What is the appropriate response?

    Victims should not decide sentences. Justice should be fair and even-handed, and should utlimately serve society rather than individuals.

    I really do believe that if their is doubt at all, then absolutely in these cases, he or she should sit in prison until the day comes when they are proved innocent or die of natural causes. I firmly believe that we should all be held accountable and suffer the consequences of our actions if the proof is there with out question.

    I repeat: everyone found guilty in the US is found to be so beyond reasonable doubt.

    Guilt is not by degrees, it is absolute. If there is any doubt then it is the duty of the court to not convict. This is as it should be, even if it means that murderers walk free.

    …if the proof is there with out question.

    Is essentially the current minimum standard for conviction, and since we know that innocent people have recieved the death penalty, then we also know that even this is not sufficient to prevent injustice.

  104. says

    We had another one of these “death penalty” threads a couple of years back… and the quality of argument of the death penalty defenders has not changed…

    You can wrap it up in whatever side-stepping rhetoric you want, but at the end of the day, if you support the death penalty, you subscribe to “eye for an eye” justice, and that makes you barbaric and vengeful. So just admit this up front and we’ll not even bother trying to argue with you.

    Applying the total finality of a death penalty as punishment inherently assumes complete infallibility on the part of the justice system. Even to death penalty defenders it should be obvious that this is not the case, nor could it ever be.

  105. julian says

    What if a murdering rapist sets their target on your daughter, son, wife, hell anyone for that matter close to you? What is the appropriate response?

    I’d likely want them dead, killed as slowly and painfully as possible. I’d want to do it. I’d want them laid bare on a white table strapped down with a wonderful assortment of knives, cutting tools and chemicals neatly arranged by size, category and function next to them. I don’t think I’d want an audience though. Maybe a recording playing in the background of all the wonderful times me and whoever his victim was spent together.

    This would be as far removed from the appropriate response as you can imagine. There’s a reason we’ve taken justice out f the hands of the wronged party. Our perceptions and views become horribly skewed as we stop viewing the criminal as a human being.

    As for what the appropriate response would be, I don’t think there is one. We all feel grief differently and such an incredibly traumatic event would likely shake most to their core. I’d like to think I’d be able to devote myself to helping raise awareness how pervasive rape is, how much harm it causes its victims and maybe even studying the environments that give rise to rapists to help keep others from growing up to commit such atrocities. But that’s wishful thinking on my part.

    In my current and somewhat sound state of mind, the death penalty makes me very nervous because I don’t see how it can implemented without killing ‘innocents.’ And since it serves no real purpose it should be done away with.

  106. KG says

    So with that said, I pose the argumentative question again. What if a murdering rapist sets their target on your daughter, son, wife, hell anyone for that matter close to you? – Joe

    A stupid question, because those of us to whom this has not happened cannot know what our reaction would be. Nor, even if the reaction was as the question suggests, is this a sound argument for the death penalty: we have substituted public justice for private revenge for good reason.

    You might like to consider an alternative to your hackneyed question. What if you, or your son, daughter, wife, hell anyone for that matter close to you, was executed for a crime they did not commit? Because one thing is absolutely stone-cold certain: if the death penalty is in operation, some of those executed will be innocent.

  107. MAJeff says

    In your case I do find it hard to accept that all the evidence shows Mr Davis was innocent and that there is not enough evidence to prove his guilt. I simply can’t see a penal system putting him to death with scant evidence. Way to many times criminals get off due to a stupid technicality. Attorneys are always to blame for clouding a system and making it look as if evidence is not conclusive. Simple facts should prevail.

    This is so fucking wrong. Please stay in South Africa.

    Our system is not one based on demonstrating innocence. It is based on proving guilt. That’s what those fucking “technicalities” are all about. You see, the people who wrote the constitution, drawing on the Common Law, decided to institute a system in which it was preferable to free the guilty than punish the innocent. Thus, they put the onus on the state, and they set a high bar. And that bar should remain high.

    No, there may not be enough evidence to prove Davis did not commit the crime. There is more than enough to create reasonable doubt. Under those circumstances, a person is supposed to go free. Georgia’s position was that the finality of the death penalty process was more important than our constitutional values. Sadly, it appears that you’re on the same page as the savage state of Georgia.

  108. Olav says

    KG:

    You might like to consider an alternative to your hackneyed question. What if you, or your son, daughter, wife, hell anyone for that matter close to you, was executed for a crime they did not commit? Because one thing is absolutely stone-cold certain: if the death penalty is in operation, some of those executed will be innocent.

    People like him do not reckon this could possibly happen to them and they are mostly right. The chance that it might happen to you or someone you love is really infinitesimal if you belong to one of the privileged classes.

    Other people, we just don’ t care about them.

  109. bubba707 says

    Typical situation in such places. “We don’t know who done it so go find us a n—–r we can kill then put the arm on some people to lie and say he done it.”

  110. Gregory Greenwood says

    Leaving aside the inefficacy of the death penalty as a deterrant, the fact that killing someoone does nothing to offer restitution to the victim of the crime, and the fundamentally unethical nature of any state sanctioned murder, the fact remains that in any system where the standard of proof is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ the risk of a miscarriage of justice is far too high for any death penalty to be countenanced.

    Personally, I believe that any sliver of doubt is too great for the irreversible sanction of execution to be employed, and since absolute certainty is unattainable, the death penalty should be abolished in all countries that claim to operate under the rule of law.

    The purpose of law is the maintenance of a stable society in which citizens need not fear for their families, person or property unduly, and where the courts are able to protect society from those who threaten the safety of its members. The justice system does not and cannot exist as a means to the pursuit of shallow personal vengeance. Justice and revenge are mutually exclusive. If the legal system becomes no more than a vector to personal revenge then it will inevitably be corrupted by the prejudices and presuppositions of those whose agenda it serves. The justice system is in the business of passing legal judgement, it can never be in the business of passing moral judgement since there is no universal consensus on what is ‘moral’. That type of thinking leads to laws where homosexuality is punishable by death because the dominant group in a given society happens to be made up of religious fundamentalists who genuinely believe that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of their patriarchal, bloodthirsty deity.

    Was Troy Davis guilty? As PZ observes; we don’t know, the evidence was inconclusive – and that is precisely the problem. This was a man killed ‘on the off chance’ that he was responsible. Even if Davis was guilty of what he was accused and plenty more, state sanctioned murder of a prisoner is always unethical. We do not live by the mere indulgence of the state. No country has the moral authority to murder its citizens, whatever their crimes (alleged or actual) may be.

  111. Butch Kitties says

    I thought deterrence came from the risk of being caught, not from the specific punishment. If we’re willing to spend the money it takes to execute (a 2010 study in Indiana found that imposing the death penalty costs the state 5x more than imposing life in prison without parole) wouldn’t we see more results if we instead spent that money on hiring more forensic scientists, improving crime lab facilities, or hiring more police?

    Instead of executing people, maybe we could use that money to not let DNA evidence sit in storage for the better part of a year before being processed/getting lost.

  112. iiandyiiii says

    I actually do care whether’s he was guilty or not- but I am against the death penalty. Executing an innocent person is far worse, in my opinion, than executing a guilty person. To tell you the truth, executing murderers, terrorists, and rapists doesn’t really bother me all that much (though if I would prefer if the death penalty was out in all cases), but even a tiny chance of executing an innocent person really, really bothers me.

  113. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Contrast that to the MacPhails. Yeah, as Alexa said, hard to feel pity for them.

    Is it really?

  114. says

    Slightly OT (although tangential), something David Marjanovic said earlier stuck with me…

    The purpose of punishment is, over here at least, to pull criminals out of circulation for as long as they’re dangerous, and to provide deterrence –

    Perhaps David meant to specifically address the idea of “punishment”, and I’m by no means trying to correct his statement here, but in a more general sense, I’ve always been under the impression that another reason for incarceration is also to provide rehabilitation. One of the things that constantly reinforces, for me anyhow, the pervasive attitude of vengeance and bloodlust we have in the USA is how little you actually hear that aspect being discussed. We here about the money spent on imprisonment, punishment, restitution… we never hear about the rehabilitation part… the part which, in my opinion, would have the greatest impact on reducing recidivism and reducing prison population in general. Go ahead and make the argument that some prisoners are not capable of being rehabilitated… fine. I will accept that premise, but that still does not justify almost completely ignoring rehabilitation programs for the prison population at large.

    Rehabilitation should be one of the primary goals in any justice system’s imprisonment strategy… which is just another obvious problem with the recent trend towards privatizing the prison system. You really think a private enterprise gives a damn about spending money on rehabilitation programs?

  115. MAJeff says

    Rehabilitation should be one of the primary goals in any justice system’s imprisonment strategy… which is just another obvious problem with the recent trend towards privatizing the prison system. You really think a private enterprise gives a damn about spending money on rehabilitation programs?

    And, because of the growing size of the for-profit prison-industrial complex, expect those corporation to continue lobbying for more crimes requiring incarceration, and doing so for longer periods of time. There’s profits to be made!!!!!

  116. Butch Kitties says

    What if a murdering rapist sets their target on your daughter, son, wife, hell anyone for that matter close to you? What is the appropriate response?

    This question sounds a lot like the foxhole atheist gambit. Some atheists, when under literal fire, try prayer. It doesn’t mean there is a God or that they are secret believers. It just means that they’re extremely desperate.

    If someone close to me was murdered, I probably would want the person who did it to die. The real question is: So the fuck what? What does that prove?

    Losing someone to murder is a traumatizing event. Trauma changes the way the brain functions. A person who under all other circumstances rejects the death penalty might change his mind after his wife is murdered, but that doesn’t prove that the death penalty is good. It just proves that grief and loss can really fuck with a person’s thinking. In the immediate wake of a traumatizing event is not when a person does his or her best thinking. It’s definitely not when a person should be making important decisions.

  117. Marcus Hill says

    I’ve always been under the impression that another reason for incarceration is also to provide rehabilitation.

    Exactly. That’s also why a number of experts are urging the UK judiciary not to use very short custodial sentences (where the time inside doesn’t allow for any significant rehabilitation work), opting instead for more restorative punishments (such as community service).

  118. Joe says

    Was Troy Davis guilty? As PZ observes; we don’t know, the evidence was inconclusive – and that is precisely the problem. This was a man killed ‘on the off chance’ that he was responsible. Even if Davis was guilty of what he was accused and plenty more, state sanctioned murder of a prisoner is always unethical. We do not live by the mere indulgence of the state. No country has the moral authority to murder its citizens, whatever their crimes (alleged or actual) may be. @Gregory Greenwood

    Agreed in the sense that Troy Davis should not have been on death row with such doubt and lack of evidence for his case. Any doubt should invoke a lesser sentence.

    You can wrap it up in whatever side-stepping rhetoric you want, but at the end of the day, if you support the death penalty, you subscribe to “eye for an eye” justice, and that makes you barbaric and vengeful. So just admit this up front and we’ll not even bother trying to argue with you. @Celtic_Evolution

    I support the death penalty it in that it fits the crime. “Eye for an eye,” if that makes me Barbaric and vengeful then so be it.

    I really don’t care if it is not appealing or dignified. I don’t want to pay for rapists and murders truly guilty of their crimes. I would rather piss on a spark plug then watch them go sit in a cushy cell while their victims get no say in how they were robbed of their lives. Yes it does not bring them back from the dead, it does not fix anything at all, but incarcerating those guilty of such crimes does what exactly? Out of site, out of mind, victims included.

  119. says

    And, because of the growing size of the for-profit prison-industrial complex, expect those corporation to continue lobbying for more crimes requiring incarceration, and doing so for longer periods of time. There’s profits to be made!!!!!

    That’s already a problem…

    And you know the scary thing? That was 2 years ago… you’d think that such a story where sitting judges are known to be taking kick-backs from the private prison industry and applying outrageous jail sentences for petty crimes would cause an outrage, and put a dead stop to the privatization of prison systems… but no. Not here in the good ‘ol USA. Since that story privatization has only increased. Because at the end of the day the corporations are large enough to buy the means to bury these stories, and most people don’t give a fuck, because we’re talking about criminals, not people… right?

  120. says

    Joe –

    I support the death penalty it in that it fits the crime. “Eye for an eye,” if that makes me Barbaric and vengeful then so be it.

    It does… thanks for being honest about your barbaric, savage nature. Helps the conversation along…

    I really don’t care if it is not appealing or dignified.

    How selfishly inhumane of you… wonderful!

    I don’t want to pay for rapists and murders truly guilty of their crimes.

    I’ve got news for you, Joe… you’re paying more to kill them… look it up. So let’s drop that fallacious, tired argument.

    I would rather piss on a spark plug…

    I would rather you did, as well…

    …then watch them go sit in a cushy cell while their victims get no say in how they were robbed of their lives.

    You’re robbing the murderer of their life, as well… all you’re doing is negotiating the conditions under which it’s acceptable. I find your moral argument weak. Murder is murder.

    Yes it does not bring them back from the dead, it does not fix anything at all

    But I’m about to completely dismiss this rather important, relevant point in favor of one far less rational, befitting of my barbaric and savage nature:

    but incarcerating those guilty of such crimes does what exactly? Out of site, out of mind, victims included.

    See?

    To answer your question… using that goofy logic, what does incarcerating a person guilty of beating a man almost to death do? Why does incarceration work for that person, but not if the person managed to kick him one extra time and kill him? Do you have any idea how stupid you sound?

  121. Bernard Bumner says

    Joe:

    Any doubt should invoke a lesser sentence.

    Why don’t people understand the burden of proof?

    Any reasonable doubt means that it is the duty of the court to find them not guilty.

    Guilty beyond reasonable doubt is the minimum standard for guilt in the US (and the UK, and most countries with an adversarial justice system). There can be no safe convictions which contain in their verdict an element of reasonable doubt.

    I don’t want to pay for rapists and murders truly guilty of their crimes.

    Tough. You pay for them one way or the other.

    The death penalty isn’t necessarily a cheaper option; it encourages trials instead of guilty pleas, it inevitably leads to a costly appeals process, and the convict spends on average more than a decade in prison (in the US, 152 months mean for men, 146 median; table 9).

  122. says

    Joe:

    watch them go sit in a cushy cell

    Cushy? Have you ever been to a prison? It’s not cushy. The man who raped me, and raped and murdered many other women wasn’t given the death penalty, as it had been suspended in California at the time of trial. I was thankful for that, because to me, his being executed was no punishment. Knowing that he’d live out his life in a small cage struck me as more fitting and it still does. He’ll die in prison, eventually. He’s served 39 years so far.

    That said, I most certainly understand the desire to see someone dead, I understand it better than most. I understand the desire to inflict grievous harm. It doesn’t mean it’s right.

  123. scriabin says

    Bernie speaks truth throughout this thread.

    I confess to harbouring emotional reactions about vengeance, eye-for-an-eye justice, loathing over the horrific nature of some crimes. And all those reactions are the reason for the proper standard of proof in criminal trials (and not the civil 51/49 “balance of probabilities” standard, obviously) and a dispassionate, predictable justice system without a death penalty (and maybe victim impact statements for certain aspects of degrees sentencing in a “no death penalty” system) – this helps the public “vengeance” side of things without bringing the justice system into public disrepute, which is a real concern.

  124. Joe says

    @Caine, Fleur du Mal
    @Celtic_Evolution

    Well said. You both make valid arguments, crude but valid @Celtic.

    So it is better to let the criminal serve a life sentence in a “Non-Cushy” cell then inflict death or suffering upon that individual, despite their crime? It is inhumane to do other wise.

    I think I understand, thank you.

    Joe, The Barbarian

  125. says

    I support the death penalty it in that it fits the crime. “Eye for an eye,” if that makes me Barbaric and vengeful then so be it.

    Yes, Joe, you have owned up to being barbaric and vengeful. That’s disgusting. Your rhetoric is repulsive.

    Justice ought to be something better than what criminals themselves do, or what vengeful Bronze Age religious texts advocate. Last night in Georgia, it wasn’t. They failed.

  126. says

    I support the death penalty it in that it fits the crime. “Eye for an eye,” if that makes me Barbaric and vengeful then so be it.

    It also makes you irrational and weak-minded. The idea of revenge is a pre-rational idea, at root, grounded in supernatural thinking; philosophically, the notion of “an eye for an eye” rests on the assumption that there is an angry god whose wrath must be appeased with a blood-sacrifice, or that there is some kind of transcendent moral order which must be “rebalanced”. As an atheist, I think this is nonsense. Killing a murderer in retribution for his or her crime doesn’t “expiate” anyone’s mythical “blood-guilt”; it just leaves you with two dead bodies and two bereaved families, rather than one. The idea that a murderer must sacrifice his or her life in atonement for his or her crime, a life for a life, is a pre-rational idea that has no place in a rational system of ethics.

    It is arrogant and cruel beyond belief to think that you have the right to take another’s life because you don’t think that he or she “deserves” to live. His or her life is not yours for the taking. We are not gods, and we do not get to decide who is worthy of continuing to live; I, for one, do not want to entrust the state with that kind of power.

    In the real world, there are reasons why murderers become murderers: their genes, their social conditioning, traumatic past experiences and mental illness all play a role. Rather than killing them, we could try to understand what is wrong with them and what drives them to act in this way, and to treat the factors that give rise to violent behaviour. This would be a rational approach; revenge, a concept grounded in pre-rational supernatural thinking, is not.

    If you actually wanted to make a rational argument for the death penalty, then you’d be seeking to establish that it actually deters crime and saves lives. Of course, there’s no evidence whatsoever that that’s true: the deterrent effect of the death penalty, if any, is unproven, and there’s no evidence that jurisdictions with the death penalty have lower violent crime rates than those without it. (Nor should we expect them to; violent crime is not generally a rational act. Most murders are committed in hot blood, often under the influence of alcohol or drugs. People do not typically conduct a rational cost-benefit analysis, quantifying the risk of being caught and killed and weighing it against their impulses, before committing murder. With this in mind, there is no reason to suppose that the death penalty has any significant deterrent effect at all, in comparison with life imprisonment.) With this in mind, there is no available rational argument in favour of the death penalty.

  127. says

    So it is better to let the criminal serve a life sentence in a “Non-Cushy” cell then inflict death or suffering upon that individual

    I see what you did there… you craftily and subtly tossed “suffering” in there, hoping no-one would notice. Oh, you sneaky little devil, you!

    Sorry… I caught it. We did not equate “death” and “suffering” as equals… you did that. We didn’t make any statements about “suffering” whatsoever. I think losing your freedom, and spending the rest of your life in cramped quarters, being told what to do and when to do it, your entire world confined to the size of, at best, one square mile, could be described on some level as “suffering”. Is it adequate for those of you “god-fearing” barbarians who love the concept of eternal torture for violating arbitrary, inconsistent mandates from a 2000 year old culture of goat-herders? Probably not…

    Nice try though…

  128. RFW says

    In one word: pigheadedness. The pigheadedness of good ol’ boys, to be specific.

    The good ol’ boys of the South will NOT let anybody tell them what to do.

    I am disgusted that no appeal resulted in an order to re-try the case. Here in Canada, the standard for verdicts in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Given the facts that emerged after the trial (witnesses recanting, mainly), the guilty verdict in this case was no longer supported by the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    It goes without saying that this morning there are racists in Georgia congratulating each other on “showing that nigger what’s what” and crowing about having ignored the damyankees.

    Re my use of “nigger”: deliberate because that’s what the racists call blacks in private; it says nothing about blacks but a great deal that’s negative about those using the word.

    Maybe it’s time to revisit the Civil War and let the South go. It’s an albatross around the neck of the US and, worse, has managed to infect great chunks of the US outside the South with its backward, ignorant attitudes. Round up all the fundies and their ilk, and ship them south of the Potomac with the admonition “and don’t come back.”

  129. says

    Walton

    In the real world, there are reasons why murderers become murderers: their genes, their social conditioning, traumatic past experiences and mental illness all play a role. Rather than killing them, we could try to understand what is wrong with them and what drives them to act in this way, and to treat the factors that give rise to violent behaviour. This would be a rational approach; revenge, a concept grounded in pre-rational supernatural thinking, is not.

    Yes… this… a thousand times this.

  130. says

    Another South African here (although I suspect I’m a slightly darker shade than my compatriot LS.).

    Yes, I suspect so. It takes a…special understanding of crime to consider apartheid a lower-crime system.

    ***

    Why, LS, would you imagine that the state would NOT put a black man to death with scant evidence?

    Don’t be silly. L.S is from South Africa. Something like that would never happen there.

  131. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    I am against the death penalty. One reason is that the way the justice system is constructed, it is more likely for an innocent person to be put to death than one who actually committed the crime.

    My reasoning is as follows:

    Suppose I commit a particularly heinous murder. I know I did it. I don’t want to die. I work with my lawyer (public or private) to plead guilty. Many guilty please in murder cases allow the perpetrator to avoid the death penalty (and the state avoids the costs of a trial).

    Suppose I do not commit a particularly heinous murder but I have been accused. I know that I did not do it. I will fight, with my lawyer (public or private) to avoid going to jail or being killed for something I did not do. Why would I plead guilty to something I didn’t do? Of course, if I am found guilty, because I demanded a jury trial, I would be, if in a death penalty state, likely to recieve the death penalty.

    This does not even get into prosecutorial misconduct, police misconduct, jury rigging, or the unreliability of eyewitnesses.

  132. lambert says

    @ Martin.

    Would it be wrong for someone who’d lost his entire family to the Nazi death camps to wish to get revenge upon the Reich?

    No it would not be wrong to wish for revenge, but it would be wrong to act extra-judicially on that wish. Excepting of course if you did your best to kill the Nazi guards while they were killing you family. That would be an act of self-defense, though ultimately futile, given the circumstances of the Nazi murder camps.

    Vengeance implies violent revenge, and more importantly revenge enacted personally. Other than self-defense in an effort to save life, violence is not to be respected. IMHO.

  133. says

    Maybe it’s time to revisit the Civil War and let the South go. It’s an albatross around the neck of the US and, worse, has managed to infect great chunks of the US outside the South with its backward, ignorant attitudes. Round up all the fundies and their ilk, and ship them south of the Potomac with the admonition “and don’t come back.”

    Of course the fault with this premise is in thinking that they’d be inclined to leave the rest of us alone…

  134. Maronan says

    Except that a wrongfully imprisoned person can be released and compensated for the lost time as best as society can offer, so the comparison falls somewhat flat. Though the compensation part rarely works in practice, that can be achieved through reform. The death penalty can never be reformed to even mitigate its mistakes.

    Er,nitpick here but I don’t even reformed compensation could make up for all the things lost and gone due to wrongful imprisonment. Like time outside of prison with family & friends, the people that still believe you are guilty and well, everything. Not to mention the horrors faced behind bars in the USA.

    Maybe I’m overly optimistic about the ability of anyone to compensate the wrongfully imprisoned, but it’s sort of a pet peeve of mine since many people who are released after wrongful convictions are overturned never get any compensation at all, and those that do typically receive virtually nothing when compared to the horrors of their sentences and have to go through a major legal battle on the scale of their original trial just to receive the crumbs that they do. (Or in some cases bigger; lazy of me to forget the cite and not bother to google it but I vaguely recall that exonerated prisoners in Florida were required to lobby the state legislature to pass a special bill to compensate them until the passage of a more uniform compensation law, and even that falls woefully short of even resembling fairness.

  135. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    So it is better to let the criminal serve a life sentence in a “Non-Cushy” cell then inflict death or suffering upon that individual, despite their crime? It is inhumane to do other wise.

    If there is a miscarriage of justice, if it turns out, twenty or thirty years laster that the one convicted is not the perpetrator, then they can be released from prison. If the one convicted is executed, what would you do? Disinter?

  136. Joe says

    Fine so there is no valid reason or logic for having the death penalty. So incarceration and locking them away is the only valid option. Rehabilitation only works for those seeking actual rehabilitation.

    So what are some real solutions to changing the justice system? In everyone’s opinion of course.

    Oh and my “eye for an eye,” mentality has no root from any religious sect. It was my own conception which makes me truly barbaric. So, sway me to see what everyone else see’s. Educate me to the human concepts that I seem to be lacking.

    In Barbarian terms if you please, as these post as taking a turn toward stereotypes.

    You lump me in the category of Georgia good O’boys based on my response? Then you decipher that I am some how religious? oh and don’t forget about the “sneaky little devil,” part. You assume I believe in such, just because I said I believe in the punishment fitting the crime?

    So I can not make this decision on my own it has to stem from some deeper Religious faction?

  137. JBlilie says

    Agreed.

    The death penalty is wrong for two main reasons:

    1. It’s permanent. You can’t say oops, fucked up (again!), sorry about your 20 years in prison, here’s a million bucks to try to compensate you for our fuck-up.

    2. We know for certain that many, many people have been wrongly executed. The data from the Innocence Project and elsewhere make it abundantly clear that murder case juries are wrong somewhere between 25% and 50% of the time (people being the fuck-ups that they are).

    In addition, it does not provide a deterrent. The murderer is not thinking about his penalty (and it’s a he almost all the time) when he whacks that person. He’s either a sociopath (not thinking at all) or is in a murderous frenzy of some sort (also not thinking at all).

    No moral person can advocate the detah penalty.

  138. starstuff91 says

    This was the 4th time Troy Davis was told that they were about to kill him. He’s been brought to edge of his life four times. Can you imagine thinking you’re going to be killed very soon, and then someone stepping in and stopping it, four times? That would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment to almost anyone, but apparently not the the US government.

  139. starstuff91 says

    The mother of the victim (the police officer) kept saying that this would bring her closer. What does that even mean? How does this bring someone closer? The person she loved is still dead. Killing another human being won’t change that. I don’t really think the victims family cares if this man was innocent or guilty. They don’t care about justice. They just want revenge. They want someone to pay. It’s bloodlust. I do feel sympathy for this family because they lost a loved one, but their grief does not excuse their blind desire for revenge.

  140. Gregory Greenwood says

    Walton @ 140;

    qft.

    Joe @ 131;

    Agreed in the sense that Troy Davis should not have been on death row with such doubt and lack of evidence for his case. Any doubt should invoke a lesser sentence.

    Where there are grounds for reasonable doubt the response is not to reduce the sentence; it is to dismiss the case and free the accused. That is how a functional system of law works. You cannot fail to make your case, and then imprison someone anyway rather than killing them because you are just so sure that they must be guilty.

    Even if the case satisfys the reasonable doubt criterion, this is still insufficient for the death penalty. Mistakes are still made and miscarriages of justice still happen no matter how rigorous a given legal system may be. The death penalty cannot be reversed, and so such mistakes would result in the murder of innocent parties in any system with capital puinishment.

    Even if the person is guilty of the crime in question, this does not address questions of proportionality of punishment or the state’s lack of the requisite moral authority to kill its citizens for any reason.

    I support the death penalty it in that it fits the crime. “Eye for an eye,” if that makes me Barbaric and vengeful then so be it.

    What makes you believe that you are qualified to determine when state sanctioned murder ‘fits the crime’? On what credible basis can any individual, group or organisation claim the right to determine when a human being no longer has the right to live? Do you not see how open to abuse and generally ethically repugnant such a concept is?

    I really don’t care if it is not appealing or dignified. I don’t want to pay for rapists and murders truly guilty of their crimes. I would rather piss on a spark plug then watch them go sit in a cushy cell while their victims get no say in how they were robbed of their lives.

    But that is the price of living in a civilised society – there are times when what you want is irrelevant. There are higher moral obligations that satisfying any individual’s need for eye-for-an-eye blood vengeance, and similarly the fact that you do not wish to pay the costs of a functional and just legal and punitive system is no argument to simply kill those whom you have arbitrarily decided no longer deserve the title ‘human’. Modern society is not a libertarian’s paradise, and that is a very good thing indeed.

    Yes it does not bring them back from the dead, it does not fix anything at all, but incarcerating those guilty of such crimes does what exactly? Out of site, out of mind, victims included.

    Incarcerating a convicted criminal protects society and offers the criminal the chance for rehabilitation, and if it transpires that the conviction was false the person in question can be released and at least partially compensated for what happened to them. The death penalty serves only to offer vengeance to the victim or the victim’s family, and a sense of vicarious vengeance to those arrogant and self righteous enough to believe that they can sit in judgement on wheher another human being should live or die.

    The legal system should not exist to satiate the bloodlust of the baying mob. This is not the Dark Ages.

  141. Ing says

    closure not closer* /hypocrisy

    No moral person can advocate the detah penalty.

    The last recorded words of Kran the first and last of Klingon civil rights advocates

  142. Bernard Bumner says

    I am disgusted that no appeal resulted in an order to re-try the case. Here in Canada, the standard for verdicts in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Given the facts that emerged after the trial (witnesses recanting, mainly), the guilty verdict in this case was no longer supported by the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Walton could better answer this point, but I believe that the grounds for appeal are somewhat more technical than that, and therefore don’t really represent the same thereshold as the need to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt in the original trial.

    My understanding is that simply being able to cast doubt on a verdict doesn’t necessarily mean that an appeal can be granted, let alone that it will succeed.

    It certainly should be grounds to prevent the judicial killing of an individual, if only by the court commuting their sentence to life without parole.

  143. says

    So incarceration and locking them away is the only valid option.

    We didn’t say it’s the only valid option. We only said killing them is not a valid option. Keeping them away from society by means of incarceration is just common sense. Other than just killing them out of some sense of vengeance, do you have a better idea? I’m always willing to have enlightening conversations regarding alternative methods of dealing with violent criminals… even murderers.

    So what are some real solutions to changing the justice system? In everyone’s opinion of course.

    Well, first and foremost, as it pertains to this discussion, an acceptance that in our justice system, innocent people are sometimes found guilty, and given that fact, a punishment as final and irreversible as the death penalty should never, ever even be a consideration. Fixing the justice system beyond that is a much, much longer conversation.

    Oh and my “eye for an eye,” mentality has no root from any religious sect….

    …Then you decipher that I am some how religious?

    My “religious” commentary was not meant to be necessarily directed at you, nor to state that I have any knowledge of your religious makeup… it was merely equating that vengeful thought process with the concept of eternal torture employed by many religions… death penalty appeals to them for that reason, among others. I have no reason to attribute your position on the death penalty, at this point, to anything but vengeful barbarism. Hope that clears it up.

  144. says

    Oh… and almost forgot… Joe…

    this:

    Rehabilitation only works for those seeking actual rehabilitation.

    …is a narrow-minded, unsupported opinion pulled right from your arse…

  145. Bernard Bumner says

    Oh and my “eye for an eye,” mentality has no root from any religious sect. It was my own conception which makes me truly barbaric. So, sway me to see what everyone else see’s. Educate me to the human concepts that I seem to be lacking.

    Well, the phrase eye for an eye is found in multiple instances in the Hebrew Bible, which is a clue to the religious tradition of the concept. The idea of reciprocity is central to justice in the Abrahamic religions, even though its roots are earlier. It may be impossible to make the claim in the modern world that you have arrived independently at this concept, without the influence of those cultural traditions.

    Look up Restorative or Rehabilitative justice for other general philosophical approaches.

  146. Heliantus says

    @17 amblebury

    What do you do with rapists, fuck them with a broom handle?

    As a matter of fact, this is the fate which happens to a number of rapists (including wrongly convicted ones) in jail, especially if their victims were children or teenageers.

    There was a convoluted case in my country, one or two years ago (don’t remember the name, sorry). A violent guy, convicted for some minor felonies to a 5-year term (assault and robbery, I believe), raped his cellmate, who was a rapist. He was convicted and took 10 more years for this.
    This assaulter was eventually released. Within months, he started dating a woman, raped her and killer her.
    Some saw this as the perfect example of why such “scum” should be killed, or at least kept forever locked down.

    Except for a minor disturbing detail. The jail’s overburdened psychologist reported that he was working on this criminal, trying to make him realize his violent behavior. For the initial sentence (the assault), it was working: this guy agreed that he was punished for having done a bad thing. But, for the rape of his cellmate, he simply didn’t understand why he was punished. In his mind, the other guy “deserved” it.
    Howerver, the insertion of former inmates back into society is not a priority of my country, and the psychologist had too many “customers” – he was the only specialist for the whole prison. He believed that, if he had more time, he may have made progress on the rape case as well, and a less violent man would have been released. Someone less likely to rape and murder a woman.
    Maybe the psychologist is fooling himself. Since he couldn’t work properly, we will never know, it’s too late now.
    Especially for the poor woman.

    But the part which really frightened me was this: I did’t see any difference between this guy who raped his cellmate “because he deserved it” and people asking for his death, again, “because he deserves it”.

  147. Gregory Greenwood says

    Ing @ 155;

    No moral person can advocate the detah penalty.

    The last recorded words of Kran the first and last of Klingon civil rights advocates

    ***Federation record starts. Stardate 119.009.315***

    Kran led a troubled life in the Empire. He was famous for campaigning against the consumption of live Gagch on animal rights grounds, and for his attempts to introduce strict hand held and ship mounted Disrupter legal controls, including a cooling down period of at least half an hour.

    Perhaps most controvercial of all, however, was Kran’s drive to institute a legal requirement that a licence must be held to own a Bak’leth, and that such weapons may only be owned as artifacts of cultural significance, and that all such blades should be dulled in the interests of public safety.

    Kran only narrowly survived severe lacertions from an incensed Klingon traditionalist who was reported to be yelling ‘from my cold, dead hands pe’tach!’ when he attacked the advocate in the grand assembly hall on Kronos.

    Given Kran’s progressive stance on everything from inter-species relationships to dilithium pollution, it was perhaps inevitable that the time honoured counter argument of Veri’toch Garan (translation:- ‘sharpened-steel-to-the-head’) would be deployed by his many, many political opponents.

    ***Federation record ends. Stardate 119.009.315***

  148. scriabin says

    @157 Bernie

    In general, grounds for appeal are rooted in an error at law and not an error in fact (the judge of first instance being the fact finder).

    So “new” evidence issues would have to be grounded in an error at law. At least up here in Canada. I think. I ain’t a litigator – just a solicitor. Maybe there are exceptions or ways around this – there normally are. It’s probably how you frame the error.

  149. The Rat King says

    This miscarriage of justice is disgusting, but it is only a drop in the bucket of my general dislike of the American system…

    However, I do think the death penalty has a place. No, read before trying to gnaw my head off – How it stands now I do not like; far too easy for these things to happen and I will not support it in this form, but when the police find a man with body parts in his fridge and a human head in the oven for supper, I think it would be safe to say that the fellow has forfeited all ties to the human race and needs to be disposed of, much like a rabid dog.

    The criteria that needs to be met as they are now are too easy to gloss over and fake, as it was just proven. It needs to be eliminated for all but those cases that are absolute and yes there are some of those; Dahmer would be a good example of someone who was guilty beyond the pale and needing to be removed from the human race.

    Before the knee-jerk answer: It’s not a deterrent; it’s disposal.

  150. says

    Before the knee-jerk answer: It’s not a deterrent; it’s disposal.

    Excuse me for being repetitive here… so you’re not opposed to murder, you’re simply negotiating the terms under which you decide it’s acceptable? Once again, I find this moral argument weak.

  151. Joe says

    @160 Celtic_Evolution

    Oh… and almost forgot… Joe…

    this:
    Rehabilitation only works for those seeking actual rehabilitation.

    …is a narrow-minded, unsupported opinion pulled right from your arse…

    Lucky for you and I, it is just an opinion and yes it was directly pulled from my “Arse.” Don’t exclude yourself from being narrow-minded friend. If you think you have some intellectual advantage over the way you state an opinion versus how I do, then by all means set yourself high on that pedestal of arrogance.

    Most of what we say everyday is pulled from our Arse’s, your commentary smells like shit just like everyone else’s.

  152. scriabin says

    @165 Rat King

    Hard cases make bad law. Exceptions make bad precedents.

    It’s not good to make exceptions, even for situations that everybody agrees are waaay off the chart.

    That’s probably the hardest part for the public to swallow. But c’est la vie.

  153. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    It’s not a deterrent; it’s disposal.

    So it is okay with you for the government to declare that a certain segment of the population is ‘disposable’? Given the recent and ongoing attempts by the radical Christian right to take over all levels of government in the United States of America, that scares the shit out of me.

  154. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    I posted at Bad Astronomy to help even out the mess. The conclusion of my post below:

    Simply, if murder is not to be tolerated by a society and murder cannot be absolved nor justice attained in it, then it is the duty of a society to not collectively murder its citizens in retribution for the very thing that that society does not tolerate. To do the opposite is contradiction and it belies a low value on human life.

  155. Mattir says

    It goes without saying that this morning there are racists in Georgia congratulating each other on “showing that nigger what’s what”

    Actually, they’re all over at the Fox News comment threads. (Yes, I made the mistake of peeking.)

    We went to a live-audience taping of Talk of the Nation on Tuesday, and one hour was about the teenage brain. While it wasn’t a very substantial program, it did raise serious issues that are relevant to this case: Davis was 19 or 20 when the murder occurred, and even if he pulled the trigger, there are a lot of reasons to think that the person who was murdered last night was not the same person who pulled the trigger.

    Funny how we’re so willing to forgive white middle-class kids who do stupid stuff because “they’re not done with brain development,” but kids like Davis are shit outta luck.

  156. Mattir says

    Rat King, do you have any idea what it takes to turn a regular social primate into one who keeps human heads in the freezer? The answer, surprisingly, is (a) horrific child abuse, (b) severe neurological damage, and/or (c) being surrounded by a group of people doing the same thing.

    In the two situations, we’re “disposing” of someone who’s already been tortured, injured, etc., and in the second, we’re “disposing” of someone who’s taking the fall for a group.

    Why is this humane?

  157. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I have little to add here, other than the contention that executing a prisoner does nothing good. Death penalty advocates minimally must make a case that my contention is false.

  158. whatsinaname says

    tkreacher: “Congrats, whatsinamane, you are immune to any critical thought!”

    You falsely accused me of endorsing murder. You’re in no position to be claiming I’m immune to critical thought, you “fucking imbecile.”

    :chortle:

  159. whatsinaname says

    Giliell: “whatsinaname I’m still waiting for the actual argument you’re obviously not going to provide.”

    Repeat: “See #61.”

    Perhaps your monitor is malfunctioning?

  160. leonateo says

    It seems to me that every argument against the death penalty can be applied equally to each innocent person that has ever died in prison, of which there are almost certainly many times more than are executed.

    So I’m not certain how anyone can suggest life imprisonment would be less barbaric. If anything, it’s more barbaric.

    Of course, the wicked must be punished, right?

  161. Sally Strange, OM says

    Giliell: “whatsinaname I’m still waiting for the actual argument you’re obviously not going to provide.”

    Repeat: “See #61.”

    I looked at #61. This is what I saw.

    Pick a crime. Then, pick a penalty for that crime which you find morally suitable. Then, morally argue for that penalty. Then, apply that moral argument to the death penalty.

    So, still no argument. “You make your argument, then state it: that’s my argument” is really not an argument. The only way you could think it is a valid argument is if you’re an imbecilic, fuckwitted troll.

    Fuckwitted troll, why don’t you just admit you’re trolling and fuck off?

  162. Marcus Hill says

    whatsinaname: your post at #61 isn’t a cogent moral argument. It’s moral, but it isn’t cogent – actually, it’s not even an argument. It’s an unfounded and frankly idiotic attempt to equate the moral argument that the proper penalty for shoplifting is a fine with arguing for state sanctioned murder. Now, what actual argument do you have, rather than pointing us at this imbecilic “make your own argument” nonsense?

  163. Sally Strange, OM says

    Of course, the wicked must be punished, right?

    Only if you’re pre-rational.

    If you’re rational, it’s more like, Those likely to harm others must be prevented from doing so.

    Punishment exists to meet the emotional needs of the victims, and “wicked” is an incoherent, scientifically useless concept.

  164. Marcus Hill says

    leonateo: it’s not necessarily less barbaric, but there’s a far better chance of reversing an error.

  165. whatsinaname says

    Ant: “… executing a prisoner does nothing good. Death penalty advocates minimally must make a case that my contention is false.”

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance, rather than using those resources to keep an undesirable human being locked away in cage for years on end until s/he dies (which in and of itself is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence).

    Your contention is patently false.

  166. says

    So I’m not certain how anyone can suggest life imprisonment would be less barbaric. If anything, it’s more barbaric.

    Really?

    1. Does the condemned person have any opportunity to be set free if found innocent after the punishment is meted out?

    2. You really see no difference between being executed and living a long life, however confined, limited and diminished it might be? Do you think if you were given that choice you’d see it that way? Somehow I doubt it…

    There is no perfect system of justice. Innocent people are imprisoned. Our standard of justice is “proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”. However this standard is upheld by a jury of fallible humans, presided over by other fallible humans. There will be mistakes. While we can not prevent every mistake, we can at least hold ourselves to a minimum standard of being better than doling out death in judgment.

  167. leonateo says

    @181, Marcus Hill: I was specifically referring to the numerous instances of innocents dying in prison. Just as irreversible.

    @180, Sally Strange: You don’t believe in any punishment at all? How could society function if there were no consequences for harming others?

  168. Rey Fox says

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance

    Actually, as has been pointed out several times, execution sucks up lots of resources due to the appeals process, which is perfectly necessary to avoid the error of executing an innocent person. But thanks for admitting that you’d like to be able to decide on who lives and dies based on monetary values.

  169. leonateo says

    @183, Celtic_Evolution: Since as above, I was referring specifically to people that die in prison, if you were to give me the choice of dying after years of torture or dying now I’d choose dying now. Wouldn’t you?

    Imprisonment is still doling out death. That’s my point. You’re not avoiding killing innocent (or even guilty) people by putting them in prison. You’re killing them just as assuredly but with the added bonus of potentially decades of torture.

  170. says

    Joe @ 167 –

    Opinions asserted as statements of fact, with no evidence to support them, as you did with your “rehabilitation” blathering, are rightfully derided around here. This isn’t a matter of “we all get to have opinions”. If I make a statement such as you did, you can rest assured that I will be able to back it up with fact, or expect to be taken to task for it. Welcome to a grown up conversation, Joe.

  171. dysperdis says

    The only justifications for homicide are self-defense or defense of others– that is, if the continued existence of this person places you or others in clear and immediate danger, and there is no reasonable alternative course of action available. If someone chooses to kill a person when they know a non-deadly course of action is available, their morals are seriously screwed up. Never mind the whole “he probably didn’t do it” thing, or the insanity of murdering people to show that murder is wrong…

  172. says

    I was referring specifically to people that die in prison, if you were to give me the choice of dying after years of torture or dying now I’d choose dying now. Wouldn’t you?

    Nope. Especially were I innocent. I’d take living in prison on the hope that my innocence would be discovered and I’d be freed every day of the week. And so would any rational person I know.

    Imprisonment is still doling out death.

    I think you mean life imprisonment here. And even still., that’s a stupid premise. Prison isn’t the direct cause of your death. Honestly I can’t believe I’m even engaging in a debate with someone who isn’t rational enough to not equate “imprisonment” with “execution”. Absurd.

  173. whatsinaname says

    Sally Strange: “So, still no argument. “You make your argument, then state it: that’s my argument” is really not an argument.”

    Well, cupcake, you’re entitled to your poorly thought out opinion.

    Sally Strange: “The only way you could think it is a valid argument is if you’re an imbecilic, fuckwitted troll.”

    Does the phrase “non sequitur” mean anything to you?

    Sally Strange: Fuckwitted troll, why don’t you just admit you’re trolling and fuck off?”

    My, but it is mildly amusing to watch someone come to the stark realization that their own ideals are inconsistent, then lash out at anyone who may have facilitated that realization.

    You’d make a great case study for a first year psych student.

  174. Sally Strange, OM says

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance, rather than using those resources to keep an undesirable human being locked away in cage for years on end until s/he dies (which in and of itself is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence).

    As has been repeatedly stated in this thread alone, enforcing the death penalty is just as expensive, often more so, than enforcing life imprisonment. Next time you try advancing an actual argument (rather than attempting to trick other people into making your argument for you, as you did before), try using actual facts.

    The other thing is that you’re basically saying that it’s okay for the State to kill people, as long as it saves money for the State. That’s a morally bankrupt argument. Are you a libertarian?

    You don’t believe in any punishment at all? How could society function if there were no consequences for harming others?

    You think punishment and consequence are the same thing. That’s your error. Figure out what the difference is.

  175. says

    Execution frees up resources which can blah blah blah…

    You have been told, and given links to data that shows that executions are costlier than life sentences. Why to you keep asserting otherwise?

    Your contention is patently false…

  176. Sally Strange, OM says

    You’d make a great case study for a first year psych student.

    Translation: yes I am trolling. And since all I have is empty blather and lies, I’m going to insinuate that the only reason you think I’m full of shit is because you’re mentally ill.

    You’re a real winner, whatsininaname.

  177. leonateo says

    Nope. Especially were I innocent. I’d take living in prison on the hope that my innocence would be discovered and I’d be freed every day of the week. And so would any rational person I know.

    But again I’m referring to those which are innocent and which do end up dying in prison without ever being exonerated. If I knew ahead of time that I was never getting out, I’d choose death immediately.

    I think you mean life imprisonment here. And even still., that’s a stupid premise. Prison isn’t the direct cause of your death. Honestly I can’t believe I’m even engaging in a debate with someone who isn’t rational enough to not equate “imprisonment” with “execution”. Absurd.

    The law and myself consider it murder if I kidnap someone and they die during the course of my kidnapping, even if I don’t stab them myself. When the government does it, is it different?

    You think punishment and consequence are the same thing. That’s your error. Figure out what the difference is.

    Indulge me. In a society that doesn’t punish the wicked but rather attempts to prevent wicked behavior, what consequence does a wicked person suffer if they successfully execute wicked behavior that goes unpunished?

    To me this goes against the very sense of justice.

  178. Dianne says

    People who are in favor of the death penalty sometimes counter evidence that it is not a deterrent by saying, “Maybe the murder rate won’t go down, but X won’t kill again.” Troy Davis, innocent or guilty, will definitely never kill another person. But the state of Georgia will. Indeed, the state of Georgia seems to be learning that violence will solve all its problems and will likely use it more in the future.

  179. says

    My, but it is mildly amusing to watch someone come to the stark realization that their own ideals are inconsistent, then lash out at anyone who may have facilitated that realization.

    Are you really this deluded? In what way did you show anyone’s ideals to be inconsistent? All we did was ask you make an argument… which you didn’t actually do… and then when called out for not actually having made an argument, you play the “nany nany boo-boo” game with “you’re entitled to your opinion” games?

    I read your #61 as well, and frankly I don’t actually see an argument in there either. So instead or patting yourself on the back and chortling all over yourself in appreciation of your own perceived cleverness, why don’t you make a cogent, rational argument, using your own words, that doesn’t take the evasive tack of asking us to answer for you.

    Or would that just not be any fun for a first year psych student?

  180. says

    Lambert @ 146: So you’re saying then that the only acceptable time to retaliate against someone who’s victimizing you is in self-defense, at the exact moment they’re attacking you? And that it is wrong to exact retribution later unless you are doing so “judicially”? Then that would make Davis’s execution okay, wouldn’t it, as it was entirely “judicial.”

    This baffles me. As you say, if self-defense is the only acceptable act of punishment, then the concentration camp victims were well and truly fucked, wern’t they? First, brutally murdered for no reason by a sick, racist ideological regime, and then later, denied any sense of justice for what they experienced by morally upstanding folks such as yourself who have decided by fiat that “violence is not to be respected” in any instance. Unless it’s “judicial” and not “extra-judicial,” a distinction you imply is important but which might actually undermine your position as it suggests you’re in fact okay with judicially mandated capital punishment.

    No, I’m sorry, your argument for the innate wrongness of vengeance hasn’t convinced me. It seems more rooted in emotion than practical consideration, and self contradictory.

    But I appreciate the calm response anyway. The impression I get of many people who are vehemently against capital punishment (and again, I stress that I myself do not think America’s corrupt criminal justice system should be enacting capital punishment) is that they hold their views as the result of privilege, having been sheltered from the realities of violent crime and the worst evils of human nature, and respond with anger to opposing points of view in a manner typical of the privileged.

  181. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Leonateo correctly observes that all humans eventually die.

    Congratulation, leonateo, would you like a cookie?

    Now, can you please make a cogent argument? You know, an argument where you don’t equate living imprisoned (and eventually dying) with being murdered?

  182. Joe says

    @187 Celtic_Evolution

    Opinions asserted as statements of fact, with no evidence to support them, as you did with your “rehabilitation” blathering, are rightfully derided around here. This isn’t a matter of “we all get to have opinions”. If I make a statement such as you did, you can rest assured that I will be able to back it up with fact, or expect to be taken to task for it. Welcome to a grown up conversation, Joe.

    Perhaps it was blathering on some level, maybe I was implying that individuals can not change without wanting to change or be willing to do the work to right their wrongs.

    If I set aside the time I am sure I can dig and find the facts as you have, I can visit the same sites, talk to the same people and do the research necessary to make my case. Of course that research may be bias, I may not like the resources you use or even agree with their statics on the subject matter. My resources will favor my opinion and general consensus, as yours do.

    Your intelligent and witty, I like that, but that does not make you mature. Your sub-tones and innuendo’s show your level of maturity as well. Yeah, we do all get to have opinions. That is kinda the point and necessary to learn from each other. You may not like what I say, I may not like what you say, but it opens up doors and eyes. So thanks. I have enjoyed this conversation very much…

  183. leonateo says

    Thomathy,

    I’m not equating living imprisoned with being murdered at all. In every instance I’ve specified that I’m referring to those that die in prison. It’s worth noting that this also includes innocents brutally murdered, not just those that expire of old age.

  184. Sally Strange, OM says

    The impression I get of many people who are vehemently against capital punishment (and again, I stress that I myself do not think America’s corrupt criminal justice system should be enacting capital punishment) is that they hold their views as the result of privilege, having been sheltered from the realities of violent crime and the worst evils of human nature, and respond with anger to opposing points of view in a manner typical of the privileged.

    And yet, one of the most prominent anti-death penalty activists today is the son of Robert Byrd, the man who was brutally murdered by being dragged behind the pickup truck by some white supremacists.

    And are the relatives of people executed by the State disqualified from being considered “unsheltered” from the realities of violent crime?

    In short, I don’t think you can substantiate your characterization of death penalty opponents. Even if you can, it still doesn’t make your position correct. All you’re saying is that “you can’t understand the desire for vengeance until someone close to you is murdered.” Well, obviously. But as several people have said, the desire for vengeance, and the emotional catharsis of crime victims, do not form a useful or rational basis for decision-making. Especially when the decision is so momentous as taking a person’s life.

  185. says

    But again I’m referring to those which are innocent and which do end up dying in prison without ever being exonerated. If I knew ahead of time that I was never getting out, I’d choose death immediately.

    I don’t believe this for one minute. It’s very poetic and heroic sounding to state such bullshit, but people aren’t wired that way, in general, unless they are psychopathic. When faced with the choice to live a long life, as long as the conditions are not physically excruciatingly unbearable, or the conditions such that it would cause one extraordinary mental trauma (which is no better than execution, I would agree, but I don’t hear that argument being made), most rational human beings I know would chose to live.

    The law and myself consider it murder if I kidnap someone and they die during the course of my kidnapping, even if I don’t stab them myself.

    Mmm… sorry, you’re going to have to provide citation for this one. As far as I know, if you kidnap someone and they die, but not as a direct result of your actions or neglect, that is not considered “murder”. Feel free to provide citation if this is incorrect.

  186. Sally Strange, OM says

    You think punishment and consequence are the same thing. That’s your error. Figure out what the difference is.

    Indulge me. In a society that doesn’t punish the wicked but rather attempts to prevent wicked behavior, what consequence does a wicked person suffer if they successfully execute wicked behavior that goes unpunished?

    Why should I indulge you, when you can’t be arsed to answer a simple question: what is the difference between “punishment” and “consequence”? I think if you plainly state what you think the definition of each is, that will be quite illuminating as to the cause of our apparent difference of opinion. If you can’t be bothered, why should I indulge you?

  187. leonateo says

    When faced with the choice to live a long life, as long as the conditions are not physically excruciatingly unbearable, or the conditions such that it would cause one extraordinary mental trauma (which is no better than execution, I would agree, but I don’t hear that argument being made), most rational human beings I know would chose to live.

    Well, it’s my contention that prison does in fact have conditions which are physically excruciatingly unbearable, or conditions such that it would cause one extraordinary mental trauma. That’s kind of the point of prison.

    Mmm… sorry, you’re going to have to provide citation for this one. As far as I know, if you kidnap someone and they die, but not as a direct result of your actions or neglect, that is not considered “murder”. Feel free to provide citation if this is incorrect.

    Well, Here’s an article regarding a person charged with murder for accidentally killing someone they had kidnapped for ransom:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1988/05/24/us/kidnapping-death-brings-conviction.html

    And according to Wikipedia (I’ll look up the source in a momnet)
    “The current federal kidnapping statute, however, may be exempt because the death penalty applies if the victim expires in the perpetrator’s custody, not necessarily by his hand, thus stipulating a resulting death, which was the wording of the objection”

    Here we go:
    http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/55/1201
    “(5) the person is among those officers and employees described
    in section 1114 of this title and any such act against the person
    is done while the person is engaged in, or on account of, the
    performance of official duties,
    shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life
    and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death
    or life imprisonment.”

  188. says

    If I set aside the time I am sure I can dig and find the facts as you have, I can visit the same sites, talk to the same people and do the research necessary to make my case.

    Then by all means, please do, if you would like your assertion to be taken seriously.

    Of course that research may be bias, I may not like the resources you use or even agree with their statics on the subject matter. My resources will favor my opinion and general consensus, as yours do.

    Here you’re just poisoning the well. “Oh, well you won’t accept my sources anyway cause they will not agree with your biases so why bother”. That’s not how it works around here, and I’m no exception. If you provide sources, I carry no pretense as to the veracity of those sources until i have a chance to review them and the methods by which the data is collected. If it is sound data, using accepted scientific means of gathering such data, I would of course have to consider it valid, unless and until I were able to come across contradicting data. I would expect you to be able to do the same, or not engage in the debate.

    That said, I’ll await the data…

    Your intelligent and witty, I like that, but that does not make you mature.

    Your perception of my maturity has fuck-all to do with any part of this conversation. Your patronizing condescension is fairly transparent, so here’s a tip for you: such commentary means precisely squat to me. Just stick to the fucking topic and stop being so concerned about your perceptions of the maturity level and tone of those involved in the discussion. It’s an obvious and needless distraction.

  189. leonateo says

    Why should I indulge you, when you can’t be arsed to answer a simple question: what is the difference between “punishment” and “consequence”? I think if you plainly state what you think the definition of each is, that will be quite illuminating as to the cause of our apparent difference of opinion. If you can’t be bothered, why should I indulge you?

    Sigh. Such hostility. Very well. Punishment is a penalty imposed on someone for wrongdoing. Consequence is the result of an action.

  190. leonateo says

    Oh and Celtic, above I accidentally copied in one of the clauses. That line with 5 is confusing. Here’s the whole part a of the statute, in case you didn’t click

    (a) Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person, except in the case of a minor by the parent thereof, when—

    [clauses denoting it is a federal offense]

    shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment.

  191. Joe says

    @205 Celtic_Evolution

    Your perception of my maturity has fuck-all to do with any part of this conversation. Your patronizing condescension is fairly transparent, so here’s a tip for you: such commentary means precisely squat to me. Just stick to the fucking topic and stop being so concerned about your perceptions of the maturity level and tone of those involved in the discussion. It’s an obvious and needless distraction.

    Your right I should stick to the topic. Thank you for clarifying. My deepest apologies.

  192. whatsinaname says

    Marcus: “whatsinaname: your post at #61 isn’t a cogent moral argument.”

    Apparently I was too quick in assuming people could get there on their own. Sorry about that.

    My benefit of doubt bag is just about empty though, so it won’t likely happen again soon.

    Marcus: “It’s an unfounded and frankly idiotic attempt to equate the moral argument that the proper penalty for shoplifting is a fine with arguing for state sanctioned murder.”

    That’s not at all what it is.

    Marcus: “Now, what actual argument do you have, rather than pointing us at this imbecilic “make your own argument” nonsense?”

    Attempting to persuade people to analyze a set of standards for consistency is opposite of idiotic and/or imbecilic.

    At least you’ve taken the first step…

    You’ve chosen a crime: Shoplifting.

    You’ve chosen a penalty which you (presumably) find morally acceptable: A fine.

    You can (presumably) logically argue that a fine is a morally acceptable penalty for shoplifting.

    Now, replace “shoplifter” with “serial killer” and “fine” with “death penalty.”

    Does your argument still hold water?

    Why or why not?

  193. illuminata says

    Sigh. Such hostility.

    Naughty girl! Not being sufficiently demure, delicate, sweet and deferential!

    How dare you express any emotion about an emotional subject. You should treat it as a mere academic exercise! Its not like this affects real people or something!

    What makes you believe that you are qualified to determine when state sanctioned murder ‘fits the crime’?

    He’s a white dude. Just like LS and whatinadoucheytroll.

    The fact that the death penalty is disproportionately dolled out on men who just so conveniently happened to be not white alone makes it immoral, unethical and staggeringly wrong.

    It is also not correct or fair to put this down to the “those stupid southerners” fallacy either. Its not like all the protests against this psychotic outrage were outside of GA.

  194. illuminata says

    Apparently I was too quick in assuming people could get there on their own. Sorry about that.

    translation: Are you too stupid to understand the TIME CUBE?!?!

  195. Mattir says

    The punishment part of prison is precisely the lack of physical freedom and (to some extent) privacy. Anything more – rape, malnutrition, sub-standard health care compared with the outside world, lack of reading material, lack of opportunities for exercise – those are torture. The lack of physical freedom is enough.

    If given a choice between death now and spending my life in prison with a supply of reading materials, I would not choose death now. I’d choose a lack of freedom and privacy and an intimacy of the mind with Jane Austen, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Tale of Genji.

  196. says

    Well, Here’s an article regarding a person charged with murder for accidentally killing someone they had kidnapped for ransom:

    Umm… the article you presented indicates a death caused by the direct actions of the kidnapper.

    And the statute you provided the link for… first, it is a federal statute that technically applies to the cases listed in section 1 – 5, which include being taken across state lines, or being committed in places where the federal, not local, government has jurisdiction. Additionally, the law itself does not indicate that it applies whether the victim dies as a direct result of the crime or not. I called my cousin (a defense lawyer in Boston) and asked him about it. He indicates that at a state level, it varies from state to state, but that in general, to have a murder charge applied, the victim must be killed as a result of direct or indirect actions of the perpetrator. However, as my cousin is by no means an authoritative source, I will concede the point.

    But to that point… going back to your use of it in #194, I’m not sure I understand how it applies to what you quoted from me.

  197. Tim DeLaney says

    I wholeheartedly agree with PZ and the majority of posters here in their opposition to the death penalty. I am particularly impressed with the fact that Ross Byrd, son of the Jasper, Texas dragging victim, also opposes the death penalty. Now, there’s a man with principle!

    But I have another suggestion relating to the use of eyewitness testimony, which is notoriously unreliable. Most of us know that recognizing a face is the function of a small identifiable portion of the brain. If I were to identify somebody on the basis of a few seconds observation, that testimony would be very convincing if it were somebody I knew very well, and had observed several times a week over a number of years. We know that this small portion of the brain has ‘memorized’, almost to the point of infallibility, a fairly large number of faces. We can trust this sort of identification.

    But in our justice system we sometimes encounter witnesses who identify a person on the basis of one sighting. Now, there may be people who can reliably do this. I doubt it, but there are certainly people who can do this much more reliably than I can.

    So, I propose that we spend a few million dollars in order to develop a video test of the ability of a witness to identify a previously unknown face. It would work like this: Gather perhaps ten actors who are vaguely similar (but not too similar) in looks, and shoot a typical crime scene with multiple roles by the actors. In one scene, actor A would be the criminal and B the victim. In another scene, C would be the criminal and A would be the victim, and so forth. In this example, there would be 90 scenes shot, each taking perhaps 20 seconds, with each actor playing the criminal and the victim exactly once.

    A potential witness would be shown just one of the scenes chosen at random by software, and unknown to the administrators of the test. The witness would then be asked to pick from a lineup the criminal and the victim (after a suitable waiting period that corresponds to the actual history of the case). The witness would know before the test that this is what would be asked of him or her. The ‘score’ every potential witness would then be admissible as evidence. (Defense attorneys would do well to become familiar with Bayesian reasoning.)

    A witness who could not pass the test could certainly testify as to other details, but would be disqualified as an eyewitness who identified the defendent.

    I suspect that the number of witnesses who could reliably identify an unfamiliar face would be very close to zero. It is easy to see how such a test would have worked to the benefit of the defense in the Troy Davis case.

  198. says

    whatsinaname:

    You can (presumably) logically argue that a fine is a morally acceptable penalty for shoplifting.

    Now, replace “shoplifter” with “serial killer” and “fine” with “death penalty.”

    Does your argument still hold water?

    No.

    Why or why not?

    Can you tell the difference between a fine and the death penalty?

    If not, let me “fine” you one hundred dollars for being obtuse.

  199. Sally Strange, OM says

    Why should I indulge you, when you can’t be arsed to answer a simple question: what is the difference between “punishment” and “consequence”? I think if you plainly state what you think the definition of each is, that will be quite illuminating as to the cause of our apparent difference of opinion. If you can’t be bothered, why should I indulge you?

    Sigh. Such hostility. Very well. Punishment is a penalty imposed on someone for wrongdoing. Consequence is the result of an action.

    Why, Leonateo, you long-suffering martyr, you! You find my manner to be indicative of “such hostility,” really? I had no idea you were such a delicate wilting flower!

    To the matter at hand:

    Punishment and consequence can be the same thing, but they are not always. You seem to be making an artificial distinction between the two concepts.

    If a criminal gets caught, he faces various consequences, among them being “punished” for his crime. If he doesn’t get caught, there are still consequences for his actions, but none of them are engineered by the State. (He may not even escape punishment in that case; retaliation killings and beatings are not unheard of.)

    All I’m saying is that locking a dangerous person up to protect society (with future release contingent on his behavior) is rational, whereas locking a dangerous person up, or killing him, in order to demonstrate to that person that he is Bad and Wrong and Deserves to Suffer is irrational. Both are consequences, and technically both could be considered punishment, but the latter more closely fits the definition of punishment.

    You seemed to think that I was advocating not taking any action against people who break the law at all. It’s a very curious misinterpretation of my position. I find it odd that you can’t seem to consider that it’s possible to make a criminal face the consequences of his actions without also instituting some sort of punishment.

  200. leonateo says

    Umm… the article you presented indicates a death caused by the direct actions of the kidnapper.

    I’d call it indirect actions, since the kidnapper did not intend to kill the victim. If 2 friends were playing around and one accidentally suffocated the other in the exact same manner the punishment would not be “life imprisonment or death.” To mean this clearly indicates that the circumstances of kidnapping directly elevate what would ordinarily be considered manslaughter to murder.

    Of course the clauses are what designate that it’s a Federal offense, all Federal laws have this. And yes it’s going to vary by state. So what?

    The point is the fact that you are limiting the victim’s freedom from escaping the situation is itself the cause of death. Exactly the same when the government lets you die in prison, in my opinion.

  201. says

    whatsinaname –

    State YOUR fucking position, tell us what YOU think and why… don’t turn into a condescending prick by asking us to follow your poorly constructed breadcrumbs as if you were going to teach us little school kids. You’re not that clever.

    Just state your fucking argument, your position, and why YOU hold it. Then we can compare it to our own thoughts on the same position and continue the debate from there.

  202. Sally Strange, OM says

    The point is the fact that you are limiting the victim’s freedom from escaping the situation is itself the cause of death. Exactly the same when the government lets you die in prison, in my opinion.

    This seems to imply that people who aren’t in prison are immortal.

  203. leonateo says

    All I’m saying is that locking a dangerous person up to protect society (with future release contingent on his behavior) is rational, whereas locking a dangerous person up, or killing him, in order to demonstrate to that person that he is Bad and Wrong and Deserves to Suffer is irrational. Both are consequences, and technically both could be considered punishment, but the latter more closely fits the definition of punishment.

    I fully understand your opinion. What this seems to mean is that if a person commits an offense but no longer appears to threaten society then they need not be locked up. Is that an accurate assessment? The instant a person is no longer a threat to society, punishing them is not warranted right? Otherwise, it’s not about protecting society at that point. I don’t find that rational. We had thousands of years to figure out you have to punish bad people for the whole organization to thrive. The entire criminal justice system is based on this concept.

  204. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Leonateo, you’re lying.

    Leonateo @ #200

    Imprisonment is still doling out death. That’s my point. You’re not avoiding killing innocent (or even guilty) people by putting them in prison. You’re killing them just as assuredly but with the added bonus of potentially decades of torture.

    You infer here that living imprisoned is equivalent to being murdered and offhand throw in ‘the added bonus of potentially decades of torture’.

    If you are talking about innocent people who are wrongfully imprisoned, I would argue that being able to live, at the very least, is better than being dead. There is absolution in death. An innocent person, wrongfully imprisoned has at least some hope of correcting their situation or making the most of it. Considering the serious, and perhaps necessary, failings inherent in justice systems, it is preferable that any wrongfully convicted people live imprisoned rather than being murdered.

    That point, however, is so far removed from the matter of state sanctioned murder, I think, as to be irrelevant. That innocent people may be imprisoned, and may die while imprisoned (of anything) is not an argument in favour of state sanctioned murder. It is an argument in favour of justice reform. So, you’re back to the drawing table.

    I maintain, still, that a state that will not tolerate murder by its citizens has a duty not to murder its own citizens in vengeful retribution for that very crime. The contradiction inherent in murder for murder cannot be undone by any argument; contradictions cannot be logically reconciled.

  205. says

    I’d call it indirect actions, since the kidnapper did not intend to kill the victim.

    Perhaps… but it is still a direct result of the kidnappers actions. If the victim had not been buried alive but was just sitting in a room with the kidnapper, and his aorta explodes as a result of a congenital heart defect, I think you’d be hard pressed to call it “murder”. (Full disclosure, that was my cousin’s example, not mine).

    But again, I’ve conceded the point and now am more interested in what that point has to do with the statement you applied it to. And so you respond:

    The point is the fact that you are limiting the victim’s freedom from escaping the situation is itself the cause of death. Exactly the same when the government lets you die in prison, in my opinion.

    But this is clearly not the case… seem my congenital heart disease example above. You are stretching here and using very fuzzy logic… People that die in prison often die of natural causes. How is the imprisonment in any way the cause of death? In fact, can I not make the argument that imprisonment may have prolonged a life by keeping that person off roads, where tens of thousands are killed each year in auto accidents? Or by keeping a person out of a thousand other potentially deadly situations?

    Ultimately, I guess what I’d like to understand here is what point you are making in general with all this? Are you advocating the death penalty? Against it? Against life imprisonment? What is your real point, as it pertains to this discussion?

  206. Sally Strange, OM says

    Naughty girl! Not being sufficiently demure, delicate, sweet and deferential!

    How dare you express any emotion about an emotional subject. You should treat it as a mere academic exercise! Its not like this affects real people or something!

    …And I wasn’t even really being that emotional. He said, “Indulge me,” and I said, “No, and here’s why.”

    I reckon Leonateo really wouldn’t like me when I’m mad.

  207. leonateo says

    This seems to imply that people who aren’t in prison are immortal.

    Consider again that I’m not only referring to those that expire of natural causes. What about prisoners which are murdered by other prisoners? What about prisoners to contract diseases that would otherwise be treated? What about prisoners that do die of old age, but suffered at the hands of their fellow prisoners and guards?

  208. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Leonateo, you’re infantile arguments are not compelling. I’m unconvinced that you sincerely do not find it rational that people who pose no threat to society after being imprisoned should no longer be imprisoned. I find it utterly bizarre that you believe that the criminal justice system in the US is based on the concept that criminals are always criminal.

    Who are you? Javert from Les Misérables? Or obvious troll? Grow up or fuck off.

  209. Sally Strange, OM says

    What this seems to mean is that if a person commits an offense but no longer appears to threaten society then they need not be locked up. Is that an accurate assessment? The instant a person is no longer a threat to society, punishing them is not warranted right? Otherwise, it’s not about protecting society at that point.

    Correct.

    I don’t find that rational.

    You’ve failed to explain why.

    We had thousands of years to figure out you have to punish bad people for the whole organization to thrive. The entire criminal justice system is based on this concept.

    Evidence please? It seems pretty clear that threat of being caught is the biggest reason the criminal justice system works, to the extent that it can be said to work. Whether the resulting incarceration is done with the intent of rehabilitation or punishment doesn’t seem to have much effect on deterrence. It may have some effect on recidivism, though.

    This seems to imply that people who aren’t in prison are immortal.

    Consider again that I’m not only referring to those that expire of natural causes. What about prisoners which are murdered by other prisoners? What about prisoners to contract diseases that would otherwise be treated? What about prisoners that do die of old age, but suffered at the hands of their fellow prisoners and guards?

    Uh, what about them? Prisoners should not be in danger in prison. It defeats the purpose, unless the purpose is punishment. Other prisoners and guards become murderers if they kill an inmate, and should be prosecuted as such. (It raises the question of why it’s Bad to kill a prisoner with a shiv, in his bunk, but Okay to kill a prisoner with a syringe, in front of a crowd of people.) Again, you seem to be arguing in favor of prison reform, not in favor of the death penalty.

  210. whatsinaname says

    Rey Fox: Actually, as has been pointed out several times, execution sucks up lots of resources due to the appeals process, which is perfectly necessary to avoid the error of executing an innocent person.

    The appeals process is only necessary in a system which hands down penalties with insufficient evidence to warrant the penalties (this goes for any penalty).

    That’s not an argument against the death penalty, that’s an argument against a system that operates in such a way as to make appeals necessary.

    Rey Fox: But thanks for admitting that you’d like to be able to decide on who lives and dies based on monetary values.

    I merely answered a challenge, and admitted nothing of the sort.

  211. says

    leonateo

    What about prisoners which are murdered by other prisoners?

    What about them… are you stating that people outside of prison, innocent or not, are not murdered?

    What about prisoners to contract diseases that would otherwise be treated?

    Prison health care varies from state to state, and while it’s not the best care money can buy, minimal health care is available, and is often better than anything the average prisoner could have afforded outside of prison, if they could have afforded any at all… remember, this is America.

    What about prisoners that do die of old age, but suffered at the hands of their fellow prisoners and guards?

    What about them? Life sucks for lots of people NOT in prison… elderly are abused in high-priced care facilities every day… they still would not, in most cases where psychological issues are not at play, rather just be dead. Honestly… what is your point here?

  212. leonateo says

    That point, however, is so far removed from the matter of state sanctioned murder, I think, as to be irrelevant. That innocent people may be imprisoned, and may die while imprisoned (of anything) is not an argument in favour of state sanctioned murder. It is an argument in favour of justice reform. So, you’re back to the drawing table.

    I agree entirely. My point is not to argue for state-sanctioned murder. My point is that being morally opposed to the death penalty but not to the far greater number of innocent people ground up by our prisons is untenable.

    I maintain, still, that a state that will not tolerate murder by its citizens has a duty not to murder its own citizens in vengeful retribution for that very crime. The contradiction inherent in murder for murder cannot be undone by any argument; contradictions cannot be logically reconciled.

    Opinion noted. I disagree. Really that’s about as far as we can get as the very notions of justice and the value of human life are arbitrary and established by society.

    Celtic, see above. I’m not against the death penalty and I’m not against life imprisonment, though I do lament the death of the truly innocent and think more effort needs to be made ensuring that fewer innocent people are killed by our justice system, whether officially executed or killed otherwise.

    To me the “death penalty is wrong because innocent people die” is not logically tenable. “the death penalty is wrong because killing people (even murderers) is wrong” argument is logically tenable, though I disagree with it.

  213. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Leonateo, you can stop trying to defend state sanctioned murder by pointing out problems with the justice system at any time. You are not presenting defences for state sanctioned murder by pointing out problems with the justice system. Repeating yourself is annoying. Repeating myself is annoying.

    While we’re at it, though, prisoners receive medical care. Prisoners in the US receive medical care above and beyond the medical care provided by the State to at least a third of its population.

    I begin to strongly believe that you are a troll.

  214. Sally Strange, OM says

    Also, considering that last year a man robbed–a store or a bank? I forget which–for $1, because he was sick and couldn’t afford health insurance, and knew that in jail he’d at least be able to see a doctor, I think this

    What about prisoners to contract diseases that would otherwise be treated?

    is a pretty unconvincing hypothetical. Prisons generally take pretty good medical care of their prisoners. If they don’t, again: not an argument for the death penalty, but an argument for prison reform.

  215. illuminata says

    …And I wasn’t even really being that emotional. He said, “Indulge me,” and I said, “No, and here’s why.”

    I reckon Leonateo really wouldn’t like me when I’m mad.

    Well, you’re female and you *gasp* DIASGREED!!!!

    thatautomatically means you’re hostile, irrational and, you know, a GIRL.

  216. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Whatsisname:

    You deliberately conflate property crime with a crime of bodily assault, and claim you are the only one using your brain here? Hmmm.

  217. Sally Strange, OM says

    The appeals process is only necessary in a system which hands down penalties with insufficient evidence to warrant the penalties (this goes for any penalty).

    That’s not an argument against the death penalty, that’s an argument against a system that operates in such a way as to make appeals necessary.

    This is nonsensical… the evidence is relevant in determining whether a person is guilty of crime X.

    If a person is guilty of crime X, then a penalty is warranted. If a person is not guilty of crime X, then no penalty is warranted. I fail to see how the evidence itself can change what the penalty for crime X should be.

    But maybe I’m just not brilliant enough to understand whatsit’s err, brilliance. Or something.

  218. says

    I agree entirely. My point is not to argue for state-sanctioned murder. My point is that being morally opposed to the death penalty but not to the far greater number of innocent people ground up by our prisons is untenable.

    Wait, wait, wait…

    Where in any of this are you getting the impression that any of are are not morally opposed to innocent people being wrongfully imprisoned?

    That’s ludicrous! Of course we are… But we must have some semblance of justice system in place to maintain a civil society. That system needs to have a minimum standard for the purposes of assessing guilt and applying punishment. That standard is that accused are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The very context of that standard implies that we see wrongful imprisonment as morally wrong. It’s a standard that says we’d rather have guilty go free than innocent be imprisoned. And of course it’s not perfect. Which, as whatsinaname might be interested to know, is why we allow for appeals… it’s an attempt at flaws in the system to be self-correcting. But even that is far from perfect… and so given the minimum requirements of maintaining a comparatively safe, and civil society, up against the minimum standards of burden of proof in our justice system, there will, on occasion , be people wrongfully imprisoned. I simply don’t see a way around that… if you have one, leonateo, I’d love to hear it.

    However, having said that, we can at least recognize, as a society, that our system is imperfect and decide that as a very basic minimum requirement, putting people to death as punishment is simply not a morally tenable position. I think it’s a fairly easy line to draw, that isn’t nearly as fuzzy as the problem of keeping innocent people out of jail.

  219. whatsinaname says

    Sally Strange: As has been repeatedly stated in this thread alone, enforcing the death penalty is just as expensive, often more so, than enforcing life imprisonment.”

    Not after the offender is dead it isn’t, cupcake.

    Sally Strange: Next time you try advancing an actual argument (rather than attempting to trick other people into making your argument for you, as you did before)…”

    “Tricking” (?) people into making an argument is advancing an argument, cupcake.

    Sally Strange: … try using actual facts.

    Are you actually contending that a dead person requires more resources than a live one?

    :chortle:

    Sally Strange: “The other thing is that you’re basically saying that it’s okay for the State to kill people, as long as it saves money for the State. That’s a morally bankrupt argument. Are you a libertarian?”

    I basically said nothing of the sort. That’s a straw man argument. Are you a dishonest cunt?

  220. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Leonateo, I am not American. I find your justice system appalling. I will not engage with you on an America-centric tangential conversation on the problems with the American justice system. Like it or not, this is about state sanctioned murder and how it is untenable both morally and logically. If all you do is disagree with me and other detractors of state sanctioned murder, then I’m surprised you find it necessary to comment at all. Your disagreement is noted, it is also most unhelpful in having a conversation.

    Now, are you going to start actually defending state sanctioned murder or are you really just trolling? Because comments like this:

    I’m not against the death penalty and I’m not against life imprisonment, though I do lament the death of the truly innocent and think more effort needs to be made ensuring that fewer innocent people are killed by our justice system, whether officially executed or killed otherwise.

    To me the “death penalty is wrong because innocent people die” is not logically tenable. “the death penalty is wrong because killing people (even murderers) is wrong” argument is logically tenable, though I disagree with it.

    indicate that you support state sanctioned murder (or that you’re too lazy to have an opinion, intelligent or not, which is unlikely considering you spew words here and clearly have an opinion) and that you support it for reasons opposite those you disagree with. Can you demonstrate, for instance, why you disagree with my ‘logically tenable’ argument or why you think the murder of innocent people does not detract from state sanctioned murder? Or is it sufficient for you simply to chime in with your disagreement and repeat yourself yet again? That’s tiresome. Stop being so intellectually lazy. Stop trolling, if that’s what you’re about. I encourage you to actually make an argument defending your position.

  221. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Not after the offender is dead it isn’t, cupcake.

    There are not enough facepalms in the universe for this

  222. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Are you a dishonest cunt?

    Discontinue the gendered insults, asshat.

  223. says

    Not after the offender is dead it isn’t, cupcake.

    Misogynistic assholery aside, are you really that dumb? The comparison is money spent to keep a prisoner in prison for life, over the life of the prisoner, on average, vs. the cost of executing a prisoner… so at the end of this little exercise both subjects are dead, you moron, and the costs are compared. And it turns out it often costs more to kill them. Are we clear now?

    “Tricking” (?) people into making an argument is advancing an argument, cupcake.

    Ah… it explains soooo much that you think that.

    Are you actually contending that a dead person requires more resources than a live one?

    :chortle:

    When you’re done chortling all over yourself why don’t you learn how to read for comprehension.

    And I won’t even address your last comment, as that should pretty much do it for you anyhow. You’re not worth my time, nor Sally’s for that matter. I’m done with you, shitstain.

  224. whatsinaname says

    Celtic_Evolution: whatsinaname – State YOUR fucking position, tell us what YOU think and why…

    If you’re unclear on something I’ve said, just ask, sunshine. I won’t bite, unless you bite first.

    Celtic_Evolution: … don’t turn into a condescending prick…

    I give what I get, sunshine.

    Celtic_Evolution: You’re not that clever.

    Flattery will get you nowhere with me.

    Celtic_Evolution: Just state your fucking argument…

    I fucking have. Several times. Perhaps I’m not the one(s) suffering from a cleverness deficiency?

  225. says

    Tim DeLaney

    If I were to identify somebody on the basis of a few seconds observation, that testimony would be very convincing if it were somebody I knew very well, and had observed several times a week over a number of years. We know that this small portion of the brain has ‘memorized’, almost to the point of infallibility, a fairly large number of faces. We can trust this sort of identification.

    But in our justice system we sometimes encounter witnesses who identify a person on the basis of one sighting. Now, there may be people who can reliably do this. I doubt it, but there are certainly people who can do this much more reliably than I can.

    Well, it’s been proved time after time again that eye-witnesses are extremely unreliable, especially if there’s a difference in race. Ever heard the phrase that “blacks/Asian people/Hispanics look all alike” to some white dude?
    It’s not even because they don’t care or are racist, it is because our brains are not trained to recognize the differences the same way we recognize the differences in the faces of members of the ethnic group we deal with every day (doesn’t have to be “our” ethnic group).
    Furthermore, our brains are pretty unreliable when the situation carries an enormous emotional burden and watching a crime surely is.
    Last, but not least, time matters, situation matters. In German there exists the term “Bumszeuge” (wham-witness): People who witnessed car crashes. Because the important things happen when everything is still “normal”, you don’t pay attention.
    Once things become extraordinary, you have already forgotten what happened before*

    *They once made this experiment with judges: They were taken for a walk under false pretences and then staged a car crash where the guilty party fled. Afterwards they couldn’t agree wether the car was red or blue. Taught them a lesson…

  226. Sally Strange, OM says

    Sally Strange: “The other thing is that you’re basically saying that it’s okay for the State to kill people, as long as it saves money for the State. That’s a morally bankrupt argument. Are you a libertarian?”

    I basically said nothing of the sort. That’s a straw man argument. Are you a dishonest cunt?

    I have a cunt, and it’s awesome. But I am more than my cunt, and I’m honest. Unlike you:

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance, rather than using those resources to keep an undesirable human being locked away in cage for years on end until s/he dies (which in and of itself is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence).

    You explicitly stated that it’s worth murdering “an undesirable human being,” because it “frees up resources.”

    Your only plausible defense against being a rank liar here is the Humpty-Dumpty defense: “Those words mean exactly what I want them to mean, no more and no less!”

    Allow me to rephrase my question: are you a lying misogynist? Don’t answer, that was rhetorical.

  227. Sally Strange, OM says

    I fucking have. Several times. Perhaps I’m not the one(s) suffering from a cleverness deficiency?

    No, you fucking haven’t. Stop lying.

  228. whatsinaname says

    Sally Strange:… the evidence is relevant in determining whether a person is guilty of crime X.

    One would hope so, eh?

    Sally Strange: I fail to see how the evidence itself can change what the penalty for crime X should be.

    I fail to see where I’ve contended otherwise.

    Sally Strange: But maybe I’m just not brilliant enough to understand whatsit’s err, brilliance. Or something.

    No, you were stupid enough to construct another straw man (nowhere was the idea that “the evidence itself can change what the penalty for crime X should be” proposed). Or something.

  229. whatsinaname says

    Brother Ogvorbis: Whatsisname: You deliberately conflate property crime with a crime of bodily assault…

    It’s called a comparison, not conflation.

    Brother Ogvorbis: … and claim you are the only one using your brain here? Hmmm.”

    I claimed nothing of the sort.

    I say, there seems to be an awful lot of people around here with malfunctioning monitors today.

  230. says

    I fucking have. Several times. Perhaps I’m not the one(s) suffering from a cleverness deficiency?

    Let me see, I can do that, too!
    Crime: Being an idiot fuckwit troll on Pharyngula.
    Punishment I find morally acceptable: Life-time ban from the internet for the perpetrator and the next 5 generations to follow.
    Apply punishment to crime.
    Case closed, bye-bye

  231. says

    whatsinaname:

    Are you actually contending that a dead person requires more resources than a live one?

    :chortle:

    I’m not sure why you’re chortling at your own obtuse idiocy. Some people get off on the strangest things.

    It takes more resources to kill a prisoner in a state-sanctioned fashion than it does to keep them in prison for life. At least, with our current system. T’ain’t that hard of a concept to get.

    But fuck. If expending resources on prisoners is the sole criteria for implementing the death penalty, then fuck ‘em all. We can tear down our prisons and erect execution factories instead. Why the fuck not?

  232. whatsinaname says

    Brother Ogvorbis: Discontinue the gendered insults, asshat.

    Discontinue projecting your misogynistic perceptions on to me, dipshit.

  233. Xios the Fifth says

    @whatsinaname, Comment 236
    In California:

    Using conservative rough projections, the Commission estimates the annual costs of the present (death penalty) system to be $137 million per year.
    The cost of the present system with reforms recommended by the Commission to ensure a fair process would be $232.7 million per year.
    The cost of a system in which the number of death-eligible crimes was significantly narrowed would be $130 million per year.
    The cost of a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration instead of the death penalty would be $11.5 million per year.

    Maryland:

    A new study released by the Urban Institute on March 6, 2008 forecast that the lifetime cost to taxpayers for the capitally-prosecuted cases in Maryland since 1978 will be $186 million….The study examined 162 capital cases that were prosecuted between 1978 and 1999 and found that those cases will cost $186 million more than what those cases would have cost had the death penalty not existed as a punishment. At every phase of a case, according to the study, capital murder cases cost more than non-capital murder cases.

    This information continues for Texas, Tennessee, Washington, New Jersey, the Federal Government, and more than I’m willing to type.

    This information is from this site for anyone interested.

    Are you actually contending that a dead person requires more resources than a live one?

    :chortle:

    Quit using Mr. Carroll’s word, because that is exactly, however seemingly odd, what the data suggests.

    Sally Strange: “The other thing is that you’re basically saying that it’s okay for the State to kill people, as long as it saves money for the State. That’s a morally bankrupt argument. Are you a libertarian?”

    I basically said nothing of the sort. That’s a straw man argument. Are you a dishonest cunt?

    Since that’s your only argument, yes, that is basically what you said.

    I do have to ask if I am a dishonest cunt as well, for finding supporting data.

    (Yes, I found data for a troll. Sorry, I can’t help it.)

  234. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    NigelTheBold, you’re hope that that particular rhetorical tactic will illicit anything different from what we have from whatsinaname so far is endearing!

    Actually, it makes the point your inferring so concisely you only had to infer it. There’s nothing so concise as not having to even directly communicate it. Let’s see if whatsinaname can pick up on the subtly.

  235. says

    Thomathy:

    NigelTheBold, you’re hope that that particular rhetorical tactic will illicit anything different from what we have from whatsinaname so far is endearing!

    Blush

    Yeah. I’m told I’m so cute when I’m naive. Which is often, I hear.

    Oh, well. I reckon I’ll continue being an optimist in world better suited to pessimism. I can’t help it.

  236. whatsinaname says

    Sally Strange: I have a cunt, and it’s awesome. But I am more than my cunt…

    If you say so.

    Sally Strange: … and I’m honest.

    On the contrary, you’re about to prove what a dishonest piece of shit you actually are.

    Sally Strange: You explicitly stated that it’s worth murdering “an undesirable human being,” because it “frees up resources.”

    Nowhere did I “explicitly state that it’s worth murdering “an undesirable human being,” because it “frees up resources”.”

    That was some mighty fine christian-esque quote mining you did there though.

  237. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Discontinue projecting your misogynistic perceptions on to me, dipshit.

    There are hundreds, nay, thousands of available insults out there, just in the English language (and you are not limited in your insults to one language). I, and many of the regulars ’round these here parts, take exception to gendered insults. Even if you are not a mysogynist, using those insults makes you sound like one and you will be treated accordingly. Now, I realize you are the only one on this current thread with a working brain, but would it be too much to, well, adopt at least a little of the ‘when in Rome’ schtick? So beiss mich!

  238. andyo says

    Contrast that to the MacPhails. Yeah, as Alexa said, hard to feel pity for them.

    Is it really?

    In the context of the other post I referred to, and Alexa’s, yes it was. Now I can start feeling sorry for them about how the right-wing media will use them to attack the biased liberal media.

  239. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Whatsinaname, your use of gendered insults and your casual dismissal of rebuffs does not indicate that you understand the problem with using the language you used or that you understand why you’ve been called a misogynist. Calling a person who insults with the word cunt a misogynist is not ‘projecting misogynistic perceptions’ onto you, it’s calling it as it’s seen. If you don’t want to be perceived as a misogynist (or sexist), then don’t use gendered insults.

    It’s kind of like how if a person isn’t a racist, they don’t insult black people by calling them niggers or just because they’re black.

    There’s no reason to call someone a cunt unless it’s you’re intent is to feed off of the cultural perception of the word and its referent. Simply, people who aren’t misogynists don’t call other people cunts.

  240. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Nowhere did I “explicitly state that it’s worth murdering “an undesirable human being,” because it “frees up resources”.

    Did you, or did you not, write this:

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance, rather than using those resources to keep an undesirable human being locked away in cage for years on end until s/he dies (which in and of itself is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence).

    I realize I have no brain, but that seems to say exactly what you deny.

  241. illuminata says

    Are you a dishonest cunt?

    Oh what a surprise! Mr. Pro Murder is a flaming misogynist too.

    Help improve the world, whatsinauselessbigot, and jump off a bridge.

  242. Sally Strange, OM says

    Sally Strange: I fail to see how the evidence itself can change what the penalty for crime X should be.

    I fail to see where I’ve contended otherwise.

    Lying again, I see. Or perhaps you’re being truthful: perhaps you are really so stupid that you can’t correctly decipher the meaning of the sentences you yourself are typing.

    And of course, avoiding addressing post #243, for example, where I showed you lied before.

    Lying, rank stupidity, and avoidance seem to be your only tricks. Well, that and the misogyny.
    Bored now.

  243. starstuff91 says

    How has whatsinaname not been banned yet? He hasn’t contributed anything worth while to the thread and he keeps spewing misogynistic insults.

  244. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Oh, nigelTheBold, it’s so true!

    Incidentally, I believe that’s twice so far in this thread that I’ve accidentally misspelled your and you’re. I feel like I could mitigate that problem by using contractions less, but damn, I like contractions!

  245. whatsinaname says

    nigelTheBold: whatsinaname: I’m not sure why you’re chortling at your own obtuse idiocy.

    I’m not, silly.

    nigelTheBold: Some people get off on the strangest things.

    Takes all kinds, don’t it.

    nigelTheBold: It takes more resources to kill a prisoner in a state-sanctioned fashion than it does to keep them in prison for life. At least, with our current system. T’ain’t that hard of a concept to get.

    As I more or less pointed out to… whomever it was, that’s an argument against how the system operates, not the death penalty. T’ain’t that hard of a concept to get.

    nigelTheBold: But fuck. If expending resources on prisoners is the sole criteria for implementing the death penalty…

    You wouldn’t be accusing me of proposing that the sole criteria for implementing the death penalty is/should be resources, would you?

  246. KG says

    That’s not an argument against the death penalty, that’s an argument against a system that operates in such a way as to make appeals necessary. – whatsinaname

    That might be something other than a fucking stupid remark if you gave some grounds for supposing such a system possible.

  247. whatsinaname says

    Thomathy: Let’s see if whatsinaname can pick up on the subtly[sic].

    That would be “subtlety,” genius.

  248. whatsinaname says

    PZ: whatsinaname is really, really close to feeling the smack of the banhammer.

    Because…?

  249. Sally Strange, OM says

    Sally Strange: You explicitly stated that it’s worth murdering “an undesirable human being,” because it “frees up resources.”

    Nowhere did I “explicitly state that it’s worth murdering “an undesirable human being,” because it “frees up resources”.”

    That was some mighty fine christian-esque quote mining you did there though.

    Lying more, eh?

    Here’s what you yourself wrote:

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance, rather than using those resources to keep an undesirable human being locked away in cage for years on end until s/he dies (which in and of itself is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence).

    I deduce, then, that you’re sticking with the Humpty-Dumpty “Those words mean different things in my head than when you read them!” defense?

  250. Xios the Fifth says

    nigelTheBold: But fuck. If expending resources on prisoners is the sole criteria for implementing the death penalty…

    You wouldn’t be accusing me of proposing that the sole criteria for implementing the death penalty is/should be resources, would you

    Please, please give another supportable (even though your’s wasn’t) reason for implementing the death penalty, since even your first suggestion (resources) didn’t follow through.

    Otherwise, good-bye, senor Troll.

  251. says

    whatsinaname:

    As I more or less pointed out to… whomever it was, that’s an argument against how the system operates, not the death penalty. T’ain’t that hard of a concept to get.

    Right. I admit as much when I propose execution factories.

    There are reasons our system is so resource-intensive when it comes to killing people. You wouldn’t just gloss over those reasons in the interest of economy, would you?

    You wouldn’t be accusing me of proposing that the sole criteria for implementing the death penalty is/should be resources, would you?

    Nope. I’m accusing you of presenting that as your only reason. Whether or not you have other reasons has not been clearly articulated. Your tendency at coyness has obfuscated any further argument, however.

  252. Sally Strange, OM says

    You wouldn’t be accusing me of proposing that the sole criteria for implementing the death penalty is/should be resources, would you?

    Careful, Nigel. You’re on the verge of falling into one of Whatsit’s oh-so-clever 1st year psychology traps.

    Oh the danger.

  253. starstuff91 says

    That would be “subtlety,” genius.

    Congratulations, you can find spelling errors. So can my 8 year old cousin.

    Anyway, you’re tactics are so predictable. First you state your (idiotic) position. Then you attempt to defend it and fail. Then you throw around [racist, misogynistic, ableist, etc] insults. Then you move on to the lowliest of all of the troll strategies, picking out spelling errors. And when people have legitimate counter arguments, you ignore them and continue to pick at spelling errors and insulting people (with your chosen method of bigotry).

  254. starstuff91 says

    That would be “subtlety,” genius.

    Congratulations, you can find spelling errors. So can my 8 year old cousin.

    Anyway, your tactics are so predictable. First you state your (idiotic) position. Then you attempt to defend it and fail. Then you throw around [racist, misogynistic, ableist, etc] insults. Then you move on to the lowliest of all of the troll strategies, picking out spelling errors. And when people have legitimate counter arguments, you ignore them and continue to pick at spelling errors and insulting people (with your chosen method of bigotry).

  255. says

    Because…?

    Because you’re a boring slimy misogynistic troll, you’ve contributed nothing but hatred to the thread, and I don’t like you.

    Do you need more reasons than that?

  256. illuminata says

    LOL he’s grasping at spelling mistakes now.

    Keep digging that hole, useless bigot scum. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.

  257. David Marjanović, OM says

    It reduces a woman (in this case an anthropomorphised idea, of course) to her fuckablilty and ultimately degrades her to a moist hole. No matter how repulsive and disgusting she might be as a person, she still has a vagina you can fuck.

    Point taken. I may have been too culture-shocked to notice :-]

    Hmm. Why did it take them 1,929 years to get to Ex. 20:13? It’s only the second book out of seventy-three…

    Mistranslation! The text doesn’t say “kill”. It says “murder”; the Hebrew word does not cover the death penalty or war.

    Even those of you who are always opposed to killing another human have to realize that murdering some innocent person and killing a murderer (if you could know for sure he did it) aren’t morally equivalent. Or have I got that wrong?

    Yes.

    What good does it do to kill a murderer?

    The only times when killing people is acceptable is in immediate self-defense and immediate defense of others. And even then it’s not good, it’s just the lesser evil.

    We are all totally capable of calculating and executing the appropriate response under the right circumstances. Some prefer lobbying for laws, some capital punishment, and still some wait until time permits and new circumstances inflict the correct response on those who have it coming to them.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I really do believe that if their is doubt at all, then absolutely in these cases, he or she should sit in prison until the day comes when they are proved innocent or die of natural causes. I firmly believe that we should all be held accountable and suffer the consequences of our actions if the proof is there with out question.

    You seem to believe that it’s some kind of law of nature that the death penalty is “the correct response” and “the consequences”.

    It’s not. It’s a social convention, a custom, nothing more.

    And when is there ever proof without question…?

    Slightly OT (although tangential), something David Marjanovic said earlier stuck with me…

    The purpose of punishment is, over here at least, to pull criminals out of circulation for as long as they’re dangerous, and to provide deterrence –

    Perhaps David meant to specifically address the idea of “punishment”, and I’m by no means trying to correct his statement here, but in a more general sense, I’ve always been under the impression that another reason for incarceration is also to provide rehabilitation.

    Sorry, you’re right. Rehabilitation is important and is increasingly taken seriously over here.

    I support the death penalty it in that it fits the crime. “Eye for an eye,” if that makes me Barbaric and vengeful then so be it.

    Who cares about “barbaric”. It makes you stupid. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

    So it is okay with you for the government to declare that a certain segment of the population is ‘disposable’? Given the recent and ongoing attempts by the radical Christian right to take over all levels of government in the United States of America, that scares the shit out of me.

    You don’t need to go so “far” as the Christian Wrong. Applying “disposable” to “human” is instant Godwin.

    Giliell: “whatsinaname I’m still waiting for the actual argument you’re obviously not going to provide.”

    Repeat: “See #61.”

    Perhaps your monitor is malfunctioning?

    Perhaps you have been too stupid to read comments 76 and 127?

    Yes, I know neither of those is by Giliell. Deal with it. This here isn’t a private conversation, it’s a public one. Everyone can comment on everything.

    The appeals process is only necessary in a system which hands down penalties with insufficient evidence to warrant the penalties (this goes for any penalty).

    That’s not an argument against the death penalty, that’s an argument against a system that operates in such a way as to make appeals necessary.

    That would be any justice system.

    Humans are not gods. They cannot gain absolute knowledge.

    That’s the reason why it’s called “reasonable doubt” and not “any theoretially possible doubt at all whatsoever”.

    To me the “death penalty is wrong because innocent people die” is not logically tenable.

    So you explicitly accept that innocents are executed as collateral damage.

    Please do give me a reason to take you seriously. Right now, you sound like a dangerous madman.

    Not after the offender is dead it isn’t, cupcake.

    TSIB.

  258. whatsinaname says

    Sally Strange: Lying again, I see.

    What do you mean, “again”?

    Sally Strange: And of course, avoiding addressing post #243, for example, where I showed you lied before.

    I addressed 243, you liar, and you didn’t show me to be a liar, you liar.

  259. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    I have made three spelling errors in over 500 words. Thank you, for pointing out the one that I missed, whatsinaname.

  260. says

    I add evasive inanity to the list of crimes, and bid whatsinaname adieu.

    I must also make the comment that I’ve found that people who use variations of the name “Tyler Durden” in their email addresses tend to be self-centered assholes with an intent to troll, anyway.

  261. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    You don’t need to go so “far” as the Christian Wrong. Applying “disposable” to “human” is instant Godwin.

    I know. I was trying to avoid the really obvious one. That would have given trollisname an easy freakout point.

  262. starstuff91 says

    I addressed 243, you liar, and you didn’t show me to be a liar, you liar.

    No you didn’t. You dismissed it.

    Speaking about that. If you didn’t mean for you original statement to mean that the death penalty is ok because it saves money, what did you mean?

  263. Xios the Fifth says

    @whatsinaname

    The liar who lies about those who lie. (Apparently.)

    1st:Nowhere did I “explicitly state that it’s worth murdering “an undesirable human being,” because it “frees up resources”.

    Did you, or did you not, write this:

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance, rather than using those resources to keep an undesirable human being locked away in cage for years on end until s/he dies (which in and of itself is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence).

    I realize I have no brain, but that seems to say exactly what you deny.-Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin’ Hominid!

    Please answer.

    2nd:Celtic_Evolution: Just state your fucking argument…

    Whatsinaname:I fucking have. Several times. Perhaps I’m not the one(s) suffering from a cleverness deficiency?

    Sally Strange, OM:No, you fucking haven’t. Stop lying.

    Agreed with Celtic and Sally-no, you haven’t.

    Asshat.

  264. Tim DeLaney says

    Giliell @ 242:

    Well, it’s been proved time after time again that eye-witnesses are extremely unreliable, especially if there’s a difference in race. Ever heard the phrase that “blacks/Asian people/Hispanics look all alike” to some white dude?
    It’s not even because they don’t care or are racist, it is because our brains are not trained to recognize the differences the same way we recognize the differences in the faces of members of the ethnic group we deal with every day (doesn’t have to be “our” ethnic group).

    Well, you and I are certainly on the same page, but it remains a fact that last night a man was put to death based solely on eyewitness testimony. Scientifically, such testimony is all but worthless, but we put Troy Davis to death based primarily on such evidence.

    How is it that American rules of evidence are so at odds with science? Is it not time to put our scientific knowledge regarding human perception and memory to work in the courtroom? (Rhetorical question)

  265. starstuff91 says

    The liar who lies about those who lie. (Apparently.)

    He is, if you don’t mind me saying this, lie-ception.

  266. fastlane says

    I can think of a few situations were I would kill a person. Not necessarily self defense, but in defense of someone/something that is otherwise unable to defend themselves.

    If someone threatened my wife physically, I would probably kill them to prevent them from trying to hurt her at some time in the future when I might not be around to protect her. I’d pretty much do the same for anyone in my family, including my cat. It’s extended (well past the comfort point of a lot of people) self defense, in my view.

    I certainly don’t have enough trust in the justice system, quite the opposite, to entrust any government entity to decide who they can or can’t murder. Our government is in the process of killing thousands/year, mostly in foreign lands. A large number of those people are certainly innocent. I guess it’s just less premeditated and they are brown people, so it matters less. (Not saying that about most of the posters here, I know most pharyngulites are also against the war(s).)

  267. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    How is it that American rules of evidence are so at odds with science?

    Because a majority of USAnians believe that faith trumps reality? that a bunch of 1800 to 3000 year old moths trump science? that the crusader’s statement at Carcassonne is a valid statement of justice?

  268. Agi says

    The death penalty could be put to soo much better use than to be reserved for murderers.

    Hitting innocents poisons the debate, getting them dead propperly is expensive, and the deterrent argument falls flat on top of that.

    Besides, there are worse things than being killed (at least for the one going to be dead), so it’s not really “capital punishment”.

    How about applying it to “Habitat Destruction” things like Deep Water Horizon, Exxon Valdez, Fukushima etc.
    There it might actuall serve as deterrent for sloppyness, getting drunk on the bridge, not maintaining backup generators and so on.

  269. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Agi:

    I do, sort of, agree with the idea of capital punishment for corporate crimes. My view, though, would be to make it capital punishment for the actual corporation. Once a company reaches a certain dollar amount, or percentage of their total revenue or total value (not sure how this would work) in actual damages to persons, property, or environment through disregard of regulations or law, the company dies. No bankruptcy, no reorginization, no debt reconfiguration, the company dies. The federal government confiscates all real property, divides it up, and sells the pieces to small companies and no company or individual can buy more than one small piece. Let one or two companies go under like that, with the concurrent losses to stockholders (both group and individual) and corporate behaviour would, most likely, improve.

    That would be capital punishment I could get behind. And, unlike personal capital punishment, corporate capital punishment would actually be a real deterrent.

  270. Anri says

    Hey there, whatsinaname.

    If I am reading your posts correctly (please let me know if I’m not), you believe that criminals are given too many chances at appeal, yes?

    May I ask how many appeals you waould want, having been falsely accused of a crime? What would be your preferred schedule for being wrongly executed? Give us a general timeframe, if you would.

  271. Agi says

    Brother Ogvorbis:

    and forbid the ones responsible to take any other job besides manual labor after a fiasko like those three I listed.

    have a broom Mr. Hazelwood

  272. says

    Agi:

    Brother Ogvorbis:

    and forbid the ones responsible to take any other job besides manual labor after a fiasko like those three I listed.

    have a broom Mr. Hazelwood

    Give them manual labor, but cleaning up the results of their fuck-up.

    “Have a hazmat suit, a hose, a brush, and some detergent*, Mr. Hazelwood. Wait, on second thought, give us back the hazmat suit. We’re short on those.”

     

    * Yes, I understand the use of detergent can contribute to the environmental damage caused by an oil spill. I’m employing my poetic license, which is good through the end of the year.

  273. says

    Tim DeLaney

    Scientifically, such testimony is all but worthless, but we put Troy Davis to death based primarily on such evidence.

    How is it that American rules of evidence are so at odds with science? Is it not time to put our scientific knowledge regarding human perception and memory to work in the courtroom? (Rhetorical question)

    Well, does it make things any better that he was convicted on the basis of faked eye-witness evidence?
    I guess not…
    Why this is still possible? Because people have a mental horizon of 0 and call that a point of view. Because a lot of laws and regulations are made by politicians who want to be re-elected and not by scientists.
    To extend this to a very trivial area:
    Scientists can show you a lot of studies that prove that making students repeat a year doesn’t help them in order to catch up. They can show you other studies that show that dictation test don’t tell anything about spelling ability.
    Still our (German) educational system relies on both of them because people think it’s the way it ought to be.
    Cases like this might serve to educate people to the faults of the system, make them join because they prove how unreliable the current system is (unfortunately not because they agree that capital punishment is a crime as such)

  274. Justin says

    Reasons against the death penalty (In convenient points)

    1. It doesn’t offer deterrence.
    2. You cannot be 100% sure that you’re killing the right person.
    3. If you do kill the wrong person, there is no way to bring that person back.
    4. It is more expensive to have the death penalty than not have it.
    5. It does nothing to rectify the crime.
    6. It has no “rehabilitation” aspect to the “punishment and rehabilitation” part of the criminal justice system
    7. The state should not be in the business of deciding which of it’s citizens lives or dies.
    8. (In Canada at least) All citizens have the right to life.
    9. Murder is wrong.

  275. Sheesh says

    Since it hasn’t been mentioned this late in the thread, let me:

    As long as you cracker asses keep killing black folks stop snitching will stay in effect.

    It is in your best interests, and the interests of society for informants to start snitching — i.e., to cooperate with police investigators. So, to some extent, this is another argument against the death penalty as it applies to the institutionalized racism or simple corruption or human fallibility of the so-called justice system.

  276. Matt says

    @299

    Saying ‘cracker’ doesn’t make you look more intelligent. It actually helps portray the contrary.

  277. ckitching says

    Well, if you want to be sickened even further, just under half of the U.S. believes the death penalty should be used more often, and virtually all who support it also believe it’s being fairly applied. 60% believe that an innocent person has been executed in the last five years, and apparently are perfectly fine with that idea.

    Lots of interesting (terrible) stats on U.S. perceptions of crime enforcement. Just don’t read it if your faith in humanity isn’t already shattered.

  278. starstuff91 says

    @ckitching
    Thanks for that :( Now I’m sad again. But I guess sad knowledge is better than happy ignorance.
    The good news is that (based on the stats in that link) public opinion seems to be (slowly) turning against the death penalty.

  279. starstuff91 says

    The bad news is that more people think that the death penalty isn’t used enough than did 10 years ago.That’s awful. This is horrifying.

  280. Sheesh says

    Thanks for your insight, Matt. I love when white dudes tell me how intelligent I do or don’t sound.

    That said, I used cracker exactly to bait you into a color-blinder-than-thou sort of response. Please let your next post be about how blacks are the real racists. I imagine my post history here shows I am a little trolly “for the lulz”, but the point stands: the black community, or really any community I guess, can’t buy into a system that oppresses us. We are all better off if we can trust the police not to round up whoever is seen running away and then executing them after a few forced or tainted testimonies and 20 years or litigation. So again, another mark against our use of capital punishment is the racist way it is meted out.

    I am looking forward to a discussion about how race plays out in our capital punishment system. You can even use bad words for black people to make a point, as has already been done throughout the thread.

    (typed on a mobile so pardon any typos that might affect how intelligent I appear! As if that mattered to my argument.)

  281. The Rat King says

    Excuse me for being repetitive here… so you’re not opposed to murder, you’re simply negotiating the terms under which you decide it’s acceptable? Once again, I find this moral argument weak.

    No, I am not opposed to killing rabid creatures that will happily savage others just because they can. Their species is inconsequential, and humans do not receive a special dispensation just because they can talk.

    So it is okay with you for the government to declare that a certain segment of the population is ‘disposable’? Given the recent and ongoing attempts by the radical Christian right to take over all levels of government in the United States of America, that scares the shit out of me.

    By a ‘certain segment’ of the population, are you referring to a group of people, like homosexuals or African-Americans? Myself, I was referring to those few humans who will happily kill children after raping them and others of a similar state of being. This is the very tiniest sliver of a population, and the absolute worst of it. Yes, to me, they are disposable. Those few who are proven beyond all possible doubt to have done horrendous things should be put down.

    I can see what you are getting at, though – certain maniacs will happily broaden the terms to include anyone else they consider undesirables. That does give me pause, but if there was a theoretically ‘good’ government that wasn’t prone to deciding anyone who wasn’t beige should die, they’d have a disposal method in place for the real cream of the murderer class.

    Rat King, do you have any idea what it takes to turn a regular social primate into one who keeps human heads in the freezer? The answer, surprisingly, is (a) horrific child abuse, (b) severe neurological damage, and/or (c) being surrounded by a group of people doing the same thing.
    In the two situations, we’re “disposing” of someone who’s already been tortured, injured, etc., and in the second, we’re “disposing” of someone who’s taking the fall for a group.
    Why is this humane?

    Yes, the circumstances that have turned them into what they are are tragic… much like a family dog being bitten by a rabid raccoon. All we can do against rabid raccoons is try to neutralize the disease through vaccinations and education, and it will eventually work. I am all for fixing the problems before they arise, but the fact remains that the dog is now rabid, and given time it will try to tear out your throat before dying horribly.
    It is quite humane to put them down before they go on to infect and destroy others. Not everyone can be saved and rehabilitated, and sometimes the damage is just too severe.

    Remember now; I am not talking all criminals or all murderers – I am directing the Death Penalty at serial killers alone; that special breed of human that kills others for its own pleasure. They are notoriously unrepentant and incurable.

  282. Sheesh says

    ckitching,

    [OT]

    On your polling link, did you see the overwhelming majority of Republicans supported increased camera surveillance?! Wow!

  283. Therrin says

    I imagine my post history here shows I am a little trolly “for the lulz”

    Let me know when I’m supposed to laugh.

  284. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Yes, to me, they are disposable. Those few who are proven beyond all possible doubt to have done horrendous things should be put down.

    You are a sad example of Homo sapiens. Truly. You do realize that there are people in the United States who think that gays, lesbians, transgenders, and bisexuals who have engaged in anything but man on woman sex have ‘done horrendous things’? And that atheists, such as myself, deserve to ‘be put down’? And that, in places like Cambodia, Germany, and Rwanda, it was actually put into practice?

  285. Sheesh says

    Hey Therrin,

    I didn’t see your cogent argument for or against the death penalty in this thread (let alone its racist history in America). Did you have anything of substance to add?

  286. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    I talked with Wife about this at dinner. She came up with the perfect description of why the state of Georgia killed Mr. Davis: “How dare them damnyankees tell us how to control our niggers? We’ll show them!” And I think that she is right — that is a large part of why they ignored the facts of case and went with faith.

  287. Cassius Corodes says

    Some commentators here have suggested that murder is murder irrelevant of who does it (i.e. an individual person or the state) – but how does this then compare with imprisonment? Is it morally equivalent to kidnapping? Or fines for that matter – it is stealing?

    Brother Ogvorbis: “You do realize that there are people in the United States who think that gays, lesbians, transgenders, and bisexuals who have engaged in anything but man on woman sex have ‘done horrendous things’? [...]”

    So what? These people are wrong. Around the world people are imprisoned for some of these same things – does that mean that imprisonment in general is wrong too? Or simply that the people who make crimes of these things are wrong. This, in my view, is just the “hitler did it so its bad” argument re-purposed.

  288. ckitching says

    Sheesh,

    No, I hadn’t noticed that. But it is interesting the large difference in the ABC News and FOX news poll that asked essentially the same question. Despite the polls being run at nearly the same time, the FOX poll had far fewer people supporting increased surveillance.

    I wonder how many people feel compelled to give an answer to these pollsters, despite the fact they may not really have a strong opinion on things. They are asking “Important Questions”, after all. I mean, year-on-year, about half the population says that crime is increasing in their area, yet well over half says they feel quite safe walking through their neighbourhood or mall at night.

  289. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    So what? These people are wrong. Around the world people are imprisoned for some of these same things – does that mean that imprisonment in general is wrong too?

    And there goes the point. You missed it completely. When the government can decide that certain groups of human beings are disposable, what will stop zealots expanding the definition of acts that make the person disposable?

  290. Lion IRC says

    Can anyone spot the ethical double-think going on here…

    “…I don’t care whether he was guilty or innocent, the death penalty is barbarous and irrevocable…”

    Which is worse?

    Punishing the innocent or not punishing the guilty.

    I would have thought that caring about his guilt or innocence was just as important an enlightenment value as any other moral value that stands in opposition to that which is “barbarous”

  291. Sheesh says

    [OT]

    ckitching,

    I mean, year-on-year, about half the population says that crime is increasing in their area, yet well over half says they feel quite safe walking through their neighbourhood or mall at night.

    I think this can be explained as fear of those other people, but not in my good neighborhood. Still, facts to the contrary not-withstanding, right? Afaik, crime in general is on the decline in most places!

    Maybe 10 years ago when I had a land-line I was called up to participate in a poll (but declined), I can’t recall though if they mentioned who they were polling with right at the outset; they don’t do that right? Wouldn’t that bias the results in some cases? (E.g., a Fox pollster might get unconsciously/consciously more ‘fervent’ responses…)

  292. Sheesh says

    I think most moral people agree that punishing the innocent is worse that letting the guilty go free. It’s really a settled question.

    It’s been pretty much explained at length even in this thread — see Walton’s excellent posts above.

  293. says

    No, I am not opposed to killing rabid creatures that will happily savage others just because they can. Their species is inconsequential, and humans do not receive a special dispensation just because they can talk.

    Your inability to morally differentiate between killing another sentient being and, say, swatting a mosquito is telling, but irrelevant to the point. Your assumption that you could ever rightfully discern the “just because they can” part is where your argument falls apart. And killing another human being as a means of retribution is repugnant. Hell, I’ll even go along with you here and state that killing a fucking raccoon out of vengeance is equally repugnant.

    And don’t give me your bullshit about humans not receiving special dispensation because they can talk. Again, that’s very poetic but devoid of substance. If you walked into an area that was quickly flooding, with a room full of children on one side and a room full of assorted woodland critters on the other, and the rising waters gave you only enough time to rescue one of the rooms, most humans I know would pick the one with the humans every time. Then again, maybe you’re different.

  294. says

    So again, another mark against our use of capital punishment is the racist way it is meted out.

    QFT. And it’s not just the death penalty. The amount of institutional racism in the US criminal justice system, at every stage – policing, prosecution, trial, sentencing – is staggering and horrifying. Of course the racial bias also intersects with class inequality: people in poor urban communities (many of which are majority-non-white) are more likely to be harassed by police and more likely to be blamed for crimes they didn’t commit; and given the woefully underfunded and overworked state of the public defender system, defendants who are too poor to afford private attorneys are at a systematic disadvantage.

  295. Cassius Corodes says

    Brother Ogvorbis: “And there goes the point. You missed it completely. When the government can decide that certain groups of human beings are disposable, what will stop zealots expanding the definition of acts that make the person disposable?”

    Good people. Just like now and always, and when there are not enough – what you mention happens as you can plainly see around the world. The death penalty has zero impact on this – or, quite frankly, the constitution or any laws.

    By the way – you can make this same argument for basically anything the government does – from limiting free speech to capital punishment.

  296. amphiox says

    The killing (euthanasia) of a rabid animal has very little to do protecting others from harm (if that was your goal, there are many non-lethal ways to go about it). It is an act of euthanasia, which is mercy, because rabies at that point of the infection is basically an incurable, terminal disease. (The argument as to whether or not it is justifiable to euthanize terminally ill animals is a different discussion).

    Comparing it to the execution of humans is a category error.

  297. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    The death penalty has zero impact on this

    And the death penalty has zero impact on those who plan to commit murders. It has zero impact on those who commit murder in the heat of the moment. It has zero impact on those who commit murder when they panic. It has zero impact on those who are suffering from mental illness when they commit murder.

    By the way – you can make this same argument for basically anything the government does – from limiting free speech to capital punishment.

    I thought I was.

    If the government gets to decide what speech is permissible, or what religion is allowed, or what colour underwear we can put on, then, sure as banjos can be annoying, the impermissible speech, belief, or bras, will continue to expand. And the same thing is true of capital punishment. There are right wing politicians who have suggested rather extreme punishment for burning a flag, or being a Muslim.

    The point is that once a part of humanity is dehumanized, is declared disposable, it can, in authoritarian hands, be expanded. No human is disposable. Let me repeat that: no human is disposable. My sister-in-law, who has Down’s Syndrome, is not disposable. The mentally-ill man I purchase the occasional cup of coffee for at the local Sheetz is not disposable. The 90-year-old woman Wife and I take to the doctor is not disposable. The boy up the street who has severe autism is not disposable. I, who some would describe as mentally ill because I still have nightmares from my work in New York City back in 2001, am not disposable. What part of this do you not understand? What part of this do you refuse to understand?

  298. amphiox says

    Perhaps it is time for opponents of the death penalty across the world to boycott the economic products of Georgia (and Texas, and perhaps the whole US). The political forces in favor of the death penalty might start changing their tune when they can start counting the number of jobs lost in their jurisdiction directly as a result of this support.

  299. Sheesh (as seen on Sadly, No!) says

    amphiox,

    The political forces in favor of the death penalty might start changing their tune when they can start counting the number of jobs lost in their jurisdiction directly as a result of this support.

    [almost OT]

    It’s a nice thought, but wouldn’t matter while the black guy was still in the Whitehouse. That is, job losses are a feature not a bug in Republican politics for the foreseeable future.

    I know, I know, how do you negotiate with these people? Wish I knew.

  300. Matt says

    @304

    I would never use negative words to describe black people because I am not a racist. I oppose the death penalty, and the death of Troy Davis saddens me more than you know. I object to the term ‘cracker’ just as I object to any other racial epithet, and people who use that word (or conversely the n-word) show themselves to be rather stupid.

  301. Cassius Corodes says

    Brother Ogvorbis: 1st Para: We are mostly in agreement here.

    2nd Para: “If the government gets to decide what speech is permissible … There are right wing politicians who have suggested rather extreme punishment for burning a flag, or being a Muslim.”

    It does – there are a number of categories of speech that are not permissible – i.e. the old shouting fire in a theatre, or threatening people in some cases. Sure enough there is a constant push and pull between groups as to where to draw the line (towards a more european-esque hate speech or not – as one example).

    And what is stopping the aforementioned right wing politicians exactly? Do you think they would look at a hypothetical set of laws that don’t include capital punishment and conclude that they should not pursue such options for people they hate – or simply introduce them? After all if they have support to introduce such radical changes then introducing capital punishment is the least of their problems.

    3rd Para: “No human is disposable. Let me repeat that: no human is disposable.”

    I think that this perhaps is the core issue at the end of the day. For what its worth I think you are wrong – there are people who are garbage in this sense and for whom I would be happy to see dead.

  302. amphiox says

    It’s a nice thought, but wouldn’t matter while the black guy was still in the Whitehouse. That is, job losses are a feature not a bug in Republican politics for the foreseeable future.

    We can wait until 2016! (Or hopefully even later than that).

    Not going to help all those already on death row, of course….

  303. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    It does – there are a number of categories of speech that are not permissible – i.e. the old shouting fire in a theatre, or threatening people in some cases. Sure enough there is a constant push and pull between groups as to where to draw the line (towards a more european-esque hate speech or not – as one example).

    No shit. For some reason I assumed (I apologize) that I didn’t need to add that. I guess I was wrong. I understand the legal limits on speech — incitement, etc. — which is, for the right, pretty much ignored (Bachmann’s gunsight addvert, for example).

    As for why it hasn’t happened yet, I think we have 1930s Germany to thank for that. Most right wingers understand that fascism really is wrong.

    I think that this perhaps is the core issue at the end of the day. For what its worth I think you are wrong – there are people who are garbage in this sense and for whom I would be happy to see dead.

    Who is disposable? More important, who gets to decide? Who gets to decide which human being is no longer elligible for human rights? Which humans are no longe considered to be human? I consider your opinion sick, but I do not deny that you are human.

  304. Sheesh says

    Matt,

    Thanks for your input, but the claim “people that say cracker show themselves to be stupid” is a pretty vacuous. It doesn’t show anything out of the ordinary. Pharyngula sees racially pejorative language often in the comments. I.e., there was no self-censoring of nigger for affect in this thread even. Note well, that I am not claiming offense or that RFW @142 or Br. Ogvorbis @310 meant any offense; just as I did not mean to offend any reader personally. Emotionally, I’m sort of indignant that nigger is no big deal, but if someone drops a cracker asses on the thread when referring to the Georgia State Penal System, whoa! Shut it down! I used inflammatory language with the same intention of the nigger-users to reflect the reality of how institutional racism harms society, even the white parts, by encouraging the black community to consider the justice system as oppressors, unworthy of cooperation — cooperation that in some, maybe even many cases would improve outcomes for all involved.

    If catching Bad Guys is deterrent to crime, then systems that disincentivize community participation in catching Bad Guys hurts society — hurts us all.

  305. Cassius Corodes says

    Brother Ogvorbis: “No shit. For some reason I assumed (I apologize) that I didn’t need to add that. I guess I was wrong. I understand the legal limits on speech — ”

    You cant act like that when your original point was all about how its bad if government gets to decide what speech is permissible and then now say that you know and understand that it does.

    Brother Ogvorbis: “Who is disposable? More important, who gets to decide? Who gets to decide which human being is no longer elligible for human rights? Which humans are no longe considered to be human?”

    At a minimum – 12 jurors, one judge using the legal framework decided by a democratically elected government. Doesn’t guarantee it won’t lead to abuses but that is what we have to work with.

    Brother Ogvorbis: “I consider your opinion sick, but I do not deny that you are human.”

    Love the sinner, but hate the sin?

  306. Eric Paulsen says

    ShawnTheSheep said : …Since fish are not subject to the criminal justice system, the two are hardly equivalent in any meaningful way.

    Are you Sure? Read “The Day They Hanged an Elephant in East Tennessee” at http://www.blueridgecountry.com/archive/mary-the-elephant.html

    I am not making a case for fish but I am making a point about the American legal system. You might be VERY surprised at the laws that we have on the books, and therefore are enforceable. Sure it was in 1916 but if the law is still on the books it could easily be tomorrow.

  307. Eric Paulsen says

    Update: Apparently the story I linked to above suggests that it WASN’T the legal system that decided the elephants fate but rather it was the circus owner. I had read this story several years ago and the article I read at THAT time suggested a different scenario. As usual, the internet has trick fucked me again.

  308. The Rat King says

    You are a sad example of Homo sapiens. Truly. You do realize that there are people in the United States who think that gays, lesbians, transgenders, and bisexuals who have engaged in anything but man on woman sex have ‘done horrendous things’? And that atheists, such as myself, deserve to ‘be put down’? And that, in places like Cambodia, Germany, and Rwanda, it was actually put into practice?

    Are you comparing serial killers to homosexuals?

    Strawman.

    Your inability to morally differentiate between killing another sentient being and, say, swatting a mosquito is telling, but irrelevant to the point. Your assumption that you could ever rightfully discern the “just because they can” part is where your argument falls apart. And killing another human being as a means of retribution is repugnant. Hell, I’ll even go along with you here and state that killing a fucking raccoon out of vengeance is equally repugnant.
    And don’t give me your bullshit about humans not receiving special dispensation because they can talk. Again, that’s very poetic but devoid of substance. If you walked into an area that was quickly flooding, with a room full of children on one side and a room full of assorted woodland critters on the other, and the rising waters gave you only enough time to rescue one of the rooms, most humans I know would pick the one with the humans every time. Then again, maybe you’re different.

    Either all life is sacred or none of it is. How to you mark a sentient creature? I could swear that orangutans are more ‘alive’ than humans, and I’ve had rats that seemed keyed in with my emotions, sharing an empathy that you’d only expect from a ‘sapient’.
    How, precisely, does my argument fall apart? If you have someone who has murdered thirteen women, it isn’t because they are being forced to; it’s because they wanted to do it. See Ted Bundy, Charles Ng, etc. If anything, that is worse than rabies because they have made a conscious decision to destroy human lives.
    Finally, if I walked into a flooding area with children on one side and animals on the other, I’d open the door for the animals and carry out the children. Animals are incredibly adept at saving their own skin and need little help in such matters. Hell, if their number includes Newfoundlander dogs, they would help me get the children out because the instinct is bred into their bones.

    The killing (euthanasia) of a rabid animal has very little to do protecting others from harm (if that was your goal, there are many non-lethal ways to go about it). It is an act of euthanasia, which is mercy, because rabies at that point of the infection is basically an incurable, terminal disease. (The argument as to whether or not it is justifiable to euthanize terminally ill animals is a different discussion).
    Comparing it to the execution of humans is a category error.

    In literal terms, yes, but it is an effective allegory when you apply it to certain serial murderers.
    Though I disagree that destroying rabid animals doesn’t protect others from harm – if an animal is obviously rabid, it becomes a life-threatening danger to everything around it. Regardless, that is a different discussion.

  309. says

    The Rat King,
    Maybe I am reading that differently but I am not sure how you see that as a strawman. The statement is not about your beliefs, or necessarily anyone else’s here. It is highlighting the fact that some people have very different ideas about who is disposable and who is worthy of death. There are indeed people out there that believe that homosexuals should be killed. Who gets to choose who gets to live and who does not? There are people in power now around the world that would draw that line very differently than you would.

  310. The Rat King says

    Maybe I am reading that differently but I am not sure how you see that as a strawman. The statement is not about your beliefs, or necessarily anyone else’s here. It is highlighting the fact that some people have very different ideas about who is disposable and who is worthy of death. There are indeed people out there that believe that homosexuals should be killed. Who gets to choose who gets to live and who does not? There are people in power now around the world that would draw that line very differently than you would.

    You’re right, actually – read it over again and it is nothing like a strawman and is actually an important point – I think I went tilt from mis-reading it…

    Mea culpa, I rescind the accusation entirely.

    It is a very accurate point and really, the only reason why I would hesitate to have the penalty installed in any particular country. People as as a whole are much too prone to being bastards for that kind of power being allowed. On our world, as it stands now, I’d rather have no death penalty, truly.

    But, theoretically, if there was a place where governments weren’t prone to going snooker loopy, I really do see a terminal prize being offered to serial killers being in the books, and I would consider it a good thing.

  311. says

    Good people. Just like now and always, and when there are not enough – what you mention happens as you can plainly see around the world. The death penalty has zero impact on this – or, quite frankly, the constitution or any laws.

    Wrong.
    If the example of German fascism has shown anything than it’s that good people will do horrible things once you get them to believe bad ideas.
    That’s the big mistake people make. They think that “well, it wouldn’t happen to me, it couldn’t happen here, I would never do such a thing, I’m a good person”. That’s wrong. Good people do very bad things.

    Rat King
    So I guess the shooting of Dr. Tiller was OK. After all, in the opinion of the murderer the doctor himself was a mass murderer and he was shooting in an attempt to save the lives of hundreds of people.
    Large parts of your society think that anybody who has anything to do with abortion is a murderer, so, if we follow your opinion they are murderers who slaughter innocent children and and should therefore be dead.

    Wait, that’s not what you were arguing for? Too bad, that’s where you get once you declare that killing people for what they did (not for what they are about to do) is justified.

  312. andyo says

    Sheesh

    Emotionally, I’m sort of indignant that nigger is no big deal, but if someone drops a cracker asses on the thread when referring to the Georgia State Penal System, whoa! Shut it down!

    Don’t generalize. I point out that from my quick review, only Matt has something to say about your use of “cracker”. Most of us I would bet do not make an equivalence on both words.

  313. andyo says

    Also,

    Matt #325

    I object to the term ‘cracker’ just as I object to any other racial epithet, and people who use that word (or conversely the n-word) show themselves to be rather stupid.

    Did you just make an equivalence between “nigger” (and “chink”, “jap”, “wetback”, etc.) with “cracker”?

  314. Marcus Hill says

    andyo: I wouldn’t want to speak for Matt, but I’d put them in the same category, but with a massive difference in severity. Both are divisive racial insults, but only one comes with the baggage of centuries of often brutal oppression.

    It also didn’t help that Sheesh said “you cracker asses” – I think every instance of “nigger” on this thread has been either put in the mouth of the Georgia justice system (with the distinct implication that this labels them as wrong and hateful) or mentioned rather than used (as in this sentence or your post), whereas in that particular post it appears that Sheesh is actually directing the word at the white people posting here. Enough to say “hold on there with that language”? I’d say so. As bad as someone directing any of those other words you mention at other posters here? Not even remotely close.

  315. ichthyic says

    You might wanna stop there, buddy. Let’s not fight bloodlust and racism with misogyny.

    self-righteous fuckwit.

  316. says

    ichthyic
    Please, get lost.
    You used a misogynistic insult.
    You got a mild reprimand for that.
    When other people asked why that was misogynistic, it was explained, politely and with care, highlighting that everybody was assuming that you were probably unaware of the implication, giving you a big fat benefit of doubt.
    Your knee-jerk reaction kind of removes that doubt.
    So, yeah, get lost, we’re still a bit short on porcupines.

  317. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Giliell, your opinion is noted.

    (Me, I’d rather lose a dozen of you than one ichthyic)

  318. says

    [meta]
    John Morales
    your opinion is noted.
    Your lack of argument as to why ichthyic should be treated differently than any other person on this board to use gendered insults is noted, too.
    I’m sorry to disappoint you, there’s only one me.
    But there’s a wonderful function called killfile, feel free to use it.
    [/meta]

  319. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Giliell:

    I’m sorry to disappoint you, there’s only one me.

    Yeah, I know. That’s why I phrased it thus.

    Your lack of argument as to why ichthyic should be treated differently than any other person on this board to use gendered insults is noted, too.

    Whatever makes you imagine I need to make an argument to state my opinion?

    For that matter, whatever makes you imagine I want special treatment for anyone?

    But there’s a wonderful function called killfile, feel free to use it.

    Killfiles are for those who need such blinkers.
    I’m not one of those.

  320. julian says

    Killfiles are for those who need such blinkers.
    I’m not one of those.

    heh

    And Giliell is the self-righteous one.

  321. Matt says

    @329 I haven’t been in this thread since the very start (when I voiced my abhorrence about the execution), so I haven’t seen the n-word being used but I’ll take your word for it. If we put words on a scale of awfulness I think the n-word would be at the very top, but that doesn’t stop ‘cracker’ from being a racist word too. That is all that I was getting at. It makes your arguments immediately weaker by using a word like that. That is what I meant to say.

  322. Anri says

    John/Giliell:

    You are, of course, as free to post here as anyone else.
    That being said, is there some reason you can’t have your Internet Fight in private? I’m happy to listen if there is.

    . . .

    Rat King:
    Meaning no offense, it sounds to me like you are approaching this issue from the wrong side. I don’t need a compelling reason for the government not to take a person’s life, beyond the one we’ve already got (in the US) heading up the document forming the basis of our legal system.
    I haven’t seen you advance a compelling argument for allowing the government to do such things, other than “I’d approve.”

    We’ve discussed why imprisonment is useful – and we’ve seen discussions as to why the death penalty isn’t. So, for the purposes of this discussion, I feel justified in shifting the burden of proof onto you. To be retained, the death penalty must be shown to have some value.
    I haven’t seen anyone suggest what that value is.

  323. John Morales says

    Anri,

    To be retained, the death penalty must be shown to have some value.
    I haven’t seen anyone suggest what that value is.

    I refer you to ckitching’s comment @301; keep in mind that politicians like to be elected, and populist policies are not a bad way to achieve that.

    [OT]

    Did you notice that both Giliell and I have ceased what you perceive as hostilities? :)

  324. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    I haven’t been in this thread since the very start (when I voiced my abhorrence about the execution), so I haven’t seen the n-word being used but I’ll take your word for it. If we put words on a scale of awfulness I think the n-word would be at the very top, but that doesn’t stop ‘cracker’ from being a racist word too. That is all that I was getting at. It makes your arguments immediately weaker by using a word like that. That is what I meant to say.

    That was me @#310:

    I talked with Wife about this at dinner. She came up with the perfect description of why the state of Georgia killed Mr. Davis: “How dare them damnyankees tell us how to control our niggers? We’ll show them!” And I think that she is right — that is a large part of why they ignored the facts of case and went with faith.

    It was a charicature of the attitude of some irredentist southerners. I don’t see my use of it in this context to be out of line — I meant to shock and to illustrate at point, I did not mean it to sound as if I were calling anyone that. I apologize and retract my entire statement.

  325. Dianne says

    If the example of German fascism has shown anything than it’s that good people will do horrible things once you get them to believe bad ideas.

    Or just because someone tells them to and they don’t have an example to use to resist. See the Milgram experiments. People will do horrible things simply because they can’t see any way out of doing them. Even when they’re not stressed by a completely destroyed economy, the loss of a generation, and threatening neighbors. Good people will do horrible things just because a person in authority tells them to. However, they’re less apt to do them if they see an example of someone else resisting the authority. Which is why Troy Davis’ struggle isn’t wasted, even though it ultimately failed. It’s an example of how to resist the death penalty and maybe it will keep the next person convicted on flimsy evidence alive.

  326. Sheesh says

    Br. Og,

    There’s no need to apologize; sometimes adult conversations are shocking. No offense was intended, I’m assured, so no offense is justified, so no apology necessary. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with an unnecessary apology.

    To beat this horse a tiny bit more:

    whereas in that particular post it appears that Sheesh is actually directing the word at the white people posting here.

    It’s a fair point that it may appear that I’m directing “cracker asses” at white people here with my construction “you cracker asses” but the words following should make it immediately clear that it’s not directed to commenters here, unless you’re involved in killing black folks. If that’s the case, you’re a responsible party in the Georgia State Penal System *and* a reader of this thread all of the insult was absolutely intended. I want those involved to feel insulted, even ashamed. Because, let’s face it, nearly everyone dedicated to letting this execution go forward is white. Read the survey Walton linked to, that pretty much frames the discussion I was hoping to have. So in that respect, if there is anyone present that was harmed, and was not my intended target: I apologize for my use of cracker.

    Andyo,

    I realize I was generalizing, and that’s why I prefaced those remarks with “emotionally”. Rationally, I know that Pharyngula is a safe place to have adult conversations with a variety of people and that actual racists don’t last long. I’ve seen them get the boot straight away.

  327. Cassius Corodes says

    Giliell:
    “Wrong.
    If the example of German fascism has shown anything than it’s that good people will do horrible things once you get them to believe bad ideas.”

    Then they aren’t good people any more. Doing horrible things is pretty much the differentiating factor.

    Also – please don’t do the “wrong.” thing – its just makes your comment look pretentious and not interested in actual discussion.

  328. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    No offense was intended, I’m assured, so no offense is justified, so no apology necessary

    Doesn’t really matter if I intended offense or not. Even if offense is not intended, it can still be offensevie. What I wrote was inappropriate, so I recant and apologize.

  329. Marcus Hill says

    Sheesh: I was pretty certain from context that you didn’t mean us, which is why I phrased it (and added emphasis) the way I did. TBH, I have no problem with you calling those scumbags “crackers” – again, though it doesn’t have the same power by any means, just as “nigger” is as much about calling someone subhuman as it is about race, “cracker” is almost always calling someone a racist, or at least someone with an overabundance of white entitlement.

  330. Dianne says

    Also – please don’t do the “wrong.” thing – its just makes your comment look pretentious and not interested in actual discussion.

    Whereas micromanaging the way someone responds to a comment doesn’t look in the least pretentious.

  331. Sally Strange, OM says

    Then they aren’t good people any more. Doing horrible things is pretty much the differentiating factor.

    Really? But Herr Deutschmann was such a nice gentleman! He always kissed his wife and hugged his children when getting home from work. He took good care of his pet doggie, he was always kind to animals. He was dutiful and diligent in fulfilling his duties to the Reich. His job was turning the train switches that allowed the train cars full of Jews to enter the gates of the concentration camp. He knew, vaguely, what was going on in the concentration camps, but he had been assured by his superiors that all the people entering the camps were completely disposable people, due to their opposition to the Fuhrer’s great plans and their attempts to undermine German society.

    Idiot.

    @Sheesh

    Thanks for shaking things up. Your comments were appropriate, necessary even.

  332. Sally Strange, OM says

    Also, @ Icthyic

    I usually love your comments, man, but

    “Fuck America”

    “Only if she puts a bag over her head”

    is gross and misogynist. As was pointed out upstream, the whole metaphor turns on reducing female-bodied humans to nothing more than moist holes, and on viewing sex as a combative power struggle, in which penetration is used as a tool of humiliation. There’s no part of the metaphor that doesn’t rely on devaluing women and/or perpetuating rape culture in some way.

    If I’m a self-righteous fuckwit for saying so, then fine.

  333. Sheesh says

    Br. Ogvorbis,

    [OT]

    Point taken. But still, I don’t think offense should be the sole arbiter of acceptable language. Intent matters, context matters. Religious people (in America anyhow) are offended all the time when one says “gods aren’t real”, but I don’t see any reason that should stop anyone from saying gods aren’t real. In the same respect your “damnyankees” comment shouldn’t be forbidden, southern racists really say stuff like that. (I live in Jacksonville, Florida; we joke about it being part of ‘southern Georgia’.)

    Yes, words matter. But I think there is a gulf between offense and harm. A lot of ink has been spilled on this topic, including lately with the debate about hipsters’ and white indy musicians’ “ironic” use of the n-word.

    I get that intentionally offending people can be seen as rude, and that often we don’t intend to be rude. I try not to be anyhow. And I definitely don’t intend to be indiscriminately rude. As I said, to some targets offense was absolutely intentional; shock and controversy make people pay attention, while shame and ridicule actually work. Unless you were dedicated to the execution of Troy Davis no offense was intended, and to those not dedicated to the execution of Troy Davis I apologize.

  334. Dianne says

    His job was turning the train switches that allowed the train cars full of Jews to enter the gates of the concentration camp.

    Doubtful. More likely his job was turning train switches to make sure that trains went to the right place and didn’t run into each other. Clearly a very necessary and respectable job. If some trains went to a certain suburb of Muenchen, what business was that of his?

  335. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Have mercy, another conviction with no evidence the convicted committed the crimes, oh the irony.

    Jesus fucking christ you’re an idiot. Add horrible analogies to your dumbfuckery here.

    However I do like how you moved the goalposts when called on your idiocy and casual intellectual honesty when confronted with the fact that the overall cost of the system killing someone is much higher than keeping them incarcerated for life.

    You switched it over to that being a problem with the system instead of admitting you were not only wrong, but that your inability to comprehend the information given to you shows you to be a low functioning idiot.

  336. Sally Strange, OM says

    You know, whatsit, most people get over trying to force people who don’t like them to interact with them anyway sometime during high school. Obviously you’re way too brilliant and smart for us; if we were on your level we’d be able to see that

    Execution frees up resources which can then be used to assist those law abiding citizens who need assistance, rather than using those resources to keep an undesirable human being locked away in cage for years on end until s/he dies (which in and of itself is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence).

    really means something other than “We should execute people because it frees up resources so we can use them to assist law-abiding citizens.

    Maybe if we were as amazingly clever as you, we’d be able to understand how

    The appeals process is only necessary in a system which hands down penalties with insufficient evidence to warrant the penalties (this goes for any penalty).

    That’s not an argument against the death penalty, that’s an argument against a system that operates in such a way as to make appeals necessary.

    means something besides using evidence to not only determine guilt but also to adjust the harshness or lenience of the penalty assessed. And if we were as smart as you, we’d be able to instantly understand how simple it would be to design a justice system that “makes appeals unnecessary,” i.e., a justice system that is immune to error.

    Perhaps if we were all as frighteningly brainy as you, we’d be able to grasp how murder is just like shoplifting, and killing someone is basically the same thing as fining them, and then we’d see how wonderfully discerning your views on the death penalty really are!

    (Here’s the quote, since I know you’ll lie and say that you never said that shoplifting is like murder and killing someone is like fining them.

    You can (presumably) logically argue that a fine is a morally acceptable penalty for shoplifting.

    Now, replace “shoplifter” with “serial killer” and “fine” with “death penalty.”

    Does your argument still hold water?

    You’ll probably still insist that that’s not what you said, but at least other readers don’t have to go searching for it now.)

    Sadly, though, it seems that everybody here is convinced that you’re an incompetent troll who can’t even muster enough mental energy to state his own views clearly, is too stupid to recognize when he’s been refuted, and is either so stupid or so dishonest with himself that he can’t even correctly decipher the meanings of the sentences he himself types.

    You’re obviously wasting your time with us dimbulbs, so why don’t you saunter off to a corner of the internet where your blinding intelligence will be appreciated? Sockpuppeting is another bannable offense, so I’m sure you won’t be lasting long here.

  337. Sally Strange, OM says

    Doubtful. More likely his job was turning train switches to make sure that trains went to the right place and didn’t run into each other. Clearly a very necessary and respectable job. If some trains went to a certain suburb of Muenchen, what business was that of his?

    Exactly. Thanks for clarifying. The end result of Herr Deutschmann’s work was that the trains went where they needed to, and the end result of trains going where they needed to was that some Jews and Roma and homosexuals were properly delivered to their intended concentration camps. But Herr Deutschmann is a very good man. He would never hurt a fly, you see?

    Sounds like Cassius never heard of The Banality of Evil. Or the Stanford experiments.

  338. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    StillOT:

    Point taken. But still, I don’t think offense should be the sole arbiter of acceptable language. Intent matters, context matters.

    Am I allowed to be the arbiter of my own language? Screw this. I don’t need this. I wrote something that I thought, after a night of thougth, was the wrong thing to say and I try to appologize? Screw this.

  339. andyo says

    I would put “cracker” alongside “redneck” and other such lame insults. Have anyone ever seen a white person really offended by being called “cracker”?

    Louis CK puts it best about this “double standard”:

  340. Sheesh says

    Andyo,

    [still OT]

    I completely agree with your estimation. In my circles we use “cracker” to describe not whites, but white racists obliquely in that it is a reference to good ol’ boys (who were factually the original crackers, which were historically cowboys in north Florida and Georgia). Cracker is not used as a general epithet for white people amongst the people I know and have grown up with. Further, some of these old [white] gentry types use Florida cracker as a term of southern pride and make the usual ‘heritage not hate’ sorts of defenses.

  341. Sally Strange, OM says

    @ Sheesh

    Br. Ogvorbis,

    :-/ well now I feel bad. I didn’t mean to frustrate of stifle you. I’m sorry.

    Don’t, dude. It’s okay. I know, for myself, whether to use the n-word is a fraught decision. Sometimes I’ve used it, only in repeating what someone else said, or, like Ogvorbis did, imagining what someone might say. It is still, like you said, using an inflammatory epithet with centuries’ worth of baggage involving brutal racial violence and hatred in order to make a passing point. Ogvorbis is thinking about it because he cares, not because you made him feel bad or guilty or somesuch, and it’s definitely worth it for every white person to wrestle with these questions. (IMHO, speaking as a fellow pale-face)

    Short version: you done good, no worries. :)

  342. David Marjanović, OM says

    O HAI! Tyler! You’re still too stupid to read comment 67 and 176! Look, I even still remember the fucking numbers.

    Besides, there are worse things than being killed (at least for the one going to be dead), so it’s not really “capital punishment”.

    Well, no. Caput = “head” in Latin; I think “capital punishment” is meant literally, as “beheading”, and was later extended to other forms of the death penalty.

    Scientists can show you a lot of studies that prove that making students repeat a year doesn’t help them in order to catch up.

    Well, it doesn’t automatically, but I know people whom it did help because it finally clicked “that time”. …But yes, Austria’s and evidently Germany’s education system assumes this will happen automatically, and tuition is quite a lot more effective as far as I (as a tutor) can tell.

    They can show you other studies that show that dictation test don’t tell anything about spelling ability.

    How does that work? — But anyway, I got very, very few dictations, and almost all of them in elementary school (the first 4 years), the rest in foreign languages. They never were part of a test.

    No, I am not opposed to killing rabid creatures that will happily savage others just because they can.

    Why not just lock them up?

    Because you’re 100 % sure you’ve convicted the right one?

    Those few who are proven beyond all possible doubt to have done horrendous things

    Wow, you really are that stupid. Absolute certainty doesn’t exist. We’re not gods.

    I imagine my post history here shows I am a little trolly “for the lulz”

    Let me know when I’m supposed to laugh.

    You aren’t supposed to laugh. He is supposed to laugh. Little sociopath that he is, he’s using you for his own enjoyment.

    And don’t give me your bullshit about humans not receiving special dispensation because they can talk. Again, that’s very poetic but devoid of substance. If you walked into an area that was quickly flooding, with a room full of children on one side and a room full of assorted woodland critters on the other, and the rising waters gave you only enough time to rescue one of the rooms, most humans I know would pick the one with the humans every time. Then again, maybe you’re different.

    My mom once asked me whether I’d first save Baby Sister or a beetle from drowning. Answer: Baby Sister, because the beetle can survive it for longer.

    (I’m not sure if that’s actually true, though.)

    As for why it hasn’t happened yet, I think we have 1930s Germany to thank for that. Most right wingers understand that fascism really is wrong.

    QFT.

    Whatever makes you imagine I need to make an argument to state my opinion?

    The fact that you’ve fallen among the scientists?

    Seriously. Making a claim without providing evidence for it? WTF?

    your “damnyankees” comment

    He didn’t make a “damnyankees” comment. He quoted his wife being sarcastic about people who really use “damnyankees” seriously.

  343. Sheesh says

    DM,

    [Meta]

    He didn’t make a “damnyankees” comment. He quoted his wife being sarcastic about people who really use “damnyankees” seriously.

    Yes, obviously, which is why I defended his decision to do so, and tried to assure him that it wasn’t offensive (to me anyhow) for that reason. (Then I tried to make a case that he and others shouldn’t beat themselves up over other people’s offense, because you can’t reliably predict what will offend each individual in an audience. Obviously I didn’t do too well though, since I’m demonstrably not that intelligent.)

    When I’m quippy on this and other blogs, it’s not for my benefit, so the accusation of sociopath is pretty wide of the mark, I’m trying to amuse the audience. When I taunt an MRA, I’m also trying to amuse the audience, but we must all admit that’s a little bit trolly and some of us, even the most well-liked regulars, do it all the time. When I taunt racists, I’m trying to defend myself (by coping with their bullshit through humor or inciting them to bannable behavior for the general benefit of all of us). When I make particular arguments, like say how the racist implementation of capital punishment in the U.S. is another mark against its use I’m trying to engage in the conversation at hand.

    :-( Now I feel double-bad that I’m having to defend my commenting at all.

  344. mouthyb, who should have been twins says

    I found this case utterly depressing. I’ve been signing petitions for him, for years. I hoped that, because the Supreme Court was looking at it, a reviewer interested in the facts might look it over and notice that there was little to no evidence.

    I know cases like this happen every day. I know what kind of system we have. Something about this case, perhaps the collected effort of Amnesty International and Davis’ sister, have made this case oddly intimate. Personal.

    It should be when the state, with deliberation, murders someone. I don’t live in Georgia, but I’m from Louisiana. I grew up with and am very familiar with the ongoing apartheid (I use that word quite deliberately.) I’m also teaching a history of youth in the US class. I got to show the students those lynching postcards last Monday, dated up to 1960. The news can fill in the blank between 1960 and now.

    My students cried a little. I talked about the problem with depersonalization, and that it is the nature of trauma to depersonalize. I also told them that slavery and racism (like the other -isms) are intended to shame, and that shame is an identity, being forced onto people for what they are.

    One of the many things which frustrates me about the country of my birth is that we suck at narratives of success and failure, and that problem is invasive to all the institutions we have to deal with. It’s invasive to our sense of whether someone is irretrievable (and how we treat them because of it; it’s amazing how people will conform to the cues they’re given), to our school system (it’s why we socially pass students), to our sense of how success happens for business people (you either make it big or you’re a disappointment), but especially motivates our understanding of crime and punishment.

    I think Troy Davis died because he was assumed to be broken. I think that same stupid narrative about people being irretrievable is what motivates the thought that some people have to die because they’ll never be anything.

    We teach it to kids, too, force them to grow up (if they are abused, if they had to work, or their parents couldn’t afford nice clothes for them, if they were foster kids, if they were anything but that white, default, middle class kid) knowing what they are. And some kids are on the ‘safe’ side, and they know it and can ignore it. Knowing that you’re safe and always will be can motivate cruelty. Because of shame, this cruelty is encouraged.

    Some kids are not safe, who become people who are not safe, and know it. They live their whole lives with that depersonalization.

    Maybe this case will remind the people who are safe of the fact that their lives are sheltered. It’s a better damn outcome than ‘some people just have to die.’

  345. Dianne says

    The end result of Herr Deutschmann’s work was that the trains went where they needed to, and the end result of trains going where they needed to was that some Jews and Roma and homosexuals were properly delivered to their intended concentration camps.

    Another result of his work was that trains didn’t crash and kill everyone on board. And medical supplies shipped by train got to hospitals. And food got to cities. And so on.

    Would it have been better for him to refuse to work or sabotage the tracks? Then people would have died in train crashes or because goods they needed didn’t get to them. (Which they did when the allies bombed the tracks. As the men in the bombers knew would happen. Should they be declared evil as well or does their “greater good” cause save them from the designation?) Or left the country? Then someone else would have taken his place. And where would he have gone? Most neighboring countries were understandably hostile. Switzerland had mines its borders. The US was only an option if you had lots of money and got in before 1941. It wouldn’t have been easy. Or refused to track trains going to Dachau? Perhaps shunted them to a side track and opened the cars? Then he would have likely joined those in the train on their way to the concentration camps. It would have been the most moral decision, IMHO, but I’m not the one worrying about not just my own butt but my family’s safety should I make such a decision.

    There’s always a reason or an excuse for playing ones part. Evil isn’t just banal, it’s ambiguous.

  346. Dianne says

    No, I am not opposed to killing rabid creatures that will happily savage others just because they can.

    To further confuse the analogy, there have been several cases in the literature in which a person infected with rabies and showing symptoms was successfully treated for it. So the best thing to do with a rabid creature is to give it hyperimmune globin and intensive supportive care. Might work, might not, but better chance than shooting it. (I realize that society does not value the average fox or raccoon enough to make this approach practical for non-human critters.) So, why not try for saving people without apparent empathy or self control? Even if it didn’t work all the time, at least we’d be trying something instead of just killing people or letting them die over time. (I’d be all for careful control to ensure that any experimental treatment was conducted in an ethical manner and to ensure that no serial killers were released until we were very sure we had it right.)

  347. illuminata says

    Evading bans is pretty shitty behavior

    And so pitiful. Poor thing is so *desperate* for attention, even negative attention will suffice.

    poor troll.

  348. David Marjanović, OM says

    Comments by dungeon inmates who refuse to understand they’re not welcome are deleted as soon as PZ notices.(May take till Monday in this case.)

    :-( Now I feel double-bad that I’m having to defend my commenting at all.

    Just blame it on the fact that I’m ill, complete with being tired and having a headache. :-)

  349. says

    But yes, Austria’s and evidently Germany’s education system assumes this will happen automatically, and tuition is quite a lot more effective as far as I (as a tutor) can tell.

    do you really mean tuition (i.e. payment for education), or do you mean tutoring (i.e. having someone tutor you)?

  350. hiitsmeagain says

    David Marjanović, ObnoxiousMoron: O HAI! Tyler! You’re still too stupid to read comment 67 and 176!

    I wrote comment 176, stupid.

    If you would be so kind as to explain exactly why you are directing me to comment 67, perhaps I can clear up your confusion regarding your apparent assumption that I am in some way obligated to address a comment that has absolutely no bearing on anything I’ve said.

    David Marjanović, ObnoxiousMoron: Look, I even still remember the fucking numbers.

    A five year old remembers fucking numbers. Sometimes they even remember the correct fucking numbers.

    :chortle:

    ==============

    Evading bans is pretty shitty behavior

    Yeah, well, leveling (patently false) accusations at someone and then attempting to permanently silence them when they request those accusations be substantiated is pretty shitty behavior (not to mention pretty gosh darn ironic considering the subject matter… :chortle:), so you can call evading a weak ass ban “pretty shitty behavior” all you like, but don’t forget that it is, in this case, reciprocal pretty shitty behavior.

    Poor thing is so *desperate* for attention, even negative attention will suffice.

    Desperate? Not at all. I’ve been around this block plenty of times. I merely found myself caught in the mood to go around again on the topic. It’s been awhile.

    Negative attention? Goodness, no! On the contrary, as a matter of fact! I’m simultaneously scientifically substantiating two hypotheses I’ve been meaning to put to the test for awhile now, and it’s very exciting! Why, you have personally become part of the data set! Congratulations!

  351. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’m simultaneously scientifically substantiating two hypotheses I’ve been meaning to put to the test for awhile now, and it’s very exciting! Why, you have personally become part of the data set! Congratulations!

    Yes I’m sure you are. I would guess everyone here will all be waiting with baited breath for your, ahem, sciency hypothesises to be revealed.

    I know I for one can hardly wait.

    /eyeroll

  352. says

    oy, hiitsmeagain, how dense does one have to be not to realize that a comment has been deleted, thus all comment numbers are one removed from what people are saying? see for example comment #381, which says 380 but refers to 379

  353. says

    I see whatsinaname is chortling all over himself again.

    you’ve been shown the door. please use it. showing up again in disguise makes you seem pathetic and desperate for attention.

  354. says

    DavidMarjan ović #280:

    The only times when killing people is acceptable is in immediate self-defense and immediate defense of others. And even then it’s not good, it’s just the lesser evil.

    I don’t know why this gets to me so much, and I hate to distract the resurrection of the whatsinhisface troll, but I feel the need to disagree. On a Marjanović – probably my favorite David – post nonetheless.

    I’m not a fan of philosophical distinctions that are more a matter of semantics than any practical ideological split, but for some reason this one raises my hackles.

    I find it inaccurate to label the most ethical and moral choice available as “a lesser sin”, or “not good”. I understand that in a perfect world one would never have to kill another human being in defense of self or others. In that sense, of course it isn’t good that such an act is necessary.

    To me it is important to make that distinction if you are going to call the action evil or not good. If someone is in position to cease the killing of an innocent or group of innocents – as an extreme example a crowd of children – and the only effective way to stop the actor is to do something that is nearly certain to kill aggressor… for me it is “good”. I can’t see it as an evil, even with the qualification of “lesser”.

    Also, I’ve been drinking. =D
    .

  355. says

    Meh, blockquote fail. To be fair I did qualify I was drinking, heh…

    DavidMarjan ović #280:

    The only times when killing people is acceptable is in immediate self-defense and immediate defense of others. And even then it’s not good, it’s just the lesser evil.

    I don’t know why this gets to me so much, and I hate to distract the resurrection of the whatsinhisface troll, but I feel the need to disagree. On a Marjanović – probably my favorite David – post nonetheless.

    I’m not a fan of philosophical distinctions that are more a matter of semantics than any practical ideological split, but for some reason this one raises my hackles.

    I find it inaccurate to label the most ethical and moral choice available as “a lesser sin”, or “not good”. I understand that in a perfect world one would never have to kill another human being in defense of self or others. In that sense, of course it isn’t good that such an act is necessary.

    To me it is important to make that distinction if you are going to call the action evil or not good. If someone is in position to cease the killing of an innocent or group of innocents – as an extreme example a crowd of children – and the only effective way to stop the actor is to do something that is nearly certain to kill aggressor… for me it is “good”. I can’t see it as an evil, even with the qualification of “lesser”.

    Also, I’ve been drinking. =D
    .

  356. John Morales says

    tkreacher, it shouldn’t be that hard to change perspective.

    If your foot becomes gangrenous, and the only effective way to stop the progression of septicaemia to the point of death is to amputate it, would you consider such an amputation to be a good thing, as opposed to a lesser evil?

    (We’re currently compatriots in bibulousness, BTW)

  357. says

    John Morales #398

    Absolutely 100% (if you’ll allow me to be redundant) I would consider such an action good. It is without equivocation, (again, this is mostly if not wholly semantical) good to amputate the foot in that instance. You’re reinforcing my point, to my mind. If I thought it was in *any way* bad or immoral to amputate a foot, I could never do so. I would be impossible for me to fathom being a medical doctor (I’m not, but I could imagine it) if I thought it was bad or evil to do so.

    A side note, I’ve used the word “bibulousness” once in my life, and I am – perhaps unduly – impressed to see it in response to my bibulous post.

    To continue on topic and elaborate: how can it possibly be bad or evil to act in the most ethical or moral way possible? That’s nonsensical to me. It moves into a buddhist level of ideology to me. Pragmatically it doesn’t work and it breaks down on a real-life level.

  358. says

    Ugh. There was at least an extra comma and a missing “t” in my last post. Combine that with the blockqoute fail and I quite contributing to this thread for the night. I’ll come back and defend (what I think) are my relevant points tomorrow.

  359. cassius corodes says

    Sally Strange: “Really? But Herr Deutschmann was such a nice gentleman! He always kissed his wife and hugged his children when getting home from work … banality of evil …”

    I’m not sure why this is such a difficult concept – it wasn’t for the people running the Nuremberg trials. When a horrible thing is done the people responsible become bad people, any people associated also get tarnished depending on their connection with the act. The fact that they are otherwise nice people makes little difference. The fact that they were following orders or whatnot makes no difference.

    The Stanford prison experiment simply showed that many if not most people are capable of doing bad things – however this is not news. This doesn’t mean that they don’t get punished or it makes identifying people who have done bad things impossible. As such I’m not sure how this relates at all to the previous point.

  360. says

    tkreacher, your responses to David read as if you were trying to apply deontological/moral thinking to utilitarian actions. “lesser evil” in this case simply means harm, but less of it. which is undeniably true, since a killed person or an amputation are a form of harm; they’re lesser harm meant to prevent greater harm in these instances. we make these relativistic judgements regarding different levels of harm all the time. And one would think a doctor would be better at being a doctor while remembering that they’re still causing harm, and should therefore a)minimize it, and b) only do it when not doing harm will cause greater harm. as such, your statement that “If I thought it was in *any way* bad or immoral to amputate a foot, I could never do so. I would be impossible for me to fathom being a medical doctor (I’m not, but I could imagine it) if I thought it was bad or evil to do so.” makes no sense; it’s as if you think only purely good actions are worth taking, and thus redefine all actions you feel are necessary as purely good.

  361. says

    Cassius Corodes

    Then they aren’t good people any more. Doing horrible things is pretty much the differentiating factor.

    You are a bit naive, aren’t you?
    Differentiating the world in good people and bad people with a simple, easy test to tell one kind from the other.
    Problem is: Those you think are bad people thought they were fully justified in doing the evil things.
    If you ever cared to take a look at the Nazi-Ideology, it was basically an “elaborated scheme of self-defense”.
    Because the good people really thought that unless you got rid of those jews and gypsies (yes, I know, I’m using this word with a purpose) and all those eastern “Untermenschen”, they would get rid of you and your little children.
    A lot of people who instinctively support capital punishment aren’t bad people. They only sincerely believe that this is the way to keep themselves and their precious little children safe.
    People who tell a girl that she should dress modestly and not get too drunk aren’t necessarily raving misogynists. They naively believe that this is a good way to prevent rape. they actually care about the women. They only get the whole thing backwards. The fact that somebody is a good, well-meaning and overall moral person and not a sociopath doesn’t mean they’ll do the right thing.

    David M.
    I’ll drag the school-discussion to the TET later today, this isn’t the place.

    Dianne

    . And where would he have gone? Most neighboring countries were understandably hostile. Switzerland had mines its borders.

    France sent my great-grandparents and their children back during the war. And talking about good and evil people, it was a nazi-prison director who saved my great-grandma’s life the first time, making use of her right to let prisoners out before the regular 12 o’clock when the GeStaPo would wait for them, and the NSDAP mayor of the small village she lived in afterwards who told the SS that if they dragged her off there’d be a riot and what could she do against the Reich in a 200 people village that’s away from everything after the 20th of July.

  362. MFD says

    Lawrence Russell Brewer and Derrick O’Neal Mason were also killed by the death penalty last week. Why not spare a minute to mention them also, PZ?

  363. ichthyic says

    Yes I’m sure you are. I would guess everyone here will all be waiting with baited breath for your, ahem, sciency hypothesises to be revealed.

    Yes, I’m sure the truthiness value will be measurable in megacoulberts!

  364. ichthyic says

    To continue on topic and elaborate: how can it possibly be bad or evil to act in the most ethical or moral way possible?

    that would entirely depend on one’s relative set of moral imperatives.

    For some societies, historically, eating ones enemies was a moral imperative that helped preserve the very spiritual essence of one’s own tribe!

    it would be the most ethical and moral thing to do.

    even utilitarianism evolves over time, let alone idealistic moral turpitudes.

  365. ichthyic says

    You used a misogynistic insult.

    nope.

    you perceived it as such.

    others did not.

    ergo, whether or not it is an insult is a matter of perception, not fact.

    your whinging aside notwithstanding, if it comes to the point where most people find such things offensive, rather than humorous, then change will naturally occur.

    oh, and uh…

    get lost yourself.

  366. ichthyic says

    …btw, countries, which is what the joke was referring to, are typically engendered as female.

    One wonders if you would have claimed victim status if I had said:

    “…bag over his head”

    it’s not misogynistic, unless you consider engendering inanimate objects misogynistic to begin with, in which case you better get cracking on changing how we tend to engender all objects; boats, countries, etc etc.

    but, in the end, the only opinion i care about are the people here who know me.

    you obviously don’t, so…

  367. says

    Jadehawk #294

    “lesser evil” in this case simply means harm, but less of it. which is undeniably true, since a killed person or an amputation are a form of harm; they’re lesser harm meant to prevent greater harm in these instances. we make these relativistic judgements regarding different levels of harm all the time. And one would think a doctor would be better at being a doctor while remembering that they’re still causing harm, and should therefore a)minimize it, and b) only do it when not doing harm will cause greater harm.

    I fully agree with this (and this is why I mentioned it is more a semantical issue for me than anything else) except that for me “evil” and “harm” are not synonymous. You make an excellent point that I fully am in line with in that a doctor understanding he is doing harm to prevent further harm would seem a better doctor than one just following procedure and cutting the “meat part” that is the problem or something.

    The problem for me is equating that harm with evil. That’s what I find nonsensical. And I’m fully aware I’m being a nit about it. XD

    My silly semantic trifle is exemplified when you say:

    makes no sense; it’s as if you think only purely good actions are worth taking, and thus redefine all actions you feel are necessary as purely good.

    I’m redefining saving someone life by amputating their foot as good? Saving someone’s life by way of your only option isn’t, by necessity, good unless I redefine good?

    Meh, I don’t like philosophical discussions that center mainly around definitional trifles and I should have never made a gripe in the first place. Alcohol got me into this, and soberness will get me out of it: My later contributions to this thread are basically worthless so I’ll just drop it.

  368. says

    except that for me “evil” and “harm” are not synonymous

    oh, FFS; “the lesser evil” is a stock-phrase. evil as such doesn’t even exist.

  369. says

    I’m redefining saving someone life by amputating their foot as good? Saving someone’s life by way of your only option isn’t, by necessity, good unless I redefine good?

    you know, I didn’t use that adverb just for shits and giggles….

  370. says

    Jadehawk #402

    oh, FFS; “the lesser evil” is a stock-phrase. evil as such doesn’t even exist.

    No shit. “Bitches ain’t shit but ho’s and tricks” is pretty stock too. “That’s gay” is pretty common as well. People say, “my nigga” to me from time to time, occasionally because I’m half-black and an acquaintance thinks it’s my “lingo”.

    The point is that these stock expressions are either blatantly offensive, inaccurate, or don’t convey the meaning that is intended.

    Using “evil” for “lesser harm” is inaccurate. I don’t expect someone who’s intellect I respect to call someone performing, what we both consider, the most moral action possible evil at all. Any more than I expect someone who’s intellect I respect saying “that’s gay” and meaning “that’s lame”.

    It’s a personal fucking thing because I’ve had to hurt someone to save other people. And calling such an action evil gets to me, whether it’s stock or not. And it’s more an emotional response than anything else, as I was trying to point out.

    Fuckin-a, I’m not some troll, let’s just drop it since it’s more semantic than anything else.

  371. John Morales says

    tkreacher:

    It’s a personal fucking thing because I’ve had to hurt someone to save other people. And calling such an action evil gets to me, whether it’s stock or not.

    Well, if you must consider that hurting people is sometimes a good thing (rather than a lesser evil) so as to salve your emotions, who am I go gainsay that?

    Fuckin-a, I’m not some troll, let’s just drop it since it’s more semantic than anything else.

    No, you’re not a troll, rather a respected semi-regular (IMO).

    That said, if it’s semantic, it relates to to meaning.

    (‘Let’s drop it, since it relates to meaning’ doesn’t sound so good, does it?)

  372. says

    No shit. “Bitches ain’t shit but ho’s and tricks” is pretty stock too. “That’s gay” is pretty common as well. People say, “my nigga” to me from time to time, occasionally because I’m half-black and an acquaintance thinks it’s my “lingo”.

    and your reason for drawing a false equivalence between slurs and the phrase “the lesser evil” is…?

    The point is that these stock expressions are either blatantly offensive, inaccurate, or don’t convey the meaning that is intended.

    actually, the point of slurs is that they continue the oppression of minorities. who is being oppressed by the phrase “the lesser evil”? Cthulhu?

    “that’s gay” and meaning “that’s lame”

    irony of replacing a heterosexist slur with an ableist one and STILL using that as an equivalent of a non-slur has been duly noted.

  373. says

    oh, one more thing:

    Using “evil” for “lesser harm” is inaccurate.

    of course it’s inaccurate, but then no one has actually done this. “lesser evil” = “lesser harm”, thus “evil” = “harm”. d’uh?

  374. says

    John Morales:

    Well, if you must consider that hurting people is sometimes a good thing (rather than a lesser evil) so as to salve your emotions, who am I go gainsay that?

    Well, no, I think that “hurting” (or causing pain, or doing something that otherwise the circumstances would be absurd) people can be, by necessity, a good thing rather than any kind of evil. Hurting someone by amputating a limb they are fine with you amputating to save their life is “good”. Full stop. It is “evil” in no way whatsoever. “Evil” means “bad”, and more often when it’s used, “maliciously bad”.

    No, you’re not a troll, rather a respected semi-regular (IMO).

    That said, if it’s semantic, it relates to to meaning.

    (‘Let’s drop it, since it relates to meaning’ doesn’t sound so good, does it?)

    That’s fair, but I think in some cases it devolves into a pointless abstract. In this case, for example, I think we all agree that cutting the foot off of somebody who wants to live and asks you to save them by cutting off their foot is a net “good”. Nobody here has disagreed on the “most good” action in any scenario. The only discrepancy has been whether the most “moral” action can rightfully be described as the “lesser evil”.

    This makes no difference pragmatically or ideologically, so it seems to be pretty pointless.

    Jadehawk:

    and your reason for drawing a false equivalence between slurs and the phrase “the lesser evil” is…?

    Ugh. Seriously. You want to take the term “evil” and assert that it isn’t used as a slur, and make the claim that I’m committing a simple error in logic? Every fucking day “evil” is attached to slurs. People make something a “slur” by calling it evil. Homosexuality is “evil”. Being Muslim is “evil”. Socialism is “evil”. Brown people are “evil”.

    There is nothing outside of the claim that they are “evil” to denigrate any of it. The only reason these things are offensive is because they are “evil”. The word “evil” is mostly used for this purpose in my experience.

    “Liberals” are evil. Just… that stands alone in a ton of peoples lexicon. All of this is equivalent to “evil”. Standing alone. One equals the other in far too many peoples minds. FFS, that’s my point. Is that “evil” is a made up bullshit word for “bad” and “wrong”.

    No shit it is a false equivalence… that’s what I’m fucking saying. None of those things equal “evil”. So why I support using the term “evil”, even as lesser, to describe the most moral option available?

    actually, the point of slurs is that they continue the oppression of minorities. who is being oppressed by the phrase “the lesser evil”? Cthulhu?

    Yea, that’s the most terrible power of slurs. But it isn’t the only point, nor the only thing wrong with them.

    If 99% or the populace were women, or homosexuals, or blacks it wouldn’t take the offense out of calling women “stupid bitches”, or homosexuals “unnatural abominations”, or black people “under-evolved niggers” on the catch-all phrase “evil”. The point is that these things are wrong and offensive.

    irony of replacing a heterosexist slur with an ableist one and STILL using that as an equivalent of a non-slur has been duly noted.

    This I take no issue with at all and absolutely offer a sincere apology. I’ve only ever heard and used the word lame in the 3rd(!, ugh) definition upon looking it up:

    3. weak; inadequate; unsatisfactory; clumsy: a lame excuse.

    That the first and second meaning of the term was related to physical disabilities was absolutely unnoticed by me due to privilege, godammit.

    Won’t make that mistake again.

  375. says

    Jadehawk:

    of course it’s inaccurate, but then no one has actually done this. “lesser evil” = “lesser harm”, thus “evil” = “harm”. d’uh

    Uhh, wat?

    By necessity XY = XC means that Y = C.

    I was saying that harm does not equal evil, and therefore lesser harm does not equal lesser evil.

    Am I missing something here?

  376. says

    John Morales,

    Oh, as a side note, being described as a “respected semi-regular” in the comment section of PZ’s site, full of the most intelligent and amazing people I know/read is probably the most deeply amazing compliment I can imagine.

    Especially when 20% of the time I only comment here when I’m drinking my blues away and am afraid the next day I said something irrational. (Usually I only find a couple of typo’s rather than anything I find off in terms of reason, thank Crom).

    Heh.

  377. Ben says

    What do you do with rapists, fuck them with a broom handle? Grow up. Learn to spell ‘civilization.’

    I bet there would be a lot less rapes if this were the case. Just sayin.

  378. Gnumann says

    I bet there would be a lot less rapes if this were the case. Just sayin.

    I guess there would be less rape if there were less people like you around.

    Now, one of our guesses is backed by the awesome power of fact and plausibility. Guess whose…

  379. Ben says

    What I find decidedly lacking in the comments of this post is the idea that the world is a better place when we remove those who refuse to conform to the basic idea of civilization. Yes, there may be innocents who die. But I believe that the process as a whole makes the world a better place, because we are removing the worst of the worst. It’s like skimming the scum off the top of a pond. Sure, you get rid of a little bit of good water. Sure, there is still scum in the pond. But by removing the easiest to get to, you expose more of the good. It’s not just about deterrence, or justice, or vengeance, or any of that, but about removing the most vile, disgusting filth from the earth.

    The death penalty sucks, but so do people who kill other people.

  380. says

    The problem with your “solution”, Ben, is that when we kill all the “scum” without caring whether we accidentally murder a few innocents along the way, we ourselves become scum in need of removal by more decent folks. The only way your type of approach can end with less “filth” in the world is if it ends with all of the careless murderers who are willing to apply it being as dead as those innocents they couldn’t be arsed to protect in their overenthusiastic campaign of sterilization.

    I’d like to think that us civilized folks can find a better way to do things. And, in fact, in many countries civilized folks *have* found better ways to do things — if somebody is so bad that they can’t be allowed to roam free, you lock them up. As I understand it, that works pretty much as well as the death penalty does, and with a hell of a lot less collateral damage.

  381. Ben says

    @415 Life in prison does work well too. And yes, there are situations where innocents can be let free when it’s discovered that the courts were wrong. But there are a lot of innocents who die in prison. And this notion of “compensation” for lost time? How about the innocent guy who gets ass raped in prison? How much do you think that should be worth to him?

    I believe that the fallibility of our justice system and the morality of the death penalty are two different issues. When I think of people deserving of the death penalty, I think of Jeffrey Dahmer. I think of the guy who kidnaps and sexually tortures a 10 year old girl for years before finally killing her and dumping her body. The death penalty SHOULDN’T be about rehabilitation. The death penalty SHOULDN’T be about deterrance. It should be about completely removing these awful people from the earth because they are complete abominations.

    Yes, our justice system is imperfect. It allows some guilty people to walk free and some innocent people to suffer. But the truth is, it’s the BEST way we know how to ascertain the truth about a crime when we weren’t there to SEE it. Just because it’s fallible doesn’t mean that there are no situations where someone deserves to die for things that they do. Sometimes, people DO deserve to DIE for their actions. Not for the victim, not to stop other people from doing the same thing, but because what they did was so abhorrent that they shouldn’t be allowed to continue to live.

  382. Ben says

    Gnumann says:

    I guess there would be less rape if there were less people like you around.

    Now, one of our guesses is backed by the awesome power of fact and plausibility. Guess whose…

    Are you saying that there would be less rape if all rapists were sodomized with a wooden handle while at the same time implying I’m a rapist for thinking so?

    I don’t understand why the second part about my personal character was necessary. It makes you look kind of childish Gnumann. And where are the facts you imply that your post possesses? Where is your “power” of plausibility? Don’t use big words if you don’t know what they mean.

  383. Ben says

    Are you saying that there would be less rape if all rapists were sodomized with a wooden handle while at the same time implying I’m a rapist for thinking so?

    Should be

    Are you saying that there wouldn’t be less rape if all rapists were sodomized with a wooden handle while at the same time implying I’m a rapist for thinking so?

  384. says

    Ben, you’re seriously suggesting that because bad things happen to innocent people who get sent to prison we might as well have a death penalty (and an indiscriminately applied one at that) so that, in addition to causing innocent people to lose huge chunks of their lives in prison and possibly be raped and abused there, we’re also *killing* innocent people?

    Hell, I mean, we know there’s collateral damage in war, so unless we’re planning to swear off waging conventional wars, we might as well wage nuclear wars too, right?

    Just because there are going to be some inevitable negative consequences to our actions doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to minimize those negative consequences. You’ve failed to make a case for why we really need the death penalty as opposed to life imprisonment for bad folks, and since the consequences of wrongfully applying the death penalty are demonstrably worse than those of wrongfully applying life imprisonment (much less lengthy imprisonment followed by release of a person discovered to be innocent), that means that we shouldn’t have the justice system fucking killing people.

    Why is this in any way confusing for you?

  385. Ben says

    I’m not saying that simply because other bad things happen, we might as well have the death sentence. I’m saying it serves a valuable purpose, eliminating terrible people. I’m all for mitigating negative consequences by protecting the rights of the accused, utilizing a 12 person jury (chosen by both defendant and prosecution), having all 12 people agree on a sentence after hearing both sides, and having a judge there to make sure everyone plays fair. These things mitigate negative consequences. What I’m saying is, we shouldn’t be arguing the case for/against the death penalty based on human fallibility. If that were the case, we should do nothing that could bring harm if we mess up. By that logic, we shouldn’t build rockets to explore space, because they might blow up and kill people. We shouldn’t experiment with electricity or nuclear power because someone who doesn’t deserve to might get hurt or die. The thing is, we do those things because they bring positive benefit. The reward outweighs the risk. The bottom line is, I believe the reward for having the death penalty (heinous murderers are removed, not just from society, but from existence) outweighs the risk of killing an innocent person. You don’t. Disagreeing with you does not imply that I am confused. It implies that I think one way and you think a different way. There’s no need to be snotty.

  386. says

    But here’s the thing, Ben — locking people up in prison and throwing away the key also gets rid of them for all practical intents and purposes, and it also gives us the chance of at least partly reversing our fuckup if it later turns out a convicted person is innocent. You can’t restore a dead person to life, but you can free somebody who is in prison, even if you can’t give them back the years they were in prison. It’s cheaper, it’s less destructive, and it is *no less effective* as far as the goals we’re trying to accomplish, which is to prevent really really bad people from being able to perpetuate their crimes.

    Also, comparing the death penalty to space rockets is just stupid. Space rockets are a fundamentally good thing which occasionally goes wrong with bad consequences. Killing people is in and of itself a fundamentally bad thing which we should do only when it becomes an unavoidable necessity. It is not necessary to execute people who are already securely imprisoned just to stop them from committing crimes (or even to reduce the overall crime rate), therefore, since killing people is a bad thing, we should not do it. On the other hand, while it is not necessary to build space rockets, they are still a good thing, so they are worth building and flying even if there are some risks involved.

    I should also note that, quite honestly, I think the human race would be overall a lot nicer if murderous bastards like you were absent from it. Should I start killing folks like you in order to improve the overall goodness of the world? The point that you can’t seem to get through your head is that going around killing people when you don’t have to is *not* the way to make the world a better place, especially if one does so with complete disregard for the likelihood that innocents may also be killed in the process. This is true no matter how disreputable the intended targets of the killing are — if there is an effective way to stop them without doing any killing then it is always better to choose the no-kill alternative.

    If you really can’t process this then I maintain that this isn’t just about you thinking differently from me, you really are confused about what constitutes basic human decency.

  387. says

    Oh, also, I should note that, for the most part, the risks associated with building and flying space rockets are assumed by willing (indeed eager) participants in the space rocket process. On the other hand, all the risks of a death penalty which is not applied with perfect, omniscient justice are assumed by unwilling innocents who have no choice about whether to participate in the proceedings. So this is yet another reason why it’s ridiculous to think that that’s a good analogy to use to try to justify your horrific lack of empathy.

    These kind of risks are always very easy to talk about in the abstract. I wager you’d be singing a far different tune if anyone you care about had ever been wrongfully accused or convicted.

  388. Sili says

    Catching up on old Maddow shows, and she talks about how these killings hurts the executioners.

    Why is a governor of a state allowed to delegate this job to others? They‘re the ones elected to the job of having the final nay or yay over these prisoners. Why do we not demand that if they want to campaign on killing people, they should take that job into their own hands? Why are they allowed to reap the benefits yet not suffer the consequences?