Kill The Death Penalty

This post is an expansion of a comment in a thread way down below.  Partly because my monkeying with my code this morning put a crimp in my morning blogging schedule.  Partly because the subject deserves it.

I oppose the death penalty, not because I break with most conservatives on the issue, but  because I am a conservative.

Stay with me on this one.

Conservatism is about upholding time-honored truths.

One of those truths is that the individual – one of the “Free Association of Equals” that our society is supposed to be, in the conservative view of things – is of supreme importance, and should be protected from the excesses of government. It’s why we conservative natter on about things like the Tenth Amendment – because we uphold the worth of the individual; there are some things that, to protect the individual, the government should just stay out of.

This directly contradicts the notion that individuals are “eggs” to be broken in the interest of the state’s convenience to make a social “omelet”. Frequent liberal commenter “RickDFL”’s left a remark in the comment section yesterday, that actually sent me looking for a remark about eggs and omelets that I coulda sworn Lenin or Stalin or Mao or Hitler made. No dice – the closest I got was Stalin’s “one death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” – but Rick (I puke in my mouth a little bit in writing this) is right; it’s something one of them would say.

Conservatives do believe that the pursuit of good requires sacrifice; the Americans who died at Omaha Beach and Gettysburg and Chosin Reservoir were also of incalculable value, and they did nothing to deserve what happened except serving their country, and their loss was a tragedy for all of us. But they died (most of us believe) for a greater good, in a time and a place and for a cause for which there was no alternative, and which helped bring immense good as a result.

Killing an innocent person to “deter” the guilty? It brings no good (the guilty party goes free forever!) (I mean, what DA is going to say “oops – killed the wrong guy the first time! Let’s try this again!”), there is an alternative, and, lest we forget, it kills an individual who did no wrong – which is exactly who this society is supposed to protect.

And it echoes Andrea Dworkin (or Catherine McKinnon?  Jeff Fecke?  I get confused) who said it’d be “good” if men got falsely imprisoned for rape, to make all the real rapists a little more afraid. It’s an idea straight out of the worst of the French Revolution (which had no problem executing the innocent “pour l’encourager les autres“), carried on via Stalin and Hitler and Mao and Pol Pot.

Hypothetically, if the system could be “perfected”, would I support it? Sure. But that’s another tenet of conservatism; mankind can never be perfected; the hypothetical is pointless. And to a conservative, protecting people from the problems that human imperfection brings to government drives what government is supposed to do – including impelling government to back out of big parts of our society.

So since…

  1. Mankind – including prosecutors and the police – can never be perfected, and…
  2. these imperfections kill the innocent, and…
  3.  killing the innocent is immeasurably evil, and…
  4.  since a foolproof alternative exists that surely and swiftly punishes the guilty (remember – life in supermax without parole begins at sentencing; death takes an average of 12 years) while protecting the innocent, and…
  5. protecting the innocent is one of society’s supreme goods, then…

…abolishing the death penalty is supremely conservative.

To me, the logic of my stance depends on the five interconnected points above – all drawn from orthodox conservative beliefs to a finely-polished “t”.  If you want to disagree, by all means do it in the comment section.  But if you can’t successfully attack that five-point chain of logic, I’m not sure you’ll get a lot of traction with me.

62 thoughts on “Kill The Death Penalty

  1. Duplicate posts bursting with verbiage.

    To be fair, one of her posts got hung up in the moderation queue.

  2. I thought so, but since posts were actually different (ok, shoot me for using the word “duplicate”) I wouldn’t put it past DG to post things twice just to see more of his words in print.

  3. justplainangry Says:

    October 24th, 2009 at 9:56 am
    I thought so, but since posts were actually different (ok, shoot me for using the word “duplicate”) I wouldn’t put it past DG to post things twice just to see more of his words in print.

    HER words, not his – I’m female, justplaincrabby.l

    And for some reason, as Mitch can verify, I’ve been having chronic problems with posts appearing, disappearing, and then sometimes reappearing, sometimes not.

  4. Personally, I’m a bit disappointed. When presented with a very clear example of Richard Ramirez, a multiple murderer who snuck into people’s homes and slew them in their sleep, and after being caught proudly gave the glory to Satan, Mitch asks if I would “trade life in supermax for Ramirez to save an innocent person”.
    Is there ever a clear moral imperitive for the death penalty?

  5. Can you point to a SINGLE word you wrote when Rush’s bogus quote was plastered on all MSM outlets?

    SitD wouldn’t be where I would be writing that, but yes, I would be just as delighted to exonerate Rush from being wrongfully quoted.

  6. Kerm,

    Of course I think Ramirez deserves death. Or worse.

    But he’s one of the easy cases. And since we at present have no laws differentiating punishment between people found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and people found triple-dog-guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt, his example is both infurating and irrelevant. If all death penalty cases were easy and clear cut, I’d have little problem with the death penalty.

    But it’s the gray area cases that make this difficult. And remember – death penalty cases are arguably MORE prone to error than non-capital cases; they are hyper-emotional, they frequently rely on circumstantial rather than physical evidence, and they are fraught with politics.

    I can tell you what I’d do to Ramirez, Bundy, Rodriguez, Manson and McVeigh all day long. Those cases are pretty obvious. It’s the other cases – the 244 that’ve been shown to be utterly in error after having been found “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”. – that take the actual thinking here.

  7. Mitch:

    Reconsider.”The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”

    “Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock”

    “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”

    16 recent deterrence studies, inclusive of their defenses

    The 130 (now 135) death row “innocents” scam

    “The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents”–death-penalty-opponents–draft.aspx

    “Cost Savings: The Death Penalty”

    Duke (North Carolina) Death Penalty Cost Study: Let’s be honest

  8. Well make up your mind. First you asy “Kill the death penalty” then you say “Of course I think Ramirez deserves death. Or worse.”
    So which is it? You have to take a singular stand.

  9. I already did. Several times. Read the rest of the same comment from which you took my Ramirez comment out of context!

  10. on the one hand, we have the Carr brothers here in Kansas. Wouldnt bother me a bit if they were executed. Tough to find any repeat offenders among the executed. On the other hand, how many Corey Mayes are there out there? Err on the side of caution.

  11. “one out of every 25 or 30”

    Have you lost your mind berg? Do you seriously think you have a 1 in 25 chance of being put to death for a crime you didn’t commit? You must think you have a golden horseshoe… to beat those kind of odd for so many years!

    As to your repetitive question you keep repeating:
    Yes, we should do as much as we can to make sure the innocent are not put to death, but without capital punishment Jesus would not have died for our sins.

    Please see bubbasan and Jimf comments. Spot On! Excellent points. (I would only dilute their points by paraphrasing.)

    …. …. ….

    “out of fear of scathing Foot ripostes”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    The fearful bite of the burbot. Ouch. Ha ha ha ha ha

    …. …. ….

    Trust me here; *that* is not a road you’re equipped to go down my friend!”

    The fact remains that you are too chicken to face those odds, if I may paraphrase what you and the burbot foot said above. Heh heh heh

    *fade to scene…Dirty Harry*
    At the odds of 1 in 1 billion, you have to ask yourself do I feel unlucky? Well, do ya, punk? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    No, swiftee, 1 in a billion is NOT like lookin down the barrel of a .44. Lighten up and don’t be so afraid of the death penalty.

    Again, with the odds of about 1 in 1 billion for an innocent person being put to death, I’ll take my chances.

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