- This topic is empty.
April 30, 2014 at 4:26 am #611181
This new study demonstrates the barbaric nature of the death penalty. Innocent people are killed. This is not morally acceptable. It’s unnecessary. We have prisons to remove undesirables from society. The state should not have the power to kill its own citizens. Ever.April 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm #807740April 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm #807741
“… estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.”
I used to be pro-death penalty, until I understood that there cannot exist an acceptable innocent-to-guilty ratio that justifies the death penalty. That, and that even the most heinous, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt cases (Aurora Massacre, Ft. Hood, etc.) cannot erase killing an innocent person.
(The effect of that thought process is intensified if you put yourself as the innocent person about to be executed, or if you’re the executioner.)
But never, even on my most cynical of days, would I have thought that the innocent-to-guilty ratio could be 1/25! Mind:Blown.
Thank you for sharing that, Dobro!April 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm #807742
OK, I realize this will be a controversial post but I thought it would be important to at least point out what sometimes bothers me about my fellow liberals. (I’ll get to that in a second after I lay out my argument.)
My premise: It’s important to maintain philosophical integrity when making societal rules. And since those rules are often arbitrary in nature, it makes it even more important to create consistency of thought so that your societal members can both understand the concept of guilt and innocence and to extrapolate for themselves the concept of right and wrong, guide their own behaviour and have a sense of applied group “justice”.
I do not doubt that CP has and will be misapplied as it is currently used. That’s because it gets applied in cases where there is in fact the possibility of error. Point taken.
Here’s a question for you: Is it possible to have ZERO doubt about who perpetrated some crime? To use a shortcut here, I’ll concede that some percentage of executions are mistakes if you concede that it’s possible to have a crime with ZERO doubt of the perpetrator. (If this needs to be argued, I revoke your “capacity for critical thought” card.) OK? We’ll move on with that stake in the ground.
Next – The issue of state-sanctioned ending of “life”.
Here’s where my fellow liberals hearts sometimes overrules their heads. When it comes to abortion, we have a gray area when it comes to the (arbitrary) definition of life. Some say at conception (I don’t), some say at birth, others somewhere in between. What we DO know is that SOME percentage (and it may very well be small, we don’t have much data but it DOES exist) of fetuses aborted near the latest legal point are viable and could survive to infancy and beyond.
Society has deemed it legal and therefore appropriate to allow woman to choose to end what COULD be a viable life. (I agree with this on several levels and not just in the case of birthmother health risks.)
That concept to some – indeed many – in this society is abhorrent and to borrow a term from dobro, “barbaric”.
What I’m pointing out is that the same philosophical basis for allowing abortions to be legal is the same for allowing CP. This society has used its capacity of rule-making to allow ending of life under certain circumstances. One cloaks an individual with legal immunity (moral immunity is another discussion), and the other cloaks judges and juries with the same.
Should they both be as limited as possible to reduce the percentage of…pick your word, “innocents”, “mistakes”, etc.?? Absolutely. And they both are.
But you cannot philosophically eliminate CP as an option without breaking the logic you use to justify abortion.
And again, I’m not making a moral argument here, although there’s plenty of room for that to be discussed, this is about societal rules and legality. Rules of law tend to be abstracted from the underlying shared morality of a society, but as we can see, CP and abortion are two of the most hotly debated moral questions. But when it comes to legality, you either take them both (with whatever limitations society sees fit to impose) or you eliminate both – if you care about the integrity of your rules of law. Which is why I’m fine with both being rare and legal.April 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm #807743
I think you’re conflating two very different things with one rather nebulous connection to justify your view.
You’re arguing for a “consistency” of thought to justify decisions that you admit are arbitrary.When you boil that down, what it amounts to is making stuff up to make yourself feel better about decisions that have no justification in fact. I would say that this kind of thinking is one of the most corrosive philosophies to inflict on a pluralistic society.April 30, 2014 at 3:55 pm #807744April 30, 2014 at 3:56 pm #807745
And what are your thoughts on abortion, if I may ask? Society attempts to address the issue the only way it can – law. How do you reconcile your thoughts on that issue?April 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm #807746
If I get what you’re saying, you think having an underlying logic or consistency of thought and application as it pertains to legality is what…useless? Or difficult? Or, what exactly?
I happen to think it a necessary requirement to having a just society where people can feel like the law is applied equally and fairly regardless of other factors. Maybe you don’t?April 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm #807747
Death penalty and abortion are two very very different issues. If every argument about the death penalty is allowed to be hijacked by the abortion argument, nothing fruitful can come of it. The gulf between the pro-choice and anti-choice will not ever be bridged. But I do think we can re-establish the end of the death penalty in the US.April 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm #807748
I would say that it MIGHT be possible for someone who was present on the scene of a murder to have ZERO doubt (how completely do you trust your senses?), but I believe that it is absolutely impossible for those removed from an event, a judge and a jury for instance, to have ZERO doubt.
Therefore, the lesser-standard REASONABLE doubt is used.
Also, analogizing a criminal/defendant with a fetus/infant is problematic because these are very different relationships. For instance, a defendant cannot destroy the legal system, but a fetus can kill the woman.
As far as the abortion debate goes, as long as pregnancies incur some degree of medical risk (people are sometimes unaware that thousands of women die every year from complications due to pregnancy), I believe that government should not come between a woman and her doctor. IF the fetus is a life, then the woman is CERTAINLY a life, therefore I believe erring on the side of the doctor and patient is the best option.
If science advances to the point that a fetus can be raised to term outside of a human body, then I believe the abortion debate changes significantly. But then other questions come up, e.g., are we as taxpayers willing to fully fund a system to care for these children?
And judging by the political fights that we have regarding educating the children that we have now, lunch programs, health care, etc., the answer seems to be HELL NO.April 30, 2014 at 4:22 pm #807749
Um…we already have a functioning consensus (settled law), it just happens to be under debate, as are a number of other hot moral issues. Both are legal.
My point is primarily that liberals (I am one) try to logically squirm around the difficult part of making law on topics like these moral conundrums. I’m trying to be intellectually honest with myself about these issues – and whether one likes it or not, denying that there’s a common and related component to them as it pertains to law DOESN’T make it go away. If they’re related in concept, you should relate the solutions. If one disagrees with that, then they’re essentially ok with being dishonest with themselves.
I’m all for limiting CP to a very, very small number of cases with zero doubt and only for crimes society deems most heinous. That would be a serious attempt at reducing the actual number of mistakes to zero.April 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm #807750
MM, I just took away your critical thinking card. You just suggested that there’s NO crime that has ZERO doubt as to the perpetrator. You want to use that as your functioning assumption? I find that intellectually dishonest.
And to your points about abortion: Are you suggesting that ALL abortions are because of health risk to the mother?? Clearly that’s not the case and likely those are in the minority of cases as opposed to the majority.
And as to your point about fetus’ viability, we already spend lots of society’s resources on premies that survive now. And you won’t get a doctor to tell you that at least SOME of these aborted fetuses wouldn’t survive with that same level of care that premies do.
All of which is to say, the abortion debate is already where you said it changes.April 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm #807751
And I realize this is a rare occurrence but it does happen and it relates to my point.
Person A) Convicted criminal asks to be executed straight away, no stays, no debate. (As MM suggests, this person can NEVER be certain to have committed said crime.)
Person B) Terminally ill individual asks to be allowed to commit suicide by the hand of their choosing.
Should both be legal? Only one? Which?April 30, 2014 at 4:53 pm #807752
2 Much WhineParticipant
I have heard it argued that the death penalty is one of the only tools/threats that prisons have to act as a deterrent for prisoners that are sentenced to life. Not being put to death is that one last carrot that they dangle in front of those folks to keep them under some sort of control while behind bars. I’m not advocating one way or the other. Just recognizing that there is another aspect of this dilemma that has not been mentioned.
I am surprised nobody mentioned that it is Obama’s fault. . . . .April 30, 2014 at 4:58 pm #807753
Cuz THAT’S a given! ;-)
And to quote, Mike and Darrel Issa, BENGHAZI!!!April 30, 2014 at 5:26 pm #807754
“I’m all for limiting CP to a very, very small number of cases with zero doubt and only for crimes society deems most heinous.”
Of course you are. That sounds like a reasonable position until you admit that, in the legal sense, there are exactly zero cases with zero doubt (which is why legal standards posit, as MM says, reasonable doubt and maintain an “innocent til proven guilty” standard that is the bedrock of the legal system). And until you admit that innocent people are and have been killed (not just a few times, either) in the course of executions.
“OK, what did I “make up” and where are my facts wrong?”
You’re making up a tenuous connection between two things that are not similar except that they involve death.
“To use a shortcut here, I’ll concede that some percentage of executions are mistakes if you concede that it’s possible to have a crime with ZERO doubt of the perpetrator. (If this needs to be argued, I revoke your “capacity for critical thought” card.)”
So you invoke a “shortcut” that says “this is what the truth is and if you disagree you have no critical thinking ability”. Nice.And you don’t need to “concede” the fact that innocent people have been executed. It’s true and proven, whether you “concede” it or not to set up your false compromise.
“What I’m pointing out is that the same philosophical basis for allowing abortions to be legal is the same for allowing CP. This society has used its capacity of rule-making to allow ending of life under certain circumstances.”
No, what you’re pointing out is two situations in which death is involved that, in fact, have no philosophical relation to each other. And if you disagree, I think I’ll revoke your critical… uhh…nevermind.April 30, 2014 at 5:35 pm #807755
I don’t agree with your assessment of my points, dobro.
These things don’t just involve death, they involve the society sanctioning the legality of taking a viable life. If that’s not sufficient for you to make a connection, then so be it but it’s a connection none-the-less. Your reduction is a misrepresentation of my whole point.
Which I suspect IS your whole point. You don’t care to ponder the connection so you can focus on what doesn’t cause your argument any stress.
And using the word, “nice” implies you think that there is NO crime where the perpetrators are certain to be guilty 100%. Is that true? That’s a serious question. And if you are positive that one can never be certain of guilt, then you’re questioning the whole legal system. Which is your right but I don’t know how you create a functional society by that.
So back at you…uh…nevermind.April 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm #807756
And I’d be genuinely interested in your response to the question of Persons A & B should you care to share.April 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm #807757
“And if you are positive that one can never be certain of guilt, then you’re questioning the whole legal system.”
Wrong. The legal system does not operate on a principle of certainty. It operates on a principle of judgement. That’s why you’re innocent until proven guilty. That’s why when you are proven guilty, the thing that is handed down is a judgement, not a certificate of “certainty”. A judge presides over a trial and after all the evidence is offered a judgement is made based on reasonable doubt and, in civil cases, a preponderance of evidence, a lesser standard. None of these legal standards include “certainty.”
“…they involve the society sanctioning the legality of taking a viable life. If that’s not sufficient for you to make a connection, then so be it but it’s a connection none-the-less.”
“Viable” is a word used in connection with fetuses. Adult criminals subject to the death penalty are not referred to as “viable” life. They are by nature of their adulthood simply “life”. Once again, you’re conflating things that are not related to try and make a point. These comparisons are false and the premise of your argument is false.April 30, 2014 at 6:36 pm #807758
“Person A) Convicted criminal asks to be executed straight away, no stays, no debate. (As MM suggests, this person can NEVER be certain to have committed said crime.)”
Person A is a convicted criminal. He/she doesn’t get to make the rules. Once convicted, he/she is subject to the rules and direction of the prison/legal system. He/she can ask, but there is no obligation to accede to his/her wishes. Personally, I don’t think these rules should include capital punishment.
“Person B) Terminally ill individual asks to be allowed to commit suicide by the hand of their choosing.”
Terminally ill individual has free choice and, in my opinion, should be able to make that choice as long it can be determined (a judgement made) by the medical and legal community that it is, indeed, their choice and not influenced by others with some interest in the person’s demise.
Once again, you’re positing two situations with a tenuous connection, trying to find some way to make your logic line up.April 30, 2014 at 6:40 pm #807759
When you are a victim of murder, you have no right’s, you are dead and gone. But the sympathetic views for the killer is a Republican train of thought. Republicans will give killers and murderers a second,third and fourth chances at life and say he was a victim of a bad upbringing. Hence Tuba Man’s killers. It was a Republican judge that freed the Tuba Man’s killer. Look it up. I hate Republicans don’t you? They breed ignorance.April 30, 2014 at 7:19 pm #807760
Oy… OK, dobro, I’d be happy to take out “viable” from the statement and it doesn’t change a thing. BOTH ISSUES resolve around society’s sanctioning the legality of taking life. If you want to deny that connection, you get to but that just means you don’t want to recognize it. Otherwise, feel free to argue that abortion is not taking life. That’s the only way you can dissemble my argument logically, cuz what you’ve done so far is to clearly avoid that half of the linkage. And quite obviously so.
And I also noticed that you are committed to the notion that one can literally NEVER be certain of guilt. OK, if that’s what you want to bank on, you can. I think it’s functionally silly and intellectually dishonest but you certainly have that right. Personally, I’m 100% certain that John Wayne Gacy killed a large number of boys/men. Maybe you aren’t?
I get your positions on the Person A & B scenario but I don’t agree with it re: Person A.
I’m trying to align your idea of never being sure of guilt (and BTW, does that include someone who pleads guilty?) and a person’s right to have their sentence carried out as the state has lawfully requested. I get that convicted criminals have limited rights – that makes sense – but your position indicates ALL rights, as in the ultimate right of living or dying, correct?
I think it odd that the same person who is potentially innocent (using the uncertainty factor but has NO rights to their life apparently) but still WANTS to have their sentence carried out quickly and the state agrees, why that needs to be interfered with?April 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm #807761
Lots of people have bashed “pro-lifers” for inconsistency when it comes to support for capital punishment, so I suppose it is fair for Wakeflood to turn the table. However, I don’t agree that the link is inviolable or even particularly persuasive, and certainly not definitive of intellectual honesty.
The state (a non-person entity) administers capital punishment. Assisted suicide and abortion are administered by persons. Even if you argue that the state is simply carrying out the instructions of persons (i.e., the jury), this distinction matters. And since the state is acting on behalf of all persons in the jurisdiction, I have a greater “interest” in whether and how capital punishment is applied than I do in any given individual’s decision regarding abortion or assisted suicide. Likewise, I have more interest/standing in terms of “self-defense” statutes than I do in terms of abortion or assisted suicide but less than in terms of capital punishment. And if my interest is different, my actions (voting, lobbying, protesting, whatever) can also be different without a loss of integrity.
Bottom line for me: capital punishment does no one any good and is unnecessary for justice, protection, or the rule of law. I stand and act against it in all cases.April 30, 2014 at 7:40 pm #807762
Another way to look at Person A is to ask what would happen to his/her request if capital punishment were abolished. Shame, self-hatred, depression, the desire to atone for the crime, or desire to avoid life in prison would not be accepted as reasons for assisted suicide.April 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm #807763
“MM, I just took away your critical thinking card.”
Well darn. I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight.
You should re-read what I posted, closely this time (stop skimming and assuming you already know what I wrote), and then research David Hume and the Problem of Induction.
“And to your points about abortion: Are you suggesting that ALL abortions are because of health risk to the mother?? Clearly that’s not the case and likely those are in the minority of cases as opposed to the majority.”
No. But then, how many pregnant women dying in order to preserve what MIGHT be life is acceptable to you? I say zero; you seem to suggest a larger number.
That’s what I get for walking into a troll thread.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.