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Author Topic:   Death Penalty and Stanley Tookie Williams
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 3 of 54 (268674)
12-13-2005 4:15 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
12-12-2005 9:53 PM


I've never understood the prolife\prodeath position.

You know I'm not prolife so I can't quite argue exactly why they hold the positions that they do. If they truly believe in all life itself being sacred then it seems that the death penalty is a bit odd.

However, being in favor of capital punishment I can tell you what I see as a difference between the two situations, using an assumption that abortion is wrong (which I don't actually have).

A fetus has not commited a crime and is not a likely threat to someone's life. A killer really has commited a crime and poses a threat to the lives of others. If one really holds that life is important, one could view removal of threats to life as justified.

It is not that they are prodeath as you put it, but that is the only guarantee they have of removing a greater (proven) threat to life, as well as punishing someone for having taken a life. And although one may say the latter seems inconsistent, I do not believe it is. If you cherish those that preserve life, then rejecting those that destroy it seems relatively consistent. In any case the former part (removing a threat) seems wholly consistent.

I will back berberry's statement that it is bizarre for anyone who is in favor of capital punishment... as I am... to not recognize the needs for stricter controls on its use. Frankly that could be said for any punishment. Our current system is more about wealth than about guilt or innocence of a crime when it comes to cases based on circumstantial evidence.

In this case it does appear that the death penalty makes little to no sense. Whatever he might have been he does not appear to be a threat to anyone now, and has been a force to grow peace and save lives. Gang killings in specific would be hard for me to push for the death penalty. They are pretty obviously socially driven phenomena, and not internal, compulsive drives to kill at any and all times.

This message has been edited by holmes, 12-13-2005 04:17 AM


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by RAZD, posted 12-12-2005 9:53 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by RAZD, posted 12-13-2005 7:44 AM Silent H has responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 6 of 54 (268704)
12-13-2005 8:26 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by RAZD
12-13-2005 7:44 AM


Re: doesn't make sense. He's dead.
You can be pro-punishment and pro-life by advocating life imprisonment as an alternative.

Yes, or you can be that and be for capital punishment. If one believes that the loss of life is the worse thing which can be done/have happen to onesself, then execution is the strongest punishment.

I agree that if a person's actual position is that ALL life is sacred and must be maintained, that pro death penalty is inconsistent. But there is a difference between all innocent life is sacred, and all life is sacred. Once one is a criminal and specifically a criminal that enacts their own executions at will, that is a patently different thing than a growing fetus (or in their minds a child).

One either believes in the concept of rehabilitation or one doesn't, and it seems to me that personal rehabilitation is one of the basic concepts of religion.

I agree that punishment isn't a very worthwhile enterprise for a govt. Rehabilitation is something that should be the goal. Of course there is still the use of execution to remove an ongoing threat. I do believe that there are some people that there is no point in trying to rehabilitate.

It does not seem correct that you can tell others that personal rehabilitation is a basic concept of religion. There are many which not only allow for punishment but actually support revenge. That a person can get right before God is a completely different question of being able to get right as a human being or with their community.

Xianity would have some idea of repentance and some degree of rehabilitation. But that does not always mean one has become less of a threat or undeserving of punishment (for those that like that). Part of rehabilitation to them would be responsibility for ones actions, and that might be accepting the punishment due.

Schwarzenegger specifically cited Williams' lack of taking responsibility as a reason he did not overrule the jury's decision. And while I personally would have... I do not like circumstantial cases, and do not favor death penalty for simple killings (rehabilitation likely)... I think he had a viable position.

Its not like he found the guy guilty, or that he was judge of the case. A real jury did find the guy guilty and it had been upheld in appeal. Thus it is an extraordinary situation where an executive would overrule the decision of the PEOPLE.

He said he looked it over and found no reason to doubt their decision, and found no remorse from Williams for his actions, and thus he was not going to OVERRULE the decision of the PEOPLE.

Tookie Williams alive would continue to stem the flow of violence that will cause more deaths than those he personally caused.

Would he have? Even being against his execution I'm not quite sure I can say that. He wrote his books and they will do the good that they will do, whether he's dead or not. The damage he caused was irreperable. The families of the victims felt that this was justice and so was good for them.

Heck he didn't even seem that bent out of shape by this event. Maybe internally he felt it was just. I dunno.

In any case I'm not exactly convinced of a moral calculus where a person's crime is lessened by the good he does elsewhere and later when faced with sanctions.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by RAZD, posted 12-13-2005 7:44 AM RAZD has not yet responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 7 of 54 (268708)
12-13-2005 8:34 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Parasomnium
12-13-2005 8:03 AM


Great country, America...

Please no sarcasm from a nation that is enacting racist policies, and indeed has set up concentration camps... I mean deportation centers... and is so negligent that it allows its prisoners to burn while screaming for help.

Oh yeah, and then not doing jack about those that were in charge of these processes.

Oh yeah, and backing the US in every one of its odious endeavours in Iraq.

Oh yeah, and cutting its social programs while looking to invest in greater military programs.

Both the US and the Netherlands are going through the worst periods in their histories right now. Neither is in a position to be pointing fingers at each other in such a collective manner.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Parasomnium, posted 12-13-2005 8:03 AM Parasomnium has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Parasomnium, posted 12-13-2005 8:39 AM Silent H has not yet responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 10 of 54 (268734)
12-13-2005 10:08 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Omnivorous
12-13-2005 9:48 AM


Re: My changed mind
it is better for some of the guilty to escape justice than for an innocent to be falsely imprisoned or executed.

I agree, but the argument that since there are errors execution must be done away with is an extreme position. In fact I see you mention false imprisonment. Would you agree the even larger numbers of false imprisonment should end imprisonment?

It seems to me there is a very large problem with our justice system. It has not been commited to any specific doctrine (punishment, rehabilitation, restitution), nor has it been commited to procedural adjustment to produce accurate results.

I don't see how the adverserial process has proved itself useful at all. Indeed I think it is both costly and inaccurate.

That is not to mention police procedures have not been adjusted so as to produce accurate evidentiary results, but rather political results.

A postponement of death penalties makes sense until new evidentiary rules are set in so that mistakes will not be made again. That is not impossible.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Omnivorous, posted 12-13-2005 9:48 AM Omnivorous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Omnivorous, posted 12-13-2005 10:24 AM Silent H has responded
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 12-13-2005 11:26 AM Silent H has responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 14 of 54 (268778)
12-13-2005 11:54 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Omnivorous
12-13-2005 10:24 AM


Re: My changed mind
I would not argue that imprisonment should be abandoned; the difference is that imprisonment is reversible--execution is not.

Its reversible? How? How do you give a person's time back that they spent behind bars? How do you grant a person's life back that died within prison?

The outrage of an innocent person being convicted of any crime is the same. Sentenced to any punishment is the same. There is no idea that "life imprisonment" is less of a death sentence in that the person is not going to die under our care anyway.

Sometimes antideath penalty advocates argue that life imprisonment is WORSE than the death penalty, so there is a bit of inconsistency from that side (though I realize you may not actually hold that position).

If the evidence is more than circumstantial and the person freely admits their guilt and is agreeable to be executed... what would be the problem with it in that case?


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Omnivorous, posted 12-13-2005 10:24 AM Omnivorous has not yet responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 15 of 54 (268791)
12-13-2005 12:25 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by crashfrog
12-13-2005 11:26 AM


Re: My changed mind
False execution is a moral outrage of a greater degree than not executing, but still punishing, a criminal who deserves it.

That doesn't compute. False execution or false imprisonment is inherently punishing a person who does not deserve it and not punishing a criminal who deserves it.

Did you mean to say that imprisonment is at least a punishment for a criminal, but if found false would be a lesser outrage than a false execution?

In any case that is still not reasonable. To argue that there are currently errors in a procedure to detect guilt therefore a specific sentence based on guilt is wrong, is extreme.

There are two errors being commited within that. The first is holding sentencing culpable for errors within judging. The second is arbitrarily finding a singular sentence as culpable.

Fining someone is ALSO a punishment, but thankfully does not take time away from a person's life which can never be given back. And indeed it does not put one at risk for death while in captivity. Thus fining is a punishment for criminals, but if found false is less of a moral outrage than false imprisonment.

Shouldn't we then be arguing that there should be nothing but fines?

The idea that there's an evidentiary standard that can lead to absolute certainty is certainly not a self-evident position, nor is it indicated by any evidence or argument...

We've already been over this in an earlier thread. It ended with me defining a process after everyone challenged me to present one, and someone saying it was actually pretty good yet all my critics nowhere to be found.

I'll review: Absolute theoretical certainty is not required for absolute practical certainty. Absolute practical certainty is all that is necessary for executions to be operated and fulfill their practical role.

I will raise the same question to you as with omni. If there was solid direct evidence (not merely circumstantial) of a murder being commited by a specific person, and that person readily admits to the murder, and consents to the death penalty... what is the problem with execution in that instance?

In fact the opposite is true - the fact that we don't now employ such an evidentiary standard in any field is evidence that no such standard exists.

1) The fact that we do not have something now in no way at all provides evidence that no such standard exists. That falls directly under the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" umbrella.

2) While we do not use rule sets which involve absolute theoretical certainty, we certainly do use rule sets which involve absolute practical certainty. It is my guess that you do not deny the holocaust happened. And indeed it is my guess that during the 1940s (if you were in the US) you would not be questioning whether Nazi germany should be fought and its agents killed when found.

(As an added logical puzzle) Here is a moral dilemma which strikes at the heart of the dilemma RAZD raised in his OP. For those that believe war is necessary sometimes, how does one argue against the death penalty. War will almost inherently mean the loss of innocent lives. Yet at some point we generally will agree it is worthwhile as a course of action.

We can restrict executions to such a degree there would be no practical doubt that anything other than a criminal is being killed. The same cannot be said for war.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 12-13-2005 11:26 AM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by crashfrog, posted 12-13-2005 1:37 PM Silent H has responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 18 of 54 (268825)
12-13-2005 1:57 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by macaroniandcheese
12-13-2005 1:14 PM


Re: My changed mind
stanley williams had the chance to make a difference in this world and our laws ruined that chance. we have wounded ourselves and we will continue to do so until we realize the inherent flaws in the system.

Uh... Williams ruined not only his own chance, but the chance of those he murdered. The laws did not make him murder.

execution as punishment cannot stand because we are so flawed that we cannot ensure the guilt of those we kill.

That is a bare assertion which is not true. For instance you have some reason to doubt that Dahmer did not murder? Gacy?

Let's move this up more dramatically, how about the Nazis, specifically Hitler. It is your position that we are so flawed as a species we cannot determine with any certainty that the holocaust occured and that it was directed at least in part by Hitler?

execution has long been defeated as a deterrent. it doesn't work.

That is absolutely correct. Execution does not work as a deterrent. It will certainly keep some people in line, but it won't keep everyone in line, particularly the people that are likely to murder.

therefore, there is no standing for capital punishment.

I'm sorry, where did that therefore come from? Deterence is not the only reason for executions. There is punishment (essentially revenge) and there is removal of a threat to the community.

Personally I am not into punishment for punishment's sake but clearly those that are could view that as a valid reason to keep it. One could punish a killer for taking another's life by forcing them to forfeit their own.

I do believe there is reason to remove threats to the community. Some people do nothing but pose a risk to other lives. It pisses me off that that is true about the world but it happens. Not everyone wants to play nice.

it doesn't resolve the anguish of victims and families and it doesn't prevent more crime.

Uh... says who? Well resolve might not be the right word but many families/friends of victims do get some relief when the murderer has been killed. And many are anguished when they see murderers gaining and enjoying lasting notoriety and fame behind bars.

And while it does not prevent crime in a deterent fashion, it certainly does end the killing from that specific murderer.

it is pure, mindless, agressive rage and civilized governments should not participate in it.

Who are you to be arbiter of what is civilized?

Allowing those that have killed and enjoy killing to continue living and indeed giving them a venue for fame and perhaps a better life, does not seem "civil" to me. That seems to be rewarding the very people who engage in pure, mindless, aggressive rage.

To my mind a quick and painless death to those that pose a proven and continued risk the community is merciful and civilized to both the murderer and the community.

This has raised a question in my mind. For all the people who are decrying capital punishment, have anyone of you actually seen someone get murdered, or almost murdered by another person? Has anyone actually been around such an event and seen a murderer (or attempted murderer) in action? Indeed have any of you had someone you know murdered, or almost murdered?

Before anyone asks... the answer is yes, on more than one occassion. I have very little concept of why many of you claim some murderers cannot be known, and that some people can be "saved" to perform wonderful miracles for society. It is pure fantasy as far as I can tell.

Civilization is not a padded and delusional utopia. Civilization to me is having the intelligence and guts to live with the gritty truths of life and make it liveable for those that are willing to join in with it.


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by macaroniandcheese, posted 12-13-2005 1:14 PM macaroniandcheese has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by macaroniandcheese, posted 12-13-2005 2:57 PM Silent H has responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 20 of 54 (268845)
12-13-2005 3:02 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by crashfrog
12-13-2005 1:37 PM


Re: My changed mind
But the outrage of a lesser sentence than is deserved is much less than the outrage of execution when it is not deserved, not least of which because no one ever stands trial for the murder of a falsely executed man.

Now I understand what you were saying. Your original wording did not make your point clear to me.

That last part is a very interesting point. No one serves time for the imprisonment of and innocent man either. You are correct that there is some measure of injustice within our justice system, which rewards convictions and not necessarily justice.

I'm perfectly willing to accept that you perform the moral calculus with different values than I do; but that shouldn't lead you to criticise my position as "extreme" when, in fact, it's a perfectly reasonable and pragmatic compromise between two moral outrages.

I explained very carefully why it was extreme. It involves two errors. I see you did not deal with those points at all.

If you said to me "I don't like executions and so I do not think the state should be employing them" then that would be beyond criticism. In that case we'd simply be using different moral rules. The specific arguments you used and under discussion involved factual statements combined with logic. There are errors within the facts and the logic.

No, because the moral outrage of false imprisonment is less than the moral outrage of never imprisoning anyone who deserves it.

I think you may be equivocating between imprisoning and punishing. Being fined is still a punishment... or how about simple house arrest?

It doesn't seem to me that "the outrage of a lesser sentence than is deserved is much less then the outrage of imprisonment when it is not deserved" is inconsistent with the logic you are using... unless you are going to be arbitrary.

You ended up with a process with evidentiary standards that, by definition, could never be met; and thus, you wound up with a situation in which the death penalty could never be given.

In other words, you came over to my side. What was I supposed to argue with? You surrendered.

I'm not sure what world you are living on. The evidentiary standards could very well be met and indeed had been met in real cases. Yeah, even killers asking to be killed exists.

I certainly did not outline a case where executions never could happen, even if they would be much rarer than they occur today.

And as far as surrendering is concerned, it ended where it did because I said what I did and every critic packed up their marbles and went home. I had people agreeing with my position, and I was prepared to start moving the line forward. I don't think absolute confession is necessary. That was simply a plank I threw in to make things more clear.

"Absolute practical certainty"? It's not self-evident that such a thing is possible. By definition, in fact, it would appear that if your certainty was "practical", then it could not be "absolute".

That isn't true at all. Absolute theoretical certainty would involve clear knowledge on all possible explanations. Absolute practical certainty involves clear knowledge on all plausible explanations. We can set a boundary on implausibility of explanation such that it is only possible in an absurdly theoretical world that a person is innocent.

The problem is that they may not be guilty, merely suicidal and extremely unlucky, and it's not the purpose of the state to employ the apparatus of justice and allow a murderer to go free in order to help someone commit suicide.

Again, the possibility of this happening is absurd on its face. If the evidentiary rules exclude mere circumstantial evidence, you cannot simply have an unlucky person who happens to be suicidal falling into a guilty verdict. It would require a suicidal person actually setting themselves up to be killed by the system.

That in itself would require aiding and abetting a real murder which makes them complicit in a murder anyway. And in any case, why would it be a greater moral outrage to kill a person who is so intent on killing himself he frames himself for murder (and lets a real murderer get away), than not killing a known murderer?

in fact, have succeeded only in developing explanations for why such a system cannot exist.

To explain theoretical issues, not to determine if they tied their shoe this morning or not. You are discussing a community you are not a part of and appear to not want to be a part of, so your discussion of their findings sort of falls like a lead balloon to me.

Still holding out for a perpetual motion machine, as well?

You did not show evidence of absence. In any case I am holding out for the time you are more adamant on sticking to logic, than sticking to a position. That may be just as futile.

...I do not have "absolute practical certainty" (whatever that could possibly be) that the Holocaust happened, merely a tentative conclusion that it did.

A tentative conclusion that millions were killed in concentration camps, despite photographic and eye witness accounts of its occurence, as well as remnants you can see and touch and test?

The jews aren't fossils buried in time or chemical/physical entities we cannot observe, some are still alive to tell the story. You have truly lost the line between practical and theoretical reality. That is not good.

Here is the difference between theoretical and practical certainty. If you believe there is no difference then you have no reason to criticize holocaust deniers. And our lack of evidence will only grow with time.

Honestly, as a prosecutor in post war germany you'd tell hundreds of survivors of a concentration camp, that they might possibly be wrong about whether the guard soldiers caught at the camp and on records as being a guard at the camp, killed or was responsible for killings at the camp, evidenced by bodies found at that camp?

but at least, war is symmetrical. (Or it should be.) Two armies clash with nothing but their skill at arms and the genius of their tactics, and a fair bit of luck, to determine the victor.

War is never guaranteed symmetrical, and my point was that even when one tries to keep it army against army, some innocent people get caught up and killed.

But sometimes force must be used to repel force, violence is sometimes the appropriate answer to violence. Defense, in my mind, is the only appropriate use of violence. But self-defense by the state generally isn't the rationale for the death penalty.

Ahhhhhh... now that was sweet. This is better, straightforward. I agree that defense is the only justifiable use of force by the state.

The question is then raised whether a single person can pose a threat to the state. Certainly not in the same way as another nation, as in wholesale destruction (well that is changing with tech), but certainly as a persistent threat to lives within that state. Given that in a democratic republic the state is of by and for the people, a killer is a threat to that state.

A state will kill wild animals, particularly rabid animals. Do animals pose a threat to the state? Not as much as a person, and the battle is even more uneven. Is that wrong? Are serial killers that much different than a rabid animal, such that they should not be treated in the same way?


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by crashfrog, posted 12-13-2005 1:37 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by crashfrog, posted 12-13-2005 4:11 PM Silent H has not yet responded

Silent H
Member (Idle past 4371 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 21 of 54 (268852)
12-13-2005 3:13 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by macaroniandcheese
12-13-2005 2:57 PM


Re: My changed mind
our judicial system seem to be pudding heads. until no one is ever released from a wrongful sentence, i cannot stand behind execution.

I agree our judicial system is flawed. I am also for delaying capital sentences until clear and consistent rules are put in place and cases rereviewed.

That is wholly different than arguing executions cannot be part of a civilized society and carried out in a reasonable manner.

life in prison is a substantial punishment. i am one of those people not opposed to labor prisons. make them serve the society they betrayed. make them sort our garbage or something.

Even innocent people? I am just as concerned about the innocent man in a labor camp as the one in the electric chair.

but don't decide who lives and dies. that reduces you to their level.

But it doesn't reduce me to their level. A killer randomly decides who lives and dies. A state takes a person who has done such a thing and prevents them from doing so again. Everyone will die at some point. It does not make sense to allow those that do kill at will, to continue having such a chance.

How does imprisoning a person who has kidnapped someone or stolen from someone not reduce us to their level? Can you not see the difference?

I will ask my question again... have you ever witnessed a murder or a murderer in the act of murdering? If so, could you not see the difference between you stopping that person by killing them, and them having decided to kill that other person in the first place?


holmes
"...what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.."(D. Bros)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by macaroniandcheese, posted 12-13-2005 2:57 PM macaroniandcheese has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by macaroniandcheese, posted 12-13-2005 3:21 PM Silent H has not yet responded

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