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Friday, June 18, 2004

Battle Death Penalty - Iron Blogger Republican - Second Rebuttal

I want to say that battling Big Dan has been a treat. I've never debated
anyone that was just so super nice, it really makes it hard to be snarky and
sarcastic. Hard but not impossible, now on with the show.

Big Dan starts off rebuttal #1 with this observance:
Saying that we’ve come a long way and no longer kill people quite so viciously is like me saying I no longer beat my wife with metal pipes anymore, preferring the less scarring wooden stick instead. Gruesome, isn’t it? It chills me just to make that reference, but the fact is that the death penalty is just that: gruesome.

Not really the same thing. I mean when you beat your wife are you doing in in a
manner of self-defense. Did she deserve to be beaten? Did she beat you first? Did she shove a red hot poker up your ass and in turn you punished her by beating her with a stick?

No, of course not. Your using the old "beat my wife" canard to make us feel silly. The electric chair is gruesome but it isn't more gruesome than tying a man to a truck with chains and dragging him for miles till his head pops off.

When a human being acts like an animal and brutally murders an innocent person his humanity is lost. When an animal attacks a person we put the animal down. When a human acts like an animal what should we do? Try to understand him better?

Big Dan seems to think that the safeguards I spoke of were a joke. That we are so bent on revenge that we are blind to the fact that the justice system isn't always just. I'm not blind, none of us are. Mistakes are made and if we execute an innocent person that would be the worse thing that we as a society could do. I asked this question in my rebuttal and I received an excuse not an answer:
Since we reinstated the death penalty has an executed person ever been exonerated post-mortem?

From TownHall.com:
Death-penalty opponents claim there is a 68 percent "error rate " in capital cases. They base this on a study by Columbia University Law School, whose lead author, Prof. James Liebman, opposes capital punishment. But as Paul G. Cassell, a University of Utah law professor, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on June 16, 2000: "The 68 percent factoid is quite deceptive. For starters, it has nothing to do with'wrong man' mistakes - that is, cases in which an innocent person is convicted for a murder he did not commit. " Cassell notes that the most critical statistic is ignored: "After reviewing 23 years of capital cases the study's authors (like other researchers) were unable to find a single case in which an innocent person was executed. Thus, the most important error rate - the rate of mistaken executions - is zero."

Then Big Dan gently mocks my defense of our legal safeguards:
The safeguards Rose speaks of are under attack and reduction even as we speak. On the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Congress passed the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (as Rosemary herself helpfully noted), which had little to do with terrorism but much to do with speeding up state executions. The law is already restricting inmates with new evidence of innocence from obtaining review because of stringent time limits and barriers to conducting evidentiary hearings.

Yes, it had a lot to do with speeding up executions but it was in direct response to Oklahoma City and it had everything to do with terrorism. That bill which was pushed for and signed by President Bill Clinton was a fulfillment of Clinton's promise two days after Oklahoma City: “Justice for these killers will be certain, swift and severe. We will find them, we will convict them, and we will seek the death penalty against them.” Capital punishment should be reserved for the most heinous of crimes but it is important to our society that justice be just.

Big Dan then gives us this:
Simply put, a system that doesn’t work for everyone doesn’t work.

A lot of our systems don't work for everyone but scrapping them isn't the answer. Fixing them is. That is why Congress is working to mend not end the death penalty.

Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003:

Senators Hatch (R-UT), Biden (D-DE),
Specter (R-PA), Leahy (D-VT), DeWine (R-OH), Feinstein (D-CA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced the bi-partisan "Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003," which provides over $1 billion over the next five years to the criminal justice system in order to realize the full potential of DNA technology to solve crimes and protect the innocent. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Delahunt (D-MA), LaHood (R-IL), Conyers (D-MI), Coble (R-NC), and Scott (D-VA).

These bills:

  • Enact President's Bush's DNA Initiative, which was announced on March 11,
    2003, and provides $755 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to eliminate the current backlog of over 300,000 rape kits (and other crime scene evidence) awaiting DNA analysis in the nation's crime labs.

  • Enact the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act and the Rape Kits and DNA Evidence Backlog Elimination Act, and authorizes over $500 million for additional grant programs to: (1) improve the capacity of federal, state and local crime labs to conduct DNA analyses; (2) reduce other forensic science backlogs; (3) train criminal justice personnel in the use of DNA evidence; (4) support sexual
    assault forensic examiner programs; and (5) promote the use of DNA technology to identify missing persons.

  • Enact the Innocence Protection Act: (1) creates a federal post-conviction
    DNA testing process to protect the innocent from wrongful prosecutions; (2)helps States improve the quality of legal representation in capital cases; and(3 increases compensation in Federal cases of wrongful conviction. In addition, the bill creates the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program and authorizes $25 million over five years to help the States to defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.

Big Dan's response to my statement on the death penalty was:

“The death penalty has no place in our society, even if it had EVER been used justly.

When The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty it said: "the decision that capital punishment may be the appropriate sanction in extreme cases is an expression of the community's belief that certain crimes are themselves so grievous an affront to humanity that the only adequate response may be the penalty of death. "

Big Dan ends rebuttal #1 with this final point:
Death penalty advocates are most often subscribers to the "an eye for an eye" principle and feel that execution is the only way to satisfy the public as well as themselves. Who doesn't enjoy it when, for example, someone steals a hundred dollars from you and then the person who stole your money has the same thing happen to them? Death penalty advocates feel much the same way about murderers who are sentenced to die.

That's a little offensive. I'm not a subscriber of an "eye for an eye," I am a subscriber to taking an offense seriously. How can murder be taken seriously if the punishment isn't equally serious?

Big Dan likes quotes so I found some for him to enjoy:

"It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life." Ed Koch

"When I think of the thousands of inhabitants of Death Rows in the hundreds of prisons in this country...My reaction is: What's taking us so long? Let's get that electrical current flowing. Drop those pellets [of poison gas] now! Whenever I argue this with friends who have opposite views, they say that I don't have enough regard for the most marvelous of miracles - human life. Just the opposite: It's because I have so much regard for human life that I favor capital punishment. Murder is the most terrible crime there is. Anything less than the death penalty is an insult to the victim and society. It says...that we don't value the victim's life enough to punish the killer fully." Award-winning Chicago journalist Mike Royko

"Punishment is the way in which society expresses its denunciation of wrongdoing; and, in order to maintain respect for the law, it is essential that the punishment inflicted for grave crimes should adequately reflect the revulsion felt by the great majority of citizens for them. It is a mistake to consider the objects of punishments as being a deterrent or reformative or preventive and nothing else... The truth is that some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment, because the wrong doer deserves it, irrespective of whether it is a deterrent or not." Lord Justice Denning, Master of the Rolls of the Court of Appeals in England said to the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment in 1950

Again, every rogue who criminously attacks social rights becomes, by his wrong, a rebel and a traitor to his fatherland. By contravening its laws, he ceases to be one of its citizens: he even wages war against it. In such circumstances, the State and he cannot both be saved: one or the other must perish. In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen as an enemy. The trial and judgements are proofs that he has broken the Social Contract, and so is no longer a member of the State. J.J. Rousseau's The Social Contract written in 1762

In rebuttal #2 Big Dan nailed me pretty good. I made a mistake; when researching a debate topic most of us read a lot of sources, right Big Dan? ;-)
Anyway I used the wrong link and since I was unable to correct my opening statement after sending it in I hoped it went unnoticed. I stand corrected that Nebraska does not offer a lethal injection.

In the spirit of friendship I offer this piece of advice: don't kill anyone in Nebraska or you'll fry. Got that everyone?

Then Big Dan got really upset about my pointing out that he should've used more than one source in his opening statement:

This just in: I didn’t seem to reference the DPIC at all in my rebuttal, did I? I suspect that Rose read Thief’s comments on my opening and threw it out there to see if it would stick.

No, you didn't. Of course, my rebuttal was about your 2000 word opening statement now wasn't it? Coming from someone that thinks I'm so witty and bright I was shocked to learn that Big Dan thought it took a commenter to point out his use of a single source.

Guess what Big Dan? I clicked the links just like everyone else and I read them too! I can also cut my own food and go on the big girl potty.

Big Dan said that our death penalty system is based on outdated books in the Bible and that the Bible doesn't support the death penalty. Okay? Let's see how that's even possible:

I revere the Bible. But the simple truth is that our concept of state-sanctioned killing as justice is not only a lie, but one based on outdated Bible texts that need to be thrown out of our legal system. Separate church and state once and for all. Only then can we get to the truth: killing a killer is not a just retribution.

I see now that it is past time to disabuse the Iron Blog readership of the widely-believed but completely untrue idea that the Bible somehow SUPPORTS the death penalty, since our death penalty system is founded on that Biblical claim.

Then Big Dan gives us more "eye for an eye" talk. I tell you what I'll concede right now that an "eye for an eye" is taken out of context. I mean they would never have done that 4000 years ago in the Middle East, would they? Let's see what I can dig up that is more specific to murder.

"He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death." -Exodus 21:12

"Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death." -Numbers 35:31

"So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it." -Numbers 35:33

"He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." -Revelation 13:9-10

More of Big Dan's Bible Stuff:

Since time is short, but the end point is critical, I will skip the many sidelong and indirect references condemning the death penalty in the Bible and focus on the two capital crimes cases presented therein, as well as Jesus’ direct comments about the issue.

Okay, Jesus didn't think adultery is a crime worthy of murder. I'm pretty sure that in this country we agree. The death penalty should only be used for the most heinous of offenses. Guess what? According to his own words and his apostles, Jesus agrees with me. There are a couple passages in Luke which speak directly on Jesus' position on the death penalty:

"A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might gave him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.' But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others." -Luke 20:9-16.

The proper punishment for murder is death. Hey, that Jesus was a smart man. He also agreed that treason or rebellion was a good reason too: "But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me." -Luke 19:27
Big Dan gives us an example from Jesus' crucifixion to show how bloodthirtsy we are and all that. He forgot a little part of the story. When Jesus faces Pontius Pilate, Pilate says to Jesus: "Do You not know that I have power to crucify You..?" Jesus replies: "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above." (John 19:10-11)

What do you think Jesus means? I think he means that God gave man authority to put people to death. So the question for us in a democratic society is not whether we have such authority, but when such authority is really appropriate.

As to the rest, I want to touch on this ditty:
*“Or when they lie about sex during a civil trial.” Um, did this absurd Clinton reference somehow disprove the point that many killed folks were represented by disbarred lawyers?

No, it rebutted what you said about disbarred lawyers: "These are sanctions reserved for conduct so incompetent, unethical or criminal that their license is taken away!!" Clinton was neither incompetent nor a horrible criminal, and that was the implication you made about disbarrment.

One last thing:
*Self-defense (of your person in the street and your country on D-Day) is necessary. However, the definition of self-defense requires no more violence than necessary at the time. Hmm... He’s strapped down and wired in... I can’t call that self-defense, can I?

You can't if you were his victim because YOU'D BE DEAD. You don't like any of my words. Justice, retribution, punishment none of those are good enough for you? I have an idea!

Let's call it retroactive self-defense. You're dead so the State kills him or her since you were obviously not given a fair chance!

Respectfully submitted:

Rosemary Esmay, Iron Blogger Republican

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