Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > User Forums > Politics & Society


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 20th Nov 2005, 22:18   #1
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Capital Punishment

The recent murder of a police officer in Bradford has ignited a call from Lord Stevens, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner and lifelong opponent of the death penalty, for the reintroduction of capital punishment for the murder of police officers on duty.

The argument, perhaps, is that while most murders occur on the spur of the moment, whether 'moments of madness' or crimes of passion, the murder of a police officer on duty must always be a deliberate and premeditated act in an attempt to evade justice.

As a fellow lifelong opponent of capital punishment - and so far staying that way - my instinctive reaction is to disagree with Lord Stevens. But what are the arguments for and against? The main argument in favour, I suppose, is that life is so precious that those who take it can only pay a suitable price by sacrificing their own life in return. Or given that under recent changes to the law, those who murder police, multiple victims or children will generally spend the rest of their life in prison, it could be argued that executing someone 'humanely' is less vengeful than keeping them in confinement for the rest of their life (and presumably those lifers in this situation who attempt suicide would agree). More pragmatically, it's cheaper.

More unattractively, it satisfies the human desire for revenge, rarely an honourable motive. It brutalises society, some say, by reducing it to the level of the murderer. And with new miscarriages of justice appearing regularly, the prospect of getting it wrong chills the blood. This, for me, is the most convincing argument against, as the first two arguments tend to pall when one considers, say, Frederick West. Does the absolute sanctity of human life sustain in a world which includes (or included) him?

Has anyone changed their mind on capital punishment, one way or the other?
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 0:29   #2
RC
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Capital Punishment

Theoretically I'm against capital punishment and have always been. The reason is my feeling that it's just too awful to cold-bloodedly end the life of someone who wants to live, in other words I have a grain of pity for people who are sentenced to die. I can imagine their terrible wait and the panic as the time draws near, it is too dreadful. Secondly I think it has a bad effect on society because ideas like compassion and redemption are really quite fragile ideas and have to be protected and nurtured to keep them healthy. Civilisation is the opposite of savagery, if as a species we hope to keep growing towards the light we've got to keep pretending life is sacred in the hope that one day the pretense may become the reality.
That being said, I could give you a list of people I would shoot on sight, no trial necessary. On that I have changed my mind, at one time I would have been content to lock them up for life on bread and water. My motive would be revenge, and hatred as a consequence of what they have done and what they are. Shooting is actually too good for them, but I'm not mean enough to give them what they really deserve.
  Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 1:23   #3
Maggie
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
Join Date: 11 Nov 2004
Location: state of Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 543
Default Re: Capital Punishment

For the most part I am against Capitol Punishment. I do feel however, that one of the downsides of Democracy is the never ending amount of "rights" afforded to the criminal. Once a person chooses to commit a crime, I believe that from that moment on, they have lost some of their rights. One might argue that one is innocent until proven guility and in many cases this system works. There are those criminals, like serial killers or repeat offenders who IMHO should not be clogging up our court systems and using our tax dollars for court appointed attornys.
I have a deep and abiding disappointment in the American judicial system. ......case in point, Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson and Dick Cheney, who has multiple charges against him but will not be indicted until his term is over as he couldn't keep his position if he were.

This article is from this Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. This is a judge I like

Painesville Ohio --- An animal rescuer who abandoned 35 kittens in two parks has been sentenced to a night in the woods without food or shelter.
Plainsville Municipal Court Judge Michael A. Cicconetti, known for handing out unusual punishments, sentenced Michelle M Murray to spend the cold night alone when she begins her 15-day jail sentence next week.
"How would you like to be dumped off at a Metropark late at night, spend the night listening to the coyotes coming upon you, listening to the raccoons around you in the dark night and sit out there in the cold not knowing where you're going to get your next meal, not knowing when you are going to be rescued ?" the judge asked. "That's what you're going to do."
Murray 25, pleaded guilty last month to abandoning domestic animals, a second degree misdemeanor. The kittens were recovered but many had infections and nine died.
She apologized and has previously said she was experiencing family problems when she dumped the kittens.
Murray must report to jail on Wednesday where a park ranger will drop her off at a remote location.
Cicconetti previously sentenced a man who called an officer a pig to stand on a city sidewalk for two hours in a pen next to a 350-pound hog along with a sign reading, "This is not a police officer."


These seem like trivial matters but it wouldn't hurt to give some of the criminals a little taste of their own medicine once in a while !!


Maggie
__________________
In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900


http://www.flickr.com/photos/79565255@N00/
Maggie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 2:52   #4
knovella
Palimpsestarian
deserves a medal
 
knovella's Avatar
 
Join Date: 11 Oct 2005
Location: Old Nowhere, NY
Posts: 411
Default Re: Capital Punishment

I'll probably come back to this thread when I have more time, but just want to address the "pragmatist" issue.

In the US the death penalty has proven very very much more expensive to the public purse than life imprisonment. This is because of the inevitable, lengthy appeals process, for which the prisoner is provided counsel on the public dime. So, assuming there is an appeals process in UK, you might want to chuck that line of reasoning.
knovella is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 6:16   #5
skinned teen
Banned
is starting to settle in
 
skinned teen's Avatar
 
Join Date: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 22
Default Re: Capital Punishment

mad propz to u, knovella. keepin it real up in hurr.... ok tha problem with most peoplez perception of capital punishment is that it is functionally incorrect. tha death penalty is imperically proven to execute innocent people, yet we continue to use it. how can ne one who believes murder is morally repgunant justify something that takes life away and be consistent with theyre reason why they advocate it? they advocate it to prevent murder, but then recognize that murder is a necessary tool.
skinned teen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 8:50   #6
Digger
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Digger's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Sep 2004
Location: Oxford
Posts: 3,417
Send a message via MSN to Digger
Default Re: Capital Punishment

Also as a lifelong opponant to the death penalty I wonder why Lord Stevens thinks that the death of a police officer makes it more of a case for capital punishment than the murder of anyone else. Tragic as it is to lose members of our services (police, firemen, ambulance staff ect) it cannot be acceptable to allow the death penalty for the perpatrators of these crimes, and not for any other murder.

Having declared murder to be wrong, of any person, we should not advocate murder in return. Revenge is nasty and messy and never works to salve people's feelings of anger because it involves no end to the violence which bred it in the first place, just places all involved in a downward spiral.
__________________
'Don't grow up, just find a bigger playground'
Annie Proulx- Barkskins

Book list | Flickr
Digger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 9:40   #7
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Capital Punishment

I agree wholly with Digger's sentiments. If anything, I think the state taking someone's life is more sinister and sadistic. I won't forget the execution of Nick Ingram in 1995, who won temporary reprieves before being subjected to the death penalty.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 10:57   #8
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: Capital Punishment

In response to the points made by skinned teen (welcome, by the way) and Digger:

Quote:
Having declared murder to be wrong, of any person, we should not advocate murder in return
At the risk of being pedantic, capital punishment is not murder. Murder is unlawful (and intentional) killing, whereas capital punishment where it exists is by definition lawful.

In response to knovella's point, I don't think there was the long multiple appeals process in the UK that there is in US states. Having said that, nobody in the UK had been executed in forty-odd years so I don't really know for sure.

I believe amner is or was a correspondence-friend of a US death row prisoner. Perhaps he can shed some light on the topic.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 11:01   #9
knovella
Palimpsestarian
deserves a medal
 
knovella's Avatar
 
Join Date: 11 Oct 2005
Location: Old Nowhere, NY
Posts: 411
Default Re: Capital Punishment

Reasons people support the Death Penalty:
--it's cheaper than Life in Prison
--it's an effective deterrent
--it's only fair
--the bastards deserve it, they're guilty

The first is Untrue. Prisoners on Death Row in the US cost a bundle. They are held in 'special circumstances' and bring the courts through years of appeals, sometimes staying on Death Row for 20 years while their cases are heard. Of course, parole is out of the question.

The second 'deterrent' argument is Untrue. There is no reduction in capital murders in US states that adopt the Death Penalty, there is no change in the frequency of premeditated crime.

The third, "it's only fair", is the eye-for-an-eye argument, assuming guilt. It's primitive and final, and therefore extremely 'unfair." In the US, the prosecutor must request the Death Penalty in a trial, which (surprise!) happens way-way disproportionately when the defendant is black and poor. Guess they are perceived as more of a threat to society than other murderers.

The fourth assumes guilt, which is a dangerous thing. Even if you get it wrong just one time out of 20, you've (too) have killed an innocent person. I guess this would be called premeditated murder if it weren't legal.

The Death Penalty is all about the righteous standing in final judgment over the guilty. There's really not one part of that equation that really stands up to examination.

Last edited by knovella; 21st Nov 2005 at 11:54.
knovella is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2005, 11:04   #10
Digger
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Digger's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Sep 2004
Location: Oxford
Posts: 3,417
Send a message via MSN to Digger
Default Re: Capital Punishment

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self
At the risk of being pedantic, capital punishment is not murder. Murder is unlawful (and intentional) killing, whereas capital punishment where it exists is by definition lawful.
yes, ok John, capital punishment is perhaps not technically murder - but to a certain extent that's surely just semantics. It is taking another person's life against their will. And it's every bit as 'intentional' as those unlawful killings.

Given that we're both against it, well, there we go....
__________________
'Don't grow up, just find a bigger playground'
Annie Proulx- Barkskins

Book list | Flickr
Digger is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:53.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.