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Rationalizing the Death Penalty

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by rogue49, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Location:
    Large City, TX
    The laws that allow the possibly innocent, or those who committed heinous crimes under previously undisclosed extenuating circumstances, to appeal their death sentence numerous times over many years (over a decade is common in Texas) also cover those who are clearly guilty with no excuse for their crime(s).

    We had a local case where two guys are driving around and the car starts running low on gas. The driver stops nears a gas station, and watches for someone who fills up the tank. He follows a young woman a few blocks. When she stops for a red light, he shoots her in the head several times, and drags her out of the car onto the street. He gets behind the wheel, the other guy gets in the car, and they drive off in her car. IIRC they were smoking pot, but in his interviews and confession the murderer was very clear in his thinking when describing why he chose her, and what he did.

    IMO the above is a clear case of guilty with no excuses and no extenuating circumstances. This guy should've been executed ASAP, but he had the right to take his appeals as far as the law allows.
     
  2. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor

    Location:
    North
    You see that's the tough part.
    I kind of agree with you, it just seems like a waste to keep someone around when you have very clear evidence but there have been enough cases where that evidence turned out to be faked.
    In some cases, like that stupid son of a bitch who shot the girl through his door when she was looking for help after being in hurt in an accident, I would rather have them spend the rest of their life in jail.
    It just seems more like justice for them to have to think about why they are in that box every day of the rest of their life.
     
  3. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Toronto
    I'm probably just reiterating what I've posted above, but regardless of the crime of the perpetrator, I view capital punishment as a violation of human rights. I view the intentional killing of another human being as morally problematic, and it is especially so when it is unnecessary. For example, killing someone intentionally in self-defence is morally problematic, but perhaps is necessary to preserve life. Capital punishment of someone who no longer poses a threat to society is the intentional killing of a defenceless human being based on a perceived sense of justice (in my view, revenge) rather than any reasonable necessity. That I take issue with.

    Others argue that the process of carrying out capital punishment (i.e., all the other stuff that happens before the killing) inflicts a cruel and unusual punishment, which creates other issues of human rights.

    I think there are simply far too many problems with it as a form of punishment.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  4. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Location:
    Large City, TX
    I agree with you......until I read about an especially sadistic murder (or murders) where the perp has a long history of commiting violent crimes.
     
  5. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Toronto
    There is another dimension to this that I had probably discussed above (sorry, I'm too tired/lazy to check). I consider those who are "sadistic" or have a history of violent crime to be most likely unhealthy psychologically. In other words, I don't think a rational actor with a reasonably balanced mind does these sorts of things. Bearing that in mind, I consider capital punishment tantamount to putting an animal down. In other words, I find it incredibly dehumanizing. The justice system shouldn't be in the business of dehumanizing citizens.

    The stock counterargument is along the lines of "the perp is a monster" or "the perp is inhuman" or whatever. I know for sure I've had that discussion. These are people, and the government is putting them to death. Considering it something other than that requires overlooking swaths of human psychology.

    I know people get a certain sense of relief or satisfaction at the idea of government-sanctioned killing of particularly brutal people. I get that. I simply don't think it's something that should be done, regardless of what people want.

    The intentional killing of human being outside of self-defence is considered one of the worst crimes imaginable. How wonderful that some people also consider it one of the most apt punishments—the main difference being the former is "unlawful" while the latter is "lawful."

    I consider it a distinction established on contrived notion of justice, particularly the idea that justice is meant to enforce a kind of harmony or fairness. In this case, if someone commits murder, it seems to be the case that the murderer should in turn be killed.

    Because killing is wrong. A society should protect and preserve life, allow it to flourish. So we must adequately punish something as horrific as killing. Well, perhaps I should use more accurate terminology: Unlawful killing — or murder — should be punished with lawful killing in large part because death is an incredibly undesirable state compared to life.

    It's all very contrived, I think. We could say it's contradictory:

    "Together with war, [the death penalty] was for a long time the other form of the right of the sword; it constituted the reply of the sovereign to those who attacked his will, his law, or his person. Those who died on the scaffold became fewer and fewer, in contrast to those who died in wars. But it was for the same reasons that the latter became more numerous and the former more and more rare. As soon as power gave itself the function of administering life, its reason for being and the logic of its exercise — and not the awakening of humanitarian feelings — made it more and more difficult to apply the death penalty. How could power exercise its highest prerogatives by putting people to death, when its main role was to ensure, sustain, and multiply life, to put this life in order? For such a power, execution was at the same time a limit, a scandal, and a contradiction. Hence capital punishment could not be maintained except by invoking less the enormity of the crime itself than the monstrosity of the criminal, his incorrigibility, and the safeguard of society. One had the right to kill those who represented a kind of biological danger to others."​

    — From “Right of Death and Power over Life,” Michel Foucault, Part Five,The History of Sexuality, Vol. I, 1978.​

    In other words, with capital punishment, they punish not the crime so much as provide a sense of comfort to society that some monstrosity has been eliminated.

    Is that a preferred mode of justice?

    It's big in Asia at least.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted Donor

    Yeah, we all got pretty worked up about the Central Park jogger, but the original convicted perps turned out to be innocent.

    Here's the problem: inflicting death is the easy, simple, permanent solution to any human problem.

    And the more you use it, the easier it gets.

    The argument is always that death would be justified in some imagined (or historical) extraordinary situation.

    Wow, you think, how could you NOT execute somebody like that?

    But, as the legal maxim goes, hard cases make bad law.

    When you engrave official rules for extraordinary situations, you distort all the ordinary ones.

    And you make it easier and easier to apply the death solution to a wider and wider range of cases.

    What was intended to be only extraordinary quickly becomes routine.

    It's just like torture. You might agree that there are situations so extreme that torture of a captive might be justified, under the circumstances of some very specific hypothetical emergency.

    But if you change the rules to make that torture okay, then you are agreeing that it might be okay in the future. And so therefore there will be torture research, torture training, torture specialists, torture facilities, etc., etc.

    And that way lies madness.

    It is much better to have a bright line: in a civilized country, prisoners will not be tortured -- or killed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
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  7. Stan

    Stan Resident Dumbass Donor

    Location:
    Colorado
    I really don't have a moral or ethical issue with the death penalty. It seems justifiable for the Chuck Mansons and John Wayne Gacys of this world. I just don't have a comfortable feeling that our justice system can write and enforce a set of laws that are 100% accurate. Nothing less will do. I'd rather see 1000 Chucks rot in prison for eternity (on my dime), than see a single innocent person executed on my behalf.
     
  8. Plan9

    Plan9 Standing in the Door Donor

    Location:
    This Island Earth
    And I'm going to say I'm the opposite. If 1 innocent dude has to get the needle as a part of the process that offs 1000 bad dudes, I'm cool with it.

    Perfect is the enemy of good enough. And we're never going to be perfect in any way, shape or form so to ask such of anything human is childish.

    No, but we can improve it by streamlining it and reducing the cost per kill. I'm Plan9 and I approved this message.

    /zombified high school debate team threads are the best

    /it's been over a year since a good gun control thread

    /blocking users really breaks debate threads

    ...

    ...

    I'm hoping I'll get a chance to trot out the old "Would you want the man that gleefully raped and sodomized your wife to get the death penalty?" show horse. It helps reveal who in the audience has, as Pam said, "balls made of pussy."
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
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  9. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Toronto
    Is this translated directly from the North Korean, or is it paraphrased? I'm assuming the latter, because I wasn't aware that they use needles.

    I don't think anyone is asking for it to be perfect, or is expecting it to be, which is why many support abolishing the practice. It may also explain why every developed nation (besides the U.S. and Japan—and I'm assuming Japan hasn't only because real estate is at a premium (so tiny!)—have abolished the practice.

    You should be the Supreme Leader of the United States of America.

    Have you also considered death panels to fix the health care system?

    No, but seriously: I admire how you guys take care of business in Mega-City One.

    Hitler wanted people to get the death penalty too.
     
  10. Plan9

    Plan9 Standing in the Door Donor

    Location:
    This Island Earth
    "Getting the needle" is cop talk for lethal injection, my friend. Pop culture is a necessary evil.

    The Japanese have a long tradition of honor-related killing things. Suicide, homicide, homicide-suicide.

    I don't have nearly enough vices.

    No, but I have considered "Operation: Invade Canada, Capture Healthcare Factories."

    Double Whammy.

    The circle is complete!

    /thread

    /until next year
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Strange Famous

    Strange Famous it depends on who is looking...

    Location:
    Ipswich, UK

    I would have thought that China is considered a developed nation?
     
  12. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Toronto
    China is technically headed towards industrialization. Much of the developed world has become post-industrial already.

    China also lacks the high GDP per capita that most developed countries have. Mexico and much of South America does better than China in that respect. China is ranked around 92 in the world in PPP per capita.

    China's rural population is about 48%, while the rural populations of the U.S., the U.K., and Canada are about 17%, 18%, and 19%, respectively.

    China has a big economy, but it has by no means an advanced economy. Not yet anyway. It also has much to be desired politically speaking.

    Basically: China is a developing nation but, like India, is different because of its size and political impact.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  13. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Location:
    Large City, TX
    Baraka_Guru, you're correct, much of the death penalty is for the comfort of society. And I'm OK with that aspect.

    I know people who are fine with being in prison, even life without a chance of parole. Prison doesn't scare the shit out them the way it would most of us.

    I'll try to post some clearer thoughts after I get a chance to really read the responses.
     
  14. DamnitAll

    DamnitAll Wait... what? Donor

    Location:
    Central MD
    Just going to leave this here.

    Food for thought, no?
     
  15. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Location:
    Large City, TX
    What considerations did the muderers give the victims, especially in cases where death was intentionally delayed and/or prolonged so that the victims could be sadistically tormented and/or tortured?
     
  16. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Toronto
    Turning to murderers as a benchmark for behaviour strikes me as odd (at best).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Baltimore/DC
    same old, same old
    too weary of getting into this debate again.
    but I'll simply say that I'm not against the death penalty. (if you can't tell from my previous battles in this thread)
     
  18. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Toronto
    I would probably be more okay with the death penalty if it included economic crimes, especially highly valued ones amongst white collar criminals. For example, the Enron executives found guilty should be executed along with the worst murderers. The lives they ruined... Bernie Madoff? Execute him too. Why not? If his crimes are worth 150 years in prison, surely they're worth execution.

    I do realize Madoff was operating in New York, so it's a non-starter, but Enron was based in Texas.

    I find this a contradiction in states that ostensibly support the death penalty for the worst of crimes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
    • Like Like x 2
  19. Plan9

    Plan9 Standing in the Door Donor

    Location:
    This Island Earth
    ...Italy is barely a country. Why are we concerned with them?

    ...

    This says more about the state of the pharmaceutical capacity of the US and the lack of proper regulation than it does the death penalty.

    Capital punishment or not, the US should be making ALL the drugs and there should be world-class quality control.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  20. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    Toronto
    Because they're way more Christian than you guys.