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Japan and India also execute, though rarely

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 29, 19100 at 12:30:17:

In Reply to: You can't achieve perfection. posted by MDG on January 28, 19100 at 17:30:57:

: You make one day - maybe - eliminate class, but you'll never eliminate prejudice.

Well, we can give it a shot. Anti-Semitism in most of America has been rooted out, perhaps in the future racism will also be rooted out.

: :Make all lawyers work for teh state, thus giving everyone an equal shot at getting a good lawyer.

: "A shot at getting a good lawyer." That's the crux of your statement, and even if all lawyers work for the state, they will always vary in talent and commitment, so woe to you if you get the inferior lawyer.

Yes, but- we can try and remedy that, we can pay high wages to lawyers to attarct more talented people to the field, for example (well, on second thought, maybe not, I know what Barry would say about that, so cancel it.)
But look at cases like with that dragging death down in Texas, the vicious torture and murder motivated by racial hate. The crime was ecvident and proven to all. A great lawyer wouldn't have made much difference. Those guys deserved to swing.
People always talk about how America lacks symapthy for the black people who are victims of crime- well, how about honoring the dead black hitchiker, Byrd I think was his name, by purging his racist murderers from our society?

: :That's an argument for changing the circumstances of trials, notthe eventual punishment. Is it OK if lots of people are unjustly imprisoned for life?

: Jailing an innocent person for even one day is wrong, but the obvious difference between jail and death is that an imprisoned person can still prove their innocence and be set free, while a dead person can only rot.

Yes, but apparently the number of peopel found innocent aftre their executions is very, very small- I'm only reporting this second- or third-hand, so it could be wrong.

: : In my criminal law class, my professor arranged the following: while
: he was lecturing, a young man burst into the lecture hall, ran down the
: steps, squirted a water pistol in the professor's face, and ran out the
: side door. There were dozens of witnesses to the awful crime...and
: dozens of differing descriptions of the perpetrator. I need go no
: further in explaining why the death penalty should not exist.

: :What about when people confess?

: You mean of their own free will, and when they're not crazy or suicidal or have some other ulterior motive? Okay, the murderer confesses, and better still, two people saw him do it, and a security camera caught him in the act. Now we move on to whether it is good for society to execute people, and my answer is no.

But the question isn't really 'is it good for society', it's 'is it what the guy deserves'. Even if the death penalty had a slight incteasing effect on the number of crimes committed, as Marx apparently showed it did, I would still argue that in some things it's the only 'fair' thing for society to do, even though it may not be 'good' from a deterrent or quality of life standpoint.

:When the State kills, it assumes godlike powers, and also says to its citizens: thou may kill.

Well, it's not anything different than the Catholic theory of a just war suggests, is it?

: It makes for a violent, unjust society. Look around at the countries which still execute people: e.g., Iran, Saudi Arabia, China; tyrannies all, with scant respect for civil and human rights, and rampant torture.

Your examples aren't quite representative. Free democracies ALSO use the death penalty, although in contrast with Saudi Arabia and China they use it RARELY and JUDICIOUSLY. Japan and India are two examples I know of, but I think Canada may also use the death penalty. Anyway, France used the guillotine till the early '80s, and I'd hardly call them a barbaric society. What about Israel? Do they have the death penalty?

:Is that the awful club the USA should be a member of?

: Lastly, I personally think it's a harsher punishment to jail someone for the rest of their life than to kill them quickly, both due to the misery of living in a jail, and also due to the irony that in this world, very few people will enjoy the rare luxury of a quick and painless death - so why give it to heinous criminals, of all people?

Yeah, but then how do we differentite between those who deserve life imprisonment and those who deserve something worse? Anyway, the death penalty has symbolic value, the value of purging our world of teh criminal.

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