Rep. Larry Pittman of North Carolina: Christian, seminarian, and ordained minister


That mini-biography in the title is to help put this story in perspective; it’s also completely unsurprising. Pittman wears his Christianity prominently and proudly, and it seems to be the only qualification he thought important in his run for office. And now he’s using his blessed Christian morality to define his work in the legislature. He was very irate at the easy life of a death row inmate, so Pittman wrote a letter to the General Assembly with some suggestions. He thinks:

Doesn’t it warm the heart to know that the barbaric medieval mentality is still making the laws in America?

He does have some second thoughts about his list. He now regrets broadcasting it, and wishes he’d only sent it to a sympathetic fellow Republican. It’s the standard Christian sentiment: it’s not the sin of violent, uncharitable thoughts that is wrong, it’s being caught expressing them.

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Pittman is just brimming over with that Christian Love, the old “hate the sin, love the sinner” thing. Perhaps he should read his Bible:

    Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col 3:13 (NIV)

  2. RFW says

    There’s a point to be made on the issue of endless appeals dragging things out. It’s merely a reasonable reaction to the corruption and dishonesty of way too many cops and prosecutors. They decide X is guilty of crime Y, and then cook the books to get that verdict.

    Falsification and suppression of evidence, subornation of witnesses, forced confessions: we read of all that kind of thing far too often for comfort.

    If the cops did their jobs right and didn’t try to substitute their own ideas for the conclusions the judicial system will come to, maybe, just maybe, the endless appeals wouldn’t take place.

  3. raven says

    For a christofascist hater, it is a remarkably incomplete and wimpy list.

    Why aren’t the atheists on there?

    Where are the evolutionary biologists?

    Pharmacists who sell birth control devices and drugs?

    Cosmologists, geologists, paleontologists, physicists.

    Democrats. Illegal Kenyan, Moslem immigrant terrorists who happen to be President.

    Public hangings? What a disgrace. If burning people alive at the stake was good enough for the Catholics, it should be good enough for the christofascists.

    Larry Pittman needs to go back to the seminary and learn how to hate some more.

  4. says

    There’s a point to be made on the issue of endless appeals dragging things out.

    Clearly something that can be said only by someone who has never been on the other side of the bar.

  5. says

    RFW:

    The problem with the death penalty is that it tends to be rather permanent. I am not entirely convinced that the executed and her/his family find much comfort in a posthumous rehabilitation.

    The death penalty is a barbaric and very Christian penalty. In fact, if I remember properly, it is almost -but not quite- the only penalty on the books in Biblical Judaism and Christianity.

  6. says

    FFS, this guy can’t manage his own e-mail account, and now he wants to re-make the entire criminal justice system in his own image. I suppose it’ll save taxpayers a lot of money–all sorts of criminals, major and minor, executed swiftly with only one appeal–and no fancy “injections,” just one tall oak tree needed. String ‘em up right outside the local jail.
    He needs to look up the Biblically mandated punishment for rape, though–it’s not quite as severe as Larry thinks. And I’m sure his district could use the shekels.
    Killed By Fish

  7. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Rep. Larry Pittman:

    “We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out. Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner,” Pittman wrote in the email. “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.”

    “I felt a need to ‘vent’ some of these feelings and intended to do so to him [Moore] alone. In the process, I got a bit carried away and overstated my case. I am sure I am not the only one who has ever done that.

    I tend to get a bit carried away. Surprisingly, that has never prompted me to talk favorably about public hangings or executing doctors who provide abortions. A man for whom getting a bit carried away means just that really shouldn’t hold any position of power.

  8. aziraphale says

    The man’s a horrible creep, yes. But this:

    “It’s the standard Christian sentiment: it’s not the sin of violent, uncharitable thoughts that is wrong, it’s being caught expressing them.”

    is unfair. Christians expect their thoughts to be judged by “Almighty God, to whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid” (Book of Common Prayer, 1662). I have not found Christians to be more hypocritical than the general population.

  9. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    I have not found Christians to be more hypocritical than the general population.

    Really? Can you cite your literature supporting that?

  10. says

    We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out.

    Larry doesn’t seem to grok that the death penalty has never been an effective deterrent. Even back in his idea of the good ol’ days, when people were hanged. Didn’t stop people from committing crimes then, doesn’t stop people from committing crimes now.

  11. marcus says

    @1 Funny that. According to their own magic book Jebus had a lot more negative things to say about self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and hubris than the other more oft mentioned “moral” failings.
    @2 Along with the justice system performing their jobs properly, doing away with capital punishment would also help obviate the necessity for interminable appeals.

  12. walton says

    This may be the most awful and ignorant rant about criminal justice I’ve ever seen (and there’s plenty of competition in that category). I’d advise that Pittman should actually visit a prison, or read up on the appalling conditions, overcrowding, physical and sexual abuse, and use of “solitary confinement” and other forms of torture that are the norm in American prisons, before asserting that prison life is easy.

    He should also read up on the appalling record of miscarriages of justice in death penalty cases. The process of trial by jury is extremely unreliable, especially with the extensive reliance on eyewitness evidence and on confessions given in police custody, and plenty of people – notably Cameron Todd Willingham and Troy Davis – have been killed by the state despite being probably innocent.

    Besides this, there’s no empirical evidence that the death penalty is a significant deterrent against violent crime, in comparison with life imprisonment. Indeed, it would be surprising if it were, since murder isn’t generally a rational act; people don’t typically quantify the risks or conduct a rational cost-benefit analysis before stabbing someone. I oppose the death penalty on absolute moral grounds as a barbaric practice; but even aside from that, there is no persuasive evidence that it does any good in deterring crime or that it has ever saved a single life.

  13. jacobusvanbeverningk says

    If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them.

    Well, I must admit, he’s right: executing people really has a deterrent effect on the people being executed.

    (But I don’t think that’s usually the point when we talk about the deterrent effect of punishment. What a propeller-head!)

  14. walton says

    I wish Pittman would listen to some of his fellow Christians, like Coretta Scott King and Desmond Tutu:

    [Coretta Scott King:] “As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder and assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses… An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder”.

    [Desmond Tutu:] I have experienced the horror of being close to an execution. Not only during the apartheid era of South Africa, when the country had one of the highest execution rates in the world, but in other countries as well.

    And I have witnessed the victims of the death penalty the authorities never speak of – the families of those put to death. I remember the parents of Napoleon Beazley, a young African-American man put to death in Texas after a trial tainted by racism. Their pain was evident as the killing of their son by the state to which they paid taxes approached. I can only imagine the unbearable emotional pain they went through as they said their final goodbye to their son on the day of his execution.

    It is often asked by those favouring the death penalty: “What if your child was murdered?” And it is a natural question. Rage is a common reaction to the homicide of a loved one, and a wish for revenge is understandable. But what if the person condemned to death was your son? No one raises a child to be a murderer, yet many parents suffer the grief of knowing their child is to be killed. In 1988, the parents of those on death row in South Africa wrote to the president, saying: “To be a mother or father and watch your child going through this living hell is a torment more painful than anyone can imagine.” We must not put these children to death. It is to inflict horrific and unacceptable suffering upon them, and their mothers and fathers.

    Retribution, resentment and revenge have left us with a world soaked in the blood of far too many of our sisters and brothers. The death penalty is part of that process. It says that to kill in certain circumstances is acceptable, and encourages the doctrine of revenge. If we are to break these cycles, we must remove government-sanctioned violence.

    The time has come to abolish the death penalty worldwide. The case for abolition becomes more compelling with each passing year. Everywhere experience shows us that executions brutalise both those involved in the process and the society that carries them out. Nowhere has it been shown that the death penalty reduces crime or political violence. In country after country, it is used disproportionately against the poor or against racial or ethnic minorities. It is often used as a tool of political repression. It is imposed and inflicted arbitrarily. It is an irrevocable punishment, resulting inevitably in the execution of people innocent of any crime. It is a violation of fundamental human rights.

  15. Phledge says

    James McMurtry sang that “whiskey don’t make liars, it just makes fools; I didn’t mean to say it, but I meant what I said.” Replace “whiskey” with “reply all” and I think we’ve got a winning explanation for this christofascist’s bullshit.

  16. ohioobserver says

    As I pointed out in a comment yesterday on Indiana, morons vote for morons, and the syndrome isn’t limited to any particular state. But y’know, there’s one point on which agree (yeesh!) with this bozo: executions should be public. They should be as gruesomely, disgustingly, wrenchingly public as possible, so the gentle folk get to see just what they’re supporting with their tax dollars and their votes. On TV, right in the heart of the town, show it all. How long would the death penalty last? An interesting thought experiment.

  17. says

    A Christian politician with no moral values. What a surprise!

    I was curious about the guy in prison so I looked it up. There were three victims, all young women. He wrote “Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well balanced hot meals a day. I’m housed in a building that connects to the new 55 million dollar hospital with round the clock free medical care 24/7.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/death-row-inmate-writes-taunting-letter-life-leisure/story?id=15438651

  18. says

    ohioobserver:

    How long would the death penalty last?

    A helluva lot longer than you think. Don’t underestimate the general stupidity and love of violence that lurks in the human population. History already has your answer.

  19. raven says

    I have not found Christians to be more hypocritical than the general population.

    Hypocrisy is one of the three main sacraments of fundie xians.

    I’ve noticed that they are very good at that one.

    The other two are hate and lies. They are very, very good at those too.

  20. aziraphale says

    Ogvorbis: “I have not found..” refers, as you might guess, to my personal experience. I have no literature to back it up.

    Caine: I think hypocrisy abounds everywhere. And I don’t have to try too hard to fit the character – I chose the nym because I thought (wished?) the character was like me. Except, I suppose, it would be hard for him to be an atheist.

  21. Fred5 says

    feralboy12:

    FFS, this guy can’t manage his own e-mail account, and now he wants to re-make the entire criminal justice system in his own image.

    It’s actually worse than you think. Poking around his Facebook page I found this .

    The mind boggles at the ineptitude.

  22. says

    His support for executing kidnappers would likely last as long as it took for some Christian of similiar bent to face such charges. Say someone who kidnapped their kid because their former spouse was unwilling to raise them as a fundie.

  23. desoto says

    Besides this, there’s no empirical evidence that the death penalty is a significant deterrent against violent crime, in comparison with life imprisonment. Indeed, it would be surprising if it were, since murder isn’t generally a rational act; people don’t typically quantify the risks or conduct a rational cost-benefit analysis before stabbing someone. I oppose the death penalty on absolute moral grounds as a barbaric practice; but even aside from that, there is no persuasive evidence that it does any good in deterring crime or that it has ever saved a single life.

    And i have always thought that those who did weigh the risks, figured they were too smart to get caught, thus nullifying the severity of any punishment.

  24. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    On TV, right in the heart of the town, show it all.

    I imagine that the crowds would clap in delight. There would probably be more people that are disgusted with death penalty than there are now, but I’m convinced that enough would still support it, if not more. People are stupid and cruel.

  25. microraptor says

    Every time I hear someone talking about how great the death penalty is and how we should bring back hangings, I’m reminded of the old song Strange Fruit.

    And ohioobserver, are you aware that for centuries, executions were considered spectator events? People thought it was a grand old time to go and watch someone being put to death. The idea bringing back public executions will have a net effect of eliminating them is simply at odds with the evidence.

  26. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    How long would the death penalty last?

    A helluva lot longer than you think. Don’t underestimate the general stupidity and love of violence that lurks in the human population. History already has your answer.

    I agree with Caine. After all, “You have to understand, these are simple, hard working people, the salt of the Earth — you know — Morons.” And there are far more who are than who will admit to it.

    Ogvorbis: “I have not found..” refers, as you might guess, to my personal experience. I have no literature to back it up.

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    A foundation of Christianity is the ten (or so) commandments, right? Then why do so many ministers, preachers, priests, etc., persist in lying? They lie about marriage, about children and child abuse, about what is in the Bible and what is not, about homosexuality, about sexuality, about cosmology, geology, biology, evolutionary theory, andmathematics, and they do this despite the easy access of information that shows that they are lying. If Christians are not hypocrites, why do they lie?

    Walk up to any Christian having a shrimp dinner at Red Lobster and ask if they are wearing different threads at the same time. Hypocrisy.

    Please open your eyes to reality.

  27. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Um, I see I expressed myself awkwardly, saying that at the same time more people would be against death penalty and more would be for it. I started from the assumption that a lot of people simply don’t care about it now, and are not openly either for or against it. Apathy at its best, but it would be harder to be completely apathetic if all was out in the open.

  28. says

    Falsification and suppression of evidence, subornation of witnesses, forced confessions: we read of all that kind of thing far too often for comfort.

    If the cops did their jobs right and didn’t try to substitute their own ideas for the conclusions the judicial system will come to, maybe, just maybe, the endless appeals wouldn’t take place.

    That isn’t the only problem. Its conviction via circumstantial evidence, and/or confession of guilt, with the promise that doing so will reduce the sentence, on the presumption that you *will* be found guilty anyway, if you don’t give a false confession.

    More than a few people have been released from jail, after decades in there, based on new evidence, including DNA, or the confession of the real killer, and evidence *they* gave that showed it couldn’t be the person that had originally been jailed. In pretty much all of those cases you had a confession, in an attempt to reduce sentence, and evidence that only indirectly linked the person to the crime. Many more are… not so lucky, and get executed either before, in spite of, or without ever, seeing any such evidence appear, simply because time ran out, along with their appeals.

    Personally, I think making the bargaining for confession illegal, and by illegal, I mean counting against the prosecution, if it happens, since some idiot will try it anyway, would go a ways in preventing this. There should be no, “Unless we somehow convince this person to confess, we can’t convict him.”, method, at all. Having them confess spontaneously… well, sometimes the person is just nuts, or mentally ill, so will do so anyway, but usually its damned obvious they don’t know a thing about what they supposedly “did”. But, tossing a sheet of paper on the desk and saying, “We will try to see that you get a lesser sentence, if you just write down what you did.”, should be illegal, and a form of perjury, on the part of the cops, imho.

    It wouldn’t fix all of the problems, like where the evidence doesn’t seem to point to anyone else, but… that is a whole different issue, such as someone getting the idea that they *must* find someone, so ignoring contrary facts, to rush to “find” evidence pointing only at the one person. And, that is the fault of investigators/crime labs, who *allow* themselves to be pushed to do that.

    All in all, if you have a damn video of the bastard, firing the gun, where you can clearly see who it was, and there is **no** possible way it could be someone else, then.. sure. But, preponderance of evidence only works if you a) have something that decisive, and b) people haven’t been pressured to ignore all contrary information, or follow leads that look good, purely because they are ‘sure’ they have the right person already.

  29. anubisprime says

    The only rational lesson to be learnt here is that…

    “Sometimes evolution right royally fucks up”

  30. rogerfirth says

    Unbelievable. This ass clown calls for the public hanging of doctors performing abortions — a legal activity — and there’s barely a mention in the media???

    Imagine the outcry if somebody called for the public hanging of catholic priests found guilty of buggering altar boys.

  31. aziraphale says

    Ogvorbis:

    “Then why do so many ministers, preachers, priests, etc., persist in lying?”

    Could it be that the ones who do are the ones most likely to be featured in a freethought web site? I live in the UK. I have met a few ministers, and none of them has lied to me about any of the topics in your list. Your experience may be different.

    For a non-hypocritical Christian, try http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/

    For a hypocritical atheist, try any government spokesman for the Soviet Union.

    That said, I see my modest proposal not to condemn all Christians as hypocrites is not meeting with much support. Surprising, really, as we all get justifiably annoyed with Christians who condemn all atheists as immoral. But I will fight no more.

  32. chigau (私も) says

    I agree with aziraphale; not all Christians are hypocrites.
    Only the ones who have actually read the Bible and the ones who have spent more than 5 minutes actually thinking about their religion.
    The rest are like “small-town folks, simple hard working people, the salt of the earth, you know…. morons.”
    Not hypocrites.

  33. Brownian says

    “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.”

    Right. Just like the threat of eternal damnation keeps Christians from being right royal lumps of shit.

    You know what would be a great deterrent? A big fucking clot of concrete, right in the mouths of Christian politicians who continually talk about shit they know nothing about. “Sorry Larry, you’ve given up your right to free speech, never ever having said anything worth saying, even once. Any last words? Just kidding, fuck you.” Clomp!

  34. walton says

    I was curious about the guy in prison so I looked it up. There were three victims, all young women. He wrote “Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well balanced hot meals a day. I’m housed in a building that connects to the new 55 million dollar hospital with round the clock free medical care 24/7.”

    This kind of mythology is extremely unhelpful, given what conditions are actually like for many prisoners in the US, including rape and sexual violence, solitary confinement, severe overcrowding, and grossly inadequate access to mental health care for the estimated 283,000 detainees in prisons and jails with mental health disorders.

    A Christian politician with no moral values. What a surprise!

    While I agree that Pittman has no moral values, I don’t think you can exactly take a moral high ground, humanape, given your own history of advocacy of torture, homophobic remarks, and claiming that “The life of just one American soldier is worth more than the world’s entire population of Muslim scum.” Plenty of religious people are hypocrites, but you yourself demonstrate that not all hypocrites are religious.

  35. Aquaria says

    They should be as gruesomely, disgustingly, wrenchingly public as possible, so the gentle folk get to see just what they’re supporting with their tax dollars and their votes. On TV, right in the heart of the town, show it all. How long would the death penalty last? An interesting thought experiment.

    It would be the most watched show in the history of America is my guess.

    George Carlin predicted that at least 15 years ago.

  36. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    For a hypocritical atheist, try any government spokesman for the Soviet Union.

    Fuck you.

    First, I never claimed to be non-hypocritical. I never claimed that my belief system makes me more moral than adherents to any other belief system. Merely citing subjects about which a minister/priest/etc must lie about in order to claim biblical innerency is hypocritical?

    Second, atheism does not equate to communism. The communist states embraced atheism as a way to eliminate a possible counter-revolutionary powerbase. By reducing the Orthodox Church in Russia to a tiny organization with little power, the Soviet Union was able to negate a possible rival. Add in to that, though, the replacement of Orthodox Christianity with the doctrines of communism. God became the inneluctable historical necessity of communism. Religion was not eliminated in the Soviet Union, it was replaced with a religion of state, a religion of communism, a religion of Marxism-Leninism. The beliefs of the communist system were every bit as absurd as the beliefs of Christians and required just as much hypocrisy.

    That said, I see my modest proposal not to condemn all Christians as hypocrites is not meeting with much support.

    Have you read any version of the bible? The book that is supposed to be the innerent word of gods? For a believer to unhypocritically live as they think their gods command would require murder, stoning, no divorce, slavery, etc.

    Surprising, really, as we all get justifiably annoyed with Christians who condemn all atheists as immoral.

    We are not arguing morality, damnit. Don’t move the fucking goalposts! We are arguing hypocrisy right now. And I have already admitted that I am a hypocrite (I felt much more comfortable when my son began dating than when my daughter did the same — hypocrisy!). I was merely pointing out that, if one actually reads the bible and professes that the books tell exactly how a Christian is supposed to live, none of them can possibly live up to it, save for a few hermetic monks.

  37. Aquaria says

    Could it be that the ones who do are the ones most likely to be featured in a freethought web site? I live in the UK. I have met a few ministers, and none of them has lied to me about any of the topics in your list. Your experience may be different.

    Could it be that you don’t get out enough?

    Look, they’re all liars. All of them. Because they assert things about a mythical place as if it’s real, when they have zero evidence for it. That’s called lying by any standard definition or concept of the word.

    Before you go to the next sniveling to prop up the poor, persecuted christers, ignorance is no excuse.

    Are you done now?

    I hope so. You’ve become tedious, already.

  38. Gregory Greenwood says

    “We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out.

    The death penalty was never an effective deterrent in the first place, as has been shown by several studies. Indeed, the death penalty actually makes murders more likely if applied to crimes such as rape and kidnapping as Pittman desires, because if a criminal will already be subject to execution for these offenses in and of themselves, then they have no real motivation for letting their victim or any witnesses live – they have nothing more to lose by eliminating potential witnesses, and possibly something to gain by killing anyone in a position to incriminate them.

    I would say that it is shocking that Pittman, as an elected representative, didn’t think his position through, but he is a Republican, so what else can one expect?

    Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner,”

    I would think that any ethical person would accept that it is better that any number of criminals go free than that one innocent person should lose their life, and indeed that execution is an inherently barbarous punishment even for the clearly guilty – but not Pittman. He is apparently unconcerned about the possibility of miscarriages of justice even when the stakes are life or death; just hang ‘em high and onto the next! Guilty or innocent? Who cares, so long as Republican cretins like Pittman get to feel self-righteous…

    “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them.

    What an obnoxious moron. Ob-gys aren’t criminals because abortion isn’t illegal. Even if it were, any such law would be manifestly unjust. This is just another xian misogynist who has no clue about the process of foetal development and wants to engage in the state sanctioned murder of ob-gys as a means to taking away the bodily autonomy of women, and reducing them to the status of ambulatory living incubators in the name of his imaginary sky fairy.

    He wants to talk about murder? What about the countless women who have died (and will die again if he gets his way) for lack of decent reproductive healthcare? Because they were denied the abortion that might have saved their lives, or received an insanitary and incompetently performed backstreet abortion that led to preventable complications because they were left will no other choice? Pittman may not wish to admit the fact, but these women are people – not balls of a few hundred thousand cells, but adult humans with minds, dreams, ambitions and personalities – that will die if policies like the one he propounds become law. If he is so eager to execute murders, what spot on the roster would he reserve for himself?

    Don’t worry, Pittman, according to your vision of ‘justice’, you would get all of one appeal before you are publicly strung up. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and all that.

    For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.”

    Because state sanctioned murder is not sufficient, oh no. The baying mob has to have their bloodsport, after all…

    Somehow I think Pittman never really grasped the meaning of ‘justice being done and being seen to be done’, because that is not it.

    “I was filled with anger, disgust, and frustration, as well as a profound sense of grief for the family of the young woman he killed,”

    Really? I wonder how, exactly, Pittman’s “profound sense of grief” accounts for his advocacy for the murder of law abiding citizens…

    He confirmed to WRAL News on Thursday that he wrote the email but said he had intended to send it only to Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and not to every lawmaker. He said he was tired and accidentally hit “Reply All” on an email that Moore had sent to the General Assembly about Hembree.

    Ah, he only meant to whisper his advocacy for murder into the ears of a fellow religious fanatic. He broke the only commandment that has ever mattered to xians. You know, the unwritten one; Thou shalt not get caught.

    He said he doesn’t want his email turned into “a sideshow for political purposes” and said what Hembree said was more outrageous than his comments.

    Note the complete lack of acknowledgement that what he said was grossly offensive and arguably an indirect incitement to violence against abortion doctors – he just wants to stop people talking about the fact that he, as an elected representative, has called for the judicially mandated murder of law abiding health professionals because they won’t adhere to his medieval pseudo-morality.

    Nothing to see here, folks, move along…

    —————————————————————-

    raven @ 3;

    For a christofascist hater, it is a remarkably incomplete and wimpy list.

    Why aren’t the atheists on there?

    Where are the evolutionary biologists?

    Pharmacists who sell birth control devices and drugs?

    Cosmologists, geologists, paleontologists, physicists.

    Democrats. Illegal Kenyan, Moslem immigrant terrorists who happen to be President.

    Oh, I’m sure he will get around to them in due time. Especially the atheists, after we said such very nasty things about him…

  39. raven says

    For a hypocritical atheist, try any government spokesman for the Soviet Union.

    Which has absolutely nothing to do with the USA, US xians, US fundies, or US atheists.

    Moving the goal posts, playing whack-a-mole, and lying.

    Are you sure you aren’t a fundie xian? You could convert in 5 minutes and find yourself right at home.

  40. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    I retract the part in #42 about goal post moving. Apparently my short term memory is shot. You were initially referring to morality. I apologize.

  41. says

    For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.”

    I doubt we could even allow this due to sanitation and public health regulations.

  42. Jean-Renee says

    I’m surprised he’d advocate public hangings instead of public crucifixions. Then again, I suppose rope is cheaper than lumber.

  43. Synfandel says

    The Death Penalty Information Center has an interesting list of defendants who were convicted, sentenced to death, and subsequently had their convictions overturned either at retrial or by absolute pardon on new evidence. The average time between conviction and exoneration is 9.8 years.

    Senator Pittman’s swift and public executions would, of course, have killed all 140 of the innocent people on this list. And new evidence probably would never have come to light, because police detectives and lawyers don’t spend much time trying to exonerate people who are already dead.

    It makes one wonder how many of the convicts executed in the State of Texas (17 in 2010, 24 in 2009, 18 in 2008, 26 in 2007, etc.) would eventually have been exonerated if they hadn’t been killed by the state.

  44. says

    (delurk) If one is barbaric enough to accept state-sponsored murder then showing the act in public is far more natural than hiding the “messy” part away…

    what ever happened to “thou shalt not kill”- one would think a fundie would take one of the commandments seriously (?)

    (lurk)

  45. says

    #37: At least since Fred turned his blog with its unique voice into a hostel for simpering accommodationists and incompetent fools, that’s true.

    I used to read it regularly — at least a few times a week — but completely tuned out as those other weirdos turned it into a halfway house for confused blitherers.

  46. Algernon says

    Personally, I wish more people like him would be honest and open. He’s trying to push unpopular things onto people against their will, after all. This means he already *knows* what he wants to do is coerce and force his will on people. Just another sick fuck in the world trying to get enough power to justify the damage in his head with other people’s blood.

  47. Gregory Greenwood says

    ohioobserver @ 20;

    …executions should be public. They should be as gruesomely, disgustingly, wrenchingly public as possible, so the gentle folk get to see just what they’re supporting with their tax dollars and their votes. On TV, right in the heart of the town, show it all. How long would the death penalty last? An interesting thought experiment.

    As pointed out by Aquaria @ 41 and others, execution would simply revert to what it used to be when performed publicly – mass entertinment.

    It would fit very nicely into the vengeance fantasies and general bloodlust of the large section of the populous that is both stupid and cruel – and, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, usually highly religious. Afterall, it is so very biblical – the ‘evil doer’ smote from on high by a greater power, the vicarious sense of righteousness in witnessing the supposed villain ‘get what they deserve’, the smug certainty of one’s own superiority vindicated by witnessing what happens to those who ‘stray’ form the ‘righteous path’…

    It would be a ratings winner indeed – the ulimate in the depressing modern affliction of reality television.

  48. says

    @Chris the lurker

    A better translation according to them is “thou shalt not murder”

    Which…isn’t much more useful since murder means unlawful killing which makes the rules basically say “it is against the rules to break the rules”

    The other reading is obviously far too broad to be accurate (Jews aren’t vegans or pacifists for example)

    Maybe it’s a translation problem and in original Hebrew it was understood better?

  49. says

    At least since Fred turned his blog with its unique voice into a hostel for simpering accommodationists and incompetent fools, that’s true.

    I used to read it regularly — at least a few times a week — but completely tuned out as those other weirdos turned it into a halfway house for confused blitherers.

    Well that is the voice he wants to promote with his blog so…yeah hypocrisy.

    It would fit very nicely into the vengeance fantasies and general bloodlust of the large section of the populous that is both stupid and cruel – and, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, usually highly religious. Afterall, it is so very biblical – the ‘evil doer’ smote from on high by a greater power, the vicarious sense of righteousness in witnessing the supposed villain ‘get what they deserve’, the smug certainty of one’s own superiority vindicated by witnessing what happens to those who ‘stray’ form the ‘righteous path’…

    It would be a ratings winner indeed – the ulimate in the depressing modern affliction of reality television.

    IIRC there is an argument to be made that all drama is itself a permutation and descendant of such blood sport. The tragedy being a stand in for a real animal or human sacrifice for example and the retellings of it getting more and more complex and sophisticated.

  50. Algernon says

    Executions just shouldn’t happen. Don’t ever forget that plenty of people just *enjoy* torture. And also, people get desensitized to things. They learn to think of it as ok. Some will fight it, but some people will just learn and accept it.

    Have you not seen all the photos of little white children dancing and playing by torchlight under the corpses of black men?

    Seriously. People aren’t gentle. Some may be, but a lot of them are not. These are the same human beings who, for instance, might make a spectator sport of torturing and killing prisoners of war. These are the same human beings who put heads on pikes to make a statement.

    The more you make that normal, the more normal it becomes.

  51. Aquaria says

    Second, atheism does not equate to communism. The communist states embraced atheism as a way to eliminate a possible counter-revolutionary powerbase. By reducing the Orthodox Church in Russia to a tiny organization with little power, the Soviet Union was able to negate a possible rival.

    This isn’t quite so, Og.

    The Orthodox church was at first reduced (although not eliminated before our christard liar tries that idiot gambit). However, with the advent of WWII, Stalin found a convenient means to rally the citizenry. From that point and until the end of his rule, the Russian Orthodox Church actually grew, and rapidly, under Stalin, to over 25,000 parishes (or whatever they call it) by 1959.

    Also, the Moscow Patriate had a great deal of power under Stalin, and routinely fed the regime a substantial number of names of people they didn’t like so that Stalin would do the purging of them. Convenient, that.

    Our resident nitwit also forgets that many, many atheists were murdered by Stalin. That pretty much points to the fact that it wasn’t a religious war, but a power war. Stalin murdered anybody he saw as a threat, even genuine heroes of the October Revolution and Russian Civil War like Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin and Mikhail Tukhachevsky. None of those guys were religious.

  52. walton says

    The Death Penalty Information Center has an interesting list of defendants who were convicted, sentenced to death, and subsequently had their convictions overturned either at retrial or by absolute pardon on new evidence. The average time between conviction and exoneration is 9.8 years.

    It’s extremely common. Part of the problem is that the process of trial by jury just isn’t very reliable; jurors are told to rely on their “common sense” and “life experience” in judging the credibility of evidence, which often means they buy into various discredited myths and fallacies, such as the false assumption that a more confident-sounding witness is more likely to remember things accurately or that a more detailed account is more likely to be truthful. Plenty of people have been convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony which the jury judged reliable but which later proved to be false. Not to mention the practice of relying on confessions in police custody, which are very often coerced. And then there’s the huge racial bias which is endemic in the system.

    Significant numbers of people convicted at trial on the basis of eyewitness evidence, and/or a confession, are later exonerated by DNA evidence or other forensics. The system is broken. This is a catastrophic problem even without the death penalty – being wrongly convicted and spending years in prison is enough to destroy anyone psychologically, in itself – but it’s doubly bad in capital cases.

  53. Aquaria says

    Have you not seen all the photos of little white children dancing and playing by torchlight under the corpses of black men?

    Don’t know about playing in the torchlight, but here’s some of children at actual lynchings in the not-terribly-distant past:

    An outing with the kids

    Girls at a lynching

    Lynchings were routinely popular, festival-like public events. That second photo was taken in 1935.

    Today, the tickets to view a death penalty execution are routinely gobbled up as soon as they’re announced.

    People would watch public executions.

    In droves.

  54. walton says

    …executions should be public. They should be as gruesomely, disgustingly, wrenchingly public as possible, so the gentle folk get to see just what they’re supporting with their tax dollars and their votes. On TV, right in the heart of the town, show it all. How long would the death penalty last? An interesting thought experiment.

    It would probably make little difference. For much of European history, brutal public executions were normal, as was the display of corpses or heads on pikes after death as a warning to others. Not to mention deliberately cruel and degrading forms of public corporal punishment: flogging and whipping of various kinds, the “scold’s bridle” (most commonly used for women), the amputation of limbs, and so on.

    People are capable of becoming inured to cruelty easily. As we still are today, albeit in lesser ways; most people can walk by a homeless person shivering and starving in the street, say, or read about refugees and other migrants being locked up in detention camps and abused by the state’s hired thugs, without feeling motivated to do anything about it. Because we’re used to it. Our minds learn to treat cruelty and suffering as just part of the background-noise of our environment, or, worse still, to justify them as “necessary” to control the “undeserving” in society.

    We should never forget that the values and sensibilities of our modern civilization are not natural to us; we’ve taken centuries to get to this stage, and we’re easily capable of regressing into mindless cruelty. This is why the liberal principles of human rights, limited government, and the innate worth and dignity of all human beings are incredibly precious; and why we have to keep working to preserve them, against those who would like to take us back to the days of wholesale authoritarianism and violence.

  55. pj says

    Why are the christofascists always going after the poor doctors?

    From ‘The Birdcage':

    Senator Keeley: Of course, it’s very wrong to kill an abortion doctor. Many pro-lifers, I don’t agree with them, but many of them sincerely feel that if you stop the doctors, you stop the abortions.

    Albert: Well. That’s ridiculous. The doctors are only doing their jobs. If you’re going to kill someone, better to kill the mothers. That will stop them. I know, I know, if you kill the mother, the fetus dies, too. But the fetus is going to be aborted anyway, so why not let it go down with the ship!

    Val: I assure you. My mother* is just following a train of thought to its logical yet absurd conclusion. It’s very much like what Jonathan Swift did when he suggested Irish peasants feed their babies to the rich.

    Senator Keeley: I don’t know about Jonathan Swift, but I know one thing about your mother. She’s a very passionate woman who follows her heart. And I just love her.

    *for those unfamiliar with the film, Albert is the ‘mother’.

  56. Alverant says

    Pirates were hanged publicly (including Captain Kidd who was not actually a pirate) it didn’t stop anyone from becoming one. They knew their lives would be short either from sea or bullet or hanging. They even sang about it the same way gang bangers rap about today. Piracy didn’t stop in the Caribbean because of hangings but due to economics and law enforcement.

  57. Gregory Greenwood says

    We Are Ing @ 57;

    IIRC there is an argument to be made that all drama is itself a permutation and descendant of such blood sport. The tragedy being a stand in for a real animal or human sacrifice for example and the retellings of it getting more and more complex and sophisticated.

    Good point, I hadn’t thought of that. Even so, I imagine that, even with bloodless alternatives readily available, there will always be those who will evince a preference for the ‘real thing’…

    I always try to make myself remember that our species hasn’t really changed at all since the days when pogroms, massacres and genocidal wars swept what we think of today as the politically stable and prosperous world on a regular basis – for all too many people, only the fear of the consequences of such behaviour keep it in check. Civilisation is a thin veneer indeed, and apt to crack at the slightest provocation, as can be seen from the looting and violence that seems to accompany every major disaster.

  58. says

    azirafail:

    I have not found Christians to be more hypocritical than the general population.

    No, Christians seem to be about as hypocritical as everybody else. No better, no more moral, no more able to resist temptation. Wasn’t making people better sort of the point of the religion? Who is it that likes to claim to moral high ground as a default posture?

    For a hypocritical atheist, try any government spokesman for the Soviet Union.

    We’re talking about a current member of government in an American state, currently pushing barbaric ideas, and you bring up officials of a country that hasn’t existed for over 20 years? You think that’s equivalent, somehow?

    You’re dumb.

  59. unclefrogy says

    I see no reason some inventor or engineer could not come up with a stainless steal crucifix that would be suitable for reuse as an execution device. I have seen pictures of a device made in France that replaced a man with an axe.

    uncle frogy

  60. Algernon says

    Besides, when you say that people should have to watch executions expecting that it will hurt them and scare them, and that pain and fear will result in their behavior going more the way you want it to… then you are adopting the exact position on which execution is justified.

    Mortal terror will certainly do the trick!

    But it doesn’t. It never has. It doesn’t keep people from committing crime, and it won’t keep people from enthusiastically supporting execution.

    Fear: it’s not rational.

  61. robro says

    Whadda you know…a Republican saying something dumb and inhuman. And, “mistakenly” saying it out loud. Oops! They did it again.

    I’ve read repeatedly that the death penalty is one of the key reasons for so many appeals. Many (all?) states have automatic appeal processes for capital crimes. Executing innocent people is just so embarrassing, they try to avoid it. They don’t succeed but they make a show of a good hearted effort. So perhaps one way to cut down on the number of appeals is to do away with the death penalty. But, I bet Larry wouldn’t go for that. It’s not really the appeals process bothering him but the lack of killing. He’s such a good Christian, an exemplar of his faith.

    @ raven #3 — Give them time. I’m sure your list can be added to the roster, probably gleefully, but first things first: OB-GYNs because they are the same thing as abortion doctors.

  62. grumpy1942 says

    I have not found Christians to be more hypocritical than the general population.

    Where I live, and probably where you live, the general population IS christian.

  63. walton says

    This is the disgusting genocidal maniac who says, and to all appearance means quite literally There is nothing wrong with Iran that a half dozen 15 megaton bombs won’t cure.. Makes humanape look like a humanitarian.

    Damn. I had not seen that. That’s terrifying. (I’d run across SLC before at Ed Brayton’s blog, but hadn’t previously seen him spewing genocidal fantasies. I can only hope that it’s some kind of a sick joke, though, if it is, it’s not funny.)

  64. johnlee says

    Curiously enough, public hangings were abolished in London not for moral reasons, but because the crowds became so large they were considered to be a danger to society.

  65. says

    Wait, wait–I just looked at the OP again. This guy wants to execute obstetricians? Doctors who help women manage their pregnancies?
    (Yes, I looked it up to be sure. Which is more than Pittman has ever done.)
    This guy wants to execute people, swiftly and surely, when he can’t be bothered to find out what they actually do or have done. Can thespians be far behind?
    I’m reminded of a story I read about a mob that destroyed a pediatrician’s office. They evidently thought that nice professional lettering on the office door signified a child-abuser within, as if someone attracted to children would hire graphic artists to paint that fact on an office door.
    Religion, like mob rule, relieves one of the obligation to think.

  66. Azkyroth says

    I don’t trust anyone who wants to institute public hanging but doesn’t have “assholes who drive 10 mph under the speed limit with their heads shoved up their cell phones” as the first-in-line.

  67. says

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2012/01/the-problem-of-proselytizing.html

    Hypocrisy is if not ubiquitous, endemic at Slacktavist

    Ing, the link you gave was to a post at The Slacktiverse, a newer blog now being hosted at the address of Fred’s old ones by and for several of his fans. Fred’s blog, Slacktivist, is now at
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/

    I don’t know if that information makes any difference to your assessment of hypocrisy at Slacktivist itself, but I thought the distinction needed to be made.

  68. palefury says

    This is one of the many reason why I am opposed to the death penalty – http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/Browse-Profiles.php

    Also my Mum taught me “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

    Perhaps Pittman subscribes to the “kill them all and let god sort them out” philosophy. Next thing you know the hangings will be televised live on Fox.

    The way the dark ages is revered by these people scares the bejeezuz out of me!

  69. says

    Ing, the link you gave was to a post at The Slacktiverse, a newer blog now being hosted at the address of Fred’s old ones by and for several of his fans. Fred’s blog, Slacktivist, is now at
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/

    I don’t know if that information makes any difference to your assessment of hypocrisy at Slacktivist itself, but I thought the distinction needed to be made.

    How is that relevant? I explicitly said that it wasn’t the main blogger but is evident of the atmosphere and environment cultivated. Way before that I left because it seemed they were fine with atheist, as long as they were atheists willing to give a stamp of approval to religion.

  70. says

    How is that relevant? I explicitly said that it wasn’t the main blogger but is evident of the atmosphere and environment cultivated. Way before that I left because it seemed they were fine with atheist, as long as they were atheists willing to give a stamp of approval to religion.

    You didn’t say “it wasn’t the main blogger but is evident of the atmosphere and environment cultivated” until the post number 57 in which you replied to PZ. My reply was to your post number 37 in which you posted a link to The Slacktiverse with the comment ” “Hypocrisy is if not ubiquitous, endemic at Slacktavist”.

    I guess we’ll just have to disagree on whether it’s relevant to point out when someone is using a link to blog A as evidence of a statement about blog B.

  71. says

    You didn’t say “it wasn’t the main blogger but is evident of the atmosphere and environment cultivated” until the post number 57 in which you replied to PZ. My reply was to your post number 37

    So despite that fact that it was already said and you knew that you felt the need to not-correct me?

  72. says

    Notice how the Christians always seem the most bloodthirsty? I’ve noticed this in online fora as well. I guess “thou shalt not kill” should have read “thou shalt not kill nice people.”

  73. says

    So despite that fact that it was already said and you knew that you felt the need to not-correct me?

    I didn’t know it was already said until after I posted and then read down further.

  74. gravityisjustatheory says

    feralboy12 says:
    29 January 2012 at 1:26 pm

    He needs to look up the Biblically mandated punishment for rape, though–it’s not quite as severe as Larry thinks. And I’m sure his district could use the shekels.

    Actually, that depends on who is raped. The “marry the victim and pay her father” rule only applies if the victim was not married or betrothed. In any other case (apart from war captives, I think), the penalty was death by stoning. (I.e. the same penalty as for adultry, which just shows how messed up their attitudes to such things were).

    chrisjardine says:
    29 January 2012 at 3:09 pm

    what ever happened to “thou shalt not kill”- one would think a fundie would take one of the commandments seriously (?)

    As We Are Ing said, that better translated as “thou shalt not murder”, i.e. don’t kill anyone except those that society deems it acceptible to kill, e.g. convicted criminals, enemies in war time, disobedient children, etc.

    I think “thou shalt not kill members of the in-group (members of the out-group are fair game)” has been a pretty much universal rule throughout human history, with advances in morality representing a slow (and sometimes reversed) process of gradually reducing the number of circumstances where it was seen as acceptible to kill someone. Even (and maybe especially) among the more outwardly violent societies. (I doubt any Viking would be willing to go out raiding if he thought his neighbour would burn down his house and steal all his stuff while he was away).

    And on top of that, many societies also had conventions about when it would be acceptible to kill someone of the in-group as well, for example in a duel. (I’ve read that in Viking and Anglo-Saxon societies, “killing someone in a fair fight” wasn’t classed as murder).

    As for making rape a capital offense – I’ve always been opposed to the death penalty, but for a long time I thought that this was a sufficiently serious crime that – were capitial punishment acceptible – this was something that would warrent it. However, I’ve since realized there are at least two problems with this (in addition to all the general arguments against the death penalty).

    Firstly, there is (as meantioned up-thread) the “why risk leaving the only witness alive?” problem.

    Secondly, making rape a capital offense apparently has a very negative effect on conviction rates. I’m afraid I don’t have any citations handy, but I was reading a book a while back about crime and punishment (and violence in general) in the middle ages, and apparently when rape was made a capital offence, conviction rates plummeted (no figures were given). Converesely, according to a BBC documentary about capital punishment that was aired a few months ago, when the Victorians abolished the death penalty for it, conviction rates immediately rose about from 5% to 15%.

  75. se habla espol says

    raven says:

    Hypocrisy is one of the three main sacraments of fundie xians.
    I’ve noticed that they are very good at that one.
    The other two are hate and lies. They are very, very good at those too.

    You’ve omitted a major sacrament of all xians: quote mining. Xians depend on quote mining in their bible-of-choice to help define the particular christianity they invent to adhere to. Xians perform quote mining on non-babble works to establish the foundation for many of their lies about other xianities and non-xianities.
    How can you leave out that most basic of their sacraments?

  76. says

    Perhaps Pittman subscribes to the “kill them all and let god sort them out” philosophy. Next thing you know the hangings will be televised live on Fox.

    Maybe he wants to take a lesson from the Star Trek episode “Bread and circuses”.

  77. RickR says

    I’ll admit the situation with Fred’s blog is confusing since he moved to Patheos. I was reading through his takedown of the “Left Behind” series at the time the move occurred. Apparently, many of his commenters were unhappy with Patheos and didn’t want to make the move to the new blog and have what they thought of as a unique commenting culture absorbed by the new culture over there. So they took over Fred’s old blog and renamed it “Slacktiverse”. They have permission to copy Fred’s “Left Behind” posts over there, but IMO none of his other content. It’s probably somewhat similar to PZ’s relationship with Sciblogs and his science posts (though PZ is probably compensated by NatGeo and Fred probably isn’t, given the Slacktiverse is run by the commenters and not by a professional organization, though I certainly could be wrong about the specifics.

    I quickly gave up on Slacktiverse because of the quality of the content similar to what Ing posted. Meh. But Fred’s blog at Patheos is, as far as the comments section goes, every bit as unrestrained as Pharyngula. In fact, I’ve seen several Pharyngula regulars post over there occasionally. From what I’ve seen, there’s no “culture of accomodationism” there, but YMMV.

    My point is, whatever Fred’s failings may be (I think he’s wrong about his christian belief, for example) I’ve never felt unwelcome there as an atheist or anti-theist.

    Anyway, not trying to derail. I just thought I’d try to clarify the situation as I see it.

  78. says

    Actually, that depends on who is raped. The “marry the victim and pay her father” rule only applies if the victim was not married or betrothed. In any other case (apart from war captives, I think), the penalty was death by stoning.

    Yeah, that’s right. My bad. I’m sure Rep. Pittman will differentiate between types of rape, what with the fine attention to detail he so obviously has.

    Firstly, there is (as meantioned up-thread) the “why risk leaving the only witness alive?” problem.

    This. In how many instances of rape or kidnapping will committing a murder decrease the chance of punishment? Meting out the same punishment for all three crimes increases the motivation to commit the worst one. This is where you end up when you accept simple dogma without thinking through the implications.

    I see now that the Ob/Gyn reference leads to a post about a proposed law that doesn’t actually make obstetrics or gynecology a capital crime, but does make any act resulting in the death of a fetus a capital crime. And no, it doesn’t matter if that act is legal or not.
    Granted, that will shorten the appeals process; hell, you won’t even need a trial–no crime needs to be committed, after all. Why would you need a trial? Just jump straight to the execution.

  79. Erp says

    I did a check on what church/denomination Pittmann is a pastor in and it is Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, Locust, NC (a very small church with only 25 or so members, he is a ‘supply pastor’ which I think means substitute if the regular pastor is away) which is in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The latter somewhat surprises me a bit as the PCUSA tends to the liberal side (or to be more exact has some more liberal bits, they recently voted to allow gay ministers). They also have an anti-death penalty stance though they don’t push it and quite a few members though a minority are for the death penalty. http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/101/capital-punishment/

  80. says

    Honestly, I think I’d be okay with executing rapists. And I’d love to add abusers to the list.

    The rest of it, however, I disagree with.

    Can someone explain to me exactly why and how it’s supposedly cheaper to imprison a person for life than it is to execute them? Because it ain’t adding up.

    If you have two prisoners, both of whom committed identical crimes, Prisoner A is on death row, Prisoner B is in for the rest of his natural life.

    Both were locked up at the age of 20.

    Assume a lifespan of 80 years.

    Prisoner A is executed at the age of 35 after serving fifteen years.

    Prisoner B requires a full 60 years of (often top-quality) care and (legendarily horrid) feeding.

    Logically, those 60 years of care and feeding cost MORE than the 15 years of care and feeding for the death row prisoner.

    But I keep seeing this peculiar claim that “it’s more expensive to put a murderer to death.”

  81. Rip Steakface says

    @91
    I don’t know the exact numbers or any source, but from what I’ve heard from a few people is that the death penalty results in a process of appeals so long that it costs far more than the $40,000 a year it takes to house a prisoner for a lengthy amount of time. Basically, the legal costs go through the roof for both sides (and the defendant often can’t afford his own counsel, so he gets a state lawyer), costing the government far more money than simply sentencing him to life.

    As for rape being worthy of the death penalty, the problem is that then the rapist could just kill the victim and any witnesses in an attempt to not get caught, so that even if he is caught for murder, his sentence is still the same. Also, as was recently mentioned, conviction rates plummet in rape cases, leading to less rapists being caught and put in their rightful place.

  82. Azkyroth says

    Honestly, I think I’d be okay with executing rapists.

    On that note, have you changed your prior position that rape of men by women is impossible and/or unimportant?

  83. Algernon says

    Honestly, I think I’d be okay with executing rapists.

    Why?

    Is rape a fate worse than death?

  84. says

    @Azkyroth — Whatever the legal definition of rape is, that’s what I go by. Personally, I’d have to say that unwanted contact is unwanted contact, regardless of gender.

  85. says

    @Algernon — Sometimes, it sure feels like it. Rape definitely ends your life as it was, it changes you on a fundamental level. Nothing is ever the same again.

  86. Azkyroth says

    That’s a modest improvement from what I remember of the exchange I’m thinking of, which doesn’t seem to have survived Jen’s blog migration (unfortunately, because it would have been useful as a broader illustration).

  87. says

    WMDkitty:

    Honestly, I think I’d be okay with executing rapists.

    Personally, I’m happier with keeping my rapist in a cage the past 30+ years and seeing that he’ll die a natural death in a cage. (He was not only a serial rapist, but a serial killer as well.)

    In a lot of cases, I’d think death would be the easy option. I get to live a life sentence with the damage my rapist did to me, so do all the other victims and their loved ones. Don’t see why he shouldn’t do the same.

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But I keep seeing this peculiar claim that “it’s more expensive to put a murderer to death.”

    The cost of the death penalty is tied up in the legal appeals, which the state must defend, and the time of the judges, who must hear the case. Last figures I saw was the typical appeals in death penalty cases cost the state $4,000,000-5,000,000, whereas keeping a prisoner for year was $25,000-$30,000. You do the math…

  89. congaboy says

    Xtians who support the death penalty seem to forget that innocent people get executed because the system is rife with human error. I can think of one person in particular that Xtians would want to hold as a model for why we shouldn’t use the death penalty. This guy was wrongly accused, found guilty at a trumped-up sham of a trial, sentenced to death, and executed. Who was he? Wait for it . . . Jesus.

  90. walton says

    Honestly, I think I’d be okay with executing rapists. And I’d love to add abusers to the list.

    Do you have any pretence of a rational justification for that?

    As has already been explained, there is no evidence that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against violent crime of any sort; and indeed it would be very surprising if it were, since violent crime is not generally a rational act. And it’s also already been pointed out that miscarriages of justice are extremely common in jury trials. Nor is it necessary: it isn’t difficult in practice to imprison people for life, and I think it should be an obvious proposition that not killing people is, always and by definition, the preferable option whenever one has a choice.

    I oppose the death penalty absolutely, as a barbaric practice which degrades society and which perpetuates the cycle of violence. (See this article by Desmond Tutu, for instance.) But even if you do not, even if you’re inured enough to violence that you can view the prospect of deliberately killing a human being with anything other than revulsion, there is no rational practical justification for it.

    The rest of it, however, I disagree with.

    Can someone explain to me exactly why and how it’s supposedly cheaper to imprison a person for life than it is to execute them? Because it ain’t adding up.

    Google is your friend.

    Of course you could make the death penalty very cheap, if you abolished the appeals process and implemented summary executions by firing squad straight after trial. But then you’d end up killing even more innocent people. You’ve shown no sign that you actually give a shit about that, though.

  91. says

    Honestly, I think I’d be okay with executing rapists. And I’d love to add abusers to the list.

    First, keep in mind that you could wind up on the wrong end of the law someday (falsely, I’m sure); then, remember that the people enforcing the law now aren’t the people who will be enforcing it later. People have gone to prison for abuse based on nothing more than recovered (often planted) memories. And you don’t know what sort of system abuse will take place in the future, or what sort of people will be representing the state.
    Then, read the remarks above asking why a rapist or kidnapper would leave the only witness alive, when burying the evidence deep in the woods doesn’t increase the severity of the penalty but quite possibly diminishes the surety of it.
    I’d be happy with keeping the power of execution out of the hands of the state, now and into the distant future.

  92. says

    @Azkyroth — If we’re thinking of the same exhange, yeah, I was way out of line and off base. Um, is there a problem with simply going by the legal definition as it currently stands?

    @Caine — Good point. I’d love to see my abuser caged and medicated. As it is, all I know is that he’s “somewhere in Everett”, which is still WAY too close (and free) for comfort.

    @Nerd of Redhead — Aah. That makes sense. Thank you.

    If we totally get rid of the death penalty, can we, like, study the serial killers and abusers and rapists and find out what makes them do the things they do?

  93. walton says

    But then you’d end up killing even more innocent people. You’ve shown no sign that you actually give a shit about that, though.

    On second thoughts, that last sentence was uncalled-for, and I apologize. I still think you’re profoundly wrong to advocate the death penalty, and I stand by my statement that there is no rational justification for it, but I shouldn’t have accused you of bad motives. I’m sorry.

  94. says

    WMDkitty:

    As it is, all I know is that he’s “somewhere in Everett”, which is still WAY too close (and free) for comfort.

    Supporting the death penalty won’t change that. What might change that is supporting cold case squads in your local cop shop, laws which help and enable better communication between cop shops, etc. Support victims’ rights and you’ll be supporting all that and more. Get involved.

    can we, like, study the serial killers and abusers and rapists and find out what makes them do the things they do?

    What on earth makes you think that hasn’t already been going on for decades? You seem to be rather woefully under-informed and all too eager to jump on bad solutions.

  95. Algernon says

    At least when you’re dead, you don’t have nightmares.

    I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and I’ve decided the nightmares are better. Some days I do poorly, but all these other things I’ve done… they matter too.

  96. lynnwilhelm says

    We more rational folks in NC have had to deal crazy stuff lately. One big thing we are fighting against is a state constitutional marriage amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

    Our lawmakers have a Republican majority and thought this was the time to attempt to amend our constitution. This despite the fact that state law does not allow same sex marriage.

    And guess when we get to vote on it? In the primary election, May 8th. How clever of them to know that lots of Republicans would be voting then. Our Democratic Governor has just decided not to run again, so there will be more Democrats voting. I think she might have decided not to run to get more Democrats to the polls–she waited so long to announce.

  97. says

    WMDkitty:

    At least when you’re dead, you don’t have nightmares.

    You are beyond sadly mistaken if you think incarceration or death of the person who assaulted you takes the nightmares away.

    If you honestly wish to die, there are lots of ways to do that and it’s an option we all have.

    When it comes to dealing with the nightmares and all the fallout, that’s something you have to cope with, as unfair as that may be. Counseling, group, advocacy, etc., all those things can help.

  98. Algernon says

    Besides, you get all that with any trauma. Damage, problems, mental illness. We don’t ask for these things to happen to us but they do. As hard as it can be, we experience other things even if the mind takes us back some times, or unleashes things on us.

    Trust issues, insecurity, all that great stuff. But you at least do have a chance to make what you can of what’s there when you’re alive?

  99. chigau (違う) says

    lynnwilhelm

    One big thing we are fighting against is a state constitutional marriage amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

    Have They™ defined “man” and “woman”?

  100. says

    What on earth makes you think that hasn’t already been going on for decades? You seem to be rather woefully under-informed and all too eager to jump on bad solutions.

    Yeah, isn’t there something called criminology for one?

  101. says

    Ing:

    Yeah, isn’t there something called criminology for one?

    Yeah, and that goes back a long way. More recently, Ressler, who coined the term serial killer, spent decades interviewing them, and that’s just one example.

  102. Algernon says

    Actually, we know a lot about serial rapists, which is why those campaigns targeting men who are not serial rapists who may not realize that they are inadvertently helping serial rapists feel empowered and justified are effective.

    There are a lot of interviews you can read or listen too, as well. I think it is worth it, personally. It is amazing though how “normal” some of these people perceive themselves to be though, and it is a bit hard because it *reminds* me.

  103. Algernon says

    I guess it’s helpful to me though because we tend to imagine we have more control than we actually do sometimes. Or some people do. I do, for sure.

    So it’s easy for me to say “how did I let this happen” when in reality I didn’t “let” it happen. I could have acted differently, sure… every instant could possibly have had other outcomes perhaps. But I was also acting against a rational effort that expected my own reactions. The system was more complex than I knew it to be, and those assertions of power and control that are implied in “letting” this happen are clearly illusory when one considers that.

  104. McCthulhu's new upbeat 2012 nym. says

    The point that he is suggesting that executions occur and then doubling down on the fucktardedness (is that a word?) that making them public would act as a deterrent – did someone not inform this clown that it’s 2012, not 1650? I would suggest that anyone from current times who wanted to see an execution of their own accord is a psychopath. Sane people should be well past anything he is describing.

    That these suggestions come from someone espousing the supposedly only source of moral and upstanding citizenry (known as Xtianity) just shows how benighted and anachronistic the not-so-good book turns people. Even more disgusting is that he is a minister and filling the credulous full of his mind rot AND is allowed to be an elected lawmaker.

    My opinion of voters from places like NC, where they seem to prefer this kind of monster, is already scraping the barrel bottom and stuff like this keeps coming along making opinion escape the barrel completely and run off into some uncharted land of such low opinion of people a suitable adjective has yet to be invented.

  105. StevoR says

    One thing is for sure – an executed criminal will never offend again.

    Will never kill, rape, molest children, be a terrorist mastermind or threaten others.

    (But just to make really sure of that I suggest we could decapitate stake and burn the corpses afterwards! For anti-zombie / vampire peace of mind. ;-) )

    I’m pro-death penalty for that simple reason alone.

    Rep. Larry Pittman may be wrong on some of the things he says there – abortion doctors shouldn’t be executed being a key one – but he’s quite correct in my view on many others.

    Let’s see :

    He thinks:

    – appeals should be limited to one shot, then you’re done;

    – more criminals ought to be swiftly executed;

    Yep. I’d strongly agree with both those suggestions.

    (I’m even prepared to go one step further and say why have *any* compulsory appeals – just make sure the first trial gets it absolutely right and have confidence in the original verdict unless there’s very strong reason to think otherwise.

    executions should be public, and he favors public hangings;

    Meh. Not fussed whether public or not although the public option would possibly be more of a deterrent and clearly demonstrate the law is seen to be done. I don’t think I matters too much though.

    Method wise, hanging can be botched at times – one of Saddam’s henchmens’ head came off during one hanging for instance – and are potentially cruel and gruesome. The best methods to my mind are firing squad – quick and effective esp. bullet in the back of the head, Chinese style or guillotine. Instant death, quick and as painless as possible.

    the list of criminals eligible for public hangings should be broadened to include rapists and kidnappers;

    Definitely agreed. I’d make it mandatory for paedophiles and especially vile and harmful sex crimes personally too.

    More common use of capital punishment also has the advantage of reducing prison overcrowding and thereby improve jail conditions. You could have it act as a deterrent against committing many serious crimes if when a jail gets full the offenders guilty of the worst crimes with the longest sentences get the sentences “upgraded” to capital punishment. That would give the inmates a real incentive to avoid encouraging criminal activity outside as the more criminals the more likely their chance of an “upgrade” to execution.

    From an ecological and environmental perspective reducing the population- especially of criminals – would be a major positive for our overcrowded planet. There’s far too many humans on the planet now – why not get rid of the worst criminals who make the planet worse by their presence upon it? Why keep murdering psychopaths and sociopaths and truly despicable harmful individuals alive at everyone’s expense and have them presenting a constant danger to others even from behind bars?

    obstetricians-gynecologists should be first in line for public execution.

    No. That’s where I strongly disagree with Rep Pittman. That’s the one utterly crazy thing in what he said from that list.

    Doesn’t it warm the heart to know that the barbaric medieval mentality is still making the laws in America?

    Well capital punishment is far from solely the preserve of the Medieval period. It has been used by most cultures throughout most of history. It is part of the justice system and has its place if properly applied in my view.

    Oh & let’s remember one key point – Don’t want to be executed?

    Then DON’T COMMIT THE CRIME!

    (If you’re not guilty then you shouldn’t be convicted. The legal system working properly shouldn’t convict any guilty individuals. Those that are guilty of the worst crime should be destroyed just as rabid dogs are. Those thataren’t guilty should be found innocent assuming the justice system works properly.)

    Also, let’s please just try to remember the victims of crime as well as the poor widdle criminals in this discussion mm’kay?

  106. StevoR says

    @112. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls :

    An interesting perspective from author/lawyer Scott Turow, who helped Illinois come to its senses on the death penalty.

    So he did what? Encouraged its use again for the worst crimes?

    @101. walton :

    I think it should be an obvious proposition that not killing people is, always and by definition, the preferable option whenever one has a choice.

    No. It isn’t.

    1) Abortion is one case where killing people – assuming the fetus gets considered a “person” as some would – is something many here incl. myself would say is sometimes the best course of action and an obvious counter example refuting you.

    2) Another is euthanasia when there’s a person in agony begging for someone to end that agony for them.

    3) Then there’s self-defence and the prevention of evil and mass suffering by killing say one evil dictator (Eg. Ahmadinejad or the Hamas / Hizbollah / Taliban leaders, Syria’s president Bashing Sad-ass or whatever he’s called, Gaddafi, Hugo Chavez, Saddam Hussein, etc ..) will actually save far more lives and lead to massive net happiness and freedom.

    In fact, executions fall into category (3) above. Kill a serial killer, rapist, child molester, etc ..and you bring closure and psychological gain to the victim’s families and permanently prevents criminal re-offending. Life in prison isn’t always that, there is always the chance of escapes, of stupid parole boards letting the wrong people out etc ..

    There are probably other good counter examples to your simplistic and false assertion there as well.

    Of course you could make the death penalty very cheap, if you abolished the appeals process and implemented summary executions by firing squad straight after trial. But then you’d end up killing even more innocent people.

    Not if the court cases were done properly with full and proper diligence and the verdicts in all really were beyond all reasonable doubt. Make sure the trial is done properly once – and that’s all you need.

    So, yes, I’m absolutely favour of that capital suggestion. Capital punishment is cheap and effective and just if done properly. Just make sure there’s really no reasonable doubt and the criminals really are guilty and capital punishment is fine.

  107. StevoR says

    @41. Aquaria : 29 January 2012 at 2:51 pm

    “They should be as gruesomely, disgustingly, wrenchingly public as possible, so the gentle folk get to see just what they’re supporting with their tax dollars and their votes. On TV, right in the heart of the town, show it all. How long would the death penalty last? An interesting thought experiment.”

    It would be the most watched show in the history of America is my guess.

    There’s certainly some peopel out there I wouldn’t have any problem at all seeing executed live on TV.

    @73. walton 29 January 2012 at 4:34 pm :

    “This is the disgusting genocidal maniac who says, and to all appearance means quite literally There is nothing wrong with Iran that a half dozen 15 megaton bombs won’t cure.. Makes humanape look like a humanitarian.”
    Damn. I had not seen that. That’s terrifying. (I’d run across SLC before at Ed Brayton’s blog, but hadn’t previously seen him spewing genocidal fantasies. I can only hope that it’s some kind of a sick joke, though, if it is, it’s not funny.)

    Tut, tut. Nuking Iran? Really. That’s overkill. I’m sure about ten or thirty Daisy cutter bombs will suffice for the job most adequately.

    Why do folks always forget that non-nuclear option? Regular “Shock and awe” airpower is probablty even sufficent if applied forcefully enough to the right targets.

    Why is that terrifying for you Walton? You Iranian?

    Do you not realise that the Iranians are the biggest threat toworld peace and stability on this planet the biggest and most dangerous sponser of global terrorism.

    Its them or us, dude. Either we take them out before they get nukes themselves or they take us out and usher in WWIII by nuking America or Israel.

    Iran has to go. One way or the other.

    Best way I’d say would be an immediate decapitationstrike taking out Mr “no Gays inmy country Holcaist denying “I’ma dinner-jacket” and hs cronies. Right big daisy cutter 0-or nuke tomake absolutely sure right down his tailpipe. A few more of same on his army, navy and air forces. A coupoel more on the Ayatollah’s and tel teh survivors if they wanta break fromit to immediately surrenderor we carpet bomb the rets of tehir country with it.

    Before y’all spout outrage at this ask yourselve sone big toyugh question :

    Do you really trust Iran and its crazy Jihadist dictators and Ayatollahs with nuclear wepons???

    If you say yes then you’re just mad, if not, well you’re with me.

  108. StevoR says

    Oh & Walton if you *are* actually Iranian or know any good innocent ones tell them this :

    Their only hope is to get rid of their evil regime before we do it for them.

    We can’t allow Iran to have nukes – and they’re rapidly getting to the point where we have to act. They won’t like it when we do. Clock is ticking.

    Them or us, dudes, them or us.

    PS. before anyone brigs it up that nonsense about better shitloads of guilty people go free thna a single innocent man goto jail. Fuck that.

    Best NO guilty criminals go free and NO innocent ones go tojail.

    That’s what we need to see happen.

    But if we can’t remeber this -a guilty man can go out and kill a shitload of innocent people. So let one guilty man free and youre killing who knows how many – lots – of innocent men. So err on the opposite side. make sure no guilty man goes free. Ever.

  109. StevoR says

    Oh & Walton if you *are* actually Iranian or know any good innocent ones tell them this :

    Their only hope is to get rid of their evil regime before we do it for them.

    We can’t allow Iran to have nukes – and they’re rapidly getting to the point where we have to act. They won’t like it when we do. Clock is ticking.

    Them or us, dudes, them or us.

    PS. before anyone brigs it up that nonsense about better shitloads of guilty people go free thna a single innocent man goto jail. Fuck that.

    Best NO guilty criminals go free and NO innocent ones go to jail.

    That’s what we need to see happen.

    But if we can’t remeber this -a guilty man can go out and kill a shitload of innocent people. So let one guilty man free and youre killing who knows how many – lots – of innocent men. So err on the opposite side. make sure no guilty man goes free. Ever.

  110. jentokulano says

    Just a short step from ob-gyns to execution of pot smokers.

    Xtianity: Find jeebus and spread the hate!

  111. KG says

    I’m completely unsurprised to see that StevoR is not only an idiot, but a genocidal scumbag. Ravings like his, and slc1’s, give the vile Iranian theocratic regime some justification for wanting to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

  112. KG says

    PS. before anyone brigs it up that nonsense about better shitloads of guilty people go free thna a single innocent man goto jail. Fuck that.

    If I was a vile piece of stinking filth like you, StevoR I’d hope you get unjustly convicted of a capital crime and executed, as has happened to many far better people. The world would undoubtedly be a much better place without you.

  113. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    I’m pro-death penalty for that simple reason alone.

    With the extant cases of prosecutorial misconduct, forced confessions, and other obvious problems with the US legal system, you can still write this? I guess that the innocents who are put to death (and are more likely to be put to death as they are less likely to plea to a lesser charge since they know they didn’t commit the crime) are just, what, collateral damage?

    If you’re not guilty then you shouldn’t be convicted.

    Wow. Your privilege is showing. Big time.

    And nuclear weapons? Do you trust a born-again fundamentalist Christian who is eager to speed the second coming of Christ with nuclear weapons? If so, why?

  114. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So he did what? Encouraged its use again for the worst crimes?

    No, he encouraged then Gov. Edgar to put a moritorium on executions due to the high number of death penalty cases being overturned due to bad police work and over zealous prosecuters. The moritorium remained in effect until last year when Illinois repealed the death penalty, due to the inability to get it done right. Meaning no executions of innocent people, just because they were poor, minority, and ill-represented by their lawyers.

    If you had bothered to click on the links, you would know Turow went from prosecuter to defense lawyer, getting several innocent peoples convictions overturned, ergo, he saw both sides of the argument. And noticed no good way to enforce the death penalty without innocent people being executed.

  115. walton says

    I’m not even going to bother to respond to StevoR. I don’t waste my time arguing with the sick revenge-fantasies of violent homicidal maniacs. I only hope I never meet him in real life.

  116. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    We can’t allow Iran to have nukes – and they’re rapidly getting to the point where we have to act. They won’t like it when we do. Clock is ticking.

    Them or us, dudes, them or us.

    Should your “we” (presumably US) react with their nukes? Because that would quickly resolve the whole overpopulation problem.

    Notice how much trust I have in anyone handling weapons of mass destruction.

  117. chigau (違う) says

    I haven’t heard that set of arguments since highschool.
    So, I’m guessing StevoR is posting from the early 1970s.
    or
    SteveoR
    When you get tired of this, don’t admit to trolling.
    That will get you banned.

  118. says

    I’ve been noticing for some time now that StevoR keeps spouting racist nonsense, his advocacy of streamlining the death penalty process actually is no surprise here at all.

    It’s people like him who make me afraid for world peace.

  119. Anri says

    Hip waders engaged.

    One thing is for sure – an executed criminal will never offend again.

    Will never kill, rape, molest children, be a terrorist mastermind or threaten others.

    (But just to make really sure of that I suggest we could decapitate stake and burn the corpses afterwards! For anti-zombie / vampire peace of mind. ;-) )

    I’m pro-death penalty for that simple reason alone.

    Rep. Larry Pittman may be wrong on some of the things he says there – abortion doctors shouldn’t be executed being a key one – but he’s quite correct in my view on many others.

    Let’s see :

    He thinks:

    – appeals should be limited to one shot, then you’re done;

    – more criminals ought to be swiftly executed;
    Yep. I’d strongly agree with both those suggestions.

    (I’m even prepared to go one step further and say why have *any* compulsory appeals – just make sure the first trial gets it absolutely right and have confidence in the original verdict unless there’s very strong reason to think otherwise.

    A brief glance over any sort of statistics relating to the question is enough to convince any intelligent person that regardless of virdict, there’s strong reason to assume improper justice in pretty much any criminal court case.

    SteveoR is not convinced.

    I suppose it would be stupid to ask, but here goes: What change(s) would you make in the trial system to make certain justice is served right the first time? Since, presumably, it’s obvious.
    (Remember, in designing this court system, you’re the accused.)

    executions should be public, and he favors public hangings;
    Meh. Not fussed whether public or not although the public option would possibly be more of a deterrent and clearly demonstrate the law is seen to be done. I don’t think I matters too much though.

    Method wise, hanging can be botched at times – one of Saddam’s henchmens’ head came off during one hanging for instance – and are potentially cruel and gruesome. The best methods to my mind are firing squad – quick and effective esp. bullet in the back of the head, Chinese style or guillotine. Instant death, quick and as painless as possible.

    Snuff porn is in poor taste. Please fap to people dying somewhere else.

    the list of criminals eligible for public hangings should be broadened to include rapists and kidnappers;
    Definitely agreed. I’d make it mandatory for paedophiles and especially vile and harmful sex crimes personally too.

    More common use of capital punishment also has the advantage of reducing prison overcrowding and thereby improve jail conditions. You could have it act as a deterrent against committing many serious crimes if when a jail gets full the offenders guilty of the worst crimes with the longest sentences get the sentences “upgraded” to capital punishment. That would give the inmates a real incentive to avoid encouraging criminal activity outside as the more criminals the more likely their chance of an “upgrade” to execution.

    Right, because studies show that putting criminals to death acts as an inscentive against criminal activity… I’m sure I had the studies that show that around here somewhere…
    Really.

    From an ecological and environmental perspective reducing the population- especially of criminals – would be a major positive for our overcrowded planet. There’s far too many humans on the planet now – why not get rid of the worst criminals who make the planet worse by their presence upon it? Why keep murdering psychopaths and sociopaths and truly despicable harmful individuals alive at everyone’s expense and have them presenting a constant danger to others even from behind bars?

    “The parasite class should be eliminated.” Gotcha.

    obstetricians-gynecologists should be first in line for public execution.
    No. That’s where I strongly disagree with Rep Pittman. That’s the one utterly crazy thing in what he said from that list.

    Doesn’t it warm the heart to know that the barbaric medieval mentality is still making the laws in America?
    Well capital punishment is far from solely the preserve of the Medieval period. It has been used by most cultures throughout most of history. It is part of the justice system and has its place if properly applied in my view.

    Um, slavery was pretty common throughout history, too.
    So was dying of infectous disease.
    I’m presuming you’re volunteering to experience those firsthand?

    Or is that just for the lesser people?

    Oh & let’s remember one key point – Don’t want to be executed?

    Then DON’T COMMIT THE CRIME!

    (If you’re not guilty then you shouldn’t be convicted. The legal system working properly shouldn’t convict any guilty individuals. Those that are guilty of the worst crime should be destroyed just as rabid dogs are. Those thataren’t guilty should be found innocent assuming the justice system works properly.)

    Super!
    I’m assuming we’ll have your solution to perfect the justice system any minute now.

    Aaaany minute now.

    Right…

    …now! (Oh, heck, that was just gas.)

    Also, let’s please just try to remember the victims of crime as well as the poor widdle criminals in this discussion mm’kay?

    You do understand that the primary point of the justice system is to determine if someone is a criminal, right? I’m presuming you suggest we assume that anyone accused is guilty, right? Because otherwise, we can’t call them criminals, can we?

    And I’m assuming you’re fine with this starting with yourself.

  120. says

    let’s indulge the issue for a moment though.

    Nuclear bombs are the real life version of the “Artifact of Doom”. Once you use it, it’s over.

    Governments are more or less rational actors, in that one of their primary goals is to preserve their existence (and usually, that of their people as well).

    Pakistan, North Korea have had it, and will use this as a bargaining chip in their foreign policy, but the end of the world it is not.

    Ah, you say, it’s those eebil terrorists that will do the job for them. Well, when the Soviet Union fell (unlike some posters seem to assume here, this was 20 years ago), there was a lot of concern about this, but:

    – the intelligence agencies have done an adequate job of keeping track of that
    – nuclear bombs until now have been beyond the skills of your average terrorist leader

    When Iran gets the nuclear bomb (I think it’s no longer a question of if), the world won’t end either. The Iranian government knows much better than to give it to terrorist groups.

    Anyway, an attack on Iran is not an option. The US is probably no longer capable of pulling an Iraq again. Look at how much political capital the US had to spend to bully its allies into stronger economic sanctions against Iran (most amusing the farce about what the Japanese P.M. said when to whom). Not to mention its biggest rival it has become more and more dependent on economically, China…

  121. says

    RickR: I find the “Slacktiverse” offputting for reasons besides those having to do with religion. It’s an environment in which awareness of oppression has been taken to “walk on eggshells” levels. For example, they treat the word “rape” itself as a trigger and ROT13 it. Not even Shakesville, which is notorious for over-the-top language policing, goes that far. They’re entitled to run their space as they see fit, but that doesn’t mean I can’t roll my eyes at it.

    Congaboy: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is perfectly okay with the state executing innocent people. If I remember his “reasoning,” the important thing was not the innocence or guilt of the accused, but the “process.” Or something like that. IANAL or an Opus Dei-ite so perhaps I’m missing some moral nuance there.

    StevoR: Not that they deserve it, but I’d love to hear you preach at Troy Davis’ survivors about guilt, innocence, and the death penalty. Almost as much as I’d like to see you preach at a homeless shelter that space exploration is more important than not letting them freeze to death on park benches. Any other such issues you want to go on about, so we can marvel at how clueless you are?

    As for Pittman’s animus toward ob/gyns, aside from the issues of abortion and contraception, fundie wingnuts seem to resent the idea of women receiving medical care for themselves rather than for their fetii. It implies we’re something above disposable fuck sleeves and broodmares.

  122. johncryan says

    WMDKitty @91

    First, assuming an average 80 year life spam greatly over-estimates survival times in prison, and assuming an age at conviction as 20 years underestimates median age. The median survival time after sentencing to life imprisonment is 40 years, not 60.

    The cost of trials seeking a death penalty are much higher than those securing life imprisonment (primarily due to extensive and often mandatory post trial appeals): costs vary by state and range from $1 million to $3 million from time of arrest to execution. Occasionally a difficult case will cost far above average–the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice Report issued June 30 2008, for example, cites a trial that cost $10.9 million.

    It is also roughly twice as expensive annually to securely house an inmate sentenced to death during the lengthy appeals process (average time to execution varies by state again, but I believe now averages nationally to 19 years) than in general population sentenced to life.

    And on top of that, over 80% of cases nationwide, where the prosecution sets out seeking a death penalty, are converted at some point in the appeals process to life without parole instead, incurring both the greater trial costs and all the costs of imprisonment of life.

    Pretty much all economic studies I’ve seen establish that it would be much cheaper to replace capital punishment with life without parole–the California Commission report I mentioned above, for example, estimated that eliminating capital punishment in favor of life without parole would save roughly 1 billion dollars over five years.

  123. johncryan says

    For the sake of discussion, let’s assume it would be possible to craft a trial system that while not 100% reliable was at least fail-safe–that although it might not result in the conviction of all guilty parties it would NEVER result in the false convicition of an innocent, making it possible to sentence individuals to death without concern we might execute a innocent man or woman.

    I think we would then have to ask why would we choose to impose the death penalty rather than life without parole?

    Not rehabilitation. Not preventing recidivism, aslife without parole would be sufficient to accomplish this. Not deterrence, as there’s no evidence that indicating the possiblity of being sentenced to death rather than life imprisonment acts to deter capital crimes. It isn’t cheaper–in fact, it’s much more costly.

    Ultimately the only arguments in favor of capital punishment seem to be emotional rather than rational, deriving from some primitive thirst for ‘vengeance’, the tendency to dehumanize offenders, etc.

    Would that be enough?

  124. says

    Honestly, I think I’d be okay with executing rapists.

    Why?

    Is rape a fate worse than death?

    You know.. With murder we make a lot of distinctions:

    1. Was it accidental?
    2. Was it done in a moment of rage?
    3. Was it planned long before hand?
    4. Was there a conspiracy to commit it?
    5. Did they do it more than once?

    While the question of whether rape is worse than murder is a good one, I would like an answer as to why rape should *automatically* result in a death penalty, without considering any of the above, or the context it happened in. Because, otherwise, I find the idea that we treat all cases identical just as disturbing as if we where to stick some poor kid in an electric chair, for being too stupid to realize the gun was loaded (the equivalent, perhaps, of growing up with abuse, and not knowing that they where committing rape, instead of just doing what daddy does to mommy, when she says she has a headache, or the like).

    Very disturbing lack of.. what did someone say earlier about Pittman, “with the fine attention to detail he so obviously has”. As for kidnappers. Oh, yeah, great idea. Pretty much making 100% certain that they will make even more sure than the kidnap victim is never seen alive again…

  125. says

    Ok, I am following the posts via email, so was not aware of why you had the position, when I posted a reply, but I still, as someone else said, seriously disagree. And, it has been studied. Guess what – most of the people that commit such acts where ***also*** abused. You feeling of wanting to kill them, or lock them up, on medication, is precisely while many of them turn around and decide to victimize other people in the first place. And, the earlier the abuse, the more problematic it is to try to change them, since if its done in early child hood, it can *permanently* change their social development, and personality, such that they literally will never understand why your pain means anything, especially if they are doing it because of their own pain.

    Those that do these things without some prior trauma, are generally either a) pushed to it by peers (probably the single most common cause of nearly all teen on teen abuses), or b) mentally unable to make distinctions between right and wrong, for what ever reason, be it genetics, drug abuse, etc. In case (a), they may regret ever having done it, and never do it again. That this doesn’t change what happened to the victim also doesn’t mean that, without the pressure, and other abusers pushing them on, they would have done it in the first place either.

    So, while I don’t mean to be overly harsh, I stand by my statement about “fine details”.

  126. says

    In fact, executions fall into category (3) above. Kill a serial killer, rapist, child molester, etc ..and you bring closure and psychological gain to the victim’s families and permanently prevents criminal re-offending. Life in prison isn’t always that, there is always the chance of escapes, of stupid parole boards letting the wrong people out etc ..

    This is one case where the whole, “The government does everything wrong.”, BS of these same sort of people is just BS. There have been virtually no escapes from Federal, or state prisons. There have been, on the other hand, at least three I can think of, just in my state, every one of them from “private run” prisons.

    And, seriously, closure only works if they get the right person. There have been cases of innocent people being harmed, after being released, and the family member that did it ending up a murderer, simply because they refuse to believe the wrong person was convicted, even after evidence exonerated them.

    And, how the hell, with humans involved, time delays in collecting evidence (such as not finding the body for weeks, or months, or maybe even years, or not finding anyone to match the evidence to, etc.), and a whole long list of other thing that are out of anyone’s control, do you expect the system to *always* get it right, or always work?

    You are not talking about protecting society when talking about “closure”, you are talking about vengeance, and getting it wrong, as ***will*** happen, no matter how well the system works, is still murder, in which case we do what, convict everyone in the court room, and all the investigators, of manslaughter, every time they get it wrong? And, would that get the same penalty, under this insane idea you have that somehow things would be better with this idiots idea of how the run the system?

  127. says

    Oh & let’s remember one key point – Don’t want to be executed?

    Then DON’T COMMIT THE CRIME!

    “only the guilty need to fear the police state”, eh? idiot.

    PS. before anyone brigs it up that nonsense about better shitloads of guilty people go free thna a single innocent man goto jail. Fuck that.

    something that can only be said by someone with the privilege, hubris, and lack of brainpower required to believe that neither they nor anyone they care about is ever going to be that innocent person.

    but if you’re volunteering…

  128. says

    We can’t allow Iran to have nukes – and they’re rapidly getting to the point where we have to act. They won’t like it when we do. Clock is ticking.

    Them or us, dudes, them or us.

    Yes it would be horrible if they got the bomb and turned out to be like us!

  129. says

    PS. before anyone brigs it up that nonsense about better shitloads of guilty people go free thna a single innocent man goto jail. Fuck that.

    Hilarious, when faced with a moral dilemma question he chooses the third option of denial

    Ing “So to protect people you’re hiding from Nazis would you lie or…

    Steve “I wouldn’t get caught by the Nazis!”

    Wait that’s unfair.

    The response more in line with his character is

    STeve “If they didn’t do anything wrong they would have nothing to hide from!”

  130. Pteryxx says

    Not that it helps here, but life sentences (and life-without-parole) aren’t very reliable either:

    This month, outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned Gatlin, along with more than 200 others — including three rapists, a half-dozen armed robbers, six drunken drivers who had killed with their cars, and about a dozen murderers.

    The large number of violent criminals, the last-minute timing and the lack of public notice to victims’ families have outraged Mississippians and the nation, prompting calls to reform pardon practices.

    Source

    This is not the first time Gov. Haley Barbour has pardoned criminals.

    Others, listed below, were also enrolled in the prison ‘trusty’ program which allows convicts to perform odd jobs around the governor’s mansion based on their good behaviour.

    South Mississippi lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to reduce Barbour’s constitutional clemency powers in 2008.

    Bobby Hays Clark shot his ex-girlfriend in the neck in 1996 and was sentenced to 38 years in jail. But just 12 years after the crime, Barbour pardoned him without notifying the family of the victim.

    Michael David Graham shot his ex-wife point-blank while she waited at a traffic light in 1989. Barbour suspended Graham’s life sentence, and he was released.

    Clarence Jones stabbed his ex-girlfriend 22 times in 1992 and was sentenced to life – until Barbour pardoned him in 2008.

    Paul Joseph Warnock shot his girlfriend in the back of his head as she slept in 1989. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1993 but also pardoned in 2008.

    William James Kimble was also freed despite a life sentence for robbing and murdering an elderly man in 1991.

    Source

    Surprise surprise, most prisoners given pardons are white.

  131. imnotandrei says

    @#138:
    For the sake of discussion, let’s assume it would be possible to craft a trial system that while not 100% reliable was at least fail-safe–that although it might not result in the conviction of all guilty parties it would NEVER result in the false convicition of an innocent, making it possible to sentence individuals to death without concern we might execute a innocent man or woman.

    I think we would then have to ask why would we choose to impose the death penalty rather than life without parole?

    Because under those (extraordinarily improbable) circumstances, the arguments about “why are we keeping these people alive?” actually begin to bear weight again; as do arguments from closure, from security, etc.

    However, I cannot imagine such a system as humans are currently constructed, sadly, and even then I’m not sure I’d accept risking human lives on the basis of the judgement of correctness — proving infallibility is a rather prickly problem, after all. ;)

  132. says

    Chigau has a point. We ARE the only country to have EVER used a nuclear weapon.

    Though, uh… that leaves me thinking maybe NOBODY should have nukes?

  133. says

    Chigau has a point. We ARE the only country to have EVER used a nuclear weapon.

    Though, uh… that leaves me thinking maybe NOBODY should have nukes?

    Chigau is Canadian, AFAIK.

    Well, in an ideal world there wouldn’t be any, but that’s not gonna happen. Once a country gets nuclear weapons, you can’t invade them anymore (border skirmishes excepted). This is the very reason for N.K. and Iran to get them.

    Targeted air strikes at nuclear facilities might do the trick, or at least throw back development programs for years, but intel is not always reliable (see Libya factory bombings). However, short of an invasion, which is impossible, this would only be a delay for the program, and it would disrupt the global economy which would also have repercussions domestically in the US.

  134. chigau (違う) says

    I am Canadian.
    Does that matter in pointing out who has actually used nukes and who mightpossiblymaybe use nukes?
    I was in high school in 1971 when I first said that aloud.
    I really hated being told to shut-up about it.

  135. johncryan says

    “Because under those (extraordinarily improbable) circumstances, the arguments about “why are we keeping these people alive?” actually begin to bear weight again; as do arguments from closure, from security, etc.”

    I’m curious why you frame the question “Why are we keeping these people alive?” rather than “Why are we killing these people?”

    I also cannot see how a personal desire for closure on the part of the victim of a crime is sufficient of itself to justify execution rather than life imprisonment (and in fact represents again an emotional rather than rational argument in support of capital puishment), and security concerns can be addressed by means other than summary execution. Our track record is in fact quite good– as another poster have out successful escape from federal prisons are vanishly rare.

    And I’m sure you’ll agree that we’re far more likely to be achieve a safe and secure prison system than we are to achieve a justice system that never, ever wrongfully convicts an innocent.

  136. Matt Penfold says

    Chigau has a point. We ARE the only country to have EVER used a nuclear weapon.

    Strictly speaking that is not quite true. The decision to use atomic bombs on Japan was a decision taken by the USA, Canada and the UK under an agreement between those countries to co-operate in making an atomic bomb.

  137. says

    nah chigau,

    it’s been a pet peeve of mine to point out that many contributors to this blog are not from the US. Sorry for the derail.

    Matt,

    do you have any citations for the fact that Canada and the UK were actually consulted before dropping it? AFAIK, they were involved in developing it, yes, but it would be news to me that the US consulted Canada and the UK in military matters. I’m talking about selecting target cities, and choosing planes and pilots etc, and the final decision to have the bombs dropped.

    Also, I’ve been involved with the hibakusha community, and I can tell you that it’s always about the United States, whenever the question of responsibility does come up (also about how the US military doctors examined them, but did not treat them and also not tell them about effects radiation has on human health).

    I admire the hibakusha movement greatly though. Their point of departure is a clear admission of the crimes Japan committed in the war, and a consequently pacifist position stemming from this acknowledgement, striving to abolish all nuclear weapons in the world.

  138. KG says

    For the sake of discussion, let’s assume it would be possible to craft a trial system that while not 100% reliable was at least fail-safe–that although it might not result in the conviction of all guilty parties it would NEVER result in the false convicition of an innocent – johncryan

    Oh, it is. Automatic acquital for everyone; nothing else could possibly guarantee that result.

  139. Matt Penfold says

    do you have any citations for the fact that Canada and the UK were actually consulted before dropping it? AFAIK, they were involved in developing it, yes, but it would be news to me that the US consulted Canada and the UK in military matters. I’m talking about selecting target cities, and choosing planes and pilots etc, and the final decision to have the bombs dropped.

    The USA, UK and Canada signed the Quebec Agreement on August 19th 1943 which set the terms for co-operation between those countries on matters of nuclear energy and weapons. One of the key parts of the agreement was the decision that no weapon could be used without the consent of all the parties.

    Neither Canada nor the UK had much a role in decisions over targets, and none at all in the timing and method of delivery. However, both the UK and Canada were involved in the political decision to use the bomb.

  140. Matt Penfold says

    I just checked, and William Penny, who headed the British contingent at Los Alamos and went on to head the UK’s atomic bomb program was a member of the committee that chose the targets for the two atomic bombs. I am not sure if there was a Canadian on the committee.

  141. chigau (違う) says

    The Lessons of History would probably work better if They™ told us (especially as children) the whole story.
    Thanks Matt Penfold

  142. says

    Thanks, Matt.

    From visiting the Peace Museums in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I only remember US commander this and that, and Truman, next chance I have to go back, I’ll check if they mention the Quebec agreement.

    (BTW, beside the museum in Okinawa, these are some of the best history museums I’ve ever seen, also in how they portray the militarism of the time. Quite the contrast to the Yasukuni Shrine War Hero Museum)

  143. FilthyHuman says

    Chigau has a point. We ARE the only country to have EVER used a nuclear weapon.

    Though, uh… that leaves me thinking maybe NOBODY should have nukes?

    No one SHOULD have nuke. But if you’re the only one to have it… that’s a LOT of leverage right there.

    Of course, that’s assuming you have the right delivery system.

    I admire the hibakusha movement greatly though. Their point of departure is a clear admission of the crimes Japan committed in the war, and a consequently pacifist position stemming from this acknowledgement, striving to abolish all nuclear weapons in the world.

    Can you cite some articles to that affect? Google search failed to turn up relevant information.

  144. says

    FH,

    the movement apparently does not officially address it, as it would be distracting to their goal of a nuke-free world. (In Japan, victim-shaming is a common cultural practice, it took decades for the survivors to even have their voices heard instead of just hidden away).

    The nationalist right in Japan has exploited the issue for their purposes, for instance Yukinori Kobayashi, who is going on how the Americans and Chinese are inflating the numbers for Nanjing to “balance out” the 300k victims of the atomic bombs. But the peace movement in Japan is not a nationalist one.

    My impression was that both Peace Museums in Hiroshima and Nagasaki addressed the issue of Japanese militarism.

    There are individual testimonies as well which address the issue, along the lines of “we have suffered greatly from the A-bombs, but let’s not forget that Japan is responsible for the war”.

    For instance Suzuko Numata, of Hiroshima, who passed away last year. She’s known as the “Aogiri tree lady”, I think one of her books bears that title too. She admits freely to being a “militarist girl”, and admitting to Japanese war guilt, every year she made a trip to South Korea apologising for the war and talking about her experiences.

    Or, Teruyuki Kodama, of Nagasaki, who, while not as strongly, also clearly admits to the militarism in the days of this youth. However, there is an undercurrent placing some blame on the United States as well, but the Japanese nationalists always talk about the war as self-defence (in response to the racist policies of the West), while the Peace Movement does not buy this. Talking about what Japan did in the war has always been an important part of the hibakusha testimony, given the fact that the war is largely forgotten nowadays in Japan (again the shame mechanism here).

  145. StevoR says

    @136. Ms. Daisy Cutter, Feral Fembeast :

    StevoR: Not that they deserve it, but I’d love to hear you preach at Troy Davis’ survivors about guilt, innocence, and the death penalty. ..

    Troy Davis’es surviors? You mean the family of Mark MacPhail an off-duty policeman – who was married and father to a two-year old daughter and an infant son. The person who Troy Davis murdered which was proven beyond reasonable doubt in a fair trial.

    Troy Davis was a murdering scumbag who chose to get himself executed when he chose to committ a particularly brutal murder. His survivors – those most affected by his crime – are pro-death penalty as this shows :

    [Mark McPhail’s] mother reported -”That hole in my heart will be there until the day I die, but it [Davis’es execution] may give me some peace and quiet.”

    His [MarkMcPhail’s] son, Mark MacPhail Jr, stated “It’s not animosity or anger or rage that has kept us going; that’s not what my father would want. It’s justice. The law is what he was all about. That’s what we have to uphold”.

    – Source – Wikipedia page – Troy Davis case : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Davis_case#Renewed_U.S._Supreme_Court_petition

    So yeah, I’d be happy to talk with them although getting in touch may be a bit impractical!

    Unlike you I’m on the side of the victims of crimes not the perpetrators of them.

    .. Almost as much as I’d like to see you preach at a homeless shelter that space exploration is more important than not letting them freeze to death on park benches. Any other such issues you want to go on about, so we can marvel at how clueless you are?

    Way to totally miss the point of what I was saying.

    I believe in both helping the poor *and* in human space travel – a future where we colonise the Moon and beyond. Both are vital in different ways. Both need to be discussed and properly funded.

    Any other strawmen caricatures of me you wish to set up?

  146. StevoR says

    @146. We Are Ing says:

    “PS. before anyone brigs it up that nonsense about better shitloads of guilty people go free thna a single innocent man goto jail. Fuck that.”
    Hilarious, when faced with a moral dilemma question he chooses the third option of denial.

    Way to cherry-pick out of context and miss my point.

    Also I didn’t deny the question at all. As you’d see if you read or quoted on I stated the reverse choice is actually preferable because guilty criminals are likely to kill and harm more innocent people than the one innocent person being jailed would save. Utilitarian ethics.

    Would I want to be that innocent person – of course not – but I have faith that the justice system would work properly based on the evidence and clear me.

    The rest of your offensive strawman there is a Godwin as well as something totally different again. We’re not talking about Nazi persecution of the Jewish people here but convicted criminals. I’m sure even you can see how those are utterly different situations.

    @144. Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe :

    “Oh & let’s remember one key point – Don’t want to be executed? Then DON’T COMMIT THE CRIME!” [Me- ed.]
    “only the guilty need to fear the police state”, eh? idiot.

    You are the one being an idiot there – because I’m not talking about or advocating apolice state. Executionis tohappen afetr afree and fiar evidnece based trial proving beyond reaonable doubt that the criminal is guilty -I’m not saying police can conduct on the spot executions at their discretion or advocating police rule or anything remotely like that.

    Reading comprehension FAIL on your part there, Jadehawk.

    “PS. before anyone brings it up that nonsense about better shitloads of guilty people go free than a single innocent man go to jail. Fuck that.” [Me – ed.]
    something that can only be said by someone with the privilege, hubris, and lack of brainpower required to believe that neither they nor anyone they care about is ever going to be that innocent person.but if you’re volunteering…

    Or that thinks the justice system can be trusted to do its job properly which without strong evidence to the contrary needs to be the default assumption for society to work well.

    @143. Alethea H. Claw :

    bum, bad link to (snip)innocenceproject.

    Point I’d like to make about that – we *now* have better DNA and other forensic evidence and methods of determining guilt. Somepast convictions mightpossibly be suspectand where they are they get cleared up but current ones are far less likely tooccur and there weren’t ever relatively that many cases of wrongful conviction anyhow. Innocent people are going to be found innocnert now because of that – and people aren’t charged at rnadom without good reason.

  147. microraptor says

    You really, really need to look up the statistics on how many people are falsely convicted in the US each year, and how many of those people wind up on Death Row.

  148. KG says

    StevoR, genocidal maniac and fuckwit,

    Or that thinks the justice system can be trusted to do its job properly which without strong evidence to the contrary needs to be the default assumption for society to work well.

    There is plenty of such evidence, moron.

    we *now* have better DNA and other forensic evidence and methods of determining guilt

    Stone the crows, you’re cretinously stupid as well as diabolically vicious. Ever hear of accidental cross-contamination? Of the police “improving” evidence because they just know the bastard’s guilty? Of false confessions and the unreliability of eyewitness evidence? Of the fact that when the death penalty is a possibility, conviction rates go down, because decent people are reluctant, when faced with it in reality, to be complicit in another’s death? I guess it’s completely unsurprising that the last would not have occurred to a shitstain like you.