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Remember Chandra Levy? She was the staff intern whose disappearance in May 2001 ended the political career of Gary Condit, the California Congressman with whom Levy was having an affair. Her body was found the following May in Washington's Rock Creek Park. Condit was initially considered a suspect but never arrested.

Now, the Washington Post, Associated Press and other news sources are reporting an arrest is imminent. As it turns out, the suspect is already in prison, serving time for having attacked two other women in Rock Creek Park around the same time Levy disappeared in her jogging clothes.

The agony of losing a child for any reason, much less to a killer, is hard for anyone who has not had the experience to imagine fully. Not to mention going for years without knowing what actually happened or who did the deed.

Yet Levy's father and mother said today:

Robert Levy said he and his wife, Susan, were not told the identity of the person to be arrested "but we all know who it is." He would not elaborate but said they would favor a life sentence for the killer.

"If someone is executed, they really don't suffer too much," he said.

"Yes, with no TV, no movies, no weightlifting," said Susan Levy, adding that she would attend the murder trial. "Someone who does murder like that shouldn't have any comforts."

As a life-long foe of the death penalty, I could not agree more.

My wife and I have included the following coda in each of our wills:

Special Circumstances: If I should be the victim of a murder, and the perpetrator of this crime is caught, tried and convicted; or if said perpetrator confesses to this murder; I instruct my attorney-in-fact to implore the prosecutor, jury, judge or others adjudicating this case not to seek or impose the death penalty, a punishment I oppose under all circumstances.

Many people believe that anyone who opposes capital punishment is automatically soft on crime, willing to carry the admonition of "turn the other cheek" way too far. Not true in my case. Even though I have spent more than three years of my life incarcerated - time in reform school, time in a prison camp for draft resistance and a few months here and there for other protest-related crimes - I favor being tough on violent offenders. Humane, but tough. Including, in some cases, the kind of regime that Levy proposes. Life without parole at hard labor can sometimes be the appropriate punishment.

Being tough on some offenders doesn't mean I believe our criminal-justice system - or our legal system, in general - would be hunky-dory if we just eliminated capital punishment. Far from it. We spend way too little on rehabilitation, education and treating addictions of the incarcerated even though half a million Americans are released from prison back into society every year. We spend in the neighborhood of $50 billion annually at the federal and state level on the war on (some) drugs - for enforcement, interdiction, prosecution and incarceration. A fourth of imprisoned Americans are drug offenders. They are disproportionately people of color. Very few of them should be in the slam.

Those who repeatedly commit violent crimes, on the other hand, are another story. Humane treatment is essential, but that does not preclude hard labor for those who are physically able. And, although three-strikes laws that include all felonies are themselves a crime, laws that mandate longer sentences for offenders who repeatedly commit violent crimes are another matter, just as is finding a creative harshness for dealing with the Bernie Madoffs of the world. It's not a right-wing thing to say: have some sympathy for the victims, and for potential future victims.

Although I suppose in some circles such views tarnish my left-progressive credentials, I think I've made it clear I believe in being appropriately tough on the appropriate crimes. As for the death penalty, however, I an unalterably opposed. Some of my friends won't go so far. Dana Houle aka DHinMI and others argue quite cogently, for instance, that there should be exceptions for heinous war criminals, the Slobodan Milosevics and Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashirs of the world. Other people make exceptions for serial killers whose guilt is undoubted.

I understand. But I cannot go along. The state should never engage in executions. This has nothing to do with whether somebody "deserves to die." Under some circumstances, say someone we love is murdered or raped or horribly battered, most of us will have at least a fleeting moment in which we could easily kill the perpetrator. That's our reptile brain at work. But civilization is, ultimately, about constraining our reptile brains. Handing the right to kill offenders over to the state was at one time a civilizing step. But we should move beyond that. Justice can be served in other ways.

I don't know if Robert Levy and Susan Levy oppose the death penalty in all cases. But I thank them for speaking as they have against the execution of their daughter's murderer, whomever that turns out to be.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:29 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I have to admit... (55+ / 0-)'s tempting to allow for an exception for the Milosevics and al-Bashirs of the world, but to me that's why we shouldn't ever impose the death penalty -- we shouldn't ever take pleasure from taking the life of a human being, no matter how vile s/he might be.

    •  "Pleasure" isn't the issue ... (6+ / 0-)

      and I don't think anybody suggested it was a factor.

      So - putting that aside - here is my stumbling block ... Ted Bundy.  Not just because he was a serial killer, but rather because after we knew he was a serial killer, he was able to escape and kill (multiple times) again.  So it is not the heinousness of the crime, but rather the risk of the however rare it might be repeat offense.

      Still mainly opposed, but just sharing the one circumstance where I can remember thinking ... "if anyone deserves to die ..."

      •  Essentially what you're asking (5+ / 0-) whether society has a right to act in self-defense.

        I don't have an answer I like to that question.

        A revolution is coming... whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability. -- Robert F. Kennedy

        by Anton Sirius on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:01:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do. The answer is "yes." (0+ / 0-)

          It requires a justice system that is fair, honest, and which errs on the side of caution.

          And to both Ms Levy's father and the diarist, I can only respond, "opinion noted."

          So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

          by khereva on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:08:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Is it self defense to commit premeditated murder? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blue in NC, DParker

            That's what the death penalty is.  

            We have the ability to incarcerate for life.  You can never undo the death penalty.  You can set a man free who has been incarcerated for life, if he has been mistakenly convicted.

            Prisoners rarely escape from maximum security prison.  Something like 10 prisoners in the past 10 years have escaped, and many of those were due to underfunding of the prison.  

            Cost is another factor:

            "The additional cost of confining an inmate to death row, as compared to the maximum security prisons where those sentenced to life without possibility of parole ordinarily serve their sentences, is $90,000 per year per inmate. With California’s current death row population of 670, that accounts for $63.3 million annually."


            The average cost of a trial in a federal death case is $620,932, about 8 times that of a federal murder case in which the death penalty is not sought.


            The study estimates that the average cost to Maryland taxpayers for reaching a single death sentence is $3 million - $1.9 million more than the cost of a non-death penalty case.

            On the front lines of the energy crisis.
            Peak Oil Hawaii

            by Arclite on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:31:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Please look up Kenneth Allen Mcduff (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Homer J, Faeya Wingmother

              when you get a chance.  Short version: murdered three people, sentenced to death, death penalty was abolished by the Supreme Court, he was given life without parole, was then paroled, killed again.

              The problem with "life without parole" is that it's never guaranteed to be exactly that.

              •  FAIL (6+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CParis, Arclite, blue in NC, mnguy66, UPDoc, DParker

                he was given life without parole

                Not true.  "Life without parole" was not an available sentence when McDuff's death sentence was commuted due to the Supreme Court decision.  He received an "ordinary" life sentence and was paroled due to prison overcrowding.

                •  Thanks for playing. (0+ / 0-)

                  Be rude all you want, I guess his wikipedia page needs updating by someone with a better link to a primary source.  Up for the job?

                  "His sentence was subsequently commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole."

                  •  Don't be an ass. (6+ / 0-)

                    If he was paroled, then he wasn't serving life without parole -- your own quote says that "his sentence was subsequently commuted". That means that his sentence was changed. Your claim that The problem with "life without parole" is that it's never guaranteed to be exactly that is ludicrous -- people given the death penalty can have their sentences commuted as well. People serving life without parole don't get parole hearings; that makes it pretty damn well guaranteed that they won't get out on parole -- unless their sentence is changed. Sheesh.

                    Honestly, yours is the most intellectually dishonest argument for the death penalty I've ever encountered.

                    •  Ok. (0+ / 0-)

                      His own Wikipedia page lays it out for you if you care to do any reading beyond my summary.  Due to overcrowding, his sentence was given another look and he was released.

                      If we can ever end this silly war on drugs and ensure that room in our prisons is available for those actually deserving to be there, then I'd feel much more comfortable with locking a violent offender up for life and keeping him there.

          •  Ms. Levy's father wants her murderer (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to suffer; that is not "self-defense".

        •  Killing someone who is incarcerated is not (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "self-defense"; sheesh.

      •  Which is why I advocate (0+ / 0-)

        Devil's Island. Or Alcatraz.

        A prison that's a society unto itself. Preferably one far, far from others, and with no guards, no security other than the isolation.

        They could be dropped provisions, and things like seeds, books, clothing, building materials, etc.

        This would be a males only prison, and they would, of course, die eventually. Some faster than others, and some at the hands of others.

        But they wouldn't be able to prey on innocent civilians.

      •  Bundy escaped from a local jail (13+ / 0-)

        before his trial, if I remember correctly.  The presence or absence of a death penalty would not have made any difference.

        Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you. -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:32:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not only that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ksingh, blue in NC, mnguy66

          The interesting thing about Ted Bundy is that, after escaping from jail in Colorado, he went to Florida to commit his subsequent murders.  At that time, the only two states executing people on a regular basis were Florida and Texas.  He didn't go to Massachusetts or Hawaii, where there was no death penalty, nor to California, or New Mexico, where there was a death penalty that was not being used.  He went to one of the two places where he was the most sure of being executed if he was caught.  I believe that Bundy, who was by all accounts a really smart guy, wanted to commit "suicide by state" and deliberately committed his crimes in a jurisdiction in which he knew he would be executed if caught.  If I'm right, Florida's death penalty policy endangered its citizenry, rather than protecting it.

          We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

          by DParker on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:31:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  It was a shame to kill Ted Bundy (4+ / 0-)

        He was one of the most successful and intelligent serial killers.  If he had been allowed to live he could have been debriefed and much knowledge of his psyche, techniques, and crimes could have been gleaned, adding valuable information to prevent future crimes.  This technique has been performed dozens of times by the FBI on serial killers and continues to provide useful information that can be used to identify, track, and arrest the killers more quickly.

        On the front lines of the energy crisis.
        Peak Oil Hawaii

        by Arclite on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:09:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, me too... (5+ / 0-)

      I'm an ardent death penalty foe.

      If a loved one were murdered, I would beg the prosecutors not to ask for the death penalty. I would hate to be associated with such a sickening process.

      HOWEVER, there are some crimes, some criminals so monstrous that they do deserve the death penalty. I'd have killed Stalin or Hitler or Pol Pot or Eichmann with my bare hands.

      I guess where the line is drawn comes down to that old description of pornography: I can't describe it, but I know when I see it.

      Truth is what most contradicts itself in time.

      by Blicero on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:13:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another thing.. (6+ / 0-)

      Executing these despicable, criminal leaders really just serves to elevate them.  I would have loved to see pics of Milosevics reduced to working in the prison laundry or wearing a hairnet as he dished out hash in a prison mess hall.  Reducing tyrants to the rank of mundane thug sucks the wind out of whatever effort could be made to turn them into martyrs or "victims".

      "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

      by Triscula on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:35:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I too, MB (33+ / 0-)

    The state should not be in the business of killing people. As much as these crimes pain us, and as much as it might tempt people with the promise of some kind of satisfaction, state sanctioned murder is unconscionable.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:34:16 PM PST

    •  I, three, MB & bumblebums. (5+ / 0-)

      A decision that took me a long time to arrive at. Especially given how unequally the death penalty has been applied in this country. We have almost certainly executed innocent men. This is something I cannot live with.

      Sweet are the uses of adversity...Find tongues in the trees, books in the brooks, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It.

      by earicicle on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:27:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's certainly tempting (16+ / 0-)

    to provide an exception for those who lead nations into war for bogus reasons, and hence causing the needless death of thousands, but there can be no exceptions.

    "We had a decisive win... and so I don't think there is any question we have a mandate to move the country in a new direction." Barack Obama

    by pollbuster on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:39:22 PM PST

  •  Thank you (34+ / 0-)

    for the language re: death penalty for a will.  I never thought of it.  Will update mine, forthwith.

    There are those whom I've had a momentary thought re: the death penalty -- child murders/molesters for example.  I don't trust the state, however, to make determinations about life and death.  Killing a perpetrator doesn't change the reality that he/she murdered someone.

    You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

    by gchaucer2 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:39:34 PM PST

  •  I too am opposed to the death penalty (6+ / 0-)

    but I believe that DC does not impose the death penalty so the issue is probably moot with respect to Chandra Levi's killer.

    •  Who has jurisdiction? Local DC courts? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl, mattman, blueyedace2

      "I gotta rec that sh*t, even though it is completely tasteless and rude." ... "luntz and his cretinous kabal are paid bloggers from AIPAC."

      by DemocraticLuntz on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:42:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remeber AG Ashcroft amking sure Beltway snipers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TaraIst, blue in NC

      got whisked to Virginai where they apply the death penalty more frequently than Maryland, even though the first murder was in Maryland. The Montgomery County prosecutor was a little pissed. In fact, Maryland is thinking of just elinimating the death penalty.

      The District does not have a local court system anyway. Bush used to use federal authority to snatch defendants away from states that did not have the death penalty all the time. In this case, it would be federal because of Rock Creek Park even if DC had its own courts.

      Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

      by CA Berkeley WV on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:19:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  DC has a very active and complete local court (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CA Berkeley WV

        system. Trust me - I've served on juries that dealt with violent crimes committed in DC. I am not certain whether the Rock Creek location would get the case into the federal court system but you could be right . .

        •  I stand corrected. Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

          I guess the feds act as their Appeals Court? Is that where I went astray? I should know better. I have in-laws in the District. One works for SCOTUS; another for Legal Aid.

          Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

          by CA Berkeley WV on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:25:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No - we have a "Superior Court" for trials (0+ / 0-)

            and then the DC "Court of Appeals" for appeals (as distinct from the federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which is where appeals from federal district court and the federal agencies go). The DC court system was created by the DC charter, which was approved by Congress years ago so in a sense the DC court system was a congressional creation although it is now a stand-alone operation.

            Your Legal Aid in-law probably does most of his or her work in DC Superior Court. The DC court buildings are behind the federal district court building so they very much occupy the same space. Many of our juicier cases end up in federal district court because they involve violations of federal law of one kind or another (like Scooter Libby, Marion Barry, the various Watergate defendants, etc.). And of course drug crimes were federalized some time ago, resulting in heavy involvement by the federal courts in that area. But most of the robberies, assaults, murders, weapon violations, etc. end up in Superior Court.

  •  A witness to justice (12+ / 0-)

    Victims with compassion are the most effective spokespeople.

    They must be good people. Let's hope they don't get hate mail.

  •  Perhaps we should update what the death penalty (4+ / 0-)

    is used for.

    If anyone caught Real Time last night, Maher suggests (comically of course) that we put a few bankers to death (starts about two minutes into the video):

    We have seen that the death penalty is not a real deterrent for the psychos and the thugs, but perhaps it WOULD be for white-collar criminals.

    If the CEO of Peanut Corp. knew he could be put to death for intentionally letting tainted products hit the market, I think he would have been a lot more careful.

  •  There is nothing positive... (13+ / 0-)

    about capitol punishment. Nothing at all.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:43:25 PM PST

  •  I favor the death penalty in two cases (10+ / 0-)

    First is mass murder.  To say otherwise is to say that the 11 death sentences (including Goering who cheated the hangman) were unjust.  To say otherwise is to say that the execution of Adolf Eichmann was unjust.

    Second, the state must have the ultimate sanction against a person convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprison with no parole, who then murders again - either a guard, a prisoner or as an escapee.  If there is no death penalty, there is no sanction against this subsequent murder.

    That said, I find the death penalty abhorrent, and I am glad that when I was a deputy district attorney I never had to argue for it.  Bush's 252 executions as governor stands as one of his many crimes.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:43:45 PM PST

  •  Several years ago, I read about that type of (6+ / 0-)

    clause to put in wills to not seek the death penalty.  I asked an old friend of mine who was a prosecutor what he would do if a victim had an anti-death penalty clause in his/her will.  He just laughed, and said he wouldn't care.  That's when I realized he turned into a schmuck.  But I think most prosecutors would abide by the victim's wishes.

    •  Unfortunately, I beg to differ (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, mcfly, marykk, LeftyAce

      while they are all in favor of granting the victim's family a voice when in favor of the death penalty, there have been cases where they forbid testimony that might jeopardize there captial cases.

      They would say that a person might have a 'deathbed conversion' if they thought the killer might not have killed them if they were afraid of getting the death penalty.  (I don't know that this is the case, just my opinion on what they would say).

      (-8.50, -7.54) Only the educated are free. -Epictetus

      by Tin hat mafia on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:57:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the death penalty (15+ / 0-)

    has nothing to do with justice.  Its only about revenge.  And as good as revenge may feel it should have no place in the law.

    by GlowNZ on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:47:10 PM PST

    •  Why shouldn't just revenge have some kind of (0+ / 0-)

      place in the law? Note the case of the Nazi war criminals who were executed after WWII (in above post).

      •  because revenge is not in the best interest of (0+ / 0-)

        society, it is only in the interest of the victimized.


        1. to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, esp. in a resentful or vindictive spirit: He revenged his murdered brother.
        1. to take vengeance for; inflict punishment for; avenge: He revenged his brother's murder.

        tell me which one of those definitions is in the interest of anyone but the victims?

        (-8.50, -7.54) Only the educated are free. -Epictetus

        by Tin hat mafia on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:28:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure I see how Nazi war criminals (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sandbox, CaliSista, Bene Gesserit1

        keep getting offered up as the exceptional case in which execution should be allowed.  Is it because were they left alive, they would have escaped and committed genocide again? I doubt it. Because it would send a bad message to let them live? The fact that we hold them up as "obviously deserving" of the death penalty implies that it is obvious that what they did is despicable. No 'message' necessary.  

        Given that some of the most depraved killed themselves and their children rather than face their failure, I think life in prison, living day in and day out with their failure and their crimes would be more than enough justice.

        •  Well, the simple reason they keep getting used (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is that there's an implicit understanding that Nazis = unquestionable evil, so in any abstract discussion they can be used as a base point for conversation.  Sort of a reductio ad finitum.

          For the overwhelming majority of human interactions, such moral surety is not the case.  Nazis give us the benefit of both hindsight and general consensus, which is why they appear in so many arguments, and are fundamentally useless.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:26:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why should it? (0+ / 0-)

        Why is the burden always on the opponents of the death penalty to provide reasons?

        -3.88, -6.36
        Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who - This is supposed to be a happy occasion!

        by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:44:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The state should never engage in executions. (18+ / 0-)

    You said it, MB. End of story. The state is in no position to condemn killing as long as it so willingly engages in it and endorses it for revenge.

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

    by BeninSC on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:47:13 PM PST

  •  I don't oppose the death penalty because it ends (9+ / 0-)

    the perpetrator's suffering. I oppose it because it deprives him or her of the chance to grow, to experience regret, remorse, empathy.

  •  My feelings exactly (7+ / 0-)

    I have had multiple discussions with my 82 yo mother, who is otherwise very liberal, but who believes in the death penalty for revenge.  I like to think I am a little more evolved than she is.

    I just don't believe the state should ever kill anyone.

  •  Why (0+ / 0-)

    was this

    She was the staff intern whose disappearance in May 2001 ended the political career of Gary Condit, the California Congressman with whom Levy was having an affair


    Did it add to the discussion of capital punishment?  Did it add ANYTHING at all to the generosity of the Levy's position?  Did it ADD anything to the crux of your story?  NO.

    Why is it necessary to stir up the indiscretions of a young woman who is 8 years dead?  It was nothing but gratuitous scandal-mongering that was completely unnecessary to tell your story.

    Never get the mothers too angry.

    by pvlb on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:48:59 PM PST

  •  The will document is a good idea. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, CA Nana, tegrat, kerflooey

    I hadn't thought of including something like you and your wife have in your wills. I'll give it some thought for my own...

    Either this sentence is false, or I am a toad.

    by rb137 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:49:07 PM PST

  •  It's something I've made those who love me (16+ / 0-)


    That if I'm ever a murder victim and the death penalty is being considered that they will tell the DA that they'll testify on behalf of the accused and argue against it.  I've made the same promise to them on their behalf.

    I'm not sure of what happens after death, but if there is an afterlife I know I won't rest in peace if someone is killed in my name.

    the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

    by mijita on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:49:29 PM PST

    •  What a beautiful thought -- that you would (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dems2004, mattman, mijita, DParker

      never find peace if someone is killed in your name.

      •  Thanks for that! (5+ / 0-)

        Glad someone finds it beautiful.  My husband, the atheist, just rolls his eyes.  

        (He may end up being right, in which case we'll never know.  But if there is an afterlife, I'll have eternity to be smug.  Ah, heaven!)

        the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

        by mijita on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:20:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  'twas Pascal who argued (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that in terms of expected value, only fools should be atheists.  If you're right, congratulations.  If you're wrong, an eternity of fiery damnation awaits you.  If a religious person is wrong about the existence of the afterlife, they don't have to suffer any consequences.

          •  You aren't seriously (0+ / 0-)

            endorsing Pascal's joke of an argument, are you?

            This argument is known as Pascal's Wager. It has several flaws.

            Firstly, it does not indicate which religion to follow. Indeed, there are many mutually exclusive and contradictory religions out there. This is often described as the "avoiding the wrong hell" problem. If a person is a follower of one religion, he may end up in another religion's version of hell.

            Even if we assume that there's a God, that doesn't imply that there's one unique God. Which should we believe in? If we believe in all of them, how will we decide which commandments to follow?

            Secondly, the statement that "[If a religious person is wrong about the existence of the afterlife, they don't have to suffer any consequences]" is not true. Suppose you're believing in the wrong God--the true God might punish you for your foolishness. Consider also the deaths that have resulted from people rejecting medicine in favor of prayer.

            Another flaw in the argument is that it is based on the assumption that the two possibilities are equally likely--or at least, that they are of comparable likelihood. If, in fact, the possibility of there being a God is close to zero, the argument becomes much less persuasive. So sadly the argument is only likely to convince those who believe already.

            Also, many feel that for intellectually honest people, belief is based on evidence, with some amount of intuition. It is not a matter of will or cost-benefit analysis.

            Formally speaking, the argument consists of four statements:

            1. One does not know whether God exists.
            1. Not believing in God is bad for one's eternal soul if God does exist.
            1. Believing in God is of no consequence if God does not exist.
            1. Therefore it is in one's interest to believe in God.

            There are two approaches to the argument. The first is to view Statement 1 as an assumption, and Statement 2 as a consequence of it. The problem is that there's really no way to arrive at Statement 2 from Statement 1 via simple logical inference. The statements just don't follow on from each other.

            The alternative approach is to claim that Statements 1 and 2 are both assumptions. The problem with this is that Statement 2 is then basically an assumption which states the Christian position, and only a Christian will agree with that assumption. The argument thus collapses to "If you are a Christian, it is in your interests to believe in God"--a rather vacuous tautology, and not the way Pascal intended the argument to be viewed.

            Also, if we don't even know that God exists, why should we take Statement 2 over some similar assumption? Isn't it just as likely that God would be angry at people who chose to believe for personal gain? If God is omniscient, he will certainly know who really believes and who believes as a wager. He will spurn the latter... assuming he actually cares at all whether people truly believe in him.

            Some have suggested that the person who chooses to believe based on Pascal's Wager, can then somehow make the transition to truly believing. Unfortunately, most atheists don't find it possible to make that leap.

            In addition, this hypothetical God may require more than simple belief; almost all Christians believe that the Christian God requires an element of trust and obedience from his followers. That destroys the assertion that if you believe but are wrong, you lose nothing.

            Finally, if this God is a fair and just God, surely he will judge people on their actions in life, not on whether they happen to believe in him. A God who sends good and kind people to hell is not one most atheists would be prepared to consider worshipping.

            - mathew, on The Secular Web

            •  I was responding to mijita's comment that (0+ / 0-)

              if there is an afterlife, I'll have eternity to be smug.  Ah, heaven!

              As I originally heard it, Pascal addressed the "avoiding the wrong hell" dilemma. It's better to avoid 1 hell than none at all. At least you have a 1 in a thousand chance of being right. Presumably you'd pick the religion whose god punishes non-believers most severely.

              Expected value arguments aside, I don't think religion is something that one can make that kind of a logical choice about.  You believe what you believe. If you believe simply in maximizing the chance of saving your own hide, that's not religion, that's something else.

              •  Nope. (0+ / 0-)

                I take it that, to answer my question, you are endorsing Pascal's Wager? Oy.

                As I originally heard it, Pascal addressed the "avoiding the wrong hell" dilemma.

                No, he didn't:

                Since there have been many religions throughout history, and therefore many potential gods, some assert that all of them need to be factored into the wager. This would lead to a high probability of believing in the wrong god, which destroys the mathematical advantage Pascal claimed with his Wager. Denis Diderot, a contemporary of Voltaire, concisely expressed this opinion when asked about the wager, saying "an Imam could reason the same way". J. L. Mackie notes that "the church within which alone salvation is to be found is not necessarily the Church of Rome, but perhaps that of the Anabaptists or the Mormons or the Muslim Sunnis or the worshipers of Kali or of Odin."

                Pascal himself didn't address the question of other religions in his section on the wager, presumably because throughout the rest of Pensées (and in his other works) he examined alternatives, like stoicism, paganism, Islam, and Judaism, and concluded that if any faith is correct, it would be the Christian faith.

                Of course, Pascal's absurd calculation nowhere establishes that there must be a "church within which alone salvation is to be found"--there is no advantage to picking a religion or a deity that humans have in fact worshipped, or even recognized, in history. Any god--any imaginable god--must be taken into effect if you're actually going to run the Wager. Which obliterates your "At least you have a 1 in a thousand chance of being right" gambit: the number of imaginable gods is not a mere 1,000; it's effectively infinite itself. So under Pascal's logic you're left choosing between the Christian god; the Islamic god; the crueler conceptions of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Invisible Pink Unicorn; Fred, the reason-loving deity who sends believers in gods (including in himself) to hell and awards rational atheists with heaven; and so on, down the list of every deity humans have dreamed up and every one we haven't. The Wager fails, among several other reasons, because it is simple to concoct theoretical deities that would fry you for doing precisely what you're required to do to avoid being fried by other theoretical deities. Every choice you can make is equally (heh) likely to send you to hell.

                I don't think religion is something that one can make that kind of a logical choice about.  You believe what you believe. If you believe simply in maximizing the chance of saving your own hide, that's not religion, that's something else.

                Goodness--then it would seem you agree that Pascal was blatantly wrong. Why bring his tripe in here, then?

                •  Because it is an intriguing thought experiment. (0+ / 0-)

                  I think the argument is an interesting application of economics/game theory.  And ties into a humorous take on "if I'm right about the afterlife" type statements. A serious religious philosophy it is not, but "tripe" is going too far.

                  •  Or (0+ / 0-)

                    perhaps it's a widespread flavor of emotional blackmail used to frighten ignorant people into following the tyrannical dictates of their local priest, pastor, or imam. One that we ought to oppose on moral grounds.

                    I think the argument is an interesting application of economics/game theory.

                    "Interesting" as in "fatally flawed and invalid"?

                    And ties into a humorous take on "if I'm right about the afterlife" type statements.

                    Anyone who has spent time in the world of religious apologetics and seen innocent people constantly baited with this bullshit by tyrants and cultists would have a hard time seeing the humor in it.

                    "tripe" is going too far.

                    Okay; how about "evil" and "insult to our intelligence"?

    •  Might I suggest you put it in writing ... (8+ / 0-) your loved ones, unpleasant as that may be?

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -Flannery O'Connor

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:40:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Leaving aside the pro/con death penalty stuff... (10+ / 0-)'s an interesting question whether the beliefs and preferences of the victim, or of the victim's family, should be taken into account.  There's a strong intuitive case for taking them into account--the idea that the victim is violated even more when the state doesn't respect their wishes, or those of their family.  But on the other side is the notion that the state isn't executing (ok, bad word choice!) justice on the victim's behalf, but rather on society's behalf, and in that understanding the victim and his/her family actually have no privileged status, any more than you'd ask the forest how an arsonist should be punished.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:49:55 PM PST

    •  good point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We could enact law that asserts that privilege for the victims, since it arguably does no harm to others assuming the alternative to execution is life in prison without parole.

      •  Yes, I think we could write the option into law (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        freespeech, tegrat

        Personally I'd be inclined against that, since it reminds me too much of Iran and other retrograde societies where the victim's family gets to determine life or death for the offender.  But at least it would be codified, as opposed to the prosecutor's-discretion mish-mosh we have now.

        Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

        by Rich in PA on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:56:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Comparing crime victims to plants? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that's a stretch.

      The feelings of victims and their families are supposed to be taken into account during the sentencing phase -- that's why they're allowed to testify.  Their feeling should be considered, but not be the only thing considered.

      The also, sometimes, get say during probation hearings for the same reasons.
      Because they're people not trees.

      the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

      by mijita on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:55:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I know I shouldn't have said that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, mijita

        ...but it's kind of my ideal, to be honest: justice totally divorced from retribution.  Because while we're all highlighting examples of forebearance from retribution (at least from the ultimate retribution), that's just one side of the coin.  And when you put that kind of discretion out there, it becomes subject to all of the disparities in power that characterize our society, which we already see in parole hearings: better-off and better-connected families can advocate against parole indefinitely, while others can't, and of course the victim without a family has no advocates at all.

        Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

        by Rich in PA on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:00:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And criminals with money rarely go to (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, mattman

          prison at all.  "Justice" is a very fluid and arbitrary thing in the US, just one more reason why capital punishment is a problem for some of us.  

          Victims and their family have the right to speak mostly because when they couldn't, that too was seen as unjust as they were only heard in the newspaper but not the courtroom.

          the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

          by mijita on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:04:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I don't believe that they should. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mattman, NYWheeler, DParker

      Justice must be what is in the best interests of society as a whole, not the best interests of the few.

      That means that I am also against victims speaking out in favor of execution in sentencing trials as well.

      I am against the death penalty, because I don't believe giving the state the power of life and death is in the best interest of society.  For me, it is a purely academic argument.

      I have had second thoughts, however, here in TN about 10 years ago there was a man who killed a little girl specifically because she told him that Jesus loved him.  I think he abducted her to molest her, and just went off when she said that and killed her.  That kind of evil gave me pause, as it should, but I still hold firm to my beliefs.  

      (-8.50, -7.54) Only the educated are free. -Epictetus

      by Tin hat mafia on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:01:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very good points. But most states ALREADY ... (6+ / 0-)

      ...have victims rights laws in place. Some allow victims a chance to speak at sentencing hearings. The idea always seems to be that the victims will get some closure and try to convince the judge (or jury in capital cases) or how terrible the crime was and the damage that it did to the victim (and the survivors of the victim). Given that these laws are on the books, I should think it is my right, even posthumously, to offer my take on the situation.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -Flannery O'Connor

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:13:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is good for the soul. Md. has a good system. (0+ / 0-)

        My mom was shot on her birthday and the trial started on my birthday. She did not die, don't know why other than she comes from stubborn German Brethren stock. The state considered this attempted first degree murder, and I remember my victim's impact statement. It is amazing what gets excluded from testimony as prejudicial to the defendant (hearsay of an affair as motive). We determined all future step-fathers have to pass the "does the dog like you " test in the future.

        Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

        by CA Berkeley WV on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:36:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Crime and punishment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    khereva, Rich in PA, kerflooey

    No one can predict how they will feel in the Levy's situation. I am sure at least some hard core opponents of death penalty will feel differently if they or their kin are the victims - that's the way the brain works. Experiencing it is not the same as hearing about or reading about or thinking about the experience.

    But I always puzzle about this: Many who oppose death penalty say revenge/vengeance is inhumane and the government should not be in the business of meting out inhumane punishment. At the same time they also say things like

    "If someone is executed, they really don't suffer too much," he said.


    but that does not preclude hard labor for those who are physically able

    So it seems to me at least some of the opposition is based on the assumption that death penalty is not cruel enough.

  •  Thanks for the great idea to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, Rogneid

    put that clause in my will!

    I read in the AP article, that Levy had "just completed an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons when she went missing in May 2001." But this thread was dropped, and seemingly has no connection to her killer. I thought she'd been interning with Rep. Condit. Then there was this tidbit: "The federal Bureau of Prisons lists an inmate in California with the same sentence and age, but with the spelling Guandigue instead of Guandique." Was Levy's prison internship in CA, perhaps before arriving in DC?

    When I lived in DC I used to ride my bike regularly within a few hundred yards of where Levy's body was found, which is the only reason the case was of interest to me. (The accused was a fetus then.)

    Thank you Robert & Susan Levy, for your humanity.

  •  Depending on the circumstances (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme, Murchadha

    life in prison is more of a penalty than death.

    I know Scott Peterson got the death penalty but does anyone want to bet that he's isn't miserable where he's at right now? He was an upper middle-class city boy.

    This is especially true when it comes to rapists and sex offenders etc. They're considered the lowest of the low in prison.

    "Load up on guns, bring your friends, it's fun to lose and to pretend" Kurt Cobain-1991

    by Jeff Y on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:53:23 PM PST

  •  Milosevics and al-Bashirs of the world (7+ / 0-)

    The problem with that is, who gets to decide which world leaders are the "good" killers and which ones are the "bad" killers, the United States? And what does it depend on, how much they do what the United States tells them to do?

    Bush Jr's Iraq farewell tour. Nobody could have predicted shoes being used as a missile.

    by William Domingo on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:53:56 PM PST

  •  So they found someone to pin this on...... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murasaki, NYWheeler, kerflooey, DParker

    ...I suppose he called her to Rock Creek Park that night. While I am not convinced they have the right guy, I, too think the death penalty is barbaric, expensive, clogs up the justice system and, on occasion, results in the death of a person who is innocent of the crime (if not altogether innocent). The will provision is a great idea.

    Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1929.

    by Bensdad on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:54:06 PM PST

  •  If we consider economics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Julia, CA Nana

    only, then the death penalty is way more expensive than the rest of your life in prison. I would also echo a sentiment expressed here, that the death penalty is not sufficiently heinous enough for these types of cases.

  •  Revenge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, Katie71, NYWheeler

    I cannot recall ever feeling any sympathy for a murder when s/he was executed. In fact, I will even admit that I have felt some degree of satisfaction in ridding the world of one less scumbag. However, at the end of the day the death penalty just does not make sense on any level: legally, philosophically, economically, etc. The only thing it accomplishes is satisfaction of our basic desire for revenge.

    "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." - Gandhi

    by DoubleT on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:57:53 PM PST

  •  F-ing Texas is the WORST (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freespeech, rini6, Katie71, Centrocitta

    with the death penalty. The faux cowboys down there would give you the death penalty for a traffic infraction if they could.

    "Load up on guns, bring your friends, it's fun to lose and to pretend" Kurt Cobain-1991

    by Jeff Y on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:02:24 PM PST

  •  Totally oppossed to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, RonV, rini6, NYWheeler

    state sanctioned executions. I also favor less cushioning of the convicted.
    However, there should be less reliance on punishment, in our judicial system, as a cure all for criminal acts.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain

    by Klick2con10ue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:03:08 PM PST

  •  We supported Obama, so we're pro death penalty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Y

    This type of absurd argument has been used (and strongly recc'd) to attack progressive critics of the Afghan Surge, so I thought I'd bring it up here first.

    I feel that Capital Punishment is our greatest national shame. We can never achieve our national ambitions so long as we think we improve our country by killing some of our citizens.

    When Obama became just another politician to me

    How could Obama say that states needed to have the right to expand the things they could kill their citizens for? Has he read black history?

    Some things are just more important than winning.

    Unless you are a politican.

    What did you do with the cash Joe?

    by roguetrader2000 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:06:31 PM PST

  •  I don't believe in revenge. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, Rogneid, NYWheeler

    Who is the state to judge what someone deserves?

    Jails are good for one thing only and that's to protect us against those who are violent. Those who have committed violent crimes should not get parole. We just don't understand the human psyche well enough to determine who is likely to repeat the crime. There could be some exceptions, such as an abuse victim that strikes back etc...  but not many.

    Those who aren't violent? We have to find other ways to deal with them.

    An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

    by rini6 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:06:40 PM PST

  •  The death penalty is never justifiable. (7+ / 0-)

    Never, never, never justifiable in a civilized culture.

  •  In the Holocaust is Over (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, RonV, Katie71

    Avram Burg remembers the punishment his father had recommended to the Israeli cabinet for Adolf Eichmann: a death penalty, to be commuted every single day for the rest of his natural life.

    Eichmann, however, would not know the commutation was permanent.  He was to believe that his behavior on one day determined whether his sentence would be commuted on the next.  That would he wake up every morning not knowing whether or not he would be executed on that day.

    The cabinet rejected Burg's recommendation, and Eichmann was executed after a fifteen minute ceremony...

    •  I remember reading a sci fi story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      about the death penalty. The person to be executed was anesthesized and then put into a very nice room, where he would come to - but something in that room was going to kill him. There was a lovely meal laid out - but it might be poison. There were lights - but they might be rigged to electrocute him. There was furniture - but it could be lethal.

      He didn't know. The thing was, if he survived 24 hrs in the room, he was free.

      They had this wonderful place available, but they couldn't remotely enjoy it because they knew SOMETHING there was out to kill them. It made their last day a living hell.

      Nobody ever made it out alive.

      And it's diabolical in its simplicity.  

  •  I agree with you 100% (0+ / 0-)

    I really think we need to punish crime by the magnitude of the suffering or hardship caused by the crime. Drug offenses typically harm only a few, those close to the person who harms themselves (if any harm was done). Madoff harmed millions. Hitler harmed hundreds of millions. etc. Violent crimes not only harm the victim but harm more generally through fear and thus require more penalty than most drug consumers. Now here's a tricky one, is a troll a criminal if they cause a lot of mental anguish to others? lol

    "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

    by yuriwho on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:09:45 PM PST

  •  Humane Treatment Also Involves the Mind (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, LeftyAce

    Fairly humane treatment for a few hours can be genuine torture if it goes on for decades.

    Frankly I think it's more humane to oppose torture than the death penalty. --leaving aside the issue of erroneous conviction.

    And when you're talking about holding a wild animal captive for 30-50 years, torture begins to include conditions that could be quite humane for the short term.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:12:05 PM PST

  •  My 2 cents... (6+ / 0-)

    I believe any argument worth making must be founded in logic and facts.

    My argument against the death penalty is this:

    Justice MUST be what is in the best interest of society, not the few.

    I am unconvinced that allowing the state to have the power of life and death is in the best interest of society.  There has been no proof that it deters crime.

    Revenge is always in the perceived interest of the victim and/or victim's family, generally without thought of the interest of society, and therefore has no place in the justice system.

    You may argue that I would think differently if someone I loved were killed.  To that, I would have to make the following argument.

    I can see myself FEELING differently in that case, but that would be only because I WAS NOT thinking clearly.  Important decisions based on emotions instead of logic are not generally speaking sound ones.  Therefore, the last person you want to make that type of decision is someone who is grieving, therefore I would want to be excluded from making that decision, regardless of what I was feeling at the time.

    (-8.50, -7.54) Only the educated are free. -Epictetus

    by Tin hat mafia on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:15:15 PM PST

  •  If memory serves, there is no death penalty (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, Jeff Y

    in the District of Columbia, where Levy was murdered.

    -1.50, -3.95 | VA 2009: Deeds / Wagner / Shannon

    by Red Sox on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:15:26 PM PST

  •  Like most (5+ / 0-)

    married couples, we have covered this subject many times. However, we have never discussed the possibility of providing instruction in our will's. It's an excellent idea. Thanks.

    Like you, I must thank Robert and Susan Levy, for starting, or rather restarting this conversation. Which will likely go on long into the future.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:16:15 PM PST

  •  This Michigander heartily agrees (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico, Jeff Y, DParker, Greek Goddess

    On March 1, 1847, Michigan became the world's first English-speaking jurisdiction to abolish the death penalty for murder. (Capital punishment for treason lingered for a few years afterward.)

    "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."--Michael Corleone.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:29:57 PM PST

  •  The Question of Death or No Death (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, Krush

    Should not be left to the relatives of a murder victim. That's not called justice, it's called revenge, or in some cases a withholding of revenge.

    Society should impose criminal penalties to minimize crime, not to avenge victims of crime. The two things are rarely the same.

    Whomever killed Levy deserves 40 years of soul searching in a 6x6x6 concrete cube. With a toilet, a water faucet and cup, and all the ramen pride noodles they can eat.

    For life.

    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by easong on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:31:23 PM PST

    •  I agree. But my point in this essay ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      easong, Rogneid, LeftyAce that our society-at-large usually sees the victim as (at least) a more important arbiter of what the punishment should be than it does other players in our system of rule by law. And when someone objects to the death penalty in a case when the majority believes the victims would be clamoring for it, it has a countervailing impact. That matters.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -Flannery O'Connor

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:55:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder what the victims would say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Julia, boofdah

    ...if they could.

  •  This is an issue I've struggled with. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm the mother of a 5 year old little boy.  I can't say that if someone was to murder my baby, I wouldn't want to make sure the SOB lives a short a life as possible thereafter.  I'm not proud of that, but that's honestly how I feel.

    That being said, I have huge problems with the death penalty in this country.  It is applied so arbitrarily.  In many jurisdictions, only murders of police officers, judges, and the like are subject to capital punishment.  

    But what about the young mother working her second job at a convenience store to feed her children when someone comes in and kills her for the $36 dollars in the register?  Isn't her life just as valuable?

    Like I said, I struggle with this issue.  I'm not perfect.  I'm a human being.  I've never been anything but honest here about how I feel about such things.  This issue is no different.

    Can someone please explain to me how there can be a "moderate" position on equality??

    by browneyes on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:36:41 PM PST

    •  I think the gut reaction of many people ... (5+ / 0-)

      ...- me included - would be the same as yours. I just believe and strongly that we must do our utmost to get past our gut reactions on such matters.

      I wish I could say that honesty was never punished here at Daily Kos.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -Flannery O'Connor

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:51:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's the due process argument that gives me pause (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      too.  I don't have any problems whatsoever with the guilty being killed.  As far as I'm concerned, the presumption to life reverses when one murders another (not 'why should we kill that person;' but 'why shouldn't we kill that person').  The two due process arguments give me pause, though.  

      The arguments: [1] regular application of the DP must lead to executing some innocent people; [2] the poor and the colored seem to be more likely to be executed, other things being equal.

      We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

      by burrow owl on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:06:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can see emotional reasons (0+ / 0-)

        for the presumption being reversed, but I don't see a good rationale for it. Maybe it's one of those fundamental values questions that one can't really argue with logic and evidence.

        -3.88, -6.36
        Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who - This is supposed to be a happy occasion!

        by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:52:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What if the "murderer" is a drunk driver? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      earicicle, browneyes

      The scenario of the hard-working convenience store clerk killed by a robber is often given. But what if that same clerk is killed by a repeat DUI offender on the way home from work? Capital punishment is usually considered automatically in the first case, but very rarely in the second. Yet, the clerk is just as dead, from just as irresponsible and selfish an act.

      I suspect that another part of the emotional appeal of the death penalty is that it is applied to "bad" people, the type we don't want living next door to us. But if, say, vehicular homicide, especially while DUI, was treated at the same level as first degree murder, it would hit home for a lot more people, because driving DUI is "something any of us might do - maybe we just had one beer too many, we certainly didn't mean to take out that family in the minivan, but we would NEVER try to rob a store."

      This is just one of the illogical aspects I see to how the death penalty is applied.

      •  I understand where you're coming from. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And I can't say that I wouldn't want to see the same punishment for that repeat drunk driver.  At that point, it's not just an "accident."

        That's why others make these decisions and not me.  I often can't separate my emotions from public policy.  

        Can someone please explain to me how there can be a "moderate" position on equality??

        by browneyes on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:25:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I dearly wish vehicular homicide was treated (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        as severely as murders committed with guns. In fact, a car w/a drunk driver behind the wheel is a more dangerous weapon than a small handgun: you can probably take more lives.

        But the death penalty? I'm with MB.

        Sweet are the uses of adversity...Find tongues in the trees, books in the brooks, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It.

        by earicicle on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:35:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with you with regard to the death penalty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Julia

    I'm less certain about the other positions you raise about treatment of violent offenders, but perhaps it's because I have the good fortune of not having been personally affected by violent crime.

    -3.88, -6.36
    Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who - This is supposed to be a happy occasion!

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:37:03 PM PST

  •  Wrong reasons for opposing death penalty. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, evora

    Vengeful parents who want to see murderer suffer even more is hardly the kind of moral standing for opposing the death penalty.

    No. 1 reason for no death penalty is that we will always be killing innocent people.  That is the worst crime of all, the state killing innocent people.  It simply cannot happen and that is why the death penalty should be banned.

    The Innocence Project continually finds people wrongly condemned to death.

    The person the police are going to accuse of Levy's murder may turnout to be one of those people.

    There are other reasons for opposing the death penalty, practical ones (distorts legal system where threat of death leads to plea bargains and false confessions, clogs legal system with huge costs) and moral ones, committing the same crime as the murder is a weak moral standing, idea that anyone might some day find redemption of some sort.

    •  I suppose opposing all war goes along with that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl, jxg

      view, since there are always innocent victims killed in war.

      -3.88, -6.36
      Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who - This is supposed to be a happy occasion!

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:47:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As I said, I don't know whether the ... (4+ / 0-)

      ...Levys oppose the death penalty on other grounds that the few words that AP quoted.

      But, I don't have a problem with the idea that the death penalty lets some criminals off too easy.

      Certainly, there are other reasons, including those you cite, and those, in fact, are among those that led my wife and I to choose to include that provision in our wills.

      As for the Innocence Project, which does great work, it's easy to argue against the death penalty for the innocent. What's difficult is to argue against it for the guilty. Not enough people are willing to do that.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -Flannery O'Connor

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:49:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We often don't know they are guilty (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is the point and it is a point that is made over and over again as the Innocence Project stats demonstrate.

        The death penalty requires that innocent people be killed for crimes they didn't commit and that is the greatest crime of all and it must be stopped.

        That's really the end of the story.

    •  There was a movement to raise the legal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      standard of proof of guilt in order to sentence the convicted to death -- in other words, no death penalty unless the evidence of who committed the crime is not only beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt.  So that guy who was convicted of killing his wife out in California (somebody Peterson?) after her body washed up could not receive the death penalty under such a standard, as he maintained he was innocent and there was no direct evidence, only strong circumstantial evidence, that he was the killer.  I would personally favor the adoption of such an elevated standard.  As to the death penalty itself, I'd rather not have one than have one, but don't lose any sleep over its application in cases of heinous crimes (e.g., the guy who hijacked a couple's boat and tossed them overboard tied to their anchor) where, again, there's no doubt as to committed the crime.  I also 100% endorse the efforts of the Innocence Project.

      •  So you are OK with innocent people being executed (0+ / 0-)

        That is and always will be the bottom line to the death penalty.  Justice system is imperfect and will always convict innocent people. If we have a death penalty, we will always be murdering innocent people.

        There is no excuse for the state every murdering innocent people.

        •  I don't see why (0+ / 0-)

          that line of reasoning can't also be applied to war victims, but I guess you're not interested in discussing it with me.

          -3.88, -6.36
          Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who - This is supposed to be a happy occasion!

          by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 07:32:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  How can you so misstate what I said? (0+ / 0-)

          My entire point was that the death penalty should only be tolerated (and I don't endorse it) if the possibility of executing the innocent is taken out of the equation.  It completely baffles me how you construed that with being

          OK with innocent people being executed.

           So perhaps your argument is that it's impossible to apply a standard that rules out all possibility of executing any but those who indisputably committed the murders of which they've been convicted.  I disagree with that premise, as it violates everyday experience - if I go out to my car, and my key starts it, and my things are in the car, and it looks just like I remember it when I left it, I can be certain that it is MY car, and not some replacement copy placed there by by some unknown party who for unexplained reasons wanted to trick me into believing that it was MY car when it was not.  And there are some murders where the evidence (which may or may not include a confession) is such that there is no possibility that mistaken identity is at issue.  It is only in such cases where, IMO, the death penalty should even be considered as an option, and as I said, my own preference is to employ alternative means of punishment - but I understand the feelings of those who favor it.

  •  As a matter of political philosophy, (7+ / 0-)

    the state, by which I mean this state, has no right to execute citizens because the right was never given to the state.

    The United States and most Western democracies around founded on a natural law conception of rights and upon a social contract theory of how those rights subsist after the founding of the state.

    I don't know of any thinking other than Thomas Hobbes who thought that the right to take your life is one of the rights that the citizen hands over to the state for the purpose of mutual protection.  Under Thomas Jefferson's take, at least, this certainly makes no sense.

    The point being: the existence of the death penalty constitutes a fundamental reworking of the relationship of citizen to state -- it makes the arbitration by the state of citizen rights, absolute.

    This may seem a merely philosophical point.  But as a matter of practice, observe how the existence of a death penalty makes every other abrogation of rights rhetorically defensible.  That would be the practical point.

    Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you. -- Fry, Futurama

    by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:42:27 PM PST

    •  Exhibit A (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      World Rankings: Most Executions in 2007

      1. China  
      1. Iran
      1. Saudi Arabia
      1. Pakistan
      1. USA  
      1. Iraq  
    •  I don't have the right to imprison another, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LithiumCola, sandbox

      either, but we grant the state that power.  So I don't see your argument holding.

      We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

      by burrow owl on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:02:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Correct. (5+ / 0-)

        You don't have the right to imprison people, and you didn't in the state of nature, either.  

        What you gave the state was the right to imprison you, if necessary, in return for protection and mutual assistance.  (Actually, I should be saying, you gave the sovereign the right to imprison you.  According to at least some of the founding fathers, the sovereign is the people, not the government.  That detail, more than anything, is what made the United States unprecedented.)

        The question is not what rights do you have to do things to other people, but what rights do you have to not have other people do things to you.  In the state of nature you have the natural right not to be imprisoned.  You surrender this right to the sovereign.  As far as I know, no one other than Thomas Hobbes ever suggested that you also give up your right to life.

        Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you. -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:13:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Did any of the natural law theorists of the (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LithiumCola, CanyonWren, stella0710

          time think that the DP ran contrary to the NL?  That would surprise me quite a bit.

          We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

          by burrow owl on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:31:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or is the argument that the logic of NL (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LithiumCola, CanyonWren

            compels the illegality of the DP, even if the NL theorists of the time refused to admit b/c of the customs of the time?

            We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

            by burrow owl on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:33:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The logic of the NL (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              burrow owl, CanyonWren

              . . . well, it's not the logic of the NL so much as the assumptions you make about which rights the people living in the state of nature (pre-government) give up to the government in return for protection and assistance.  In other words, it depends upon what you stipulate went into the social contract.

              (You might ask at this point, what the hell is natural, law, natural right, and the social contract?  Aren't these all fictions?  I don't know what to say to that.  It is not supposed to be a theory about actual history -- about what some real people really did in the state of nature before there were governments.)

              So, in fact, all of this that I am saying is question-begging, in one sense: I am stipulating that no one gives over the right not to be killed to the state in return for protection, and I am thereby concluding that the death penalty violates the social contract.  But, of course, it's not up to me to just assert what is in the social contract.

              Back to your question: I don't actually know what, for example, John Locke said about the death penalty, I imagine he was for it, even though he explicitly rejected Thomas Hobbes's views.

              Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you. -- Fry, Futurama

              by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:16:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Having thought about this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Julia, Anna M

    for almost 2 years, I agree with you MB. Before, I thought execution in some cases was called for. I changed my mind. Not because the death penalty is inhumane, but because it's too damn easy on the convicted.  Life without parole must be something very difficult to wake up to every morning, and the fear of the dark, the shower, the narrow hallway must make it very terrifying to close ones eyes at night.

  •  Opposition to the death penalty on moral grounds (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is fine, for example, you agree with the Roman Catholic Church in this case.  But the opinion of a victim's relatives does not further your cause, unless you or we all believe in vigilante justice.  It is not up to the family to decide, if it were, many more in prison would have been put to death.

  •  The Death Penalty is Profane (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, DParker

    I can't think of a worse circumstance than losing a family member to murder - except to compound that loss with another mudrer, even if state-sanctioned. What a profane remembrance of the victim - to have a murder in their name.

    Canada - where a pack of smokes is ten bucks and a heart transplant is free.

    by dpc on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:55:08 PM PST

  •  speaking of prison rehab (0+ / 0-)

    Check out this innovative program of ten day vipassana medtitation courses in a maximum security prison in, of all places, Alabama.

    The Dhamma Brothers tells a dramatic tale of human potential and transformation as it closely follows and documents the stories of the prison inmates at Donaldson Correction Facility who enter into this arduous and intensive program.

  •  I'm opposed to the death penalty because (0+ / 0-)

    there is no way to be absolutely certain of someone's guilt. The death penalty, obviously, is a sentence that can't be reversed. Clearly, there are innocent people in jail, and we have seen cases where they have been released after many years. They lost much of their lives, but at least they got a little back in the end. Yet, an innocent person sentenced to death is gone. No hope to even try and make it right.

    If one innocent person is sent to prison, it is a terrible injustice, but perhaps a price society must pay for order and security. But if one innocent person is killed, it is a moral stain on the society that no amount of benefit can justify. The only way to insure that an innocent person is never killed by the state is to outlaw the practice.

    I also have my own personal moral objections to the death penalty. I do feel there are people who probably deserve death, but it is in no way my place to give it to them. Nor society's place either.

    Also, prison reform is needed to make prisons humane. The hell holes that they represent now make a prison term worse than death for some. Google the term "covered wagon" in regards to prisons. Appauling. There is much to condemn in Americas's prison systems.

    •  Do you remember that family that was (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah, sandbox
      murdered up at Couer d'Alene in Idaho? The mother, her boyfriend, and her 13 yo son were bludgeoned to death by a pedophile who wanted to grab the two younest kids (a little boy maybe 9yo  and a little girl - 7 or 8 yo). The pedophile took the kids up to a campground in W MT where he tortured and sexually assaulted them. Then he shot and killed the little boy.

      He took the little girl to a Denny's in some little mining town in N Idaho, was recognized and captured, so the little girl was rescued and survived, she's with her dad now. The pedophile confessed to everything btw.

      The pedophile had been convicted in the past, and had been turned loose to do this again. He wasn't given the death penalty for these heinous crimes, just 3 life sentences.

      I didn't even know this family, but am still in grief for the loss of life, particularly the casual taking of the lives of the boys, and the circumstances of the torture the children were put through. I'm a westerner and a life-long democrat. I really can't imagine myself being completely opposed to the death penalty so long as there are crimes like this. IMO we have a right to protect our children from such people, and in a lot of cases only the death penalty can assure that protection.

      Those who oppose the death penalty can certainly find examples where it was carried out wrongly ... this is an example where it wasn't carried out which IMO was just as serious a miscarriage of justice.

      •  How did the death penalty protect THOSE children? (0+ / 0-)

        You say:

        IMO we have a right to protect our children from such people, and in a lot of cases only the death penalty can assure that protection.

        Can you explain, then, how the death penalty FAILED to assure the protection of the children in this crime? That "argument" is nonsensical on its face.

        People who do what that man did are obviously not deterred by threat of punishment of any kind. They are driven by their impulses, and no "second thoughts" about maybe being caught and killed by the state would even slow them down.

        I understand the anger and the visceral NEED to punish this disgusting individual, and it's perfectly understandable to want revenge upon him for the unspeakable horror of his crime. I feel it, too. That's human nature, and that immediate, burning fury we feel about this kind of thing is what the law is designed to channel into cooler-headed, more civilized behavior.

        •  Death penalty stops killer from doing it again (0+ / 0-)

          How do you propose to stop a serial rape murderer? With earnest entreaties? With promises of rehabilitation? You sap.

          •  With a pistol? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            boofdah, sandbox

            It has happened once to my knowledge that a would-be victim shot and killed a serial rapist who had broken into her house in the dark of night. Very tough second amendment mama.

            I agree with you in general, however, I don't condone calling Julia or anyone else names, if you wouldn't have done it I would have recc'd your comment.

            This is one of those issues Markos posted about earlier today ... we have this place to wrangle about it amongst ourselves, and see if our minds (on each side of this issue) can be changed ... or at least opened a little.

          •  Agreed. Repeat murderers are defective humans. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            They are broken. There are no product recalls on people. The only way to ensure a repeat killer doesn't do it yet again is to execute them. I am sorry, but that is a fact.

            Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

            by bigtimecynic on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:10:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  tough case, but as I said (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        2lucky, sandbox, annominous

        I have a personal moral objection to sanctioning someone's death. It's "above my pay grade." The criminal in question was released from jail for for a prior conviction of child rape I believe. That he did the murders after that is a seperate issue. Do you think that every person who sexually assaults a child should spend their life in jail for that? Maybe so, but that is a different argument.

        In your example, how would the death penalty have prevented the killings? He wasn't convicted of murder in the past(although admittedly he was charged with a murder, by not convicted). People can't be imprisoned for life or sentenced to death for what they might do in the future. In your example it seems like your reason for the death penalty is to guard against the possiblity of him escaping from prison. As much as that might seem to be satisfying on some personal level, there are moral implications to that choice. Life in prison is this man's sentence now. He cannot harm another.

        All that being said, I admit, it is a very gray moral issue. The person you mention in your example is a very, very bad person. And I also must admit that I would sleep better at night if I knew his flame no longer flickered in this realm. Still, his acts are those of an individual, and as innocent as his victims obviously are, there still is a very large distinction between them and a prisoner wrongly sentenced to death. Any reasonable person has to admit the fact that it is impossible to be 100 percent certain that no innocent person will ever be executed. Therefore, the decision to use the death penalty as a form of protection is a decision to allow, at some point, the death of an innocent person for the security of the society. This is a fundamentaly different decision than that of the crazed murderer in question.

        But I understand your feelings and I can see how you can justify them. That is to say, I don't feel you are wrong but more I don't agree that it is the way to go.

        It's a tough issue.

        •  True, I picked a very extreme case to (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          2lucky, boofdah

          use as an example.

          If, in our society, we were actually serious about not turning known sexual predators loose on our kids, then yes, child rape would be a one-strike-you're-out crime. I'm completely baffled by people who minimize sex crimes against kids.

          As did this particular criminal, many learn from their prison experiences not to leave any witnesses, so it is inherent in the nature of their "little problem with impulse control" that their crimes escalate to murder. Thus they are teachable, but are they rehabilitatable? And are they all really safely locked up? I guess we'll find out when the budget crunch hits Idaho, California, New York.

          I do agree with anti-death penalty posters here who cite examples of innocent people who have been incarcerated or even put to death by the state - that's so clearly wrong it seems odd it needs to be stated explicitly - it is the other extreme of the death penalty discussion. I'm only arguing that for clear-cut cases where guilt is absolutely known and the crime is heinous, the death penalty is appropriate.

          The argument that we can't be absolutely certain of guilt doesn't apply to every case. Engaging in this discussion, I've been thinking about that cop who shot the young man in the back in the subway (Cali, right?) and killed him. Do death-penalty opponents believe that cop does not deserve the death penalty? (Did his victim deserve to be slaughtered in the subway?) A witness recorded the whole thing on a cell phone camera, there is really no doubt the cop did it, though he'll probably plead not guilty (haven't heard any news yet on that).

          BTW thanks for your courteous response.

          •  I agree with you 110 percent, especially here: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I do agree with anti-death penalty posters here who cite examples of innocent people who have been incarcerated or even put to death by the state - that's so clearly wrong it seems odd it needs to be stated explicitly - it is the other extreme of the death penalty discussion. I'm only arguing that for clear-cut cases where guilt is absolutely known and the crime is heinous, the death penalty is appropriate.

            Great comment that distinguishes the painful exceptions to death-penalty objection; I too support the death penalty for absolute guilt in heinous crimes, such as serial killing and rape/murder, especially of children.

            Not to drag the tired abortion comparison out of the dusty chest again, but as a staunch progressive Democrat AND a woman, I do see a horrible contradiction between emphatic support for abortion rights and, at the same time and sometimes in the same breath, emphatic rejection of the death penalty. Others' mileage may vary, and of course it is up to personal moral decision-making depending on the individual; but the most morally-consistent position for me, as a pragmatist, is to neither favor abortion nor the death penalty in principle, but affirm that both should be legal and rare.

            I frankly don't understand how one can support one in all circumstances but not the other in any circumstance, but I notice that this happens on both the right and the left, with little tolerance for any opinion that deviates outside the cookie-cutter litmus test (so to speak).

            I'm walking to fight autism! Please support Team Hope's efforts here.

            by boofdah on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:54:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  It never occurred to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to include such a coda in my will. Thank you, MB for another bit of enlightenment. Time to call my attorney and update my will.


    Nobody agrees with you; you agree with everybody else. -Hank Hill

    by sanglug on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:14:31 PM PST

  •  I'm SO proud of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pine, rhubarb, earicicle

    Chandra's parents and of you, MB, for standing up for your beliefs. If you don't believe in the death penalty then you should be consistent about it. They are and for that they should receive all of our respect.

    Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative. ~~ John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Purple Priestess on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:16:05 PM PST

    •  god bless the Levys (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Purple Priestess, earicicle, DParker

      They have always struck me as reasonable, sensible people who only want to grieve the loss of their daughter and to make sure that no one else suffers. It's a far cry from some of the families of other high-profile murder victims, who seem hell-bent on achieving revenge.

      And while I can understand that desire for revenge on some level, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

  •  You know of course that we do not have the (3+ / 0-)

    death penalty in DC.  So Mr. Levy has no real choice in this matter.

    And that the Levys were perfectly happy to destroy Condit's life without any real evidence against him.

    And that those of us who were women in her age range at the time have lived for years without knowing whether or not there was a serial killer hanging around because we not only knew that the Condit story was bunk, but also that there had been a series of very mysterious disappearances of other women besides Levy that had not been solved either.

    Not for nothing Levy's body was found very close to my house.

    Personally, I found the Levy's particularly unhelpful because of their open obsession with Condit and I'm not that interested in what they have to say now.

  •  My honest reaction is that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm happy to see anyone show such forgiveness, but while I'm not hawkish on the death penalty (I think death should be available on tap for prisoners like Gary Gilmore, as well as for anyone else who isn't clearly acting out of caprice) I think that it gets far too much discussion.  We kill hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of innocent people a year.  The notion of alienating people because I disagree with them about this tough philosophical issues when I need their help to stop far worse devastation -- and I include deaths caused by poverty, poor health care, and environmental devastation in that -- seems to be completely out of whack.

    Better a country that didn't kill innocents or despoil the environment or allow innocents to die but did execute serious criminals than one that did the reverse.

  •  Do you need a will to make that statement? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not under any impression that I'll ever be murdered but I've had a lot of talk with my parents about if it happens. I've told them I completely oppose the death penalty. No matter the circumstances. There is no way that I will ever agree with pro-death penalty arguments.

    But I don't know if it needs to necessarily be written in a will or some type of advance directive or something. Do you know?

    I'm worried because my parents are hardcore Republicans and fully support the death penalty.

    "ENOUGH!" - President Barack Hussein Obama

    by indiemcemopants on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:45:55 PM PST

  •  He's already ruined Gary Condit's life... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Its any one guess

    ...and that of Gary Condit's son, whose own political career was snuffed out from the backwash directed at his father.

    Why?  Because the Levys kept claiming, without a shred of evidence, that Gary Condit killed their daughter.  They (and Josh Marshall) made sure the mainstream press kept after Condit 24/7 even as the cops were saying "Whoa, Nellie!"  It took 9/11 to stop the frenzy, but by then it was too late for the Condits, whose careers were both in ashes.

    Visit for Minnesota news as it happens.

    by Phoenix Woman on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:51:46 PM PST

    •  It will be good to see Condit cleared (0+ / 0-)

      If he's innocent, which now apparently is likely.

      I myself considered him likely to be guilty for some time. This is without my having any real facts on the matter, just the speculation of my own mirroring the speculation in the public square...

      I can't personally fault the parents for pursuing anyone, tho, really. It was their daughter. That's not an easy thing to be objective about.

      "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

      by jbeach on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:13:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i don't understand, justice has always been a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    lefty value, just fair justice.

    Although I suppose in some circles such views tarnish my left-progressive credentials, I think I've made it clear I believe in being appropriately tough on the appropriate crimes.

    i think that almost buys into the right-wing meme that only they know what is real justice and we lefties are just too weak. A life at hard labor or any imprisonment is for many a far worse sentence than execution.  

    I don't see how hard labor or longer sentences for repeat violent crime offenders or "creative harshness" for Madoffs is not left-progressive, particularly when in lieu of capital punishment.

    I think it is ok to mandate longer sentences for repeat violent offenders, as long as the length of sentence is discretionary.

    My masters thesis was on victim restitution. The biggest mistake is not having complete, mandatory restitution by creeps like Madoffs. I'd also like to see financial restitution by the Bush crooks to we the taxpayers for all their crimes and unlawful acts.

    For example, Julie MacDonald reaped all sorts of monetary profits by violating endangered species laws for herself and corporations. I think they should all turn those monies over to taxpayers as well as pay for the increased costs we had to pay to fix their crap, such as $100,000 to issue another federal register ruling.  

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:54:00 PM PST

  •  I've been opposed to the DP since I was a child. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, DParker

    I remember as a little boy learning about executions that I found the very notion awful.  "To show people how bad it is to kill someone, we're going to kill someone?"  It made no sense.

    Given the imperfect nature of our criminal justice system, there's no way to ensure that an innocent person is never executed, either.  And killing even one innocent out of 10,000 guilty persons is a monstrous wrong.  So to avoid such a thing, the only sane thing to do is to eliminate the possibility, which means eliminating the death penalty.

    I admit there are times that, viscerally, I'd like to see perpetrators of heinous crimes pay with their lives.  But rationally, I can't justify it.  Civilized society should be beyond it by now.

    I finally put in a signature!

    by Boris Godunov on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 07:57:12 PM PST

  •  Up against the wall, MF (0+ / 0-)

    If you can't or won't defend your family, what good are you?

    The murderer who is allowed to enjoy his life in prison for the next 10 or more years has 10 or more years on this planet which he denied to his victim. The victim's potential ended at death. His enjoyment of life was cut off by the killer. This is an abomination against humanity, that an individual takes away our most valuable possession: our very life. And the liberal view is to show compassion for the killer, letting him win, letting him enjoy life.

    No, up against the wall, MF.

    •  Nope. Compassion with the killer is totally not (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, pico, CaliSista, DParker

      the issue. That's the big misunderstanding. There are several different motives for opposing the death penalty; compassion with the killer really isn't one of them. For me, the key issue is I just don't like the idea of the government having the power to kill, unless it is in the immediate defense of the lives of others. It creeps me out, it creates a sphere of moral equivalence between the killer and the government killing the killer, it creates a special prison system within the prison system that manages those on death row and deals with the philosophical and psychological and spiritual implications for the sentenced killer, their wardens, and for society as a whole, and it creates an entire economy of killing, where numerous political careers revolve around sending people to their deaths. It's just... it really creates a culture of death and drags significant aspects of the political system right into it.

      An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz (cskendrick)

      by brainwave on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:32:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Disagree - people get wrongfully accused. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      No one should have the power to execute people, because no one is infallible.

      People do commit crimes, and so they should be quarantined off from the rest of society. But no group of people should be trusted with the power to kill another group of people. It's not even a question of malevolence - people screw up, make mistakes, cover up or just don't care. I mean, how many death row cases have been reversed by a few part-time law students who were actually paying attention?

      Life in prison that actually means life in prison, with no parole - that I approve of. The death penalty is something that humans are not currently perfect enough en masse to use, IMHO.

      This, for me, is the clincher - besides all the moral and merciful arguments against the death penalty, which I also think are valid.

      "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

      by jbeach on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:19:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Life in prison is cruel too. (0+ / 0-)

        I imagine that when the death penalty is finally abolished in all states, the pro-criminal lobby will implore the people to reject life without parole as too cruel. We shall be entreated to put more recources into helping the murderer -- sorry, the "social victim" -- to re-enter civil society, healed from the trauma that "forced" him to rape and murder a child, etc.

        •  Then that'll be something I disagree with (0+ / 0-)

          But just because someone may try to water down life-without-parole, doesn't mean that the death penalty always works great. Far from it.

          It's all about what works best. The Death Penalty doesn't work, IMHO, because the government can't be trusted with that irrevocable power. If it's life without parole, then at least when the government is found to be wrong the person can be released.

          Because no matter how good any group of people is, they are certain to be wrong at some time.

          "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

          by jbeach on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:57:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm against the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

    I think the people who have committed the very worst crimes - murders, child predators, etc. have shown that they don't want to live by our society's rules - so let them have their own society (an island or prison where they can't escape).  They can murder or rape or do whatever they want to each other.

  •  My objection to the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

    is that it gives the government the license, and indeed the mission, to kill, in cold blood, without defense being at issue. Just imagine for a second your neighbor was an executioner and you knew it. How would you feel about this person? How would you feel in their presence? How would you interact with them? Can you imagine being married to an executioner? I can't fathom how so many Americans see no problem with their government, which is supposed to protect them and look after them, being, as an institution, an executioner. An agent that snuffs out human lives.

    An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz (cskendrick)

    by brainwave on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:19:38 PM PST

  •  Well I'm with you on the absouloetly no death... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...penalty. But hard time..... the constitution is quite explicit about cruel and unusual punishment. I beleive a murder should be given every chance for rehabilitation, not in the sense that they are returned to the general population, but that over time they are allowed to give back to society what they took. In other words they should be offered the opportunity to redeem themselves in the face of their victims. It must be a terrible thing to be the victim of murder. But I would not want the guilt or the karma of treating someone badly, no matter how hard they treated me or my loved ones. We must get past this feeling of retribution if we are ever to survive as a race

    e-do-hi, a-li-s-da-yv-di hi-nv-wa-ga

    by winchelenator on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:21:45 PM PST

  •  I support the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

    I just can't not support it.

  •  DC doesn't have the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

    So this really isn't much of a story.

  •  whatever the case, (0+ / 0-)

    another 14-part series in the washington post is definitely in order.

    freedom isn't free, but it isn't dumb either.

    by astro on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:40:53 PM PST

  •  Death Penalty (10+ / 0-)

    I have posted on here before about the death penalty.  My daughter was murdered by a serial killer in Spokane, Washington about 9 years ago.  The man who killed her and at least 15 others was found and convicted of murder.  Due to DNA evidence and a witness who had escaped from him there was never any doubt he was guilty.  He eventually confessed.  
    My whole adult life I have been against the death penalty.  Although people often said I wouldn't feel that way if someone I loved was killed, my mind did not change.
    I despised the killer.  If I personally was alone with him, I can't say what I might do.  However, at no time did I want the state to take his life in my daughter's name.
    The man is a sociopath and I don't expect him to ever really repent or feel sorry for what he did.  I wanted him to sit in prison and lament the loss of his freedom.  He was a career army man stripped of all of his honors and isolated from his family.  I know the only person he will feel sorry for is himself and that is fine. As you can tell, I haven't found the ability to forgive him.  Probably, I never will.
    As it turned out, he was given 400 years with no parole for the Spokane murders but the death penalty for some murders in Tacoma.
    I asked the court for life stating my feelings that executing him would not be done for my benefit or my daughters but in a need for the state to gain vengence.  Also, since he had been killing since the 70s and had been stationed all over the world, executing him would not allow for the possibility of his confessing about other murders.
    Well, years will go by and he will be eventually executed but for what purpose?  

    •  So sorry for your loss, and proud of you (0+ / 0-)

      for your clarity and class.

      Nothing else to say.

      "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

      by jbeach on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:20:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

      Your daughter cannot enjoy her life anymore. Her potential was ended because a creep thought it would be fun. Now he gets to enjoy thinking about his crimes, for many years, playing them over and over in his head.

      The purpose of execution is to show the killer that society will not tolerate those who seek to destroy it. If we do not defend ourselves, then we are complicit in the crimes of the murderer.

      •  Impotent punishment (0+ / 0-)

        The death penalty has proven to prevent killers from their acts.  Robert Yates, who killed my daughter, murdered all over the country.  Washington state has the death penalty yet, he committed murder for over 20 years.  Do you really think he gave serious thought to the death penalty?
        Again, my point is not Mr. Yates but the memory of my daughter.  I have never said I personally could prevent myself from doing violence to Yates (I hope I could) but that would be my decision not the impersonal state.  The state only executes as an entity once removed.  Vengence is not the same as justice and morality.  In order to gain vengence on my daughter's death, I don't want a potentially injust punishment applied even on someone as clearly guilty as Yates.
        As far as Yates thoughts while in prison, I could care less.  If he is dead, were not showing him anything.  He's dead.  Again, we are doing this for that entity once removed. It sullies my daughter's memory.

      •  You realize that you are saying that ... (0+ / 0-)

        ...apr2563 is complicit in the murder of her daughter?

        "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -Flannery O'Connor

        by Meteor Blades on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:43:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Death Penalty is not just (0+ / 0-)

    I have struggled with my decision to oppose the death penalty.  I'm not all soft and squishy about killing.  Some people clearly deserve killing.  I'm sure that I could kill someone in self-defense.  I am certain beyond any doubt that if anyone killed one of my children, my first instinct would be to rip them apart with my bare hands and leave my fate in the hands of jury.  However, I concluded during the OJ trial that I could not support the death penalty as punishment.  It became very clear to me that the death penalty is not fairly sought or applied.  If you are rich, if you are a celebrity, if you are lucky enough to be a rich celebrity, you need not fear the death penalty as a possible punishment for your crime - no matter how heinous.

    Until it is a punishment that is sought on the basis of the crime, without regard to status, color, creed or socio-economic standing, the death penalty is not justice.

  •  The State should not kill. (0+ / 0-)

    Law enforcement officers engaged in life threatening confrontations with people displaying violent intent may be an exception to the general principle that public servants -- regardless of title or office -- should not be given the OK to kill citizens.

    Even with the accedence of 12 common citizens culled from voter registrations or selected randomly from DMV lists, government people shouldn't be given the power to kill others without the in extremis situation of an immediate threat to their own lives.

    Sure, violent, crazy-unjust horrors are rent between people. But, as Meteor Blades says:

    I understand. But I cannot go along [with Government "eye-for-an-eye" punishment, or other apologia for State-sanctioned killing]. The state should never engage in executions.

    The next time someone says that a certain sociopath -- a particularly depraved and violent one, or simply a financial arbitrager that destroyed the future lives of hundreds of thousands, or millions, or a whole global economy -- just "deserves to die," and they give you that gimlet eye of a person wronged that's seeking revenge on a commensurable scale, just ask them:  have you ever been in jail?  OK, not just an overnight in a County drunk tank, but have you ever done time in a State prison?

    Trust me: a short life and painless death is a godsend to individuals that truly deserve to live their miserable lives in hell.

    You want revenge?  Make them live with the consequences.

    •  Or, more simply, just ask pro-death penalty folks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... do you want the Government deciding who to kill?  Really?

      Well, if that's OK, why the fuck do you care about government bureaucrats deciding how they spend your money?  

      •  Slippery slope to pacifism. (0+ / 0-)

        If it is so dangerous to let "the government decide who to kill", then it is too dangerous to have a military (and no, it isn't). Furthermore, "the government" (a favorite bogeyman of AM radio) doesn't hand down guilty verdicts and death penalty sentences; a specific court does. And anyone sentenced to death has had a trial by jury, where the jury is made up of members of the community.  There is no faceless Washington bureaucrat stamping "execute" on a form.

        Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

        by bigtimecynic on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:04:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm guessing that you haven't been on a death (0+ / 0-)

          penalty jury.

          You, Big Time Cynic, have probably not had to sit in judgment and decide if a man should be killed by the function of the State, with your vote in a sequestered room.

          Am I wrong?

          Are you a "co-conspirator" to a death penalty?

          If you have been, I respect your having to seriously consider your part in a killing.

          What's more, if you have actually served in the military, and have had to draw a bead on an enemy and shoot to kill him, I will also acknowledge that you have the moral authority to question my "pacifistic" inclination to disallow Government Functionaries to decide whom to kill and who to simply "charge" with incarceration.

          If you haven't pulled a trigger, or if you haven't been on a jury in a Capital trial, well, STFU, asshole.

        •  Courts screw up; prosecutors have quotas (0+ / 0-)

          This has been proven in the past, by frickin' law students working pro bono and looking through past death penalty cases.

          Some cases have defense lawyers actually sleeping in court. Others have people actually confess to crimes, and prosecutors suppressing these confessions because they are already sure they have the guilty party. And/or they privately would rather send someone who may be innocent to the chair, than have themselves look bad.

          As for the military example, they are supposed to defend us when people are attacking or endangering us - in the heat of the moment.

          That's different from execution - exactly like individuals killing in defense of themselves or their loved ones is different from cold-blooded murder.

          "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

          by jbeach on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:25:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm hoping for execution (0+ / 0-)

    I with Obama on this issue.

    Greenbelt, MD loves Barack Obama!

    by Prince Georges for Obama on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:34:20 PM PST

  •  National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (0+ / 0-)

    A liberal is a conservative who's been hugged.

    by raatz on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:37:09 PM PST

  •  Who remembers Timothy McVeigh? Were he still (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2lucky, stella0710

    living, cameras would be outside his prison on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing to recount his actions for the victims again, and again, and again.  Twenty years from now, one of those ghoulish NBC Dateline shows or perhapes even 60 Minutes would be having an exclusive interview with him to tell why he did it and have the victims relive that experience again, and again, and again.  With him dead there is closure.  No Timothy McVeigh alive to bring up those memories again and again and again, and perhaps, as a nation, we are better for it.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:46:42 PM PST

  •  I've known a lot of murderers (4+ / 0-)

    I'm a criminal defense attorney who represents only defendants charged with capital murder.  For the past 12 years or so, I've only represented accused murderers.  Thus, I have some knowledge about the people who commit these crimes.
    First, neither death nor life imprisonment was a deterrent to any of my clients.  The vast, vast majority of people who kill do so on the spur of the moment, and/or don't think they will be caught, so deterrence is not an issue.
    Second, the vast, vast majority of people who kill do so because (a) of a momentary passion, often fueled by drugs and/or alcohol and/or (b) of a mentally ill vision of reality and/or (c) of reactions developed during a childhood of physical and sexual abuse and/or deprivation and/or extreme poverty and humiliation and/or constant rejection and/or (d) of organic brain damage caused by bad prenatal care and/or environmental risks such as lead intake and/or head injury.
    Happy, healthy, loved children don't grow up to be killers.  Damaged, abused, abandoned children do.  It is the essence of evil to allow children to be damaged this way during their development, but to want to exterminate them when they behave in the destructive ways that are far more the result of our neglect than of their free will.
    Bless you, meteor blades, and bless the Levys. It's tragic enough that we care more about damaged children after they've committed crimes then when they are living their tortured childhoods.  We don't need to add to that by strapping them down and poisoning them in adulthood.

    We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

    by DParker on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:56:46 PM PST

    •  Poor, poor little criminals, oh, the humanity! (0+ / 0-)

      12 years working to set these killers free? This is beyond my understanding. Maybe life in prison would be a good idea as an alternative to execution, but the state should toss the parents of the killer in the same cell with them.

  •  My ex was murdered some years ago. (0+ / 0-)

    The man who murdered him was found incompetent to stand trial.  They will evaluate him again this spring.  

    Although I have a personal desire to see the murderer suffer greatly and have had the urge to be the direct avenger of this most horrible theft of life...I don't want the state to kill him for me.   I just cannot accept state sanctioned murder as something our society should do...cannot find the justice in it.

    But definitely the state must assure us that this damaged miscreant will never be let free to endanger anyone else.

  •  If I were murdered, I support the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

    not just for the sake of my family, but for the families of potential future victims.  Many murderers are not typically one-time offenders. People who are willing to murder once are often willing to murder twice. They are defective members of the species, and their extermination is a benefit to mankind.

    (Cue comments on how I should move to Iran, North Korea, blah blah blah. Cue me yawning).

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:59:00 PM PST

  •  The main argument agaisnt the death penalty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for me is that if someone is wrongfully convicted and executed, we cannot raise him from the dead. and there have been enough cases--most before DNA testing became routine--where the wrong man was convicted that I am unwilling to take the chance.

    Oddly, I would be more willing to find soemone guilty in a case with lots of solid circumstantial evidence than in one with a witness ID.   Witnesses are notoriously unreliable when it comes to picking someone out s the criminal--especially if the perp belongs to another race.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:00:33 PM PST

  •  Consider the Brian Nichols case in Atlanta. (0+ / 0-)

    His defense cost the county (likely-to-top-five) $ millions -- so much that there are no funds left for defending indigents -- another reason to take the death penalty off the table.

    Nichols was on trial for rape when he escaped from custody and murdered the judge presiding over his trial, a court reporter, a Sheriff's Deputy and later a Federal agent. In front of the entire city, on camera.

    On Saturday, December 13, 2008, Nichols was sentenced to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole, and to hundreds more years on more than 50 charges. The judge, James G. Bodiford of Superior Court handed down the maximum sentence on each charge, to run consecutively. Mr. Nichols was spared multiple death sentences when the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision, as required by Georgia law, recommending that punishment. Judge Bodiford said, "If there was any more I could give you, I would."


    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:07:31 PM PST

    •  How does this piece of shit's defense cost (0+ / 0-)

      stand as an argument against the death penalty? Sounds more like are argument to limit public defender funds on a per-trial basis.

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:17:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How much would have been saved by the (0+ / 0-)

      defense (and the prosecution) if this was simply a life in prison case?  Incremental dollars.  

      The prosecution would still have to make its case, even if the maximum penalty was life in prison.  Which was the result in this case.

      The crying shame is that Nichols didn't have the decency to plead guilty and spare the rest of society the cost of his murderous arrogance.  If there was ever a case of clear and convincing guilt, this is it.  But, as much damage as he did with his rage, he managed to inflict more pain and cost to society with his arrogance.  No money for anybody else's defense?  Too bad.  Who's going to stop this?  Nobody.  

      One thing the death penalty does do is "inspire" those murders caught dead-to-rights to plea their way out of the death penalty.  

      Small varmints, if you will.

      by 2lucky on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:23:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes - even jury selection took much longer (0+ / 0-)

        than usual because they were seeking the death penalty; everything got stretched out, judges reccusals, they let defense run every play in the book so there'd be no claims of misrepresentation, you name it. Turns out, one or two of the jury members went in as firm anti-DP, which was why the jury failed to reach its unanimous decision for it. But I don't disagree with bigtimecynic about limiting per-trial costs at all. Our city's cutting cops & firemen in the midst of a huge intown  crime wave, and our tax dollars are indeed spent on pieces of shite like Nichols. Many in the city were furious that he wouldn't be on death row, but others were okay with what the judge said. Yeah, Atlanta got fuc%ed a few times on this one.

        It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

        by sboucher on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:16:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But, they would have run every play in the book (0+ / 0-)

          to attempt to prove this obviously guilty person not guilty.  That's what defense attorneys do.  And the judge and the prosecution would have done everything possible to avoid errors and reasons for appeal and overturning the verdict. Because a man's life-long freedom was at stake.

          Again: what would have been the incremental savings to the taxpayers?  $50-100K instead of nothing?  

          And how sick is it that we have a system that a man clearly guilty as sin is afforded all the public resources available to delay his/her inevitable day of reckoning?    

          There is a sincere belief here that all pro death penalty sentiment is based on revenge.  I don't think that's true.  I believe that there is a lack of belief in the "system" based on the routine outcome of cases such as this, and in learning that so many crimes are committed by repeat offenders.  

          There ought to be a limit for our tolerance for repeat violent offenders, but apparently our system doesn't tolerate such tolerance.  

          Small varmints, if you will.

          by 2lucky on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:34:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm against the death penalty... (0+ / 0-) an institutionalized method of punishment. (In addition to the risks of executing an innocent person etc.)

    I understand personal retribution and would have fewer objections to the State giving a gun to the father/mother/lover/son/etc of the victim and, if they're willing to do the deed, instead of delegating it to society, they can shoot the murderer.

    I also wouldn't be against making cyanide capsules available to lifers who would choose to take their own lives instead of rotting away.

    But I don't like the notion of state-sanctioned murder.


    by Lupin on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:36:32 PM PST

  •  theoretical (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SilverWings, Dave925

    My brother was shot and killed in a nice restaurant by a crazy person for no reason. The killer was caught after being on America's Most Wanted. The killer could have been up for the death penalty because he  did something call lay and weight. We did not go for the death penalty because it would be too painful for us. The way the death penalty works, you have to keep going to court for years and years. This guy was videotaped doing the killing. My brother left behind three children. The oldest was 9. This killing has torn my family apart in a number of ways. I want the guy dead because I don't want my niece and nephews to have grow up with him living on. Levy's parents were not taking a stand against the death penalty, they were saying they wanted him to suffer and death would be too easy. I have no idea if Bill Cosby made any statement against the death penalty, the poster did not say. It's important not to attribute motives to people who do not state the motives themselves especially in such personal and unthinkable circumstances.

    •  It's "lay in wait" (0+ / 0-)

      Levy's parents were not taking a stand against the death penalty, they were saying they wanted him to suffer and death would be too easy.

      Indeed, since that is so explicit, it's rather bizarre that the diarist and others in this thread ignore the fact that the Levys are opposing the death penalty for the wrong reason -- or at least not the reasons that most people here oppose it.

      •  Motivations (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilverWings, Dave925

        In a post I made earlier I explained the murder of my daughter and my response to her killer.  I understand the Levy's desire to have their daughter's murderer suffer in jail.  As I stated in my post, I have not been able to forgive.  But, I have been opposed to death penalty before and after the trial of my daughter's killer:
        He is a serial killer and there may be other victims
         that he could reveal.
        I find it unworthy of my daughter's memory that the
         state take his life in her name.
        There is no purpose in the death penalty.  It will
         not bring closure.  Nothing will.  It only
         satiates the state's need for vengence.  It is
         impersonal and degrating to a civilized society.
        My concern is not for the welfare of the killer, but for our own morality.  Robert Yates, my daughter's killer, will never have remorse but killing him will not bring justice but only more uncivilized death.

        •  Thank you for sharing your comments. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          (Same reply to above person who also lost a family member to violence. Your posts were just @ different points in the comments chain, but I wanted to reply to you individually.)

          I have nothing to say that will add anything, other than 'I read of your experience. Thank you for expressing, publicly, your feelings about a tragedy'.

          I am so sorry that this happened to you & people you love.

          Hoping for peace & at least some resolution for you.

          Former soldier. Fighting for my country. Every day.

          by SilverWings on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:18:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for sharing your comments. I have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nothing to say that will add anything, other than 'I read of your experience. Thank you for expressing, publicly, your feelings about a tragedy'.

      I am so sorry that this happened to you & people you love.

      Hoping for peace & at least some resolution for you.

      Former soldier. Fighting for my country. Every day.

      by SilverWings on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:14:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The only exception I would offer to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a blanket-ban on executions are people to dangerous to be allowed to live, e.g. a figure like Mullah Omar in Afghanistan or Mussolini in Italy.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:05:42 AM PST

  •  if someone killed my girlfriend, i'd want to kill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    But that's why it's not up to me.

    The death penalty is pointless.  I agree with you 100%, MB.  Hard time, hard labor for repeat violent offenders.  Get the druggies out of the jails and into treatment.

    I do think that heinous war criminals should get the death penalty, though.  It's not about them, or their victims.  It's about a very public, ultimate repudiation of such behavior on the world stage.  I think Nuremberg did a world of good, and provided a lot of closure.

  •  I strongly agree with every word of this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There can be no exceptions.

    For years I used to think there could be an exception for treason, meaning something that threatened the collective survival. But by the time I got to my late 30s I'd come to see that as sophistry. There can be no exceptions.

    One of the big mysteries to me is that so many evangelical types, and so many Republicans, combine loud opposition to abortion (but no plan to minimize the need for abortions) with strong support for the death penalty. I can talk about it, but I really just don't understand how anybody could hold such contradictory ideas and never perceive the contradiction.

    Incidentally, I also don't think you need to impose special penalties on murderers in prison. Just make sure they never, ever get out, if that is the sentence.

    Let's leave for another day the injustice over the fact that the prisons are clogged with hundreds of thousands of people serving longer sentences for bullshit little drug offenses than are served by many actual murderers.

  •  being that (0+ / 0-)

    i don't really know if hell exists, i'd rather make them suffer here on earth for as long as possible.  a lifetime in jail is the only hell i know.  

  •  I can't imagine what they're continuing to (0+ / 0-)

    go through.  But I have long been an opponent of the death penalty.  But its hard to imagine how you might feel if you haven't been there.

    Thanks for the update.

    E. -6.38, S. -4.62 Move forward or fall back...your choice! Be well my animal babies.

    by JellyBearDemMom on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:41:09 AM PST

  •  Don't you mean "codicil"? (0+ / 0-)

    An amendment to a will is a codicil.

    A coda is a musical ending.

  •  Will Fox News (0+ / 0-)

    Will Fox News post a retraction?  I used to see a woman when the whole Chandra Levy/Gary Condit thing was going on (prior to 9/11) and she watched Fox (yes, I was less discriminating then) and was absolutely convinced that Condit had done it.  All the Fox hosts were banging on about him and his inconsistencies, etc.  

    Who here thinks they'll offer a retraction?

    "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" - James Madison

    by Hotspur18 on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:34:51 AM PST

  •  How Do We Know? (0+ / 0-)

    I don't have any problem whatsoever with the death penalty when we know beyond all doubt we have the guilty party, but in this case, I don't think yet we even have a reasonable doubt. I'm not saying I think Condit is responsible, just that this guy might be a convenient scapegoat. Why did they decide to arrest this guy now? What could they possibly know that they didn't know say three years ago?

    By the way, keeping somebody in prison for the rest of their natural life with no exercise, television, reading, or any even slight relief, is far more against the concept of freedom from cruel and unusual punishment than the death penalty could ever be. The death penalty is cruel and unusual only if the executed person is not guilty, or if its applied for ridiculous reasons, like stealing a twenty dollar bill or a loaf of bread.

    The Pagan Temple

  •  I wonder if Roland Burris has ever been arrested (0+ / 0-)

    for anything, and if so,  how tough you would've been on him.

    Even though I have spent more than three years of my life incarcerated - time in reform school, time in a prison camp for draft resistance and a few months here and there for other protest-related crimes - I favor being tough on violent offenders.

    Was whatever you were in reform school for violent or non-

    The road to hell has not YET been paved with Republicans, but it SHOULD be -- Corrected BumperSticker

    by ge0rge on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:16:20 AM PST

  •  I'm with you on capital punishment (0+ / 0-)

    but I think you're wrong about being tough on crime.

    Many years ago I was with a social service agency doing vocational placements with petty criminals in a Work Release setting.  I came to the conclusion that punishment for most of those people served no purpose at all - not even that of justice - any more than it would have for violators who were insane at the time of their crimes.

    I say that because I think most of the criminals incarcerated in that facility were basically disorganized, poorly socialized incompetents who needed an imposed discipline and routine.  In contrast, the facility was really providing an experience almost completely dominated by the inmates which amplified their tendency to try to gain things without meriting them.

    I'm not sure what the optimal solution for those people would be, and I'm not saying that it applies for all criminals, but for most of the people I'm recalling, the best environment would have been a sheltered workshop and a well-supervised, long-term half-way house which would have given them some productive activity while satisfying their underlying compliance with authority.

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