OK... The Death Penalty...

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
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Post by RCC » Thu Dec 16, 2004 4:23 am

Doctor X wrote:
O'Reilly and the Rest are pissing all over a decision the WA State SC which overturned a conviction based on the mother listening in to a phone conversation of her daughter with a creep. The Rigtheous Religious are screeming that "it is illegal for parents to monitor their children?!!!"


Well, the lawyer for the scum explain--many times--that O'Reilly did not have his facts correct--Heavens to Betsy! The issue was the POLICE ASKED the mother to listen into the conversation because they could not obtain the warrents.

Believe O'Reilly, and it becomes admissible for police to use proxies to conduct illegal searches, wire-taps, et cetera.
Weirdly enough, Most jurisdiction's wiretap laws make listening in on one's own children's phone conversations illegal, period. In theory, if the taping could very well give the creep a viable civil cause of action. He could sue them, and legally could collect...

Good luck with a jury in that case though, not to mention that he would be basically putting himself in prison.

Word to the wise: Absent the specific advice from a really smart lawyer who actually has checked and tells you that it is OK, never ever ever listen into a phone conversation without permission and sure as hell never tape anything. These statutes are a bit broad...

Here's some background:
At some point or another, the divorce lawyer has had the experience of having a client walk into the office and being informed that the client has absolute proof of their spouse’s infidelity. When queried as to the manner in which they obtained the proof, we have often been advised that the proof was obtained through the unauthorized recording of their spouse’s telephone conversation with a third party or information obtained from their home computer.

Being the astute lawyers that we are, we then advise our clients that they may have violated State or Federal Wiretap Statutes thereby exposing themselves to criminal penalties, but also severe civil penalties. For example, New Jersey’s Wiretapping Statute, provides as follows:

“Except as otherwise specifically provided in this act, any person who:



a. Purposely intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, electronic or oral communication; or



b. Purposely discloses or endeavors to disclose to any other person the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the Interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication; or



c. Purposely uses or endeavors to use the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know, that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication; shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree. Subsection b. and c. of this section shall not apply to the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, that has become common knowledge or public information”[1]



The Federal Wiretap Statute has similar language but important differences, which will be discussed further in this article.

http://www.aaml.org/Articles/2001-03/Gr ... bersex.htm



What we do NOT see is INNOCENT guys getting off. It is not news.
A lot of what happens is guilty people being convicted of additional crimes or given unjust sentences, and that is really not news.

Like a case where back in the '70s some stupid kid decided to break into a house. He took a buddy along, who to the kid's chagrin was both boarderline retarded and, as it turned out, on acid at the time.

While the kid was looking through the silverware, the semi-retard on acid stumbled upon an elderly woman in an upstairs bedroom, and, acting rationally, beat her to death. They left and they get arrested the next day.

Ever hear of the felony murder rule? The state didn't even contest that the kid had no clue that a murder had even occurred. Didn't matter. Death during a felony = murder in the first degree. Plus the elderly woman was somebody's grandma, like a high ranking state official. Life with no chance of parole.

That is a bit harsh in my opinion, but that and a quarter will get you a game of Galaga...

Eventually his lawyer found a glaring trial error that deprived him of his rights at trial (nothing like 30 year old documents for asthma, at least I'll bet that is what that lawyer thought...) and managed to get his sentence reduced to, um, life with parole, which is as good as he could do seeing he was, by law, pretty beyond doubt guilty of murder despite never once even thinking he wanted to hurt anyone. As far as I know the parole board hasn't let him go. I think he turns 50 this month, his 32nd year behind bars...

Of course if it would have went down a few years earlier, he'd have got the chair...

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Re: OK... The Death Penalty...

Post by Grammatron » Thu Dec 16, 2004 4:43 am

V.2 wrote:
My position is that the human race at this point and time has largely out-evolved the death penalty.
Grammatron & Luke, this is the opening sentence from the OP. (Which, incidentally, I've not taken a stand on other than by implication. I'm against DP without exception, fwiw.)

Are you actually suggesting that the behavior of other members of the human race is irrelevant when analyzing if the particular behavior is "out-evolved"? We can reasonably debate how much weight these facts should be assigned, but to dismiss them out of hand as irrelevant seems downright bizarre.
Until we are evolved enough to rehabilitate prisoners I am not convinced DP is an outdated concept.

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Post by Earthborn » Thu Dec 16, 2004 5:28 am

Luke T. wrote:Your country is invaded. Do you protect it? By killing an enemy soldier, aren't you carrying out a death penalty for invading your country? And wouldn't you even kill an invading soldier who hasn't killed anyone yet?
What a totally bizar question for you (especially) to ask. Suppose V.2 lives in Iraq: what do you hope the answer will be then?
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Post by V.2 » Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:32 am

Luke T. wrote:Question for you, V.2, since you are against the DP without exception.

Your country is invaded. Do you protect it? By killing an enemy soldier, aren't you carrying out a death penalty for invading your country? And wouldn't you even kill an invading soldier who hasn't killed anyone yet?

What about going to the aid of another country that has been invaded? There's no direct self-defense argument that could be made.

And if you wouldn't do it yourself, are you okay with someone else doing it?
I'm not clear how this relates to the criminal justice system. But since you ask, my opposition to DP is not based on pacifism.

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Re: OK... The Death Penalty...

Post by V.2 » Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:04 am

Luke T. wrote:The argument was made that Cambodia is evolving (almost choked on that one)
I suggest we not debate cross-boards; pardon me if I've done so. For the record however, I stated that Cambodia was better today than 30 years ago. This is not a great accomplishment, given Cambodia's past. I absolutely do not hold up Cambodia as an example of an "evolved" nation, to the contrary.
So the evolving and devolving stuff and lists of countries with or without the DP is bullshit.
I never heard so much griping about some basic raw facts. I understand that you reject the data entirely (why remains a mystery) and I'm glad to leave it right there. But if you wish to discuss further, this is the data I'd like to focus on, for brevity and starkness:

Countries that have death penalty for juvenile offenders:
China
Democratic Republic of Congo
Iran
Nigeria
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
United States
Yemen

My opinion is that DP for juveniles is profoundly immoral, and I consider it appalling that the USA is on this list. (Which, to be clear, has no bearing on our discussion about the basic relevancy of the data to the topic at hand -- it's blatantly relevant regardless of one's opinion.)

Add: Evidence that Cambodia has taken steps in the right direction: they abolished the death penalty! :wink:

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Post by Luke T. » Thu Dec 16, 2004 12:56 pm

Earthborn wrote:
Luke T. wrote:Your country is invaded. Do you protect it? By killing an enemy soldier, aren't you carrying out a death penalty for invading your country? And wouldn't you even kill an invading soldier who hasn't killed anyone yet?
What a totally bizar question for you (especially) to ask. Suppose V.2 lives in Iraq: what do you hope the answer will be then?
That is why I phrased the question without attaching nationality.
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Post by Luke T. » Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:03 pm

Here's the thing. A person is either for the DP or not. If a person is against the DP under any circumstances, they have made an easy choice. Let's hope for their sake they are never put in a situation where they have to rethink it, like ninety percent of their family wiped out by a mad dictator.

But if a person is for the DP, then they have to answer some difficult questions. Where does that person draw the line?

Q: Do you favor executing a terrorist who beheads a female journalist?

A: Sure!

Q: Do you favor executing a horse thief?

A: No! Woo-hoo! I can feel myself evolving! *stands erect and waves to Pakistanis swinging in the trees*

This evolving thing is an illusion and elitist. Just ask a Serbo-Croatian.
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Post by RCC » Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:08 pm

Luke T. wrote:Here's the thing. A person is either for the DP or not. If a person is against the DP under any circumstances, they have made an easy choice. Let's hope for their sake they are never put in a situation where they have to rethink it, like ninety percent of their family wiped out by a mad dictator.
Perhaps that is why they call things principled decisions? That a person against the death penalty may want someone dead has nothing to do with the idea that perhaps the state should not have the power to kill, seeing that the abuse of that power is what lead to the deaths in the first place.


But if a person is for the DP, then they have to answer some difficult questions. Where does that person draw the line?


Q: Do you favor executing a terrorist who beheads a female journalist?

A: Sure!

Q: Do you favor executing a horse thief?

A: No! Woo-hoo! I can feel myself evolving! *stands erect and waves to Pakistanis swinging in the trees*

This evolving thing is an illusion and elitist. Just ask a Serbo-Croatian.
Why? Are Serbo-Croatians endowed with some insight into matters of how societies evolve than say, an Albanian-Italian or a Korean-Kenyan?

Two points:

1) You seem to have applied a strange concept of evolution here. There is a big difference between social and biological evolution. Societies evolve, laws change based on a number of factors and it appears the direction this takes is one where the death penalty becomes impractical as well as just plain disfavored for various reasons.

It is almost beyond dispute that in human history as a society has developed methods of criminal punishment have become less violent and more "humane." No more breaking on the wheel, no more iron maiden, and terms of imprisonment have replaced execution for all but the worst crimes.

2) Seriously. What is the deal with the Serbs and the Croats? I get the sense that you are suggesting that trouble in the former Yugoslavia is a result of the abolition of the death penalty... is that right? If I I have that right, I have a question: Huh?

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Post by Luke T. » Thu Dec 16, 2004 5:40 pm

RCC wrote:2) Seriously. What is the deal with the Serbs and the Croats? I get the sense that you are suggesting that trouble in the former Yugoslavia is a result of the abolition of the death penalty... is that right? If I I have that right, I have a question: Huh?
Huh? That's what I say when these lists pop up. To support us getting rid of the DP, somebody posts a list of countries that have abolished the DP. Among them, the Balkans back in 1989. But we know what happened there after that, right? So not only does the elimination of the DP have anything to do with what happened later, nor does HAVING the DP relate to how freaking "evolved" a country is.

Some of the countries on the non-DP list are far more fucked up than we are. That negates the whole "No DP = evolved" theory. It's an illusion.
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Post by Luke T. » Thu Dec 16, 2004 5:47 pm

It's strange how on some of the most important issues, using words like "right" and "wrong" are so profoundly avoided.

When it is used, it is in the context of "an innocent man might be executed, and THAT'S wrong."

A simple freaking question, folks. Is it wrong to execute a GUILTY murderer?

Don't equivocate, "What kind of murder? Does he own a cat?" Just answer the question.

At least V.2 has said it is wrong in all cases. I can respect that.

If it helps, imagine the worst kind of possible murder you can. And then answer if it is right or wrong to execute the murderer.

Then see if lists of other countries make any freaking sense.
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Post by RCC » Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:29 pm

Luke T. wrote:
RCC wrote:2) Seriously. What is the deal with the Serbs and the Croats? I get the sense that you are suggesting that trouble in the former Yugoslavia is a result of the abolition of the death penalty... is that right? If I I have that right, I have a question: Huh?
Huh? That's what I say when these lists pop up. To support us getting rid of the DP, somebody posts a list of countries that have abolished the DP. Among them, the Balkans back in 1989. But we know what happened there after that, right? So not only does the elimination of the DP have anything to do with what happened later, nor does HAVING the DP relate to how freaking "evolved" a country is.

Some of the countries on the non-DP list are far more fucked up than we are. That negates the whole "No DP = evolved" theory. It's an illusion.
Actually no. There is a basic causation/correlation fallacy to the whole list thing. It proves nothing. The only contention it supports is something on the order of "countries with the DP tend to suck." That in turn provides support to the idea that those that don't suck tend to not have the DP. This says nothing about any particular country as it does not really posit a mechanism. Just a correlation, and not a perfect one.

The problems in the former Yugoslavia had a pretty clear cause, a civil war based on centuries of ethnic hatred. Claiming that it was caused by the banning of the death penalty is just stupid.

You are claiming that one contra example, and at that one example where a pretty serious independant cause can be identified, nullifies the whole hypothesis that more developed nations tend to outgrow the death penalty. That is some seriously flawed reasoning.

Kind of like someone saying that teams with higher payrolls tend to win the world series, and your pointing out that the 2008 Yankees lost despite a payroll of 10 billion dollars so that whole concept is an illusion. Meanwhile the entire starting roster died in an airline crash in June and the Yanks finshed the season with minor leaguers and re-treads.

Even without the independant cause, your counter example doesn't disprove a trend, and with the cause your counter example is flat useless.

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Post by RCC » Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:09 pm

Luke T. wrote:It's strange how on some of the most important issues, using words like "right" and "wrong" are so profoundly avoided.
Also striking how people toss reason out the window when it hits an emotional nerve.

When it is used, it is in the context of "an innocent man might be executed, and THAT'S wrong."
Maybe it isn't wrong in some contexts like if the execution prevents a riot that would kill a million people. However, the idea that innocent people should not be punished for a crime they did not commit, and that killing innocent people is wrong are well enough established to where we can just say this is "wrong" and leave it at that.

A simple freaking question, folks. Is it wrong to execute a GUILTY murderer?

Don't equivocate, "What kind of murder? Does he own a cat?" Just answer the question.
Sorry. You might as well ask if it is OK to execute anyone who commits a crime in every society that ever existed. Too vague.

In the United States at the present time:

The defintion of "murder" varies from state to state, and if I take your statement to mean "Are all people who under the law are guilty of any degree of murder deserving of execution?" Then the answer is that yes, it is wrong.

In particular it would be unjust where specific intent to kill was not present, as in many "felony murder" convictions.

Also, someone who kills with specific intent but for a less than evil purpose, such as where a seriously ill person begs to be put out of his misery and his wife does the deed. It would be wrong there as well even though in most places that is a pre-meditated murder.

But there are murders where it wouldn't be wrong, but the line surely cannot be drawn at the defintion of "murder."

However, if we were in a very poor developing country, given the resources available for litigation and other punishment I would say that killing any murderer would be acceptable, and with that murderer any rapist or robber.

This is because the lack of resources, and the high mortality rate change the severity of the punishment since people tend to drop dead all the time.

If it helps, imagine the worst kind of possible murder you can. And then answer if it is right or wrong to execute the murderer.
I'd say that execution is just fine in severe cases, but that is also nowhere near the issue I am raising.

Then see if lists of other countries make any freaking sense.
Your reasoning is what makes no sense. The whole argument from the original post centers around two concepts that you just want to ignore.

Mainly you avoid the potential mistake question by simply ignoring it. When we get to the fantasy land where no court makes a mistake then your point here will be relevant. From the original post I have stated that execution is a morally acceptable punishment

You seem to have a bug up your ass about the use of the term "evolve" and are having a very difficult time being able to really explain it.

As societies get richer, they are better able to provide full due process and are better able to use punishments other than simple physical ones like whipping or execution. They also tend to be more educated as to some root causes of crime and better able to avoid punishment schemes that tend to result in more crime or that are seen as simply excessive.

As they get poorer and dumber they go the other way...

What part of this do you object to? That at some point this process eliminates the death penalty the same way it tends to eliminate straight torture?



Right and wrong are just simple labels used to avoid difficult questions.

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Post by Luke T. » Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:09 pm

RCC wrote:
Luke T. wrote:It's strange how on some of the most important issues, using words like "right" and "wrong" are so profoundly avoided.
Also striking how people toss reason out the window when it hits an emotional nerve.
Killing someone is the greatest moral issue there is. You have to decide if it is right or wrong. That is the starting point. Then you can begin equivocating/drawing lines.

The very reason I am undecided on the DP is I have not resolved that starting point. I have to first decide if it is right to execute a mass murderer caught on tape, witnessed by hundreds, who brags about it, signed a confession, ate his victims (including small children while still alive), was found with eighteen human livers in his freezer, and is a Willie Nelson fan.

You say you favor executing such a guy. I have not reached even that decision. So any discussions about killing a retarded teenaged killer, or a horse thief, or if Cambodia is a nice vacation spot, is totally moot to me.

If someone decides that the DP is wrong in all cases, are they more evolved?

Is the fact that just about every man on death row is opposed to the DP and thinks a life sentence is the way to go mean they are more evolved?
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Post by V.2 » Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:53 pm

RCC wrote:However, if we were in a very poor developing country, given the resources available for litigation and other punishment I would say that killing any murderer would be acceptable, and with that murderer any rapist or robber.
This even makes sense at the most primitive level. In a tribal society, not only are justice mechanisms primitive, but even "simple" theft could have life-threatening consequence. As you move down the evolutionary ladder, the crime threshold lowers, and the judgement becomes more summary (i.e. when #2 looks at the alpha male the wrong way).

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Post by RCC » Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:08 pm

Luke T. wrote:
RCC wrote:
Luke T. wrote:It's strange how on some of the most important issues, using words like "right" and "wrong" are so profoundly avoided.
Also striking how people toss reason out the window when it hits an emotional nerve.
Killing someone is the greatest moral issue there is. You have to decide if it is right or wrong. That is the starting point. Then you can begin equivocating/drawing lines.
Sorry, but that sounds insane. Killing depends on context. I can kill to defend myself. I can kill to defend you. Maybe I can kill you to save 10 other people.

I cannot torture you to death for the purpose on making book on whether you actually scream for your mother.

At issue here is killing you just because you deserve to die because we form a body politic and say so, in particular because you killed someone else under circumstances of which we disapprove.

All life is in the details.

Killing a person is not in and of itself right or wrong. We can say that it is wrong absent justification, but that again is being neutral and just placing a presumption. Killing can actually be the moral thing to do.

Killing someone, hitting someone, or even kissing someone are at the core morally neutral. Depending on circumstances they can be the depth of depravity or the height of all compassion.

The very reason I am undecided on the DP is I have not resolved that starting point. I have to first decide if it is right to execute a mass murderer caught on tape, witnessed by hundreds, who brags about it, signed a confession, ate his victims (including small children while still alive), was found with eighteen human livers in his freezer, and is a Willie Nelson fan.

You say you favor executing such a guy. I have not reached even that decision. So any discussions about killing a retarded teenaged killer, or a horse thief, or if Cambodia is a nice vacation spot, is totally moot to me.
Makes sense. In a way this is irrelevant to my point though. My argument isn't really about what we see as justified, rather the idea that the way our society now values life that the chance of mistake, the knowlege that we as humans are very fallable moreso the quicker we act, the fact that we have limited lifespans, and not infinite resources all combine at some point to make the death penalty simply impractical.

If someone decides that the DP is wrong in all cases, are they more evolved?
Not as far as I can tell. Actually, from what I argue I think that viewpoint is foolhardy and naive.

If in fact we were to suffer a catyclism impoverishing our society where criminals could no longer be jailed or given massively careful trials, we would have to use the death penalty to maintain rule of law.

A society whose concepts of criminal justice fail to evolve to meet that new circumstance is a society that is going to be in trouble.

Perhaps a core problem is that when I type "evolve" you seem to see some version of "enlighten" in its place? When I mean evolve I mean "adapt to present circumstance," and do not mean to denote some kind of superiority implied by being more advanced.


Is the fact that just about every man on death row is opposed to the DP and thinks a life sentence is the way to go mean they are more evolved?
Asuming that were the case, no.

The main reason is I make no claim regarding personal opinion about the death penalty as I am just theorizing about how societies change as they become more wealthy and stable.

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Re: OK... The Death Penalty...

Post by Loon » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:28 am

V.2 wrote:Countries that have death penalty for juvenile offenders:
China
Democratic Republic of Congo
Iran
Nigeria
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
United States
Yemen
I don't have the facts at hand, but I common sense tells me this is probably true. I am therefore willing to accept, for the purposes of this debate, that all of the countries listed do indeed have the death penalty (if you wish to extend this to capital punishment for juveniles, go for it).

So now that we agree that all the countries on this list have the death penalty. Please explain why I should care.


RCC:
I would assume that the death penalty would be a worse thing in a developing country. This is based directly on the assumption that developing countries have governments/prosecutors who have much more power than those in the US or UK as well as less of an interest in civil rights and due process, leading to greater miscarriages of justice (i.e., bogus convictions), and therefore a higher percentage of executions of innocents.
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]

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Re: OK... The Death Penalty...

Post by V.2 » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:48 am

Loon wrote: So now that we agree that all the countries on this list have the death penalty. Please explain why I should care.
You could consider it as evidence that DP is non-evolutionary, if you wish.

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Re: OK... The Death Penalty...

Post by Loon » Fri Dec 17, 2004 5:43 am

V.2 wrote:
Loon wrote: So now that we agree that all the countries on this list have the death penalty. Please explain why I should care.
You could consider it as evidence that DP is non-evolutionary, if you wish.
Is that sum of your arguement? I think then that Grammatron's list indicates that having Christianity as a state religion is very strong evidence of evolution. Would you disagree with this? Why?

I would also ask which among those countries listed has concepts similiar to due process, right to counsel, and prevention of self-incrimination, among others? Does this also effect how evolved a country is?

Of course, we are now using "evolved" in a way different from the opening post.
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]

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Re: OK... The Death Penalty...

Post by V.2 » Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:41 am

Loon wrote:Is that sum of your arguement? I think then that Grammatron's list indicates that having Christianity as a state religion is very strong evidence of evolution. Would you disagree with this? Why?
I'm not exactly offering an argument, so yes that's the sum of it. (I'll examine the Christian state list and reply to this point later.)

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Re: OK... The Death Penalty...

Post by Loon » Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:49 am

V.2 wrote:I'm not exactly offering an argument, so yes that's the sum of it.
This may be the issue. I assumed you were making a standalone arguement. So I'd rephrase my question to why present the list, and then offer the correlary of Grammy's list, attempting to make the point that the list doesn't present an effective reason to either oppose or support the death penalty. The idea is to criticise this particular argument against the death penalty, without hashing out the right and wrong because if we don't agree now, the best we'll ever do is find out exactly why we disagree (am I telegraphing too much here?)

But it's almost the weekend, so I probably won't be responding for a few days. See you monday :) Have a good weekend.
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]