Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Death Penalty - Silver Age Party Plank

In Maryland there is a case where the anti-death penalty people are trying to block an execution and appealed the case because lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. This person has been on death row for 25 plus years and shot two innocent people in a hotel with over 70 bullets (there were to testify against another criminal and the person on death row was a hit man). Lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, what utter nonsense.

I have at times contemplated that perhaps the death penalty has outlived it usefulness and that if the penalty is put off 20 or more years it may have become pointless. I believe this position is wrong and the delay is the problem.

I favor the death penalty as some people are evil or have committed such horrendous acts, they have given up their chance to live. Instead of doing away with the death penalty, I believe it should be mandated to be enforced one year from sentencing and that only one appeal is allowed.

Call me barbaric, but some people no longer need to walk the earth. I would even accept the penalty for myself if I decided to do such an act. If someone did something terrible to my wife or daughters, I believe I have it in me to hunt them down and kill them slowly. If our laws say I have to die for that premeditated act, so be it.

The death penalty needs to be part of our justice system and needs to be enforced in a timely manner.

A quick aside - most people in favor of the death penalty are anti-abortion and most people who favor abortion are against the death penalty. It may just be me, but from a logic standpoint it seems like the positions are ill matched.


  1. Jim, I think you are missing the point of the anti-death penalty people. I am for the death penalty. However, Florida just put a ban on it until they figure out if lethal injection is cruel and unusual. See, the doctors of this nation have gotten together and decided that assisting in a lethal injection goes against the hypocratic oath they take to preserve life. So prison officials cannot find a doctor to administer the lethal cocktail. In Florida, they got someone to mix the lethal drugs, but that person refused to deliver it. The person they did get to deliver it screwed up. They did not do it properly. It took way too long and they had to inject the person multiple times. What should have been a humane, quick death turned out to be a botched mess that left even the most ardent death penalty advocate questioning lethal injection as a proper form of killing those put on death row. I agree that some people have forfeitted their right to live among the rest of us via their horrific acts, but just how would you end their lives if lethal injection is taken off the table? Is electrocution your method of choice??

  2. Jeff- This is going on in Maryland where we haven't botched one. Still lethal injection, gas, the chair, hanging, a firing squad are all okay to me. I think too often we forget about what these people did to their victims and worrying about the rights of the killer gets old to me, since you forfeit your rights once you decide to go down some roads.

  3. The point missed is that you're operating from the assumption that the person convicted of the crime is in fact guilty of the crime. Let's not forget that the same humans who can botch the administration of the execution are also deciding who is guilty. As IL has most glaringly shown, innocent people can spend many years on death row before the system realizes they got the wrong person. Similarly, in MD several people have been released from long terms, but no death sentences, because they eventually were proved to be innocent of the crime for which they were convicted.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm in favor of the death penalty. I'm not particularly ardent about it, though. If the good people of MD decided to ban it, I'd be fine with that, too. I think the death penalty ought to be reserved for cases in which there is indisputable evidence of guilt, not simply beyond a reasonable doubt. John Thanos, the first MD execution after the return of the death penalty, is a good example. He admitted his crimes and there was plenty of other evidence to support his admission. Reducing appeals to one and forcing the executions to be done within a year is a good way to execute a lot of innocent people. If we were to do that, we'd be no better than Libya, which just convicted a doctor and 5 nurses of intentionally infecting 400 children with AIDs, despite evidence that AIDs was already making its way through the hospital where the infections occurred prior to the arrival of the medical personnel. The medics have all been sentenced to death.

    By the way, I agree that pro execution and anti abortion are contradictory positions for one person to hold. I believe the rationalization is that the fetus is an innocent, whereas the convict is not. Not sure how that squares with the idea that we're all born with sin, though. But then these are the same people who advance the anti abortion position based on a small passage in the Bible wherein God is said to speak to the writer in the womb. Nevermind the other passage that calls for the killing of a fetus as a punishment for a parent. Biblical contradictions abound.

  4. I used to be for the death penalty fervently. However, that has changed. We've been falsly led to believe that DNA never lies. Untrue. For one thing, there was the famous case a few years back where one of the top DNA experts in this country, a female, was using her position to bring rough justice to rapists and murderers she thought might otherwise get away. For instance, if a man had raped and then killed a woman, this DNA expert would manufacture results putting the defendant on death row. She had an ax to grind against men who committed violence towards women. She figured if the cops arrested the guy, he must be the right guy so what's wrong with a little help putting him into the gas chamber? Eventually she was found out and several innocent men were freed. And that's my problem with the death penalty. It is irreversible. If you find out a mistake was made and an innocent man was killed, you cannot give that person his life back. Luckily that has never happened in this country thus far.
    I feel the death penalty should only be used in cases where there is clear evidence of guilt, beyond any shadow of a doubt. It's a good option to have, but I don't think it serves as a deterrent to crime. A study just came out that I found alarming. The average person serves merely 7-10 years for killing someone. That's laughable. We've become such a coddling society, so eager to look for excuses for antisocial behavior, that criminals are not being punished. Second chances and forgiveness are great things, but you must be held accountable for your actions. 10 years for murder is just not cutting it.

  5. -BANG- -BANG- -BANG- I say shoot them all. No muss no fuss. If you're dumb enough to get caught GOODBYE!!!

    What every serious conversation needs... a wiseass that adds nothing!

    WHEEE DOOGGIEE. Outlaw justice... Just like Loveless, best western on the stands!!!

  6. you'll never know - sounds like Lee.

  7. Jeff, does the statistic of 7-10 years account for all homicides? There's a wide range in penalty from manslaughter to murder, reflecting the state of mind of the killer and the circumstances of the killing. Manslaughter is usually an unintentional or self defense sort of killing. Sometimes prosecutors plea to that because the evidence is too weak for the more serious killings. So, the 7-10 years statistic, taken alone, is not really telling me anything.

    I have some first hand experience with convicted killers, as I have a cousin, a woman, who is serving a term of life without parole for a killing in PA. In fact, she did not kill the victim, but her husband did. (The victim was his first wife.) However, she was convicted of ading and abbetting, being present in the room when the killing occurred and allegedly egging him on. She didn't actually kill anyone but received the same term he did. So, I can't say the system is being terribly lenient in that circumstance.

    She's been in prison since 1974 or 1975 for this killing. While there she's obtained a college degree, magna cum laude, become an electrician, published poetry and many other things, but no governor of PA has been willing to commute her sentence to life with the possibility of parole, so it's all for naught more than her own edification and won't ever be used in the outside world. At this point she's in her 60s, so even if she should get out at some point, she's missed her son growing up, isn't able to be with her parents in their last years, and so on.

    Life without parole is not easy time, even for a woman. In many ways it's harder than the death penalty. The death penaly really only punishes the offender's family. (Being an atheist, I don't see any afterlife sightings for the deceased to enjoy.) Life without parole punishes the offender with brief glimpses of all that he or she is missing and will always miss.

  8. By the way, anonymous above is me. I forgot to put my name in.

  9. I also believe the death penalty should only be used when guilt is clearly established, as Thomm said.

    As for a couple of other points which Thomm brought up - the unborn child is innocent of any crime, let alone a crime worthy of the death penalty. This is why I can be pro-death penalty and anti-abortion.

    Thomm, your knowledge of the bible appears to be somewhat limited. There are several passages that reference G-d's dealings with the unborn; the Torah also assigned the death penalty to someone that struck a pregnant woman and caused her unborn child to die. (The famous passage about 'an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life' was actually part of the passage detailing the punishment for harming an unborn child.)

    The other factor which you may not be aware of is that the Hebrews, whose culture and beliefs heavily influenced the Christian religion, believed that children were a blessing from G-d. Being unable to have children was considered a curse. There was no need to forbid the Hebrews from having abortions because they wanted children. Given the laws regarding pre-marital sex, it was also unlikely that one would find many pregnant single women.

    As for a passage which calls for the killing of an infant as punishment for the parent - to what passage are you referring? Are you referring to the child conceived by David & Bathsheeba's adultery? Because there certainly weren't any laws that required the destruction of a child in order to punish a parent. (Sorry Jim, not meaning to hijack the content of the thread, just curious as to what Thomm was referencing.)

  10. Airelle - Hijack away, I like watching the discussion and usually learn something new myself.

    As an aside to Airelle - Gwen has finished Lost Season 2 now.

  11. Sweet! I hope she doesn't have anyone waiting in line for it...

  12. Arielle, I've found that my familiarity with the Bible is disturbingly greater than most who call themselves Christians. Disturbing largely because I'm an atheist. Anyway, the link below has much greater exposition on abortion and the Bible than I could muster here. He's a very intereting guy. A monotheist who was raised a conservative Christian but who has since made a hard turn to the left. He's quite eloquent and extremely well versed.


    Ok, it's not really a link in this format, so you'll have to copy and paste. Be sure to check out his About the Author section. He has an interesting point about the inconsistency of conservative movements in that they want to enforce their views on abortion and homosexuality but they don't want to legislate tithing (or the civil version, higher taxes).

    Anyway, the passage I was thinking about was not a child being killed as punishment of a parent but a pregnant woman being killed for her offense without regard to the "innocent" fetus. In the aforementioned site the author discusses that passage, too.

    I still don't get how anyone who's a Christian, particularly of the conservative stripe, can proclaim that a fetus is an innocent when the whole basis of Christianity is that we're all born with sin, the nature of our conception being what it is and all.

    I suppose that's why I have more contentment with my life as an atheist than most people of faith (any faith) I know. No need to worry about interpreting my life through someone else's book. No need to worry about what happens when I die. Just do the best I can in the here and now. Learn all I can while I'm here. Pass it along to the next generation. It's probably why sci fi and comics appeal to me, too. A lot of underlying "faith" that humanity will get things better with more knowledge gained and passing that knowledge along.

  13. Thomm,

    My apologies, first, that I didn't respond sooner - the holidays tend to cut down on my internet time.

    I believe you when you say that you are better versed in the Bible than many so-called Christians. Just because you read it, however, does not mean you understood it.

    The whole basis of Christianity is not that we are sinful - the whole basis of Christianity is that our sin separates us from the holy and perfect G-d who created us, but that through the blood shed by the sacrifice of His son Yeshua, we are reconciled to Him and freed from our sin.

    I believe that the unborn child possesses a 'sin nature' which, when it grows old enough, will manifest itself in sinful behavior; I also believe that the unborn child is innocent in the sense that it has not yet committed any sin. It has certainly not committed any sin worthy of the death penalty.

    The murderer that is executed is executed because of a choice that he or she willingly made.

    The unborn child that is executed is executed not because of a choice that it made, but because of a choice that its parents made.

  14. I still plan to address the aspect of a pregnant woman being given the death penalty, but I don't have the time to respond to it properly right now.

  15. Arielle, no problem on the timing, though we've now been moved into "old posts".

    As you've said, this is what you believe, which is fine by me. But is that in the Bible? Does it say anywhere that we are conceived with a "sin nature"? From a moral perspective, what's the difference between being inherently sinful in nature and having committed a sin? From a legal perspective there's a lot of difference between intent and commission, but in ethical discussions there's often little to no difference. I'm reminded of Jimmy Carter's admission to having sinned in his heart, which he clearly felt was as bad as having actually committed the sin and something for which he had to repent.

    Like I said, what you believe is fine. I don't think the Bible makes for a very good basis for anyone's philosophy, though. It's not one coherent work of theology but a compendium of works written over many centuries under different circumstances and cultural imperatives. Trying to make a coherent philosophy out of the New Testament alone is nigh on impossible. Nevermind the writings of those same eras that were deemed unworthy by later editors. As a result, contradictions and omissions abound. So, while you have a coherent belief system, the Bible does not.