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The Death Penalty.

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Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:27 pm
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Confictura says...



Amfliflier wrote:Actually Confictura, I believe they kill people with a lethal injection, not a bullet. Just letting you know. And I didn't mean that you were automatically against it because of the family member, it was just an example.


I'm not that familiar with methods of execution but I'm pretty sure firing squads were popular at some time or another, there's also the electric chair, which last time I checked was NOT a lethal injection. :)

AuroraOrodel wrote:
Kamas wrote:
Capital Punishment is unconstitutional, inefficient, and remains in my mind, the epitome of hypocrisy. But, it's not an issue that can be resolved from the opinion of outsiders. It up to the people living within a place with capital punishment to determine if they wish to keep it or not. The death sentence itself is an age-old argument.


Can you cite Supreme Court rulings or Constitutional passages that state capital punishment is unconstitutional, or is this a statement of opinion?

The questions you can ask yourself is say, is execution by state just as immoral as the killing of a private citizen? Does it deter from crimes to be committed? Does it punish criminals for their actions?


I don't know what a private citizen is, but you and I clearly operate under different sets of morality. If someone is guilty of really awful heinous stuff (not just murder, but serial rape/torture/mutilation for example) I, personally, would have no moral qualms about sending said person to their very painful death. Crimes of this nature are often committed out of some sort of psychosis and those who commit them are unlikely to be deterred by much of anything. By executing someone convicted of such crimes, honestly convicted with no doubt in anyone's mind, the guilty party is got rid of.

In my opinion, the hypocrisy that is the death sentence should A. Be abolished B. The mindset of this law to be applied to all other forms of justice.

You murder a murderer. Alright, sure. So therefore you would steal x amount from a thief, beat up a abuser, rape a rapist, burn down the home of an arsonist. Then it's fair, you've done back to them as they have to society. So to remove a dangerous individual from society through their death, by giving them a taste of their own medicine. What would you do with the rapist, the arsonist, the abuser once they've had theirs? Send them back into society, when you have no doubt they'll commit the crime again? Course not. You put them in jail.


Or, since they'll have already been punished, instead of tossing them in prison to fester and become part of prison culture, you honestly rehabilitate them. Besides, sending them back into society when we have no doubt they'll commit the crime again is exactly what we do now with the criminals you mentioned. I happen to think forcing a thief to pay back the amount stolen would be smart...

Does jail not remove a threat from society? Is the purpose of law rehabilitation rather then destruction?


You have a very rosy opinion of the prison system. Rehab programs are the first to be cut under economic strain. Prisons right now (in the US anyway) are grossly over crowded and underfunded, so much so that prisons are becoming privatized, and being private means there is little to no action take to protect or rehabilitate prisoners. Prisoners aren't rehabilitated, they are simply chucked in and chucked out because that's the way the criminal-industrial system profits. The current US prison system is not set up to rehabilitate prisoners or put an end to crime, it's set up to ideally support the revenue the states earn from crime.

Murder is a mortal sin, the taking of a life is never ever justifiable. But, if you get down to the nitty-gritty, isn't the doctor that administers the poison into a criminal's veins, or the person who pulls the switch for the electrical chair, just as much of a murderer? Murderers kill for their own justified reasons, which in all cases are false. But then those people involved in the death of this criminal, their justifiable reason is justice? Getting rid of a threat?


Mortal sin is a value judgment that not everyone holds to. The doctors who perform the executions are enacting the wishes of political bodies beyond themselves, political bodies which, according to our laws, have the social power to make this order. Their justifiable reason is we, the community, have deemed the accused's actions to be so heinous and irredeemable that he/she can no longer persist among society in any fashion. The execution is provoked by the guilty party's actions and justified by the judge and jury who made the conviction. Murder, as has been previously stated, is the taking of a life without provocation, unlawful, and premeditated. Execution is provoked (as has been explained) and lawful, and committed without malice.

Aurora, you may say it is removing a threat from society. Yes. It is. As that person will never come back to harm another being. But is that justifiable? Isn't it the same if someone in a community went out with a hand gun and shot another person and claimed they were a threat to their family so it had to be done. They'll still go to jail, they'll still be murderers themselves despite this same reasoning. The killing of anyone is wrong, irrelevant of their reasoning or whether it's done by a person or a person working for the state.


And in a court of law, that person would be sent to jail, but would most likely not be given a death sentence. He would be punished even if he had removed a legitimate threat because there are other, legal avenues of dealing with the situation. You continue to see this issue in stark black and white, as if any crime which involves a murder or death is automatically a death row case. It is not. Every case is dependent on the situation and particulars of that case! It is always, always subjective.

Having the backing of the law, which is a social contract whereby the community of the governed gives power to the elected bodies, makes all the difference in the justification of taking a life. By our own legal code, the situation you present here and a death row execution are not the same thing. As I said before, you and I operate under different moralities, and in mine killing off a dangerous crazy bugger who has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a dangerous crazy bugger is morally acceptable.

Not only this but the methods we use are known to go wrong. Becoming inhumane very quickly. Jimmy Lee Gray (1983) was put to death in the gas chamber. Eight minutes later, the gas was not killing him and Gray was still alive banging his head against a steel pipe.

Joseph Tafero, the electric chair, he remained alive for six minutes and as flames began shooting out of his head.

John Wayne Gacy was still alive for 18 minutes after he was given a lethal injection. Potassium chloride is inserted with three times the medical dosage. The process is difficult and a ridiculous amount of things could and have gone wrong. Even administering the drug too quickly stops the heart before the brain stops working, leading to seizure like reaction for several minutes and immense burning pain before the inmate subdues.


We kill beloved pets by lethal injection, why not detested criminals? Besides, if the person did something horrible enough to incur a death sentence, why should they get a peaceful death? Their victims sure didn't. This may be a harsh view, but its a view that exists.

And that leads to the point that, what in the world do we do if they're innocent?
In the past 4 years, 17 people that were on death row were exonerated due to DNA evidence. Combined these people spent a combined 207 years in prison out of which 187 of them were on death row. And if you think about it, only 29 people were executed in 2010. These are people that were cleared before their sentence, who knows how many innocent men and women have been executed for crimes they haven't committed. What do you do then, how can you give them back their life, how can you take away the hurt you gave the families in the death of their loved one, how can you cure the emotional distress they endured in all the trails and the money they paid. What do you do then? Say oops and continue as is?


The past is the past, and we can't change what was done in it. We can only learn from it. Situations like this are the reason I think death sentences are given in haste, but it doesn't make me think the practice should be nationally abolished. A death sentence should be for the absolute worst of the worst, those clinically beyond rehabilitation who have no remorse for the crimes they willfully committed. And yes, I believe the judge and jury, informed by the testimony of licensed professionals, have the right to decide if the accused belongs in that category. Our laws and legal system give them that right.


Capital punishment is ineffective. 29 people in 2010 were executed in the United States. As of 2008, 3,263 criminals were awaiting execution in the United States.
It's complex, expensive (far more so then life in jail.), and time-consuming appeals procedures mandated in some jurisdictions. The condemned spend years before the execution actually happens, the longest serving recently executed inmate served 33 years on death row before being executed in 2008. Not only that, a quarter of the deaths that occur on death row are from natural causes.

So make them wait to be killed, but they die in the waiting line? Why pay more when they could just rot until they died in regular, less expensive prison?


Which to me begs the question: why? Why is the process so long? I keep seeing the history of the lengthy process, but no clear reasons why it can take upwards of 30 years. The slowness of it is caused by exhausting every possible avenue to ensure guilt. Add to that, why do they need special prisons at all? What's the justification for separate housing?

Death row itself violates just as many constitutional agreements as the criminal themselves did. Not only through the taking away of a person's (despite their actions) right to life. But sitting in a cell, awaiting your death is a form of mental cruelty and torture on a basis. Torture is in violation of many constitutional agreements, as well as the U.D.H.R you regard so causally. The mental illness that often inflicts those waiting on death row is called the death row phenomena which can then grow into death row syndrome. Inflicting further mental pressure on these criminals is in itself unconstitutional and the process could lead to claims of insanity, which is very possible, to which death row will be rendered even more useless. Because they drove all the wackos conscience of their actions crazy, therefore in law have to send them to jail.


This, however, we are in agreement on. If a man is convicted and sentenced to death in 1960, why why WHY wait until 2010 to carry out the sentence? If there is even any doubt in a case, if appeals are ongoing, there is no reason to place the accused in a special "death row" prison or to confine them according to a different timetable. Let them exist in normal prison while the lawyers deal with each other.

Yet on the flip side, if a murderer on death row is guilty and knows it, has been convicted, and yet keeps choosing to prolong the appeals, as is his/her right, whose responsibility is that, really? It's still being debated:

(from 2009)
In the capital case, Thompson v. McNeil, No. 08-7369, two justices said the delay in executing William L. Thompson, convicted of a participating in the gruesome torture and murder of a woman in 1976, warranted attention from the court.

Justice John Paul Stevens, who has been increasingly vocal about his discomfort with the death penalty generally, said that Mr. Thompson’s confinement in “especially severe conditions” and two near-death experiences as executions were stayed at the last minute were dehumanizing.

“Executing defendants after such long delays is unacceptably cruel,” Justice Stevens wrote.

Justice Breyer added that Mr. Thompson’s accomplice may have been more culpable but did not receive the death penalty. At a resentencing hearing, a jury that heard evidence on this point recommended, 7 to 5, that Mr. Thompson be sentenced to death.

Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed with his two colleagues. Justice Thomas set out the details of the crime in vivid detail and said that Mr. Thompson, who had twice pleaded guilty, was the source of the delays and so should not be their beneficiary.

“It is the crime — and not the punishment imposed by the jury or the delay in petitioner’s execution — that was ‘unacceptably cruel,’ ” Justice Thomas wrote.


I read up on the oldest man to die on death row, and his is a very interesting story. He led a life of crime, was in and out of prison constantly, and was given ample, ample opportunity to change his life: he chose not to. He chose to be a criminal, he chose to fatally shoot people when he, an experienced criminal, could easily have shot to wound. The crime that got him the death sentence (a murder during a robbery; not his first murder) was committed when he was 62. Personally, even given his con-man, armed robbery, escaping from prison record, I don't believe a death sentence was justified, and after a certain point there's no point to keeping a death row inmate on death row. His story has been used to rile people up about the inhumanity of capital punishment because of his age and poor health when he died. However...look at the man's life. His last crime was at 62 after a lifetime of imprisonment. How many chances to change did he get? He could have chosen to redeem himself at any time, but instead he continued as an armed robber and murderer. I'm not bringing this up to prove that he "deserved" his sentence, because I've already stated that I don't believe he did. I'm bringing this up to show that sometimes prison isn't effective. And to pose a question: At what point does it stop being the legal system's responsibility to "fix" criminals and start being the criminal's responsibility to fix themselves?

As many of the examples make abundantly clear, criminal trials are never cut and dry, never black and white. Would it be more humane to keep our especially depraved killers in death row-like conditions for life, being driven slowly insane? Or should everyone be tossed into the same prison, irregardless of their crime? If you're going to advocate for ending one method of dealing with the most heinous criminals, what do you suggest in its place?


Damnit Aurora, I can't fall in love at such a young age! stop being so awesome and having my exact points of views! :D

Honestly, if we were to go with the "Eye-for-Eye" method then it should go like this.

I killed x amount of people with a rusty cheese grater and a LOT of time on my hands.

I can
A: Live the rest of my life in prison and towards the end of my years I get a death as painful as my victims'.
B: Accept a death as horrible as my victims'

Because, like someone said. Potassium Chloride can cause seizure like deaths right? Well what about the "Respectful Psychopaths" who killed their victims after giving them an injection that made it so they wouldn't feel a thing? so that his victims had a "Peaceful" death? Should his repsect not be repaid? I agree that he must be "Put-Down" for the sake of the community, but should we kill him like a feral beast through inhumane methods? or with the same peace and respect that he gave his victims?
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Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:20 am
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PenguinAttack says...



As a very basic reply:

I do not, and never shall, believe that there is any justifiable reason to kill another human being. There are shades of grey to every story, but to kill a man is to take a part of yourself away, to dampen those natural beauties the human exists with.

Clearly the death penalty is not a very effective deterrent, as it doesn't seem to prevent many crimes, it only compounds on top of the crimes of a man who has left his own humanity behind. Certainly, I find the death penalty to be without a sense of moral or ethical honesty, without humanity and without soul.

To lock a man away is most assuredly the more tortorous of lessons for a man who commits such crimes as a penalty such as death should meet.
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Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:31 pm
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Galerius says...



So you believe that murderers have cast away their humanity but you despise the death penalty because it's... inhuman. I don't get it.

Furthermore, the point never was - and never should be - that criminals somehow "deserve" to feel the pain inflicted on others. Whoever falls into that mindset by saying "Oh, jail is just as agonizing" is completely missing the subject and needs to go over the pro-death penalty arguments again. Whether someone deserves pain and how much he deserves it is a topic that is dangerously subjective and the law should not touch upon it.




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Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:40 pm
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AuroraOrodel says...



I find it very interesting that most people throughout this thread who oppose the death penalty point blank oppose it on grounds of it's inhumanity, but condone the use of psychological torture via life imprisonment as a better, more morally easy way of dealing with extreme criminals. So I ask again, quoting myself:

Would it be more humane to keep our especially depraved killers in death row-like conditions for life, being driven slowly insane? Or should everyone be tossed into the same prison, irregardless of their crime? If you're going to advocate for ending one method of dealing with the most heinous criminals, what do you suggest in its place?
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Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:53 pm
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Kamas says...



My opinion resumed because I don't feel the need to write another long explanation of my views:

Psychopaths who murder violently and without feeling deserve to rot in hell. When they do so though, is not up to us.

Furthermore, the point never was - and never should be - that criminals somehow "deserve" to feel the pain inflicted on others. Whoever falls into that mindset by saying "Oh, jail is just as agonizing" is completely missing the subject and needs to go over the pro-death penalty arguments again. Whether someone deserves pain and how much he deserves it is a topic that is dangerously subjective and the law should not touch upon it.


This, I can agree with. The issue I have with the point of view many people take is to kill people off who are nut cases and deserve to suffer death. Or people who believe jail is far more painful. I don't believe it's even that far into grey territory.

I believe it's far more black and white of an argument (which is why it's very difficult to come to a consensus). The argument is, do we have the right to infringe a right and take the life of someone who infringed that right.
It's hypocritical and I have high morals so, no.
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Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:15 am
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PenguinAttack says...



Galerius wrote:So you believe that murderers have cast away their humanity but you despise the death penalty because it's... inhuman. I don't get it.


Gallyallyarous: I don't see how those two things don't make sense? Murderers do cast away their humanity in my eyes. So does the death penalty. To kill another human being in such a way is to murder them, and thereby removes the humanity from the situation. So, I'm not sure what you're getting at there.

Added to which, I don't believe that criminals deserve to feel the pain they inflicted on others at all, instead I just feel that the alternative to murdering the criminal is to gaol them. If that has to be for life, then it has to be, that isn't my decision to make, thankfully.

To Aurora: I feel your post was directed at me in this instance, as mine was the most recent post opposing the penalty, so I shall reply: I don't oppose the death penalty because it is inhumane, I oppose it because it's murder. I do not believe in killing other human beings, and I often struggle even with humane deaths.

On the psychological torture of life imprisonment, it is as I've said above. If one has to find an alternative, and that is the best we have, then that is what we do. On your quote, I suggest you look at other governments who do not use the death penalty, I believe they will be examples of what I would suggest in re-placement.

Kamas puts it all very well in her last lines.
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Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:55 am
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Galerius says...



PenguinAttack wrote: Gallyallyarous: I don't see how those two things don't make sense? Murderers do cast away their humanity in my eyes. So does the death penalty. To kill another human being in such a way is to murder them, and thereby removes the humanity from the situation.


If murderers already spoiled their humanity in your eyes, then what moral objection do you have to killing them? Using your logic, we wouldn't really be killing a person anyway - just a husk that once used to be a person.

Added to which, I don't believe that criminals deserve to feel the pain they inflicted on others at all, instead I just feel that the alternative to murdering the criminal is to gaol them. If that has to be for life, then it has to be, that isn't my decision to make, thankfully.


That is not what you said. What you said was "To lock a man away is most assuredly the more tortorous of lessons for a man who commits such crimes."

So do you support torturing criminals or don't you? If you don't, then that above quote is meaningless and I'm not sure why you said it.




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AuroraOrodel says...



PenguinAttack wrote:
To Aurora: I feel your post was directed at me in this instance, as mine was the most recent post opposing the penalty, so I shall reply: I don't oppose the death penalty because it is inhumane, I oppose it because it's murder. I do not believe in killing other human beings, and I often struggle even with humane deaths.


Earlier in the debate we defined the difference between murder and killing, and they are not the same thing. You see murder as bad and immoral, yes? But believe that people who have no respect for life should get a life of free housing, free meals, and (sometimes) free education? Or maybe they should be put in solitary (which is strictly regulated in "normal" prison, and is not a viable sentence by itself)? Or should they still be kept in "death row" prisons that have been documented to cause severe mental issues, just without the eventual "death"?

On the psychological torture of life imprisonment, it is as I've said above. If one has to find an alternative, and that is the best we have, then that is what we do. On your quote, I suggest you look at other governments who do not use the death penalty, I believe they will be examples of what I would suggest in re-placement.

Kamas puts it all very well in her last lines.


So...you do prefer slowly torturing them over a quick death after which no one has to deal with them? You don't believe they should suffer for the pain they've caused, but you advocate making them suffer? I still don't see how people who have moral qualms about killing a murderer can be just fine with locking them up where they can terrorize others or in prison conditions so awful they slowly go mad and likely commit suicide anyway. It's just prolonging their inevitable death.

As regarding Kamas' last lines, I think there is a mistaken concept that rights are inherent. They are not. We believe that they are, but as the late George Carlin pointed out, are they really rights if they can be taken away? Where do they come from? They come from agreed upon social contracts. We give them to ourselves. There is no hypocrisy in stating in the social contract of your state which rights can be taken away. If one of the points of that contract is if you are a nutter who eviscerates people for fun and you get caught, tried, and convicted you could potentially forfeit your life, that's the way it is. If you don't want to risk forfeiting your life, but still want to eviscerate people for fun, go commit your murders in a different state.
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Nightshade says...



Aurora, you seem to be changing how you describe prison to suit your purpose. In the course of a single post you go from calling prison "a life of free housing, free meals, and free (sometimes) education" to describing it as slow torture that will likely lead the prisoner to kill themself. You can't simultaneously argue that prison is a soft way out for murderers, and also a fate as bad or worse than death.

They come from agreed upon social contracts. We give them to ourselves. There is no hypocrisy in stating in the social contract of your state which rights can be taken away. If one of the points of that contract is if you are a nutter who eviscerates people for fun and you get caught, tried, and convicted you could potentially forfeit your life, that's the way it is.

Contracts imply consent. I have never knowingly given my consent to let my government kill me based on its laws. The laws were there before I was born and I was placed under them, I did not agree to them. Rights are not created by social contracts. They are merely things that every human is believed to deserve just for the sake of being human. Laws can't create or destroy rights, as they are inherent to all people. Laws can only serve to protect or withhold those rights.

Having the backing of the law, which is a social contract whereby the community of the governed gives power to the elected bodies, makes all the difference in the justification of taking a life.

You recognize that there have been laws allowing all kinds of horrible things, yes? Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is right or justifiable.

I killed x amount of people with a rusty cheese grater and a LOT of time on my hands.

I can
A: Live the rest of my life in prison and towards the end of my years I get a death as painful as my victims'.
B: Accept a death as horrible as my victims'

How exactly would torturing this criminal make the world a better place? There's so much emphasis put on whether or not criminals deserve their punishment, but it doesn't matter. If someone tortures and murders hundreds of children, giving them an awful and painful death won't make anything better. Torturing and murdering the criminal back wouldn't give those children their lives back, it wouldn't erase what they went through, and it wouldn't make things fair or even. It would only serve to increase the suffering and killing in the world.

And in a court of law, that person would be sent to jail, but would most likely not be given a death sentence. He would be punished even if he had removed a legitimate threat because there are other, legal avenues of dealing with the situation. You continue to see this issue in stark black and white, as if any crime which involves a murder or death is automatically a death row case. It is not. Every case is dependent on the situation and particulars of that case! It is always, always subjective.

This is actually the main reason why I'm against the death penalty. Cases are always subjective, and therefore are completely open to human opinion and error. I'm reminded of a case I heard about (I wish I could remember the name) where a man invaded a woman's home and raped and murdered her. Horrible? Absolutely. However, when the man was a boy he had watched his mother murder his little sister. Does that childhood trauma make his own crimes more understandable? Should that trauma exempt him from the death penalty? Some would say yes, and some would say no. That's the problem. Every case is different, and every case is subjective, so the legal system is in no place to say who lives and dies.

There is also a third option here that hasn't been discussed yet. I tend to believe that the most heinous criminals should be given the choice between life in prison and death. That way no one's life is forcefully taken, yet the criminal still has the option to end their life if they prefer it to a life in prison.
Last edited by Nightshade on Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.




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Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:07 am
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PenguinAttack says...



Gallyallyarous:
If murderers already spoiled their humanity in your eyes, then what moral objection do you have to killing them? Using your logic, we wouldn't really be killing a person anyway - just a husk that once used to be a person.


They're still a person. Inhumane people are still people, oddly enough. But that is a philosophical consideration. I have a moral objection to killing other human beings. To this I also direct Aurora; I have a problem with killing another human being, which includes the humane deaths, assissted suicides, accidental deaths, the whole shebang. I don't believe in murdering either - I was always aware of the difference between killing and murder to assume such is to suggest you're not reading me very well. I will attempt to be clearer as I proceed.

As to the torturing of criminals, my quote was in regard to the suggestion that death was the worse penalty. The claim that they should recieve what they gave, that they should be killed in the manner they killed and such. If one wanted to torture them, if you wanted to give them the pain of what they've done, that's the better way to go.

Do I prefer throwing someone in goal rather than killing them? Yes. There has been much about how terrible and despicable criminals can be, if I thought they "deserved" something, it would be the horrors of prison. I am by no means made of light and sugar, I have little to no feelings for those who commit murder and such, mostly because I've never come in direct contact with anyone who has. I don't care if they go through psychological torture - I'm sure the rape victim or such is going through the same thing, if you needed some justification. Justification is not something I need for this; the man is a murderer or whatever, I don't care if he spends his days weeping in a bed. I care if we strip ourselves from our humanity to deal with a person who should not demand our hearts.

You don't believe they should suffer for the pain they've caused, but you advocate making them suffer? I still don't see how people who have moral qualms about killing a murderer can be just fine with locking them up where they can terrorize others or in prison conditions so awful they slowly go mad and likely commit suicide anyway. It's just prolonging their inevitable death.


This is very similiar to Gally's issue, so I will be brief if I can. I don't believe I've ever stated that criminals shouldn't suffer for the pain they've caused, I'm not so much a blessed person as that. In fact, I would rather they suffered something so prolonged, rather than allowing a swift death.
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Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:23 am
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AuroraOrodel says...



Nightshade wrote:Aurora, you seem to be changing how you describe prison to suit your purpose. In the course of a single post you go from calling prison "a life of free housing, free meals, and free (sometimes) education" to describing it as slow torture that will likely lead the prisoner to kill themself. You can't simultaneously argue that prison is a soft way out for murderers, and also a fate as bad or worse than death.


Yes, I can. It's called being a devil's advocate, which is presenting opposing views for the sake of debate. Besides, the idea that "prison is torturous enough" keeps coming up alongside an argument that the death penalty is immoral/inhumane, which begs the question: Why is enforced mental anguish considered acceptable, but death considered inhumane? (It is also based on the assumption that all criminals will feel said anguish and remorse).

In a previous post, the difference between "death row" prison conditions and regular prison conditions was brought up. "Death row" conditions are (apparently) so bleak the people living in them can develop a recognized syndrome of depression caused by these conditions (such as little to no social interaction, and little to no rec. time). I asked people who straight oppose the death penalty to describe what they would put in it's place: Put criminals who would otherwise be given a death sentence in "death row" conditions? Put them in "regular" prisons? What?

Nightshade wrote:Contracts imply consent. I have never knowingly given my consent to let my government kill me based on its laws. The laws were there before I was born and I was placed under them, I did not agree to them. Rights are not created by social contracts. They are merely things that every human is believed to deserve just for the sake of being human. Laws can't create or destroy rights, as they are inherent to all people. Laws can only serve to protect or withhold those rights.


You're 18. You're a citizen. You pay taxes. If you're American, you've been pledging your allegiance to the US since childhood. You probably have a drivers' license. You (hopefully) vote. You accept the privileges of your citizenship, which were also instated before you were born, therefore you also accept the ways those privileges can be taken from you. By accepting the rights the government protects, you consent to the punishments set down by the same government. If in your state that includes the death penalty, then by accepting the rights granted by your state, you accept its existence as well. You also have the right (instated before you were born) to disagree with particulars of these laws and lobby for them to be changed.

You said it yourself, rights are things we believe humans all have, but they aren't unchanging. 100 years ago, I wouldn't have the right to vote or to pursue education (which is a "Universal Human Right" under the UDHR, but this was only made so in 1948). 60 years ago, black children wouldn't have the right to attend school with white children (which directly contradicts the UDHR and did so at the time, might I add), and 200 years before that they weren't even considered people. If the political wind blows a certain way, I could lose my right to have control of my reproductive capacities. Rights change, and the government, working (we hope) in the name of the people makes those changes. Even the right to life had to be explicitly stated.

I keep bringing up the UDHR because of the notion that the same rights are universal. If those rights were really, inherently universal, why would we need a declaration made by the leaders of the UN in 1948 to tell us what they are? For that matter, what right do those few men have to decide for all of humanity? (These are hypothetical questions meant to illustrate the point, but they do bear thinking about.)

The death penalty is essentially a conflict between beliefs. Everyone has a right to life. Ok. So the murderer has a right to life, but so did the people he/she took that right from. This is the way arguing for the death penalty goes, even in court. I do see the paradox of it. I recognize why it makes people uncomfortable. I recognize why it's viewed as a hypocrisy. I don't like the death penalty, I think it's over-applied and that our way of dealing with those sentenced to it in the interim is horribly broken, HOWEVER I will always be of the opinion that there are circumstances where a person just needs killing, but they are few and far between. Even if the death penalty is eventually abolished in all 50 states I will still think this.

Nightshade wrote:You recognize that there have been laws allowing all kinds of horrible things, yes? Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is right or justifiable.


Just like rights, what is "right and justifiable" is subject to change over time. Slavery in the time it existed was seen as justifiable because to the eyes of Western culture, blacks were not actually people. Marrying off an unconsenting 13 year old girl was right and justifiable in the Middle Ages because if the girl menstruates she can and should bear children. These are things we now, today consider heinous...but our own ancestors did not think so. In recent history, Americans have allowed ethnically/religiously motivated surveillance of its citizens, at one point condoning ethnically-based internment, because at the time we felt it was justifiable. Will the future view the death penalty in the same way when they look back? Maybe and maybe not. It depends on their definitions of right and justifiable.

Nightshade wrote:This is actually the main reason why I'm against the death penalty. Cases are always subjective, and therefore are completely open to human opinion and error. I'm reminded of a case I heard about (I wish I could remember the name) where a man invaded a woman's home and raped and murdered her. Horrible? Absolutely. However, when the man was a boy he had watched his mother murder his little sister. Does that childhood trauma make his own crimes more understandable? Should that trauma exempt him from the death penalty? Some would say yes, and some would say no. That's the problem. Every case is different, and every case is subjective, so the legal system is in no place to say who deserves to live and who doesn't.


And these are the exact points that would be discussed in the case. Does it make his crimes understandable? Yes, it provides some insight. But the greater question is does that absolve him of guilt? Should he be blamed for his actions, or is he just a poor victim of circumstances beyond his control, just like the woman he raped and murdered was a victim of circumstances beyond her control?

Guilt and punishment and what infractions deserve punishment are all based on human opinion. There is no way of ensuring total objectivity. A courtroom is a place of human judgment performed by humans on humans who have committed crimes (defined as crimes by humans) against human society. The legal system is made up of humans and human ideas. Every punishment and every case, not just death row cases, is subjective and that's far better than the alternative.

There is also a third option here that hasn't been discussed yet. I tend to believe that the most heinous criminals should be given the choice between life in prison and death. That way no one's life is forcefully taken, yet the criminal still has the option to end their life if they prefer it to a life in prison.


This is an interesting notion. They used to give this choice in 1800s England: death or Botany Bay? Under this system, would the criminal have the right to appeal to die if they decided later it was preferable? And wouldn't this be considered assisted suicide (which is also considered murder in some states)?

This is very similiar to Gally's issue, so I will be brief if I can. I don't believe I've ever stated that criminals shouldn't suffer for the pain they've caused, I'm not so much a blessed person as that. In fact, I would rather they suffered something so prolonged, rather than allowing a swift death.


You believe a criminal of this variety is still a person and has a right to live...and yet torture is the illegal and inhumane practice as defined by penal codes. You have a problem with killing them, but no problem with causing prolonged pain? You say such people should not demand our hearts, we should not strip ourselves of humanity to deal with them, but does not keeping the criminal around, torturing them through psychological or other means, demand more of our attention than a swift death? How is willfully causing prolonged pain and suffering less stripping to our humanity than a lethal injection which removes the convicted from society as a whole? Why is killing somehow objectionable, while torture is the "more moral" option?
"You cannot pronounce as knowledge anything you cannot demonstrate."
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Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:08 am
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Kamas says...



Aurora, you seem to be changing how you describe prison to suit your purpose. In the course of a single post you go from calling prison "a life of free housing, free meals, and free (sometimes) education" to describing it as slow torture that will likely lead the prisoner to kill themself. You can't simultaneously argue that prison is a soft way out for murderers, and also a fate as bad or worse than death.


I'm going to go with Aurora here, considering I'm exaggerating my case as well. For the sake of debate. Makes things more interesting, n'est ce pas? :P

As regarding Kamas' last lines, I think there is a mistaken concept that rights are inherent. They are not. We believe that they are, but as the late George Carlin pointed out, are they really rights if they can be taken away? Where do they come from? They come from agreed upon social contracts. We give them to ourselves. There is no hypocrisy in stating in the social contract of your state which rights can be taken away. If one of the points of that contract is if you are a nutter who eviscerates people for fun and you get caught, tried, and convicted you could potentially forfeit your life, that's the way it is. If you don't want to risk forfeiting your life, but still want to eviscerate people for fun, go commit your murders in a different state.


This, however, is your personal opinion Aurora. I'm not mistaken in my understanding of concepts. There are different points of views which one may have on rights. I think it's rather unfortunate to look at it this way.

Our societies are build on rights and freedoms, technology and promise of prosperity in the monetary system we have set up for ourselves. If you get to the mind set you have on rights, what influence does money have, is it really just a piece of paper with an assumed value? Is any monetary system real?

It may not be "real" but it sure as hell has an influence on what we do, and who we are and how we live. It effects the entire world even if in your mindset it's just something we've set up for ourselves and essentially don't have to listen too.
But if we didn't listen to it, we'd steal (because what's the point if it's not real) by which you'd be breaking imaginary laws based on the nothingness that is rights.

Let's be real here, society may be a bunch of lies, but it's how it works.
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Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:35 am
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WritersUnleashed says...



Confictura wrote:I'm not that familiar with methods of execution but I'm pretty sure firing squads were popular at some time or another, there's also the electric chair, which last time I checked was NOT a lethal injection. :)


Ummm, im pretty sure they don't use an electric chair. That is cruel and unusual punishment, and is outlawed by the constitution.




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AuroraOrodel says...



Kamas wrote:This, however, is your personal opinion Aurora. I'm not mistaken in my understanding of concepts. There are different points of views which one may have on rights. I think it's rather unfortunate to look at it this way.

Our societies are build on rights and freedoms, technology and promise of prosperity in the monetary system we have set up for ourselves. If you get to the mind set you have on rights, what influence does money have, is it really just a piece of paper with an assumed value? Is any monetary system real?

It may not be "real" but it sure as hell has an influence on what we do, and who we are and how we live. It effects the entire world even if in your mindset it's just something we've set up for ourselves and essentially don't have to listen too.
But if we didn't listen to it, we'd steal (because what's the point if it's not real) by which you'd be breaking imaginary laws based on the nothingness that is rights.

Let's be real here, society may be a bunch of lies, but it's how it works.


This is exactly my point!!! :D What we have now, the values we've set up are not constant! Things only have value because we give them that value. Our rights are only our rights because we say they are, not because of some universal rule that grants them to us. That's where the power of rights and laws comes from: people. Irrational, prejudicial, cruel, and wonderful people!
"You cannot pronounce as knowledge anything you cannot demonstrate."
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"The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies."
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BenFranks says...



Just throwing in a thought:

What about those who are wrongly convicted? They will face the death penalty and have no chance to proove otherwise. Take the Yorkshire Ripper for example, in the UK, he was recently allowed to appeal against his life sentence - I mean, fair enough, he failed and is still found guilty, thus still serving life - but what if he had prooved he was in fact innocent?

I haven't particularly researched this topic, being from a Western European country where the death penalty is irrelevant, but I know that I would be firmly against the use of the death penalty. It is old fashioned, costly and has no place in a society of progress and influence. Have we given up trying to change our societies and people for the better? Why should we simply resorty to death?
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