Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another Goddamned Podcast #21:
July 3, 2008


THIS WEEK - Are We Lacking?, Faithfreeists, and Not Being Liberal

Philly is on a mission. He wants to stop us from being defined by a negative. The one definition commonly attributed to atheists is that we have a "lack of belief," and that really sticks in his craw. So what's a better definition? The Herd weighs in and then we hear about a new word created by The Exterminator. Maybe next we'll create a special word for the 21% of atheists in a recent poll who said they believe in a higher power! Theatheist? Feel free to play along! (0:00)

What's behind the resistance we've all seen in the past whenever a new term is proffered? Do all atheists stand united on all positions? Of course not. While it's generally assumed that atheists are Liberals, each of us has some issues where he or she diverges from the left-wing norm. Even within our self-complimentary Herd, we have disagreements. We give examples and argue amongst ourselves. So what else is new? (18:14)

We continue disagreeing with one another's dismissals of leftist "dogma". However, one of us brings up a silly liberal idea that we all agree is dumb. Maybe you can guess who that sweet person is before you hear the idea presented. For extra credit, can you predict the idea? (40:50)

More polls, more puzzles. Venjanz has become a monster. Can any of you match his greatness? (58:30)

Opening Music [00:00]: excerpt from "Another Goddamned Draft"
Bridge Music [17:25]: excerpt from "Heathen Boogie"
Bridge Music [39:46]: excerpt from "Swing to the Left"
Bridge Music [57:30]: excerpt from "Waltz of the Dead"
Closing Music [1:20:02]: excerpt from "As Jazzy as I Get"
(All music: copyright 2008 by Rachel Murie)

Original audio source

54 comments:

InTheSkyGirl said...

That's curious that 28% of atheists describe themselves as believing in a higher power. The only thing I can figure is that being identified as an atheist is becoming a positive label. Sort of like people who call themselves vegetarians and still eat chicken and fish.

When I was growing out of my god belief, I briefly identified myself as spiritual (if pressed for an answer). No tenets, no doctrine but a belief or wish perhaps, that there was something guiding the cosmos. Playing it loose I was!

Maybe spiritual was not an option in the survey. These spiritual atheists may just need that little push to get them over the spiritual hump. The more we keep the conversation going on the topic of faith, I think that percentage will drop to zero.

The Exterminator said...

InTheSkyGirl:

Just for the sake of accuracy: It was 21% of atheists who described themselves as believing in a higher power. Let's not make it even weirder than it was.

I think you've hit the nail on the head about "spiritual." It seems to me that anyone who doesn't believe in the spirit world can't -- by definition -- be spiritual.

I do know some faithfreeists who are not happy about giving up that adjective; they spout some woo about "communing with nature." I don't think that makes a person spiritual, though -- it just identifies him or her as an appreciator of some of the myriad wonders of the universe. There's nothing spiritual about that.

PhillyChief said...

I don't have too much of a problem with that spiritual stuff if it's used metaphorically. When I used to study Tang Lang Chuan there was always talk of "chi" or energy and channeling it. There was one form, Bung Bo or "Crushing Step", where there's stomping, especially in the beginning. Sifus spoke of bouncing chi off the ground through that stomp and redirecting it forward. It's silly, but thinking of it like that helped me get the form right.

I think the energy thing is something people gravitate to with that spiritual crap. When you get right down to it, people who talk about spiritual crap usually mention certain events, meetings, or outdoor excursions and when they recount them, what do they inevitably say? "I felt..." So yeah, there's energy. It's the electrical energy in your body as your neurons fire and chemicals get released (or were artificially introduced first) that we feel.

Nomen Publicus said...

I agree we need a replacement for "atheist" and the many other negative words used to describe people who don't accept that there is "another world" out there which is not apparent to the senses.

"Bright" is silly.

But what about "realist"?

PhillyChief said...

I don't have a problem with "atheist" for the Sam Harris reasons of the negative reaction people have towards it, but that it lacks specificity. In lieu of that, you get everyone offering their own definitions of it, bad and good.

the chaplain said...

How about this: maybe atheists should start talking about faith as an additive. No one likes additives.

heather said...

A bit of a selfish request here, sorry, and one which would put you to a fair amount of trouble, but here goes.

I use my pc as an oversized mp3 player and don't have the patience to sit at the PC and play talk when I could be listening to music. I can use the machine with music playing. I can't use it to do anything myself when there are words coming out.

I do have the patience to read text, though. The podcasts sound really interesting. How about transcripts?

The Exterminator said...

heather:
Well, you know how much I love you, but ... Here's what you're asking, if I understand it correctly. You don't have the patience to listen to an hour's worth of podcast, so we should spend hours and hours and hours (none of us is a professional secretary) transcribing the thing so you can read it?

I'm guessing that it's not gonna happen.

On the other hand, we'd love to have you as a listener. Why not earmark an hour or so each week as your special Another Goddamned Podcast time? You could slip into something comfortable, pour yourself a nice alcoholic libation, maybe make a fancy snack plate, and enjoy yourself.

Venjanz said...

I'll do it if you guys pay me. I promise it will be accurate.

Evo: "I think Venjanz should be president!"

Ex: "I agree, he is simply the greatest man to ever walk on the Earth!"

OG: "He might even be a god!"

The Exterminator said...

Someone has been misquoting me. But, amazingly, he was soooooo close:

Ex:I agree, he is simply the greatest numbskull to ever walk on the Earth!"

PhillyChief said...

Ah, I think Venjanz could have a career writing for Fox News, or perhaps the President.

Well Heather, I would suggest taking some time away from the computer and then you can listen to us on your mp3 player. We're just the thing to get you revved up at the gym, take your mind off the daily commute, amuse you at the market, or maybe move you while in the privy.

John Evo said...

Well, at least you got MY quote right, Venjanz.

By the way, has the KS chapter of Fans of Archie and Jughead called back? They couldn't make a better choice.

Ordinary Girl said...

You almost got mine right.

OG: "He might even be more real than a god!"

Venjanz said...

Okay, so I'm clear- you guys aren't going to pay me to write transcripts of the podcast?

Ordinary Girl said...

Well, as long as you accept payment in peanuts...

Spanish Inquisitor said...

... thrown through the bars of your cage.

John Evo said...

Where you sit in a corner, trying to figure out how old you are.

Red Expendable said...

OK, I'm a bit late on this.

The death penalty subject was touched on. I'd like to think of myself as elitist when compared to Christians and their so-called morality (biblical based). As far as I know, unless you believe in pre-destination, according to Christianity, you always have a way to avoid going to hell.

Granted I don't believe in hell or any of that nonsense, but even in their warped and twisted doctrine they have a get out of gong to hell. There is always that last chance to avoid it.

As an atheist, the only true hell for me would be one here on earth - where my freedom is taken away, by being imprisoned.

However, like it was mentioned already, there is always the chance to be redeemed by new evidence. Sure you might spend years in prison, but the slight chance of getting out because your were shown to be innocent is always there.

Why can't we take the moral high ground? Now with Christianity, the redemption is all bullshit - it's a threat based on a lie with a promise of an afterlife spent in bliss which is also a lie.

All the more reason to treasure this life, and make sure that no one who is innocent is killed or imprisoned for that matter.

Once again, it's been mentioned but killing someone is not going to be any deterrent. If someone goes into a rage and kills someone, they aren't reasoning out the consequences of the action before hand.

What are the current stats for death penalty for non-white people in this country compared to white people? Is it disproportionate? If they are, there is yet another reason to be against the death penalty.

PhillyChief said...

Suppose dna evidence accurately identifies a killer. It's him, alright. No possible magic exonerating evidence from on high will ever come. In fact, he gleefully admits doing it.

What do you do with him and why?

Red Expendable said...

Leave that person in jail.

There is something about taking the life of someone that bothers me greatly. I know if I had a family member who was murdered I would want the killer to die. BUT I would hope 'the state' would not abide by my wishes.

Let leave revenge and murder to the Yahweh and Allah shall we? :)

How the hell are we better off by killing someone. What good does it do?

After someone is murdered, killing the killer is nothing but revenge. It won't bring back the dead.

I would like to think I'm better than that.

What do you guys think?

John Evo said...

Red Ex; since you listened, you know I agree with you on almost every point.

I think it's revealing to see who you have aligned yourself with on any given issue. It would not serve logic to say it's a perfect mechanism for judging your position. But it's still interesting to note who (in general) favors the death penalty and who opposes it. Look at the religions and look at the countries. For the most part, if they are right about capital punishment being a good thing - it's one of the few things they are right about. That doesn't make it impossible.

Then again, I shouldn't make comments after 1 A.M. I sound a bit less intelligent than I'd like to think I am.

PhillyChief said...

"There is something about taking the life of someone that bothers me greatly."

Ah! Well of course when deciding the fate of another human being, it should be all about you, what makes you feel good and morally superior.

Much like Evo's allusions to the religious community, this is the foundation of most of their arguments as well. Look at their arguments for abortion, for denying gay marriage, and for the multitude of religious impositions into government and the public square.

Ordinary Girl said...

Why can't we let the prisoner decide - life in jail or execution? Isn't it more humane to let someone live if they want to live or not suffer through 40-50 years or prison if they'd rather die?

The Exterminator said...

Philly said:
Ah! Well of course when deciding the fate of another human being, it should be all about you, what makes you feel good and morally superior.

No, just as the onus is on the religionist to prove his or her beliefs, the onus is on the pro-death-penalty people to defend their position. If we start from the assumption that "life" is the default position for a person who's already alive -- then the physical act of depriving someone of life is the aberration. The murderer has already done that, which is why he or she has been removed from society. But in order for society to then kill the murderer, there must be some justification.

Now, I know that you've given justifications, and I'm not disputing them here. But the natural and neutral position is not to take another's life. So the onus is on proponents of the death penalty to argue in favor of their view. Non-believers in the death penalty, just as non-believers in religion, don't need to make any arguments because those arguments are already present in nature.

I repeat, I'm not addressing your arguments for the death penalty. They may well be good ones. But I think you have to realize that yours is the position that needs defending. The position against the death penalty -- despite the long, sad bloody tradition of executions -- is the position that's the "natural" one in any system based on the negative Golden Rule: Don't do to anyone else what you would not want done to you.

PhillyChief said...

You were doing great until you invoked nature, since in nature, the default is to kill.

The long standing tradition, recorded as early as Hammurabi and no doubt going back further, is a life for a life; therefore, the onus is on the challenger to this human tradition and natural predisposition.

As far as what's natural for a system based on the negative Golden Rule, I'd say death would be the default for a lawful person should, as a consequence of conscience, want to die for taking the life of another.


In anticipation of the arguments comparing my point of onus being on the challenger of tradition to meaning the onus is therefore on the atheist to refute theism, I'm fine with that. We do that everyday, showing the contradictions in holy texts, the ill effects of belief and dogma, erosion of critical thinking, and of course the failure of theist arguments. One need not shrink from the responsibility of having to show the validity of one's position if that position is strong. It's those of weak positions who must shirk the responsibility and resort to tricks.

Red Expendable said...

Well, in a way morals are all about me, and you and everyone else as an individual. Although there may be some old standards that everyone TENDS to find across the board, morals are subjective thing.

So I have no problem with judging something morally superior.
Here's the reasoning for mine:

I don't want to die. I'd like to live a long time. Putting someone to death goes against what I would want to happen to myself.

Someone who is religious can come to any particular end point, without reasoning it through. That's scary. If a particular interpretation of a particular holy book leads you to a conclusion, regardless of whom it harms or benefits, you follow it like a recipe.

Is that morality, or is that acting like a fucking robot?

Problem with getting your morals from a religious text, a Coke can or wafer, or whatever, is that it's separate from reality. If you are commanded to kill, that's not moral. You are just obeying.

However, we know religious fucks can point to more instances where a particular holy book endorses murder more so than not.

There is no perfect system and there never will be. So putting someone to death is just fucking wrong. OK, maybe there is 100% proof, with video. Even so, it's bad news when the state does kill someone. Who is to say some evidence is false, but people are lead to believe it is true?

If someone confesses, under torture, that they killed a person or people, then that's not good evidence. How are we to know?

If someone chose to die or spending life in prison - I would support that. But there would need to be many safeguards in place to make sure that the person truly did want to die. There would need to be some kind of system in place to make sure someone isn't killed who really did want to live....

Anyway - it still comes back to what is the point of taking someone's life????

Why would you kill someone? What purpose does it serve? If it's to keep society safe, prison will do that. And once again, in an imperfect system, also gives a chance for new evidence to free that person.

Is it just for revenge? To satisfy someone testosterone raging in your body? Yes, let's give in to those primal urges. Anyone think that's a fuckin' good idea?

I don't.

Red Expendable said...

To back up a bit about religious arguments against abortion, etc. -- all come back to a particular interpretation of a particular holy book. There is no sound reasoning behind it.

That should be made clear.

Also IF, and that's a big IF, the natural tendency is to kill - and we KNOW it is. We can override that tendency if we choose.

I'm sure there's no reason to point out the naturalist fallacy. But I just did. Maybe I'm committing my own fallacy by attacking a strawman or I just plain misunderstood.

Anyway, I would imagine that even religious fundies do override their natural tendency to kill along with their religious magical thinking --- this is done all the time, if they take a holy book literally, but don't follow it to the letter.

This is a good thing.

Basically, when you kill someone for murdering someone, you are a hypocrite. What you are saying is it's bad to kill someone, and then turn around and kill someone.

Two more things to take into consideration when judging whether an action will be moral or not, for me anyway:

Who will this benefit or harm?

If it is going to cause harm, is there alternative that will cause benefit, but get you to the same place?

One of my principles, that also makes me anti-war, is that taking someones life, or any violence directed at someone should only be in self-defense. The death penalty goes against that principal.

PhillyChief said...

You speak of dogmatic adherence yet you're doing it yourself. Despite being faced with a situation where there is no doubt the criminal is guilty, you continue to argue imperfections of the system, coercion, and of course the miracle of innocence proving evidence. Now who's the "fucking robot"? ;)

You haven't given any support for how if the act of authorizing the death penalty is merely a self satisfying act, that the self satisfaction of denying the death penalty is either morally superior or in any way different. In fact, since you claim "morals are a subjective thing", good luck trying.

"Basically, when you kill someone for murdering someone, you are a hypocrite. What you are saying is it's bad to kill someone, and then turn around and kill someone."

So when we arrest and incarcerate a kidnapper, we're hypocrites?

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
You were doing great until you invoked nature, since in nature, the default is to kill.
Yes, and then ... to eat what you've killed. If you want to suggest serving up executed criminals as supper for the poor, maybe I'll reconsider.

The long standing tradition, recorded as early as Hammurabi and no doubt going back further, is a life for a life ...
I would have thought that you'd be about the last person to argue in favor of long-standing tradition.

Red Ex:
Well, in a way morals are all about me, and you and everyone else as an individual. Although there may be some old standards that everyone TENDS to find across the board, morals are subjective thing.
As I've said many times, I do think the negative Golden Rule may be genetically programmed now as the result of human evolution. However, for the time being, in the absence of good scientific evidence for that hypothesis, those of us who don't believe in a god who dictates morality from on high must bear the responsibility for his or her own moral system.

So, yeah, you're right. It is, ultimately -- at least at this moment -- subjective. However, most societies do try to codify some kind of moral system based on majoritarian criteria. In the case of the death penalty, those criteria conflict with one another.

What the Herd did on the podcast was express our own subjective opinions about the death penalty, using primarily emotional arguments, although they may have been cloaked in logical ones. Humans are "stuck" with a revenge instinct, for better or worse, and no amount of debate can rid our species of that instinct entirely.

For example: I'm strongly against the death penalty, and would argue against executing George W. Bush for war crimes. However, I can't deny that I'd feel some glee to see him facing a firing squad.

PhillyChief said...

"I would have thought that you'd be about the last person to argue in favor of long-standing tradition."

Yes, but then you went into that "default" and "natural" business.

"If you want to suggest serving up executed criminals as supper for the poor, maybe I'll reconsider."

So you're open to "a modest proposal" are you? I hear humans taste like pork, so you know what that means - BBQ. The killing can also be on PPV, and the proceeds can go to supplies for bbq sauce, as well as cornbread, collard greens, baked beans, or whatever else the poor may need, like maybe lots of napkins. Bbq is messy.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
And, of course, to help wash the meal down, the government would have to provide some goddamned good beer.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Why do you have to go on and on about food so close to supper time?

Sadists.

PhillyChief said...

Goddamn that's good beer

Red Expendable said...

PhillyChief said...

You speak of dogmatic adherence yet you're doing it yourself. Despite being faced with a situation where there is no doubt the criminal is guilty, you continue to argue imperfections of the system, coercion, and of course the miracle of innocence proving evidence. Now who's the "fucking robot"? ;)

You haven't given any support for how if the act of authorizing the death penalty is merely a self satisfying act, that the self satisfaction of denying the death penalty is either morally superior or in any way different. In fact, since you claim "morals are a subjective thing", good luck trying.

"Basically, when you kill someone for murdering someone, you are a hypocrite. What you are saying is it's bad to kill someone, and then turn around and kill someone."

So when we arrest and incarcerate a kidnapper, we're hypocrites?


----------------

Look -- despite being faced with the fact that there ARE imperfections in any system of justice - you can't argue that any person is guilty of the crime, in this case, I guess we're talking about murder.

There is no 100% - that's a hypothetical. We can talk hypothetical all we want, but it's a murky area that just doesn't exist. Let's move the philosophy of "what ifs", and look at reality.

It's not dogmatic adherence. You can think came to this conclusion because I was brainwashed or given a holy text to read? This is something that I actually have thought about. Freethinking is the process.

I do think that the prisoner, if found to be guilty, should be given a choice of death or imprisonment.

Regarding this quote here:

"You haven't given any support for how if the act of authorizing the death penalty is merely a self satisfying act, that the self satisfaction of denying the death penalty is either morally superior or in any way different. In fact, since you claim "morals are a subjective thing", good luck trying."

I agree in one respect, but in another I don't. I can't PROVE one position is morally superior than another, but I can claim it based on my own principles.

The only thing I could say is put yourself in the position of the person on death row, if it's at all possible. That whole empathy thing that we are also naturally inclined to be.

I know the revenge instinct is natural, but so is empathy - and from that flows things like mercy, forgiveness,etc. I know that sounds religious to some, but too bad. Faith-heads might think they have a monopoly on such words or own some words, but they can go screw themselves.

As for the hypocrite thing, let me clarify my position. It's a process of determining who is going to benefit or be harmed by a particular action. And ultimately, what is the goal??? And what else can be done to reach that same goal with minimum harm and maximum benefit.

I guess this whole conversation or topic should really be looked at in the light of actual events. That's the problem with shit when we start talking abstract - the hypothetical murder, or the hypothetical suitcase nuke, etc. You get these wishy-washy back and forth responses that are meaningless unless placed in everyday real life events. It's yet another distinction between freethinking and faith-heads adhering to and making their ancient creeds fit with real everyday experiences.

Red Expendable said...

A great example of real life events - regarding murder.

You guys know about the infamous "yogurt shop murders"?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogurt_Shop_Murders

Now read the latest...
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/071608dntexyogurtmurders.3ab7ac7.html

A great example. Now, what if they were executed? Will new evidence bring back the dead? Nope.

Will killing someone you "know" is a "100%" guilty, and "confesses" to the murder bring back those who were murdered? Nope.

It's a lose-lose situation when the state takes a life.

PhillyChief said...

Well as long as we're giving prisoner's choices, why not ask them if they'd want to be free or not, or if they have to be executed, whether they can choose how, like maybe by lethal ingestion of another goddamned beer.

100% proof is a red herring. Life and death decisions are made daily without 100% certainty.

Anyway, if morality is subjective, you can't simply invoke morality, you have to argue for your morals over another's. Exchanges like this are helpful for even so-called rationalists take some beliefs for granted, so it's good to be pressed and have to answer for them from time to time.

PhillyChief said...

Oops, I missed your last comment. Sorry.

The argument for whether you can bring the victim back from the dead is a non sequitur. The issue is over what to do with the convicted killer. I could just as easily say locking him up for the rest of his life wouldn't bring back the victim either, so what purpose would locking him up serve?

Try again.

Red Expendable said...

The purpose is to keep society safe from the murderer. Problem is, if the murderer really isn't the murderer, but we are 99% sure :) he/she is, and he/she is put to death. There is no turning back.

I would argue that once a life is taken - there is no coming back from that. Therefore it's an important consideration. Not only can you not bring the victim back, you can bring the person who was executed back from the dead either.

So there is yet ANOTHER reason why to not use the death penalty as a penalty.

It comes right back to revenge. That's all a death sentence is. Revenge.

So let's just admit that and we can move on, shall we? :)

Look, there has to be a reason for the state to take someone's life, right? Whether or not the reasons given are honest is a different story.

Let's take a look at them:

Revenge
Deterrence
Cost
Safety of the public


Any other's you guys can think of?

Imprisonment is a deterrence, it's also makes the public safer by removing the murderer from the streets. And, I would even go so far as to say that it's also a method of revenge. Maybe not extreme enough for some people though.

Cost - well, without doing the research - imprisonment would probably cost more than taking someone's life. I see more pros than cons when it comes to the above given goals.

PhillyChief said...

Revenge - You could argue a death sentence or a life sentence is revenge, since clearly there's no point to rehabilitation, which is what we all pretend prison is supposed to be for.

Deterrence - I'd say neither sufficiently deter

Cost - Score one for death penalty

Safety of the public - Well there's no possibility that a dead guy could escape and threaten society. Score for death penalty.

Error - Well you can't release a dead guy if he's later proven innocent. Score one for life imprisonment.

That's death sentence leading life sentence 2-1.

Today's match is brought to you by Another Goddamned Beer, because if you had to drink anything else for the rest of your life, you'd wish you were dead. Now back to the action...

John Evo said...

I hear humans taste like pork

For some reason, I find that incredibly intuitive.

Red Expendable said...

Revenge - You could argue a death sentence or a life sentence is revenge, since clearly there's no point to rehabilitation, which is what we all pretend prison is supposed to be for.

** Imprisonment as a revenge? Sure you could argue that, but who would. I think that it's alway put forward as a deterrence and for public safety. Which leads to...**

Deterrence - I'd say neither sufficiently deter

** We don't actually know who is deterred by the possibility of lifetime imprisonment or death sentence. How can we know this? Since we can't know if any one particular person would have been deterred from committing murder or not - I don't think a poll would help much, but maybe we should do one here. :) If either one is even a little bit of a deterrence, then we should try to determine by comparing different states, or maybe other countries to see if murder rates are lower or higher; comparing states and countries with and without the death penalty. If both are deterrents, we should try to figure out if the murder rates dramatically differ, if there isn't a big difference, I would say to error on the side of caution and go with lifetime imprisonment. **

Cost - Score one for death penalty

** OK fine. **

Safety of the public - Well there's no possibility that a dead guy could escape and threaten society. Score for death penalty.

** I'm not saying escape is impossible, but how common is it? The possibility of escape is not a good argument in my opinion. I could just as easily say that a person could get lifetime imprisonment and never escape. **

Error - Well you can't release a dead guy if he's later proven innocent. Score one for life imprisonment.

** Yay, we agree here. :) **

That's death sentence leading life sentence 2-1.

** Where is the referee? **

PhillyChief said...

"I'm not saying escape is impossible, but how common is it? The possibility of escape is not a good argument in my opinion."

Oh, so now you're using probability. I see. Then how probable would it be now with advanced forensics evidence like dna to convict the wrong person for a crime? If we're going to use probability, I could say your raising of the issue that if a mistake is made and the wrong person is executed, that we can't bring him back is not a good argument then because how common would that be? If you counter that even the possibility that one person could be wrongly executed, thus making execution wrong, then I'd say even the possibility that one person could escape and threaten society would make keeping a deadly killer alive wrong.

Your exuberance to rush into the fray continues to leave you exposed. You're quick to attack yet give little or no thought to defense, making you easy to outflank and even turn your own attack back on you. Settle down, grasshopper.


Now I'll give you another problem with life sentence over death sentence - criminal organizations. A criminal, especially one who leads other criminals like say in gangs or the mob, can still be a threat to society by orchestrating criminal activity from behind bars. That wouldn't be possible if he were dead. Score - death penalty.

So that's either 3-1 or 2-0 for death penalty, depending on whether you want to use probability or not.

Ordinary Girl said...

So that's either 3-1 or 2-0 for death penalty, depending on whether you want to use probability or not.

OK, I'll bite on this.

Your first point that the death penalty is cheaper is debatable. There are many arguments and studies that the death penalty costs more due to the legal recourse given to someone who is sentenced to death. I don't think you can claim this point.

As far as safety to the public, you could also argue that innocent people being put to death isn't safe for the public either. If you think about the numbers - how many people escape and commit crimes that harm other people versus how many people are put to death when they are innocent - it's probably low in both cases. You gave this category a wash (1-1) and so it's basically irrelevant to the point counting except to inflate both numbers.

Criminal organizations exist inside and outside of prison. You don't stop a criminal organization by executing someone, just as you don't stop it by imprisoning someone. Do you have any examples of crime organizations that have been eradicated because someone was executed versus someone who has been incarcerated? No one stepped in to take the over when the person was jailed or executed? Maybe criminal organizations have declined due to better police work or other factors. I don't think you have more than an emotional argument here.

So let's just reset the points to 0-0, shall we?

PhillyChief said...

Are you saying those with a death sentence have a greater legal recourse than those with a life sentence? Since both can appeal equally, legal expense should be equal.

"Do you have any examples of crime organizations that have been eradicated because someone was executed versus someone who has been incarcerated?"

Non sequitur. The issue was the threat of the convicted killer to society if kept alive, not the effectiveness to eradicate criminal organizations. If he is kept alive, then he can still pose a threat by using the criminal organization to carry out his plans.


The safety issue is either a wash or a score for death penalty depending on whether we include probability, but if we do, then Error becomes a wash as well, which is why I said the score was either 3-1 or 2-0, which it still seems to be.

Ordinary Girl said...

Are you saying those with a death sentence have a greater legal recourse than those with a life sentence? Since both can appeal equally, legal expense should be equal.

It's not a matter of whether it should be, but whether it is. If you're going to say, "Well, let's change this and this and make this perfect," then you're only arguing a suppose, not a reality. I don't see the courts changing just because you think they should.

Non sequitur. The issue was the threat of the convicted killer to society if kept alive, not the effectiveness to eradicate criminal organizations. If he is kept alive, then he can still pose a threat by using the criminal organization to carry out his plans.

Now that's just silly. You're throwing all criminals in the same bucket now and stereotyping them just because 1%? 5%? of death row prisoners are part of a criminal organization. Should we also ban Muslims from air travel because one of them might try to hijack it? It's happened in the past and it's a threat to our security.

PhillyChief said...

So what, if you can prove you have no mob or gang ties, or any friends or family, then it would be safe to give you a life sentence but if you can't, death for you? Now THAT is silly, and what do muslims have to do with this?


I don't understand your first point. Are you saying those sentenced to the death penalty have more rights to appeal their sentence than those sentenced to life? Where's the AGP official legal analyst SI? Can we get some insight on this?

Ordinary Girl said...

So what, if you can prove you have no mob or gang ties, or any friends or family, then it would be safe to give you a life sentence but if you can't, death for you?

You are twisting my words. I'm saying it's not fair to make a generalization about a group of people and base policy on it.

and what do muslims have to do with this?

That was an example (you know what those are right?) of a policy decision based on generalizations that would be bad.

Are you saying those sentenced to the death penalty have more rights to appeal their sentence than those sentenced to life?

I'm saying it's more expensive because the burden of proof that the prosecutors must present is larger in capital cases. You can research this on the web. Cornell used to have a great website on it, but most of the links are down. I did find this article, which I thought was well-written, but you may disagree with the contents.

PhillyChief said...

The DPIC is an organization that cloaks its anti-death penalty position under a claim of being “a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment.” I would consider any of their facts and figures dubious and contrived. I'm sure their arguments are well written of course, just as I'm sure they all dress well, smell nice and love their mothers/ None of that has any bearing on the truth, which can be quite ugly but we still have to accept, warts and all.

"You are twisting my words."

No, you're not staying on point, or you're failing to say what you mean. I'm not psychic, so I can't know which is happening. For SOME reason known only to you, you chose to dispute the possibility of an imprisoned felon being able to continue to threaten society through others on the outside by asking "Do you have any examples of crime organizations that have been eradicated because someone was executed versus someone who has been incarcerated?" Huh?

Any imprisoned man can give orders, ask favors, or somehow work deals with others on the outside now or who will eventually be on the outside to cause some sort of harm to society. That's the point. I gave gang and mob leaders as an example of how this could happen, but that's just one possibility.

Ordinary Girl said...

I would consider any of their facts and figures dubious and contrived. I'm sure their arguments are well written of course, just as I'm sure they all dress well, smell nice and love their mothers/ None of that has any bearing on the truth, which can be quite ugly but we still have to accept, warts and all.

And you haven't even tried to offer any sources to the contrary, so as I said, I don't think you can claim to say that it costs less to incarcerate someone for life. It's fine if you don't want to accept my research, but you have to offer some of your own to get make your argument valid. It's not so because you say it is so.

No, you're not staying on point, or you're failing to say what you mean. I'm not psychic, so I can't know which is happening. For SOME reason known only to you, you chose to dispute the possibility of an imprisoned felon being able to continue to threaten society...

No, I'm saying to assume that every criminal is a member of an organized crime group is wrong. I'm saying this is a rare occurrence and has no bearing on whether the death penalty is a good thing or not. I'm saying in a different situation you wouldn't make the same bland generalization about other people, so why would you make it here? It's not a valid argument to say that some criminals server life sentences might or might not participate in organized crime that might or might not harm someone so they all deserve the death penalty. That's prosecuting everyone, without evidence that each individual is guilty. I find that a flawed argument.

Any imprisoned man can give orders, ask favors, or somehow work deals with others on the outside now or who will eventually be on the outside to cause some sort of harm to society.

Yes, he *could*, but I didn't think we put people to death in this country based on something they *could* do. I thought you had to actually prove guilt. You seem to think that it's OK to assume that all criminals *could* do this thing so they all deserve the same punishment.

PhillyChief said...

So you're agreeing that if a convicted felon could threaten society through others on the outside, then they would be suitable candidates for the death penalty?

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I don't understand your first point. Are you saying those sentenced to the death penalty have more rights to appeal their sentence than those sentenced to life? Where's the AGP official legal analyst SI? Can we get some insight on this?

I have not been following this too closely, but I think what you are asking is why death penalty cases are so costly. I'm not sure about other states, but in PA I believe that if a defendant is sentenced to death, an automatic review is filed before the Appellate Courts. This is required by law, and I think many, most or all or the other states do the same thing, because of Supreme Court rulings on the death penalty. The State usually picks up the tab, because by that time the defendant is probably out of funds. Also, most of the time he/she is indigent in the first place. The appeal process can take years. Like 10 years.

With a life sentence, it's up the the defendant whether he appeals. There is no automatic appeal, and the state is less involved.He may still be eligible for a free public defender, but since the stakes are not as high, there are fewer organizations that get involved, and less money expended on the process.

Or something like that. I'm not a criminal attorney.

PhillyChief said...

" The State usually picks up the tab, because by that time the defendant is probably out of funds. Also, most of the time he/she is indigent in the first place."

Surely this would be true of both convicted criminals, not just one, right?

So an inequity in the system which can make death sentence appeals more costly than life sentence appeals is the justification for having life sentences instead of death sentences because they're less costly? That's some darn good logic there.

Thanks for the legal clarification, SI

Ordinary Girl said...

So you're agreeing that if a convicted felon could threaten society through others on the outside, then they would be suitable candidates for the death penalty?

If a convicted felon did threaten society, as in cause more harm, then that felon needs to be removed from society. I think there are other ways to remove them other than death.

And I'm not the one who brought up cost as an argument for the death penalty. You did. I just pointed out that it wasn't a valid argument.

I know you don't think this is so, but I bet you that most people would choose life imprisonment rather than death. I don't think everyone would, and I know you wouldn't, I probably wouldn't either, but I bet you most people would choose to live in prison for life. <-- That's not a valid argument for or against, nor do I have anything to back that. It's just a personal observation. So, I'll give you a refute on that, if you don't accept it.

PhillyChief said...

Red brought up cost, not me.