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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Battle Death Penalty - Iron Blogger Republican - First Rebuttal


Murder: To kill another human unlawfully. To kill brutally or inhumanly.

Kill: To put to death. To deprive of life.

Punishment: A penalty imposed for wrongdoing.


I put those definitions up for a reason. Perspective. The death penalty does kill, hence the word death.

The difference between murder and the death penalty: one is unlawful and the other is retribution.

The Challenger lists the four justifications for punishment: rehabilitation, containment, deterrence and retribution.

The Challenger states that rehabilitation is impossible with the death penalty because it simply takes away someones life.

Rehabilitation is not the aim of the death penalty, it is the aim of incarceration. Do you honestly believe that Ted Bundy, after brutally murdering at least 36 women, would have EVER been rehabilitated? Besides, we all know how successful rehabilitation is don't we?

Since rehabilitation isn't the aim of the death penalty - the score is tied at 0.

The Challenger then discusses deterrence.
The second purpose, deterrence, is trickier. Statistics uniformly show that the condemned on death row did not consider the possibility that they might die for their crimes.


I'm pretty sure that most criminals are arrogant enough to believe that they won't be caught. Prison itself isn't much of a deterrent, it is a place for punishment and hopefully rehabilitation. The argument that the death penalty is a deterrent isn't tricky at all. If a murderer is dead, he won't kill an innocent person ever again.

Besides, while statistically the death penalty has not been shown to significantly reduce the murder rate, this doesn't mean it never deterred anyone; just because statistics can't measure something doesn't mean no criminal in history was ever deterred by fear of execution. If the death penalty saves even one life, then it's saved a life.

The Challenger then argues in favor of science:
It is also worth noting that one thing we can’t do with those we’ve executed is STUDY them. A better form of deterrence would come in the form of studies done on those found guilty of capital offenses. We could research their motivations, their histories and their methodologies. You can’t do any of that with a corpse.


I want to make two points here.
1. Not everyone convicted of capital murder is sentenced to death.

2. Those that are given a life sentence, like Charles Manson, can and have been studied.


Now the Challenger remembers that he's a conservative and talks money:
All current statistics show that it is first of all more expensive to execute a person than imprison them for life, even requiring the added cost of creating federal cost-cutting procedures which certainly won’t help the accused get a fair shake. Secondly, as an individual deterrent, life imprisonment serves just as well as execution.


This one is easy for me. As a compassionate conservative, I would rather spend more money to make sure that justice is served than go the cheaper route and risk a murderer kill again or an innocent be executed, ever. One of the reasons it costs more is because of the appeals process.

You want to dump the appeals process to save money Big Dan?

We could eliminate the needs for a lengthy appeals process by making sure that anyone accused in a capital murder case be appointed a quality lawyer. If you can't afford Johnny Cochran, the state will appoint him for you. If you have a great lawyer then we won't see appeals because someone's lawyer was incompetent. It won't be cheaper initially but it would aid with the swiftness of justice.

Life imprisonment serves just as well as execution? Maybe for you Big Dan, but you aren't bunking next to Lemuel Smith. You remember him, right?
In prison for most of his adult life and convicted of two vicious murders in 1977, he had confessed to killing at least five people according to police investigators. There may have been even more. "All of a sudden, one night, after taking my girlfriend to the movies," Smith told a judge, "I killed my best friend's mother believe me, I'm not a nice guy."
He's also the guy that said: "I got so much time they can't do nothing to me," he said. "Think about it. If I wanted some sex, I could rape, I could sodomize. They can't do nothing to me!"

I'm pretty sure the guy with the sutures in his rectum might disagree with you too.

Using your scoring system Dan, I think that the death penalty is now:

1-0.

Now the Challenger talks about containment:
Let’s move on to the third purpose, containment. Killing for the purpose of containment is problematic because it punishes someone for a crime not yet committed. While killing for a future crime may make great theater, and Tom Cruise may be handsome, in real life, you can’t consider someone guilty because they “might” or “probably will” do something wrong in the future.


Here is the main problem with the containment argument. Containment basically means to hold or restrain. That's the purpose of prison not the death penalty. Can a prison stop a murderer bent on committing murder again? Not unless he's put in solitary confinement. Would placing a murderer in a 6 foot by 6 foot cell all alone, without any human contact for the rest of his life not be considered cruel and unusual punishment? Certainly, and it would be far more cruel than a lethal injection.

One more thing on this point, we don't put people to death for the purposes of preventing a possible future murder. We do it because they have already unlawfully and brutally murdered an innocent person. Preventing a future possible murder is just an added bonus.

Since we can keep someone safely behind bars without resorting to the final, irreversible act of killing them, why add the expense of capital crimes costs?


Since you haven't proven that statement true at all and I have in my opening proven it to be patently false; add to that your misplaced fiscal conservatism that is placing other lives in jeopardy - the death penalty just got another point.

2-0.

The Challenger's last point:
This leaves only retribution. Revenge. The ultimate payback...Given simple logic, refuting the death penalty is a no-brainer, since it is, at its heart, based on this logical fallacy: We will teach people that killing is wrong by killing them.


The dictionary defines retribution as: Something justly deserved; recompense. Something given or demanded in repayment, especially punishment.

Since those that commit capital murderer cannot return the lives taken, they must pay the price for their crime. Most people that commit murder, in a death penalty state, know the penalty for their brutality may very well be the surrender of their own life. It was a risk they felt like taking.

Besides, isn't this an odd bit of moral equivalence? How can we teach people that it's wrong to hold others against their will if we put them in prison ourselves? How can we teach terrorists not to kill us if we try to kill them? How can we teach children that it's not okay to stay up late at night if we as parents stay up late ourselves?

I'm sitting here wondering, did we make a mistake to invade France on D-Day? Wouldn't we have taught the Nazis a better lesson by NOT invading a country they invaded, so that they would see that it's bad to invade other countries? Really, weren't we just horrible hypocrites to invade Germany during World War II?

This is foolish. We empower the state to do things that we do not empower individuals to do. That's what government is for: to do those things that we don't trust individuals to do on their own.

The challenger wants those of us who support the death penalty to feel guilty about the killing of a brutal murderer. I feel no more guilt about a brutal vicious murderer getting a lethal injection than I feel guilt over an armed robber going to prison.

Then the Challenger goes over the deep end a bit:
However, the compulsion for revenge is at the heart of every execution, and humans find ways to justify what they want. Ever talked yourself into buying a certain car, or eating that fatty meal, or sleeping with a certain member of the opposite sex you knew was bad for you, or killing millions of Jews in the name of racial cleansing? We tend to view our own skewed logic as reasonable when it supports what we want, especially if that is at the core of our being in the way the impulse to exact revenge is.


Revenge = Indulgence = Gluttony = Promiscuity = Genocide

I am reminded of that old V-8 commercial, "Wow, I could've had a V8", with a slight twist, of course.

Picture Hitler slapping his head and saying, "Dammit, instead of murdering 6 million Jews, I could've had a Ferrari".

Or Wilt Chamberlin, "Instead of having sex with 10,000 women, I could've had a Big Mac and Supersize fries".


Nah, sorry Big Dan that just isn't working for me. I can't in my heart equate the justifiable execution of a brutal murderer to my desire for fries from Mickey D's. I'm pretty sure those of us that have had a loved one murdered might be offended at that comparison. I know I am.

My favorite part of Big Dan's opening was this:
The reason for this is simple: if revenge is a dish best served cold, as the Klingons say, then it is also a dish that never satisfies.


Reminds me of my favorite saying, "life's a bitch and then you marry one". I know that was off topic but I'm 36 my mind wanders a bit...

I'm pretty sure others said it before the Klingons but that is only a small quibble. The Klingons are barbarians and they kill each other for sport and honor. They also used barbaraic weapons like the mekleth. Two very famous Klingon proverbs will explain why our societal need for justice just doesn't compare to the bloodlust of the Klingons.
Act and you shall have dinner. Think and you shall be dinner.

A running man can slit a thousand throats in one night.


So, forgive me if I don't accept Klingon proverbs as a valuable lesson for our society.

If we were using the death penalty for "an eye for an eye" as Big Dan, not I, said then we wouldn't be looking for humane ways to do it. We'd just off with their heads, "draw and quarter" or perhaps use the same method of death that the killer bestowed on his victim. I can damn well guarantee you that the State's methods are a hell of a lot more humane than what your average brutal murderer thinks up. For example:
The murder of a college student named Matthew Shepherd would become one of the most famous examples of a hate crime in recent history. On October 6, 1998, Aaron McKinney and Russell A. Henderson entered a Laramie Wyoming bar which was known as a place where homosexuals often hung out. The two men left the bar with the company of Matthew Shepherd, who they drove to an open field. After being tied to a fence and beaten within an inch of his life, he was left for dead in the near freezing temperatures. The two men had also stolen his wallet and shoes. Eighteen hours later, he was found by two passing motorcyclists who thought at first that Shepherd was a scarecrow because of the way he was positioned on the fence. Shepherd was flown via helicopter to Poudre Valley Hospital (approximately a ninety mile drive in Fort Collins, Colorado) where he remained in critical condition for several days.


I contend that there is nothing wrong with wanting retribution for a wrong. If someone steals my car, not only do I want my car back but I want the thief to go to jail. If someone attempts to kill me, I will kill them first if I can and I will not be punished for it. Self-defense is a form of justifiable homicide and even those of you against the death penalty know - at the end of the day someone will be dead. Can you get behind me killing to save myself? If you answer yes then you are a hypocrite. If you answer no, here's a tip: don't try to kill me.

What's the score now Big Dan?

3-0 in favor of the death penalty.


Now to the tidbits at the end of the Challenger's opening:

The first and most obvious failure of the system is that, inevitably, innocents die. It is presumptuous and, well, silly to pretend it doesn’t ever happen. Since 1973, 114 people in 25 states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.


As I stated in my opening, the safeguards we have in place and DNA evidence being available is proof that the system is working. Do you have any proof since 1973 of anyone being exonerated after they were executed?

Challenger tidbit two:
Secondly, the death penalty is systemically unfair to certain members of society. For instance, the poor can’t afford to hire the legal team O.J. Simpson did.


Well, of course not. Most people would never be lucky enough to have a jury ignore DNA evidence and fall for the Chewbacca defense either.

Challenger tidbit three:
The ACLU reports that in Illinois alone, at least 33 times, a defendant sentenced to die was represented at trial by an attorney who has been disbarred or suspended. These are sanctions reserved for conduct so incompetent, unethical or criminal that their license is taken away!!


Or when they lie about sex during a civil trial.

Challenger tidbit four:
The Death Penalty Information Center reported as recently as May 19 of this year that over 80 percent of completed capital cases involve white victims, while national numbers also show that 50 percent or less of all murder victims are white. It’s not a long leap to realize that you’re more likely to fry if you kill a white person.


One reason is that serial killers are almost always white and tend to kill whites. As to the claim that less than 50% of all murder victims are white it would be nice if the Challenger could provide a link other than the very biased Death Penalty Info Center. Using only one source to back your position isn't exactly presenting a strong case.

Challenger tidbit five:
The same study, echoed in research by both Amnesty International and the ACLU, shows that a whopping 42 percent of death row inmates are black. Care to compare that to the percentage of the American population?


That may be true but only 25% of the executions in 2002 were black and 75% were white. Care to compare that to the population?

From the Bureau of Justice

Of persons executed in 2002:
-- 53 were white
-- 18 were black


Challenger tidbit six:
While you’re there, just so you don’t think I am personally playing the race card only, take a look at the rates of death as punishment among women, juveniles and those with mental health problems.


I will not be made to feel sorry for women that kill. If they do the crime then they are going to pay the same price as a man. It's called equality and women fought for it. Don't start treating us like little, helpless women because we have to take the bad with the good. Same with juveniles. Capital murder isn't accidental. It is brutal and premeditated and if a 14 year old has the intellect to plan it, then they are are mature enough to pay the price.

Challenger's conclusion:
What we have, at the heart of it, is an unjust system, administered unjustly.


No, Big Dan. What we have are a bunch of vicious brutal murderers that must pay the price for their crime. And they will, and it will be justice.

Respectfully submitted:

Rosemary Esmay, Iron Blogger Republican



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