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July 25, 2014


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If you are going to do the death penalty, use the firing squad. Quick and undisputably final.

The Death penalty is NOT used enough, and takes way too long to be enforced/executed (no pun intended)..
Hamm comes to mind...a total travesty of justice... (The short story)..
He and a cohort kidnap two young college guys who wanted to buy some weed. Take them into the desert, rob them, then shoot them, execution style.
Found guilty in court...sentenced to death.
US Supreme Court rules AZ death penalty is unconstitutional.
Sentenced to life without parole.
Bleeding hearts then paroled him...(after we paid for a college education in prison for him)
Now out, he applied at ASU Law school (even tho, being a convicted felon he could NOT be a lawyer)
Unbelievably , he is accepted...(taking a slot from a law abiding, deserving student, as the number admitted to ASU Law school is limited)
Graduates Law school, then sues the State because they won't let him take the Bar and be a Lawyer!!
The two students EXECUTED by him didn't even get to finish college, let alone a Law school.
TOTALLY WRONG... He still belongs in Prison!...but...Liberals say he is "rehabilitated"... I can see that argument for a burglar, auto thief, robber who does not physically harm, etc...
But...a cold hearted KILLER!!!
I am not even close to being compassionate with him.

Putting people to death is squalid.

Life in prison, with no chance for parole. That's my view and my family has been a victim of murder. No justice in that case, but fate/karma/bad living did come around and put my uncle's killer in the ground. If the government is so incompetent as Saint Reagan has taught us (and it has proved so in so many ways) there is no way the people should allow the state to murder in the name of justice.

My three thoughts:

1. The State should not be in the business of human sacrifice.

2. How can we morally call murder wrong and then turn around and murder someone for doing it?

3. We know that innocent people have been put to death by the "death penalty."

I am opposed to revenge
but have little faith in "justice",

At 74 I have worked both sides of the street, lock em up and keep em out. Rich folks win poor folks lose, private prisons are making a bundle for their stock holders. Next up the return of Debtor prisons. Invest in GEO formerly Whackenhut. A secure and safe place.

"Former Walnut Grove YCF warden and eight-term mayor, William Grady Sims, resigned and pleaded guilty to removing a female inmate to a motel for sex and pressuring her to lie about it. He faces up to 20 years in Federal prison. Sims also owned 18 vending machines inside the prison.[27]"


I note that recently a football player got a 2 game suspension for beating his wife into unconsciousness but his fellow football players got penalized much more for smoking a joint.

I believe if you had public hangings you could make a profit selling tickets.

Jon, I like you, used to be pro-death penalty. As a convert Roman Catholic who has worked long and hard at my faith, it doesn't come easy, I too see the folly in killing human beings. Thank you for expressing your faith.

"Othering" criminals is the easiest (read: laziest) way to not take responsibility for crime in general.*

Once "othered," it is quite easy to execute someone who is not like the rest of us.

This is how that loathsome series "24" flourished, for the same logic applies to torture.

We should be ashamed of ourselves... but that isn't the easy way, and we're all about the easy way in this culture.


* Now, of course, "it's all society's fault" is absurd when you drill down into particular cases, so that's the first deprecation of my position that I expect to field. Allow me to dispose of it:

1) I'm not saying "it's all society's fault," that's just the absurd framing that those who wish to dismiss their own responsibility for the milieu in which crime occurs.

2) If, instead of drilling down into a particlar case, you zoom out to look at the larger picture that includes:

- Poverty.

- The abysmal ways we treat offenders that not only result in high recidivism, but also ticking time bombs of escalation in the severity of the repeating crimes.

- In a similar vein, our willful blindness to the importance of ushering someone who has served their sentence back into society usefully. Just toss 'em back, cripple their employment prospects, and you've turned it up on the first two points, above.

- The ways in which our media and consumerist culture constantly bathe us in soft misogyny, entitlement, covetousness and such can lethally tip over those who have a weak grasp on their sanity in the first place. We abandon the weak to their own struggles here in America, and then fly into a rage when they, well, fly into a rage.

All of these things are supported by individuals (us,) not "society," in small and large ways, every minute of our days. But we need not be concerned, because it is really the "others" who are behaving badly and off with their heads.

A final point: Perhaps none of the things I listed above are the reason your wife/son/friend/neighbor was murdered. I certainly wouldn't make the argument in such a circumstance, so stop screaming at me in outrage. What I will say is that until the above injustices are addressed, then I will say that we have no right to definitively place the blame on the perpetrator alone.

All crime is our crime, not only "theirs."

Petro, shortly after I read your post I recalled as a young man living on a farm watching a large number of chickens peck to death an individual chicken. I could rescue the victim chicken but learned that the death pecking would resume if you tried to introduce thae victim back into the group. As a youngster I wondered what the victim chicken had done "wrong". Now at 74 and after reading your post I still wonder what in those situations caused the pecking rage. Was there a act of "Wrong" or was there a difference in the victim that was not acceptable to the flock?

If they're going to keep up the executions, why not use whatever they use at the humane society? It puts down dogs just fine.

Came across this in the Sarte biography, and had to put it up. On-topic, if you think about it:

Sartre On Collective Responsibilty And The Solace Of Optimism

not to worry nick. we humans are going to eliminate ourselves and then the dogs will rule.

Airin wrote:

"How can we morally call murder wrong and then turn around and murder someone for doing it?"

We call theft wrong, but have no problem fining someone as (part of) a punishment for theft. We call kidnapping wrong, but have no problem taking someone forcibly to a jail cell and keeping them there for years or decades at a time, as punishment for kidnapping (or for rape or murder).

Or are you arguing against fines and imprisonment, too?

The questions raised by Mr. Talton are a bit more difficult. Still, for every individual wrongly executed, there are hardened sociopaths who, being merely imprisoned, live to be paroled or else to escape and commit more atrocities. Arizona residents may remember the Tyson gang.

One can also ask, if the wrongness of executing an innocent person means that execution should never be perfomed, does the wrongness of imprisoning someone for life in a prison hell mean that imprisonment should never be performed?

True, execution is final whereas a prison sentence may be reversed on appeal.

But prison is hell, and the greater part of that hell stems from the constant threat of violence (beatings, homosexual rape, murder) from other inmates, and the constant noise, vulgarity, and squalor of the environment they create.

There were just 39 executions carried out in the United States in 2013. The appeals process for anyone sentenced to death is automatic, state funded, and extended. The days when someone was convicted of a capital offense and executed the same month, the same year, or even the same decade, have long since passed. The average time between sentencing and execution is now 190 months, or close to 16 years.

In fact, the rarity of executions in the United States is among the best arguments against it. How much of a deterrent is it actually, anymore?

There were far more homicides in state and local jails than executions carried out by the state. With around 2.4 million prisoners and a homicide rate of roughly 10 per 100,000 prison population, we're talking roughly 2,400 murdered in a single year while incarcerated. Nearly all of those were prisoners who had not been sentenced to death for their crimes. Some of these victims may even have been fairly ordinary, comparatively harmless individuals.

The number of inmates victimized by beatings, rapes, and constant threat of violence (whether explicit or implicit) is far higher. If inmates are sentenced to detention, not to beating, disfigurement, sodomy, or violent death, why on earth should the most violent and sociopathic inmates be given the freedom to commit these acts against others gratuitously, or in service to a prison gang?

I'm more interested in seeing prisons and jails reformed so that:

(1) Prisoners experience an austere, but clean, quiet, and safe environment; an environment conducive to contemplation and personal improvement, not to gang warfare, drug use, tattoos, and graduate courses on burglary and other offenses give by old lags to the latest crop of inmates. Prisoners should have access to books and writing materials. I fail to see why they should have cable television.

(2) All prisons and jails are subject to regular (quarterly) inspection by a centralized authority (preferably federal); such inspections are to be irregular, by surprise only, and the inspectors are to have full access to inmates, guards, and prison records.

Sorry, my math is off: that should be 240 homicides in prisons and jails each year, not 2,400. Still ten times more than the 39 state conducted executions carried out last year.

good post Emil.
I was at a last man standing breakfast Wensday and the Tysons came up. Talk of the Desert Fox and other such stories of violent mayham.
Constant prison inspections and over site are absolutely necessary and by inspectors from outside the system.
Particularly with for Profit prisons.

Given the number of convictions where the death penalty is given, it would seem more practical and financially wise to do away with the death penalty. With one exception where a person sentenced to life could request to be put to death. However doing away with the death penalty would kill a whole lawyer industry. God forbid we should be so inhumane to deprive them of income.

If Jack Sullivan killed a railroad bull, it was probably kill or be killed. It was a profession that attracted the most brutal, sadistic men imaginable, and they "disappeared" young men riding the rails on a regular basis.


I thank you for your response. I take your point on moral equivalents: Shouldn't we (according to my thought) take thieving from a thief or kidnapping the kidnapper to be the same as murdering a murderer? But I think that this misses something in moral philosophy which is that morals have gradations, they're not all of the same "vein" ie. there are little-goods, mid-goods, greater-goods, and a gamut in-between them. This also works on the other side of the spectrum with moral wrongs (or bads).

On the surface these seems to be equivalents, but I reject that they in-fact really are. While thieving might be a little to mid bad, and kidnapping something like mid to greater bad, murder is always a greater bad. We can add conditionals to the murder all we want (self-defense, voluntary, involuntary, etc.) but it is still the greatest of moral wrongs because it is always the ending of a life, even if it is done in say, the act of self-defense.

So no, I don't accept that these are equivalent. If murder is going to have any meaning at all then we have to put the fullest moral weight behind it. Thieving and kidnapping simply can not be on the same moral ground or it reduces the moral weight of murder. So yes, we can financially impinge a thief (a little moral bad for a bad) or jail a kidnapper (a more moral bad for a bad), but we are on very morally shaky ground when the state is compelled to murder a murderer (the greatest of moral wrongs for a great moral wrong).

Saturday was evidently not a good math day for me. The number of prison and jail homicides I eventually settled on was in fact six, not ten, times the number of executions. True, I was in a hurry; but also I just wasn't thinking clearly about the arithmetic.

Airin wrote:

"If murder is going to have any meaning at all then we have to put the fullest moral weight behind it. Thieving and kidnapping simply can not be on the same moral ground or it reduces the moral weight of murder."

One can turn your argument around on its head. If we value the sanctity of life, then the penalty for wantonly extinguishing it should be exceptional. Is life honored by treating abominable crimes the same as more run of the mill but still serious crimes, i.e., by imprisonment?

A series of armed bank robberies might net someone life in prison, even without the act of homicide in the commission of the crimes. Shall we treat a Doctor Mengele or a John Wayne Gacy the same way?

I don't think there is any moral problem with executing offenders for truly serious offenses.

The real problem is whether, in a legal system where fallible witnesses, incompetent investigations, overzealous or cynically ambitious prosecutors, and overworked or undercompetent public defenders determine the outcome, it is moral to sentence those committed of atrocious crimes to death? A death sentence is unique in that, once executed, it cannot be reversed by the courts.

Does being financially irresponsible by conducting executions fall into a moral plain.
Don Quixote.

How about a column on the Israeli / Hamas conflict? I've been intensely dissatisfied with news coverage and have things I'm itching to say. I know Mr. Talton doesn't make a habit of following the lead of the major media outlets, but thought I would make the suggestion.

Emil why don't you write it and let us respond?

I'll see what I can do.

Oh, that'll be a smoking thread.

Emil, in the meantime, Ian might whet your appetite some:

To Summarize the Israeli/Gaza War

good post Petro. Was it two minor English civil servants that first suggested, the creation of Israel around the early 40s?

Zionism and the British mandate

Tanks Petro

Note a post to The 1:57 to Florence blog on BAD FBI lab results in capital crimes.


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