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WSJ: Why the Snipers Merit Execution

 
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Interesting editorial IMHO from the WSJ

On the day of the two suspects' arrest, it was interesting to note the manner in which TV's legal analysts parsed which jurisdiction would be most likely or able to execute them. Normally such discussion, as occurred with former Texas Gov. George Bush, drips with disgust for the policy of executing murderers. But there wasn't the slightest hint of that on this day. The blunt spin then seemed to be which state, or the Feds, would most likely get the job done.


The real question is, does the death penalty still qualify as justice? Most of the organized Christian churches deny that it does. That denial, articulated in the panel nearby, is the official view of Europe as well, where the death penalty no longer exists; it is also a constraint on sending al Qaeda suspects to the U.S.


Europe on the Death Penalty
"Maintaining the death penalty would . . . bring to light undesirable expiatory features of criminal law. Accordingly, major reform initiatives were carried out, restructuring the criminal sanctions so as to make them more conducive mainly to the rationale of social rehabilitation and reintegration of the offender in the community, simultaneously taking into account the need to ensure the protection of society and to prevent crime, rather than punish it."
--EU Memorandum on the Death Penalty, Feb. 25, 20


The murderer, too, is a person, a point opponents stress as a matter of basic human dignity. That's not enough. The murderer, at one time, was one of us, accorded all the benefits and obligations of life in organized society. This is a gift. After the murder, it is forfeit. The death penalty is not mere vengeance. It is proportionate justice. It restores moral and social balance.


Europe is entitled to organize and moralize as it pleases. But September 11 and now these nine sniper murders, of an indescribable randomness, have helped many Americans understand the nature of justice in the kind of society in which they wish to live.

 
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The death penalty is not mere vengeance. It is proportionate justice. It restores moral and social balance.
That states my opinion almost exactly. I don't care if it is a deterrent (it probably isn't). And I don't think we should use it to show how angry we are (we should be much more cold-blooded than that). We should do it because it is the right thing to do. It is just and right that heinous murderers be executed.
 
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In my opinion, it's never right to kill someone. If you do you're as bad as them.
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:
In my opinion, it's never right to kill someone. If you do you're as bad as them.


Hmm... That sounds like an absolute. Should the police not kill a murderous rampaging gunman who is in the act of attempting to take more lives? If you answer "yes", then you allow that there are at least some circumstances in which it is right to kill someone. If you answer "no", then you would seem to allow for the deaths of innocents to take place so that this man could be apprehended non-lethally, if that were even possible.
 
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
[QB It is just and right that heinous murderers be executed.[/QB]


Premise: Execution is a kind of murder/killing (not by a person but by a society.)
Inference: Am I hearing a justification for killing? So are you saying that there can be, sometimes, a justification for killing some one?
BTW, I do think that executions are necessary sometimes. Even if they may not deter potential criminals (although, I think it does deter to some extent), they do induce a combined sense of safety, relief, revenge, and satisfaction.
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by <Pakka Desi>:

Premise: Execution is a kind of murder/killing (not by a person but by a society.)


Your premise is fatally flawed. Killing != murder.

Inference: Am I hearing a justification for killing? So are you saying that there can be, sometimes, a justification for killing some one?


Killing may be justified in some circumstances, murder may not be.
I am aware of the parallel you are trying to draw, but if you go back and read the other thread you will see that my position is consistant
 
Tom Hughes
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:

Hmm... That sounds like an absolute. Should the police not kill a murderous rampaging gunman who is in the act of attempting to take more lives? If you answer "yes", then you allow that there are at least some circumstances in which it is right to kill someone. If you answer "no", then you would seem to allow for the deaths of innocents to take place so that this man could be apprehended non-lethally, if that were even possible.


Yes you're right moral absolutes are wrong, I should have phrased it more carefully. I just think human life should be protected at all costs. Obviously when you have to kill the few to save the many, it is justified.
However when it comes to the death penalty this is not the situation, you are not saving anyone you are handing out retribution. I just don't see what this achieves.
 
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Some people who deserve to live die. Some people who deserve to die live. (Not trying to quote Gandalf here)
The sniper deserves to die. Period.
As Thomas Paul said -
"It is just and right that heinous murderers be executed."
And I agree.
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:
I just don't see what this achieves.


Justice.
 
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:

Yes you're right moral absolutes are wrong, I should have phrased it more carefully. I just think human life should be protected at all costs. Obviously when you have to kill the few to save the many, it is justified.
However when it comes to the death penalty this is not the situation, you are not saving anyone you are handing out retribution. I just don't see what this achieves.


So if the raging murdering gunman was shot by police while in the act of killing innocent victoms, that is justified.
But if the raging murdering gunman was captured by police after killing innocent victoms, then execution is not justified?
 
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Your premise is fatally flawed. Killing != murder.


You are merely playing with words. Can you please define execution, killing, and murder?

Originally posted by Jason Menard:

Killing may be justified in some circumstances, murder may not be.


Logically, there is no difference between execution and murder.
Execution is the "act of taking life" performed by the society with a certain reasoning.
Murder is the "act of taking life" performed by a person with a certain reasoning. (Now, it is a different issue that that reasoning is not accepted by society.)
 
Tom Hughes
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:

So if the raging murdering gunman was shot by police while in the act of killing innocent victoms, that is justified.
But if the raging murdering gunman was captured by police after killing innocent victoms, then execution is not justified?


Yes. In the first case by killing you're saving lives, in the second by killing you're just losing another life.
 
Tom Hughes
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:

Justice.


so you're saying because someone "started it" it gives you the right to do the same back ? This reminds of fights I had with my brother when I was a kid, when our mother broke it up, we would both chime "but he started it".
By killing you are acting just as badly as the perpertrator of the original crime.
 
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:

Yes. In the first case by killing you're saving lives, in the second by killing you're just losing another life.


In the first case you save lives and bring justification to a heinous crime.
In the second case you bring justification to a heinous crime and possibly save future lives should the criminal be released or escape.
However, the whole justification factor is where we differ in opinions.
 
Tom Hughes
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:

In the first case you save lives and bring justification to a heinous crime.
In the second case you bring justification to a heinous crime and possibly save future lives should the criminal be released or escape.
However, the whole justification factor is where we differ in opinions.


I agree, that's how we disagree.
I personally think it's a worse punishment (and more just) to incarcerate someone for life than to kill them.
 
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:

I agree, that's how we disagree.
I personally think it's a worse punishment (and more just) to incarcerate someone for life than to kill them.


If the prison systems were different, I would be inclined to agree. And I know it is no picnic, but 3 squares a day, TV, free education, books, Workout equipment....I can't even afford some of these things and I didn't kill anyone.
 
Tom Hughes
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The worst thing about it is that you lose your freedom. You also have to live with what you've done (although not all felons are remourseful).
[ November 01, 2002: Message edited by: Tom Hughes ]
 
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I think a better punishment might be putting criminals to work for the society while in prison. So there will be no free food etc. Prisoners should pay for the loadging and food + forfiet the rest of the earnings to the society.
 
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Originally posted by <Pakka Desi>:
I think a better punishment might be putting criminals to work for the society while in prison. So there will be no free food etc. Prisoners should pay for the loadging and food + forfiet the rest of the earnings to the society.


Once a member of society has proved himself to be a mortal threat to the rest of the members of society by an act of murder, society has the right to defend itself in any manner from such a threat. Locking him up is one option, but why should the rest of society be burdended to keep alive a threat to itself? I can't see the justification for such a burden, so execution, if cheaper overall (court costs, etc), is what I favor. However, if the individual has assets to pay for his own support, as the post above suggests, maybe that is an option also...
 
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

I can't see the justification for such a burden, so execution, if cheaper overall (court costs, etc), is what I favor. However, if the individual has assets to pay for his own support, as the post above suggests, maybe that is an option also...


Although I am in favor of, Executing a prisoner costs more money than imprisoning them for life.
"A 1991 study of the Texas criminal justice system estimated the cost of appealing capital murder at $2,316,655. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $750,000." (Punishment and the Death Penalty, edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum 1995 p.109 )
[ November 01, 2002: Message edited by: Gregg Bolinger ]
 
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

Once a member of society has proved himself to be a mortal threat to the rest of the members of society by an act of murder, society has the right to defend itself in any manner from such a threat. Locking him up is one option, but why should the rest of society be burdended to keep alive a threat to itself? I can't see the justification for such a burden, so execution, if cheaper overall (court costs, etc), is what I favor. However, if the individual has assets to pay for his own support, as the post above suggests, maybe that is an option also...


Personal assets should be confiscated, no doubt. Also, prison security should be improved to completely prevent the escape and then make full use of the criminal. If he/she is untrained to do anything, there are always jobs like breaking rocks. Otherwise, for example, if the criminal is a programmer, make him/her write C++ code @ 20$/hr
I find execution as a very simple punishment. There is little pain.
 
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I don't like the idea of them take jobs away from someone who isn't in prison. If your idea takes them away, I am not for it.
 
Pakka Desi
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Originally posted by Paul Stevens:
I don't like the idea of them take jobs away from someone who isn't in prison. If your idea takes them away, I am not for it.


Would would it take away job from some one? Is there a dearth of things to be done?
If one the govt. pays 100,000$ per year to the criminal to do something which it could have hired a non-criminal to do, then there would be a problem. However, if the govt. gets the job done without paying a dime, what wrong with that? The govt. can use the saved money in some other things (i.e. someone else will get some other job).
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:
so you're saying because someone "started it" it gives you the right to do the same back ? This reminds of fights I had with my brother when I was a kid, when our mother broke it up, we would both chime "but he started it".
By killing you are acting just as badly as the perpertrator of the original crime.


This isn't about getting back at someone. This isn't about taking revenge. This is about justice. It is about society showing how important life is to us by taking a life under only the most extreme circumstances. We are saying that the lives you took were so important and irreplaceable that the only fair and just punishment is that you forfeit your life.
 
Thomas Paul
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I just wanted to add something that some people seem to be confused about... no individual has the right to take a life ever without society's permission.
Also, to compare murder and execution is absurd. Do you also believe that the sniper and a soldier are the same? After all they both kill people. A person who is executed has had a trial. They have had numerous appeals. They have had the opportunity to plead for mercy. Society has reviewed their actions and determined that a fit punishment for them is that they be removed from society. We do our best to insure that innocents are never executed. How you can compare that to a murder is beyond me.
 
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Well said, Thomas.
*Elaine
 
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Pakka Desi and all other opponents of executions - what do you have to say about terrorists and notorious criminals who have gotten away from jails and killed several people.
If you jail these people, somebody else will take a bunch of innocent people as hostages and ask for their release - so that they can go on killing more innocent people.
As far as sniper is concerned, he has not only killed people in Washington area, but also in other states. In fact where ever he travelled he has claimed innocent people lives. He started considering himself as God and thought that he can get away with his acts. Someway or the other he has to pay a price and I think the right price to pay is with his life.
 
Anonymous
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Originally posted by Ritu Kama:
Pakka Desi and all other opponents of executions


I am NOT opposing executions (read my previous posts). I was just thinking aloud if there is a better way.
Thomas, I think, there is no logical difference between murder and execution. In execution, society reasons by the way of Trials etc. while in murder, the murderer reasons by the way of his own thinking.
Of course, society as a whole accepts the reasoning of the society but that does not mean it is right.
It's like in the society of cannibals, murdering might be alright but it is not right in the society of non-cannibals.
So again, logically, there is no difference between execution and murder, only the perpeterators are different and their reason for "taking life" is different.
 
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:

By killing you are acting just as badly as the perpertrator of the original crime.


Of all the arguments there are on the anti-DP side, I've always had the most trouble with this one.
Causing the death of another person has always been understood as a question of degree in our system. There are many ways it can happen and many reasons. But our judicial system understands that motive and intent are important factors in determining whether a crime against society actually took place.
For a society to "rise above" the act of killing an individual, as if it is better than the individuals that make it up, is paradoxical to me. If any society feels justified in using execution to express intolerance for damage against it, so be it. Society accords rights and privileges to its citizens, and when they are used to destroy others, society may deny those protections from such a citizen. In that sense, one could argue society's humanity relies in not just dumping a convicted murderer in front of an angry public.
Europe is not necessarily the voice of moral enlightenment here. Their cultural legacy is partly ours, yes, but that culture has a much dicier history as to what crimes against society once merited a death sentence. I'm pretty sure what the EU is saying in part is, "given our own legal and political history, keeping the death penalty in our code opens a few holes in our own social history we'd be better off plugging up." Not the least of those would be extradition fights among themselves.
I think the most pigheaded thing our own prison system has ever come up with is rehabilitation as a moral imperative rather than a selective social program. Well, almost the most pigheaded thing. The other would be treating things like car theft and drug use on the same scale as violent crimes, but we all know where that argument will take us...
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by <Pakka Desi>:
You are merely playing with words. Can you please define execution, killing, and murder?


According to US code, TITLE 18,PART I, CHAPTER 51, Sec. 1111:

Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.

 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by <Pakka Desi>:
Thomas, I think, there is no logical difference between murder and execution. In execution, society reasons by the way of Trials etc. while in murder, the murderer reasons by the way of his own thinking.

There is a HUGE difference. As rational, social animals (and that is hopefully what we are) we give up some of our individual rights to live in a society. We have determined that a society of free men and women is better able to protect our individual rights than we could as individuals. Society is not just a bunch of people acting collectively instead of individually. Society is the collective wisdom of 5,000 years of human history. Society is the collective learning that we have accrued to determine what is and is not just. A person does not have the right to kill except as granted to that person by society.
Let's take your idea that execution is no different than murder. If the murderer is the moral equivalent of the executioner then is locking up a criminal the moral equivalent of locking someone up in your basement? Why is society allowed to arrest and incarcerate felons but I am not allowed to do that?
 
Tom Hughes
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No man is an island...
When this man dies it will make me sad, sad for him and his family and for what ? So some people have some sense that justice has been done ?
You can keep your justice.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:
No man is an island...
When this man dies it will make me sad, sad for him and his family and for what ? So some people have some sense that justice has been done ?
You can keep your justice.


So we should stop executions because they make you sad? Now there is a compelling argument.
As for his family, so far they have all come out in favor of execution.
And just to clarify, I too will be sad the day the sniper is executed. I will be sad that his life was wasted and that his victims' lives were destroyed. But I will take comfort in the fact that justice had been served and that the guilty have received their just and fair punishment.
[ November 02, 2002: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Tom Hughes:
When this man dies it will make me sad, sad for him and his family and for what ? So some people have some sense that justice has been done ?
You can keep your justice.


Personally, I will save my grief for the victims, and I will save my sympathy for those who had been terrorised for nearly a month.
Also, remember there are two perpetrators, not one. I could be wrong, but I will assume you are not a resident of the metro DC-MD-VA area. You can feel sad for them if you choose, but remember that these are the areas where the crimes were committed, and as such it is the people of the affected areas who will sit in judgement, and it is the people of the affected areas who will determine what is a suitable punishment for their crimes.
Keep in mind that for the most part this is a pretty liberal, fairly anti-gun area, but anecdotally speaking, I have yet to speak with a single person here who does not believe they should be executed. In fact, most of us in MD, from what I can tell anyway, seem to want them to be sent to VA first because 1) the judicial system here is pathetic and we have no faith that it is up to the task, and 2) VA will see both perpetrators executed whereas MD won't execute Malvo.
 
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