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Laurens Rademakers

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The death penalty is unjustifiable

Over the past decades, the death penalty was abolished in most civilized countries. This has had no effect on murder rates (on the contrary, they keep dropping). Only some primitive societies still use that most heinous of crimes, which is the death penalty: barbaric states like those of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or China. They still hang, cut off heads, poison, shoot or butcher convicts. What's bizarre is that the U.S. is amongst those countries.

There is no justification for the death penalty. The death penalty is murder, plain and simple.

-There is no moral justification for murdering a murderer (if you think there is, please state which one).
-There is no legal justification for murdering a murderer (if you think there is, please state which one).
-There is no social justification for murdering a murderer (if you think there is, please state which one).
-There is no religious justification for murdering a murderer (if you think there is, please state which one).

Like all civilized countries, the U.S. should abolish the death penalty and get along with the age of Enlightenment.

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    Jul 27 2011: As often happens in TED conversations, this one is having trouble staying on point!

    We are debating capital punishment!
    In my opinion it is morally/ethically unjustifiable - but this is only half my stance on the subject of what is and is not justifiable punishment for the worst of the worst murderers of human beings. I believe the punishment for such crimes should be nothing less than 1) mandatory life in prison, 2) solitary confinement, 3) provision of only the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter 4) minimal use of material pleasures.

    This to me would be just punishment. Agree or diagree?
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      Jul 27 2011: Agree, Jim.

      I'd add the murderers hard labors should be directly confined to focusing on meeting the needs of other humans. Their punishment should be constructive to humanity which embody the society from whom murders steal lives.

      This constructive justice should not be confused with restorative attempts to atone or amend the loss they perpetrated Nor should it be confused for paying back society for economic costs of their adjudication and incarceration, such as by manufacturing license plates.

      Murder is quite literally the destruction of a human. Humanity, then, is what should benefit most. Not via abstract government pass-throughs or economic pay-offs, but by concrete and direct means that uplift humans and articulate clearly humanitarian outcomes.

      As a bonus, healing might occur for both offender and offended. But this goal must for the course of the murderers existence be secondary to constructive labors for humanity.

      Andrea
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        Jul 27 2011: Yes, "constructive justice" first and foremost. For the victims of such crimes the tragedy must be unspeakable and so our response must always keep that in mind while still staying true to our societal values (you don't kill someone for killing someone).

        I love your thinking about the destruction of humanity and the obligation we have to, in some small way, make the time spent in prison be spent paying back through work that benefits the very society they so grieviously violated. Again, these are cold-blooded murderers.

        Your thought, too, about what healing might occur for both the victim and the offender rings true. This to me would be the ethical, moral response to first degree murder.

        Thanks for your thoughts!
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          Jul 29 2011: Jim,

          This exchange we've had has been much on my mind as I think about the murders which happened in Norway.

          And a colleague who has been/is deeply involved in human rights work in Olso. His group has been working with the UN to help change global constitutions, including Norways) to separate church from state, due to concerns countries might (and do) turn on their own and punish people who do not adhere to national religious doctrine.

          The Norway assassin was a Christian fundamentalist who justified his actions as necessary to protect Norway from Islam. It appears he may connected with US groups like the Tea Party, that have fringe elements who share his beliefs.

          And this echoes the assassination of a little girl, grandma and others during the shooting spree at Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords town hall meeting this past January.

          What is haunting me is how I can support my colleague as he works with others to address this atrocity.

          What do they do going forward? How do they (and us) address those to destruct the humanity of ideals-based groups in our Western culture?

          Andrea
  • Jul 23 2011: I have long been torn on subject of the death penalty. Here in the United Kingdom we don't have the death penalty having abolished it around fifty years ago. It is very difficult to ignore the emotional aspect of the need for retribution, particulary when you may have been the victim of a particularly horrid crime. It is not the victim that decided the punishment and, therefore, surely emotion should be vacant from the courtroom where this should really be dealt with.

    Socially and morally, there is a very strong and convinving argument against the death penalty. I find it very difficult for anyone to put a cogent argument to the alternative. Many try and fail but I don't think that the death penalty should be immediately dismissed as it is in contemporary Europe. Despite this and also despite Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights holding the right to life as paramount requiring all member states to abide, Belarus and Russia still maintain within their domestic law the death penalty. Just last year, someone was executed in Belarus with a single gunshot wound to the head as the states chosen method.

    I won't and couldn't put together an argument convincing enough for the death penalty to be introduced into the UK whereas I could highlight many reasons why it should remain abolished. Despite this admission, if someone where to murder, rape, cause grievous bodily harm or maim a member of my immediate or even extended family then I would do everything in my power to see their life ended. Imprisonment is simply not enough. Can you not at least agree with that last point Laurens?

    This topic always frustrates me when I think about it. I have sympathy with both sides but having read Law at University, my very nature would urge me to campaign for the continued abolition of any death penalty. That is my duty as a contemporary citizen and moral member of society. Conversely however, my human instinct cannot abide severe criminality going aptly unpunished.
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      Jul 24 2011: QUOTE: "...if someone where to murder, rape, cause grievous bodily harm or maim a member of my immediate or even extended family then I would do everything in my power to see their life ended. Imprisonment is simply not enough. Can you not at least agree with that last point ...?"

      This point is indisputable. If that is how you feel, that is how you feel.

      I would argue that, should the situation present itself, you might find yourself mediating your emotional impulses and embrace those more deeply held beliefs you have expressed regarding life and the application of capital punishment.

      The "emotion" I do not think is in question. For example, I feel the same outrage, I am sure, others feel, when we hear about a particularly heinous crime - like the one in Norway, for example. I simply choose not to use such emotions as the criteria by which I make my decisions.

      Taking a stand against capital punishment does not mean we "feel good" about the crimes that some purport warrant the death penalty.

      I salute your "frustration!" ... It is on such struggles, overcome, that civilization is built.
    • Jul 24 2011: I feel like the perfect place for my contribution was following Anthony and Thomas. If someone was to commit one of the crimes Anthony described in his post against one of my family I would be ecstatic to see their life ended. At least I would not have to wonder if they would every put someone else through what I had to go through. People make choices, people make decisions and they should have to deal with the ultimate consequences of their actions. Choosing to not use “such” emotions Thomas comes across as a little robotic. We are beings filled with emotion and to deny such emotion is to turn away from our very beings. It is even easier to justify the death penalty if you refrain from emotion as it disenfranchises the sanctity of life.

      People love to bring up “an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind”. Extrapolating upon the above, people are essentially trying say that if it was a life for a life we would all be dead. Which would only hold true if we decided to either A) murder each other in such a fashion that through retribution we all ended up dead or B) if we all committed crimes worthy of the death penalty offed each other. The saying is a nice generalization but has little real world application.

      I believe that the death penalty is not only justifiable but I would love it if it was reinstated in Canada. I think that some crimes are so heinous that the participants in the crime should be abolished from this world. Murderers, rapists and pedophiles should simply be erased if there is even a 1% chance that they will ever reoffend. Society needs to simply wash its hands of some individuals and move on. It is lovely to discuss the death penalty for a philosophical perspective but the reality is that something needs to be done to prevent people from reoffending and to stop the cycle of criminal heritage that often occurs.
    • Jul 24 2011: While you may argue that the above sentiment is inhumane or callous or ultimately unjustifiable, it is necessary given the current state of the world. The inability of the legal and prison systems to operate efficiently or at all sometimes is a completely different matter beyond the scope of my argument. If the prison systems actually rehabilitated people then my feelings about the death penalty could possibly be swayed. Unfortunately, the prison system in Canada has an abysmal track record of rehabilitation. I have never understood how locking up someone up with a bunch of other villains for a decade would result in them being magically rehabilitated.

      If we cannot rehabilitate and reintegrate criminals back into society then they should not be released and there is little point in keeping them locked in solitude forever. I would argue that a swift execution in many cases is more humane than eternal confinement. Currently the rate at which we execute people is inhumane. Justice should be swift and with cause.

      I believe that as a Society we have set standards via laws in terms of what we expect of citizens. Failure to conform to these standards for the greater good of the whole should result in permanent removal from society. If you would like to save all this deviants Lauren then perhaps we could all just send them to your Belgium. Perhaps you could petition Yves Leterme for such.
    • Jul 24 2011: Furthermore, I love how you brought up the “barbaric states” and their uncivilized methods of execution before slipping in the United States in a sentence behind Lauren. As far as I know the United States doesn’t cut off heads, poison or butcher convicts. An uniformed reader could easily assume that the United States still practices such methods of execution.

      The justification of the death penalty is that it is for the greater good. It is the ultimate preventative step to prevent further murder and heinous crimes from possibly being committed. Ideally it would be nice if all crime could be prevented in the first place but we just aren’t that civilized yet. Call me primitive but I believe that at least for now, a bullet to the back of the head will have to do cases.
    • Jul 24 2011: Please forgive me for the numerous grammatical and spelling errors I made. I was typing and submitting at such a rapid pace that quite a few errors slipped through.
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        Jul 24 2011: Hi Andrew,

        There are several points in your posts I could single out - like the relationship between incarceration and recidivism, the effect of capital punishment on crime rates and so on - but I think the main point is you think YOUR value system is comprehensive and inclusive enough to form the foundation of an ethical system that reflects the society within which you live, i. e. "The justification of the death penalty is that it is for the greater good."

        Whose greater good? Yours? Mine? Society's?

        Well, I would disagree with you. I do not think executing people contributes to the "greater good." I do think it satisfies a certain base emotional need for retribution that many of us have. And I don't think it is an attribute of an advanced society.

        You do not have to agree with me.

        You may have noticed, I live in China. What you espouse, matches very closely, what actually happens here. Perhaps you would like it if the rest of the world adopted the Chinese system of justice?

        Many death penalty adherents, I have noticed, seem to miss this point: The reasons they offer for their position are essentially the same reasons most who have come before them have offered as justification for their particular forms of justice. We typically find our predecessors' "justice" and their reasoning to be deficient.

        Of course, the big difference is: That was them; and this is us. Seriously.

        What we think "makes sense" to us. It is ours. We find it almost impossible to accept that there might be any flaws in OUR reasoning.

        That adherents work so hard to justify capital punishment is quite telling.

        I trust you will notice I provide almost no reasons for my position. I simply state I find life to be of the utmost value and under no circumstance do I condone killing. I do not need to rationalize or defend my position. Nor do I need anyone else to share my opinion. It is enough (for me) that I do.

        I feel no need to change anyone else's mind - even if I do disagree with them.
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          Jul 30 2011: Hello Thomas, correct me if I am wrong but in your conviction I sense a core of peace. Can you tell us perhaps a little about how your experiences have brought you to your insights.
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        Jul 24 2011: PS I miss Vancouver (my hometown.) How's the weather?
        • Jul 24 2011: The weather in town has been quite lousy most of the summer. In fact, some days it feels like summer never came at all. How is the weather in your neck of the woods?

          I would not suggest that the rest of the world adopt the Chinese system of justice but I do believe that the death penalty in some situations is justifiable.The Chinese justice system is plagued by many other problems that are beyond the scope of this debate. I would define the greater good as what is good for the majority. Not mine, or yours or the governments but what is actually better for society as a whole.
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        Jul 24 2011: QUOTE: "How is the weather in your neck of the woods?"

        Pretty good. Taiyuan's weather is similar to Vancouver's except it gets colder in winter and hotter in summer. This year has not been so hot (which is good.) However, the air here is not very clean.

        QUOTE: "I would not suggest that the rest of the world adopt the Chinese system of justice ... "

        Nor would I.

        QUOTE: "... but I do believe that the death penalty in some situations is justifiable."

        Yes, you have made that very clear.


        QUOTE: "The Chinese justice system is plagued by many other problems that are beyond the scope of this debate."

        I agree. And I think most, perhaps all, justice systems are plagued with problems.

        QUOTE: "I would define the greater good as what is good for the majority. Not mine, or yours or the governments but what is actually better for society as a whole."

        Here, we are not in agreement. I would define the greater good as simply that which is good. Not as that which is good for "the majority," or good only for a sub-group within a culture.

        You can see the problem - the majority might "inflict" their values on an unwilling minority. What if 51% of the population decided something you did not want to do (or have done) was "good?"

        I think we all know what "good" is. But I believe many of us think, that under certain circumstances, it is acceptable to abandon good. The reasons are endless: justice, vengeance, pre-emptive retaliation (there's a good one!), religious doctrine, social cohesion, etc., etc.

        For me, the challenge is to "do good" when everything else is saying "do harm."

        There's a reason the "Golden Rule" is almost universally held. (I will post a collection of its various iterations in another window to convey the point.)

        There's a reason many of the people who are central to our development as societies (whether they were "real" people or "imagined") espouse compassion, and acceptance, and reject killing (for any reason.) Think Buddha, Christ, Gandhi, MLK, etc.
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        Jul 24 2011: I am sure you can find other examples. (If you do, please send them to me.)

        The Golden Rule
        Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

        Hinduism/Brahmanism
        This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do not unto others what would cause you pain if done to you.

        Buddhism
        A state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?
        Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

        Christianity
        So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

        Confucianism
        Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.
        Tse-kung asked, “Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?” Confucius replied, “It is the word ‘shu’ – reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”

        Humanism
        Don’t do things you wouldn’t want have done to you.

        Islam
        None of you believes until he wishes for is brother what he wishes for himself

        Jainism
        A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.

        Judaism
        What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.

        Ancient Roman Religion
        The law imprinted on the hearts of all people is to love members of society as themselves.

        (Continued)
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        Jul 24 2011: (Continued)


        Sufism
        The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others.

        Taoism
        Regard your neighbours gain as your own gain, and your neighbours loss as your own loss.

        The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interest of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.

        Philosophy
        What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others. – Epictetus
        Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law. – Kant
        May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me. – Plato
        Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you. – Socrates
        Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors. – Seneca
        Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him. – Pittacus
        Avoid doing what you blame others for doing. – Thales
        What you wish your neighbours to be to you, such be also to them. – Sextus
        Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others. – Isocrates

        Management
        So the best managers reject the Golden Rule. Instead, they say, treat each person as he would like to be treated, bearing in mind who he is. – Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
        • Jul 24 2011: I appreciate the effort you put into compiling the above list of quotes and references. I believe that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Moreover, if I callously murdered, raped or committed pedophilia then I would hold no ill will against society if someone wiped me off the face of the earth. I hope that someone would have the decency to right a wrong.

          I also think sometimes that this issue has less to do with doing good as opposed to defeating evil.

          "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
          Martin Luther King, Jr.
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          Jul 25 2011: Let's get this debate out of the classroom and into reality.

          The issue here is justifiable punishment for heinous murder. Here is what I think is justifiable punishment:

          1. Solitary confinement for their remaining years on earth
          2. Removal of all material pleasures for their remaining years on earth
          3. Minimal provision of basic needs for their remaining years on earth
          4. Hard labor for their remaining years on earth
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        Jul 25 2011: Hi Andrew,

        Thanks.

        The list was fairly easy to compile. A lot of it came from Wikipedia. All I did was look for it.

        I put it together as reference material for a training I do in China.

        I do add material to it as I come across new references.

        QUOTE: "... I would hold no ill will against society if someone wiped me off the face of the earth*. I hope that someone would have the decency to right a wrong.

        We cannot "right" a "wrong." And I do not think killing is "decent." I accept that you do.

        QUOTE: I also think sometimes that this issue has less to do with doing good as opposed to defeating evil.

        One cannot defeat "evil." Evil does not exist. Evil is the absence of good. One "defeats" evil by being good. Much the way darkness cannot be defeated. Darkness is the absence of light. We do not defeat darkness by destroying it; we defeat darkness by providing light.

        QUOTE: "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
        Martin Luther King, Jr.

        "He who accepts evil without protesting against it ..."

        Protesting against it.

        Protesting against it; not "killing it."

        ---------------------
        * You say that coming from the sense of certainty that you will never find yourself in such a situation. If you did find yourself in such a situation, you would (very likely) change your opinion.

        Do not underestimate the mind's capacity to rationalize ANY belief. It is truly amazing.
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        Jul 27 2011: QUOTE: "Let's get this debate out of the classroom and into reality. ...The issue here is justifiable punishment for heinous murder..."

        QUOTE: "As often happens in TED conversations, this one is having trouble staying on point!"

        TOPIC: "The death penalty is unjustifiable"

        QUOTE: "In my opinion it is morally/ethically unjustifiable - but this is only half my stance on the subject..."
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    Jul 23 2011: Here is a list of the countries that still have the death penalty:

    Afghanistan
    Antigua and Barbuda
    Bahamas
    Bahrain
    Bangladesh
    Barbados
    Belarus
    Belize
    Botswana
    Burundi
    Cameroon
    Chad
    China (People's Republic)
    Comoros
    Congo (Democratic Republic)
    Cuba
    Dominica
    Egypt
    Equatorial Guinea
    Eritrea
    Ethiopia
    Gabon
    Ghana
    Guatemala
    Guinea
    Guyana
    India
    Indonesia
    Iran
    Iraq
    Jamaica
    Japan
    Jordan
    Korea, North
    Korea, South
    Kuwait
    Laos
    Lebanon
    Lesotho
    Libya
    Malawi
    Malaysia
    Mongolia
    Nigeria
    Oman
    Pakistan
    Palestinian Authority
    Qatar
    St. Kitts and Nevis
    St. Lucia
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    Saudi Arabia
    Sierra Leone
    Singapore
    Somalia
    Sudan
    Swaziland
    Syria
    Taiwan
    Tajikistan
    Tanzania
    Thailand
    Trinidad and Tobago
    Uganda
    United Arab Emirates
    United States
    Vietnam
    Yemen
    Zambia
    Zimbabwe


    Read more: The Death Penalty Worldwide — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html#ixzz1Sw0wbN9j
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      Jul 25 2011: Hi Thomas!

      A question to you, what do you think should be done with people that break the law?

      First conceptually: punish, reeducation, etc.
      Second practically: prison, community service, etc.

      Regards!

      JB
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        Jul 25 2011: Hi Julian,

        That is a MUCH more difficult question than "is the death penalty justifiable or not?"

        I am not a fan of "laws." I much prefer the conscious application of compassion on a case-by-case basis.

        I do not support punishment nor do I think it is very effective. And I find the ideas of vengeance and retribution to be ... uncivilized.

        Reeducation? That's a good idea but not only for "criminals" for all of us.

        I accept there are certain people who are incorrigible and I think isolating society from them is a good idea. How that is accomplished is an interesting challenge.

        The British shipped their "undesirables" to Australia and that worked out okay. An Aussie just won the Tour de France!

        Institutionalizing our social interactions depersonalizes them. For example, when we have "laws" by which we evaluate and direct our relationship with other people, we are stripped of the very challenging need of having to deal directly with one another and with our own strengths and weaknesses.

        Our institutions might appear to make it easier (of more effective) to deal with difficult situations but, in effect, they lock us into a developmental stage that we might grow out of if we had to "deal with things ourselves."

        .... Gotta go. Bye for now.
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        Jul 31 2011: Hello Julian. Great question.

        My position as influenced by my life experience:

        There is a time to punish as there is a time to kill (NOT MURDER). For something to live something else must die. Thats just how it is.

        I think that it is most important to be as objective as possible in defining what the pro and con of each execution portends for our maturing civilization as a whole but good luck with that.

        Someone I once worked with said "All men are equal, just not at the same time".

        Every life should be weighed in relation to (among other things) its benefit or potential for contributing to the longevity of an evolving universal awareness.

        Some of those 'other things" begs the question is the individual open to change? Or more importantly(?) Will society evolve to embrace the ideas of an individual whose reasoning may hold the answer to potentially mortal social issues.

        Sorry if this is disjointed. My post is less an affirmation of truth than an exploration of ideas.

        I must admit I feel sick just thinking about it... not completely sure why...
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    Jul 19 2011: I don't know about you, but if I had to choose between paying money out of my OWN pocket to let a murderer stay alive, get fed free food, get comfortable living conditions, and not have to pay taxes ever again and letting them recieve the same fate that they have caused at LEAST one other human being then by all means I would choose the latter no questions asked. If someone has the ability to end anothers life, especially if the other victim was innocent of doing anything in the first place, then I think they should deserve the same fate.

    Let me ask you Mr. Rademakers, do you have children? a Wife? any loved ones at all?

    If someone were to murderer one of your innocent children, would you happily let the person reponsible live safely in a jail cell and get fed food that YOU are paying for? If you can say yes to that question then I think you need to question the fortitude of your own morality.
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        Jul 19 2011: I agree, there are problems with the legal system, but hopefully they can be worked out soon.
        • Jul 23 2011: Sadly, I do not encourage the losing of one's life but I have to agree with you on such terms. Very well spoken of. Anyways, according to a few articles in which I have recently came by, isn't death penalty these days are 'painless' and more humane as human rights is still effective as long as the criminal is still alive? But of course, should a person ever commit murder (first time), he/she deserves a chance (people can change). But if the murder is committed more than once, I do agree for death penalty.
        • Jul 23 2011: But of course, I was quite in denial (no doubt it is true) that money matters were brought into the terms of one's life.
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      Jul 20 2011: .
      Matt, I'm sorry, but I think you have completely lost your mind. You actually prefer to murder someone, because not murdering him is too expensive?

      This must be the summum of utilitarianism.
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        Jul 20 2011: Matt has not lost his mind, Laurens. He is simply a young American male. The belief he espouses is widespread in the United States and there is no reason to think he would be immune to such a dominant cultural influence. Retribution is a valued ethos. Compassion is seen as weakness.
      • Jul 20 2011: Laruens your points are critical. In the wake of 9/11 we have so many countries using so called 'counter terrorism' techniques and uses of torture liberally. Just now David Cameron visited Nigeria's head about terrorism. I'm sorry but Nigeriia liberally uses torture against political dissidents. Professor Bhullar was a political dissident in India and now faces execution. The question of state terrorism and how it is used to terrorise dissenters is critical as is the use of torture. Professor Bhullar faces execution in India despite there being insufficient evidence on him. In a so called democracy the judges are swayed to politics. Therefore I can only say that in this case it is a terrible miscarriage of justice and the death penalty is being used barbarically.
        In India it is supposed to be used in the rarest of cases.
        Yet despite insufificient evidence the death penalt is being used as a weapon of war.
        In the US there are political dissidents, like Native Indian 'leaders,' aswell as most people being from poor backgrounds unable to represent their socalled crimes like OJ Simpson.
        We must think about the fact that most people in their lifetime in most countries WILL not get fair enough trials minus torture and therefore the death penalty is inappropriate aside from immoral.
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        Jul 20 2011: Laurens, you have yet to address my questions.. I did not mean them to be theoretical.If you can truely say that you would happily send a murderer to prison for their life rather than let them face the fate they knowingly chose to impose on another then I would say that you are disrespecting millions of families and loved ones of those victims around the world. You must put yourselves in the shoes of another and try to even come close to feel what they must feel. The thought that the murderer of their loved one still being not only alive, but happily taken care of in prison is a disheartening feeling. These murderers have taken the role of God into their own hands when no man should have that ability. Even though the government and justice system is by far no God as well, it is our responsibility to keep the innocent safe and there are times when it is necessary to end ones life who has done the same to others.
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          Jul 20 2011: Hi Matt,

          Just so you know - I have no intention of changing your mind.

          Having said that, I would like to point out that your response is primarily emotional and, while many people would have the same emotional response you do, there are many others who would not. Including people who have "first hand" experience with the subject.

          That is, there are many people who have actually had family members killed and who do not want the murderer to be executed.

          For example, some of Mark Stroman, the 9/11 revenge killer's victims do not want him put to death. One, a survivor who was shot in the face (with a shotgun I believe,) has campaigned to have Stroman's sentence commuted.

          This sentiment is more common than you might think.

          The two nations I have lived in that have a broad base of support for capital punishment are the United States and China. Of the two, America is by far the most strident.

          Many of the other places I have lived (or visited) have much less acceptance of the practice. Some find it abhorrent.

          Human life is precious (if you have a religious bent, you could say it is sacred.) All human life. Even murderers*.

          I do not support the death penalty.

          And nothing you, or anyone else can say will make me change my mind.

          I suspect you feel the same way.

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

          * I actually know many people who are murderers. (I used to do volunteer work in prisons) and they are, for the most part, really nice people. Do you know any?
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        Jul 20 2011: Thomas, it is not that I want the person to just die and that be the end of it. I just would choose that over them getting the kind of life they get in prison.

        Have you ever heard of the new Halden Prison in Norway? http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1986002,00.html

        Here is an article about it. 1.5 Billion dollars to create this prison. At an estimate of 4.9 million people in Norway. Lets say 60% are adults. That is 2.94 million adults getting taxed for this prison's construction alone. That is $510 per adult living in Norway. This is all just speculative because I do not know how Norway's tax system works and how much of the prison funding was from taxes, but my point is made either way. I wonder where all this money came from. Then another couple million a year to run and maintain it I would assume. I think money like this should go to things like education, hospitals, welfare, not murderers and convicts...If murderers were sentences to a low profile prison where they were not tortured or anything but just left to work to pay for their OWN meals, room and board, etc then it would be another story. However, not all prisons do that and the ones that do still use millions of dollars worth of taxes every year.
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          Jul 21 2011: So for you it all comes down to dollars and cents: Money is more valuable than human life - or at least, money is more valuable than a criminal's human life.*

          You are not alone in that assessment.

          I do not share that belief.

          Even if I did, I have scanned some of the replies and, apparently, it is cheaper to incarcerate felons for life than it is to kill them.

          If we start with the assumption that life is of paramount importance, and if we apply your pecuniary values, I am certain we could come up with a satisfactory solution that did not entail killing people.

          Thinking, "Incarceration costs too much, let's kill them," lacks creativity and seems a bit unresourceful to me.

          Plus it's not humane.

          ------------------
          * EDIT: Matt, I have reread some of your posts, and, I guess, to be MORE accurate, I should say:

          "For you, money is more valuable than human life - or at least, money is more valuable than a criminal's human life and, to be even more precise, YOUR money is more valuable than a criminal's human life.
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        Jul 25 2011: Life is priceless. If I'm close minded enough to consider any of my opinions as fact, that is one of them.
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      Jul 20 2011: Matt

      One can avoid the "pay money" (though I gladly pay for certain people to be removed from society) by letting them work for it: they can be used as an unpaid labor force...
      I think that using prisoners to do work is not a bad thing. And there is a lot of work that won't be done otherwise.
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        Jul 20 2011: I agree that this should be the case, however we are not talking about alternatives to execution, just the morality of the thing. It is not that I like to see people die in the world. That is the last thing I would want. But when I see new multimillion dollar prisons being opened up in Europe that come complete with day spas, gymnasiums, world class swimming pools, and 56" plasma TVs then I have to wonder if maybe I should just go murder someone in europe so I can live in luxury all my life.
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          Jul 22 2011: Hi Matt:

          your idea of a “luxurious life” leaves me perplex…

          Regards!

          JB
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          Jul 23 2011: If you want to know how Prison is like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdVwXKdTnrE

          He let himself lock up in prisons voluntarily... all over the world...
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          Jul 25 2011: Hi Chirstophe!

          Thanks for the link, amazing talk!

          Regards!

          JB
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          Jul 26 2011: Christophe -- I watched the TEDx talk by Jan De Cock and found it to be informative about prisons but beside the point.

          Our debate is about whether or not capital punishment is ethical/justifiable. I contend it is not. But I also contend that prison IS the place for murderers of human beings and believe strongly that, in those cases of the most heinous of murderers, that the punishment should be severe - solitary confinement, provision of only basic needs, and deprivation of material pleasures.

          I would even advocate that a prison be built exclusively for the purpose of housing the most heinous murderers/criminals. Other than provision of basic needs, there is no justification for providing criminals of this kind anything. Period. Nothing.
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        Jul 22 2011: Hi Christophe!

        I’m surprised to disagree that much with you!!!

        So we deem an act illegal (by consensus or any other cultural method), then we take the people who perform it (the others, the bad ones, etc) and as their actions violate the agreed standards, we are allowed to make them in to slaves and force them to do things we don’t want to do…

        This sounds terrible to me…

        Regards!

        JB

        PS It’s much nicer that killing them to save money anyway…
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          Jul 25 2011: (I was making a point to discredit the idea that prison needs to cost much money to society, which is not my complete view of imprisonment)

          I don't think a forced labor punishment is the same as slavery.

          I even think that giving work is beneficial to the prisoner... as he/she has something to do that is beneficial to society. They might be prepared for a job (have experience) when they get out as well.

          The discussion about what punishment is given to which acts, is open to debate. As for now I assume the person in prison has actually done something terrible.

          Is that slavery? well, we took away their freedom... making them slaves without work already? I really see no objection to enforce labor on them... (and that does not imply to let them suffer by working, or unhealthy working standards)
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        Jul 25 2011: Hi Chistophe!

        I think that the cost discussion is the wrong one, one could say why don’t we have a monarchy and avoid the cost of having a parliament, etc…
        That being said I agree with you that prisons don’t need to be necessarily “expensive”.
        I do think that forced labor equals to slavery, but I 100% agree with you regarding the positive side of work (I just don’t like the forced part).

        Question for you, is prison supposed to be a punishment? Some currents of the law say that prison is there to reeducate or to protect society from that individual, etc, punishment is just one of the ways to justify prison.

        Regards!

        JB
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          Jul 26 2011: For me, the main reason for imprisonment is to remove unwanted individuals from society.
          The criteria are to be defined by the laws (and hopefully thought out wisely).

          I do think punishment is also an important aspect. If you do something horrible, you need to be punished (punishment still works as an inhibitor of certain kinds of behavior!).
          And even the idea of an example (to frighten other possible offenders) has some validity.

          As for re-educational purposes: that is indeed a very good thing (that somehow escaped me in this discussion so far). Yes, agreed, (re-)education is indeed a good idea.
          Like cognitive behavioral therapy for example...

          "The forced part": surely not the best way to give people freedom, but then again, a person who cannot handle freedom should not be given it.
    • Jul 21 2011: Believe it or not, but in the US it typically costs far more to execute someone than to keep them in jail the rest of their lives without possibility of parole.

      The courts take a different view when faced with a death penalty case because there's no room to get it wrong with the death penalty - the standard of judicial review is, and has to be constant access to the courts.

      With life imprisonment, that's not the case. They get their trial. They probably get one automatically-heard appeal. After that, they have to give the court a reason to hear them, and every time they do and get shot down, it becomes harder for them to get an audience again. Life therefore ends up costing less, because they aren't entitled to tie up the courts.

      In some states, this difference in cost is up to 10 times as much as it would to keep someone in jail for 50 years (the average time someone stays in jail under life without parole).

      There's also the emotional cost for victims families - every step of the appeals process reopens wounds, and delays of as much as 20 years prevent closure. By contrast, life without parole brings closure quickly - the general perception is that once the courts have proven someone guilty and sent them away for life, nothing short of proving innocence will reverse that outcome.
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      Jul 22 2011: QUOTE: "I don't know about you, but if I had to choose between paying money out of my OWN pocket to let a murderer stay alive ...and letting them recieve the same fate that they have caused ... I would choose the latter no questions asked."

      What if you had to choose between paying money out of your own pocket to keep a prisoner alive and killing him, or her, yourself?

      No "sanitized" execution by "the state" ... you, with a gun, or a needle, in your hand walking up to another human being and calmly killing them yourself.

      Which one would you pick then?
    • Jul 22 2011: Excellent argument. I hadn't even thought of the security jail offers. OH and to Thomas: I'd kill em. I think anyone who understood the crimes done by someone who warranted the death penalty would be angry enough to kill them.
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        Jul 22 2011: QUOTE: "I think anyone who understood the crimes done by someone who warranted the death penalty would be angry enough to kill them."

        Hi Benjamin,

        I might be wrong but I don't think you would.

        I believe that, in this wonderful academic discussion we are having it is easy for you to respond to some basic and primitive emotional impulses and equally easy for you to dash of an assertive and manly, "I'd kill em."

        Again, I may be wrong, but I doubt you could actually do it.

        Few of us could.

        If you read some of the other posts, I think you will find you are mistaken when you say "anyone who understood the crimes ... would be angry enough to kill them."

        I would not.

        Even some victims and victim's families are not "angry enough" to kill them.

        Essentially, what you are saying is your emotional impulse (anger) is justification enough to kill another person.

        I disagree with you.
        • Jul 22 2011: Hi thomas, I figured you'd disagree. But thank you for doing so respectfully :)

          Perhaps. I simply stated that my emotional impulse is (not justification) motive enough to kill someone who has committed crimes. You had asked if the government didn't do it, would you be able to do it yourself. While I don't think the ability to commit capital punishment overly impacts whether or not it is unjustifiable, I see your point.

          However, as an individual, I'm fairly sure I'd be able to do it out of anger. I don't mean to sound like a psycho, and I definitely don't mean to sound like a wannabe psycho, but it isn't about "oooh get to kill someone!"

          Primarily, I'd be angry. Secondarily (I made that up), I would more consider the lives of those who died, those who were affected, and those who could be affected, as opposed to whether or not I could bring myself to kill a man who has committed serious crimes. I would have no empathy. If it was sanctioned, there'd be no repercussions for the punishment. And I could be totally alone in my opinion. So, yeah, I retract my statement about "anyone understanding the crimes", but nothing else.

          Just a question though: what is it that makes you feel that the death penalty is unjustafiable.

          Respect,
          Benjamin
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        Jul 23 2011: Hi Benjamin,

        QUOTE: "... I'm fairly sure I'd be able to do it out of anger.

        Here we are in total agreement. In fact, most of the murderers I do know are murderers precisely because, in a moment of anger, the were able to kill and acted on that impulse.

        We are all "able to kill" it's just, for most of us, there are countervailing forces that mediate our behaviour - cognitive, "visceral," moral, social, etc. If these forces were not in place, there would probably be a lot fewer of us around!

        I do not believe you would actually be able to "think yourself" into a murderous rage.

        Again, I may be wrong.

        But I honestly doubt the anger and the indignation you feel now - the feelings that motivated you to make the statement "I'd kill em," would be strong enough or motivating enough for you to walk up to another human being strapped onto a gurney, look into their eyes, and calmly, and deliberately, slip a hypodermic needle into their arm, depress the plunger, and watch as his, or her, eyes faded.

        There are a few of our kind who can kill without compunction - we usually call them psychopaths, sociopaths, or some such thing. For the rest of us, killing is not something we could do ... unless we were in a "blind rage." Or perhaps if we were in the act of defending ourselves or a loved one.

        Even soldiers must be trained to kill (in part by dehumanizing the "enemy.") And, even then, some of them will not "shoot to kill" at an individual enemy combatant.

        QUOTE: Just a question though: what is it that makes you feel that the death penalty is unjustafiable.

        In a word: Life.

        I can "rationalize" my position by saying something like: To enforce the notion that killing is bad and wrong, by killing people who do it, makes no sense. But then "sense" has nothing to do with it, does it?

        Our response is emotional; not rational.

        For me, my emotional and mental appreciation for life is so complete, so total, that under no circumstance could I justify taking another person's life.
        • Jul 23 2011: Hi Thomas,

          "But I honestly doubt the anger and the indignation you feel now"... I wasn't actually angry when I wrote that comment. I know you'd think "I'd kill em" sounds like i'm emotionally upset, but it was more of a dismissal than upset comment. Perhaps that indicates sociopathic tendencies, but I don't think so. I would never harm an innocent, to do so would plague my heart. But I firmly believe that someone who WOULD harm an innocent, simply needs to be done with. We can't send them away, we can't just make them disappear. I'd rather not pay for their lives forever in jail.

          I really respect that you were bold enough to NOT over-rationalize or over-justify your feelings. It makes me happy to see someone who does not feel the need to qualify themselves for how they feel at every turn. But, I disagree with your last phrase. I value life much, so don't think I'm an ingrate over-privileged jerk. I think the most important thing in the world is a happy, prosperous life being afforded to everyone. It is with this belief that I follow a desire to eliminate problems. We have many issues in the world today, and many of them would not exist if we didn't have so many people who just love to hurt innocents. Therefore, to me, killing a homicidal maniac or other who has justifiably warranted the death penalty (and I'm not talking wife killed her abusive husband here) is just a means of ending any further issue. Perhaps that is the lazy way, and it would be best to try to rehabilitate problemed offenders, but that is where my anger and desire for vengeance comes in. Given the choice of saving potential victims with a quick strike, or saving potential victims with repeated effort on one problem area, my desire for vengeance would say "they screwed up, and don't deserve another chance". Of course, keep in mind who I'm talking about here. I don't mean youth robs a store and kills owner. I'm talking man breaks into house and murders family/ genocide in the third-world.
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        Jul 23 2011: Hi Benjamin,

        Yes, I understand your position. It is a fairly common one. That is, many people who support the death penalty share it.

        As I mentioned, I live in China and the argument you present is essentially the same argument my Chinese friends use to support their position in favour of capital punishment.

        I have no illusions I will be changing China's view of the death penalty any more than I think I will change yours.

        The argument you, and the Chinese, make is rational. It makes sense. But for me the issue always comes down to one question: What is more important, human life or "principles." [The ideas of justice, and social responsibility would be an examples of principles.]

        The answer (for me) is ALWAYS: Human life.

        I understand for others (you perhaps) different principles may be more important than human life. Principle's like pecuniary responsibility (Matt); "justice," etc.

        These other values never strike me as very compelling; they are human inventions. We create values like "integrity" but we do not create human life.

        That our own inventions can be seen as more important than we are makes no sense to me.

        I do not expect you to agree with me. And I have heard (I'm sure!) all the arguments about what would happen if we lived without "principles" [which I am not suggesting] ... society would collapse, there'd be killers behind every tree, etc., etc. I have heard how, for the sake of society, or the weak, or the victims, we should do "this or that" ... and none of them are more important, to me, than life itself.

        As an aside, those things we are willing to kill one another for actually change from time to time and from culture to culture. They are not universal. The appreciation of life, as far as I can tell, is.

        Oh, and I didn't think you were angry when you wrote your reply but I do think the reply "comes out of anger." It is an emotional response triggered, we might say, by "imagined anger" - how we imagine we would feel if faced with a killer.
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      Jul 23 2011: So Matt, which one would you pick?

      1) Pay with your own money to keep them alive?
      2) Kill them by your own hand?
      • Jul 23 2011: Thank you for your articulate response :) I would disagree on one last point, for the sake of argument:

        "those things we are willing to kill one another for actually change from time to time and from culture to culture" I definitely would only be willing to kill someone who has taken multiple lives of others. No stoning women for killing their abusive husbands in afghanistan. No crap. None of it!

        But again, I deeply respect your opinion, and I'm very glad you shared it with me.
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          Jul 23 2011: Hi Benjamin,

          You're welcome.

          You mention that you disagree with the idea that those "things we are willing to kill one another for actually change from time to time and from culture to culture" and then you say, "I definitely would only be willing to kill someone who has taken multiple lives of others. No stoning women ..."

          Well, that is my point: That, at different times and in different cultures, we have been willing to kill one another for different reasons.

          In some countries you can be, or could have been, executed for: political dissent, murder, espionage, treason, rape, adultery, incest, sodomy, apostasy, arson (in royal dockyards,) drug trafficking, theft, being in the company of gypsies (for one month,) strong evidence of malice (in children 7 - 14 years old,) pick-pocketing, stealing a horse or a sheep, and so on.

          In the Judeo-Christian tradition, historically, one could be executed for: entering the temple (if you were "a stranger,") sacrificing to the gods other than YHWY; breaking the sabbath, blasphemy, worshipping Baal, necromancy, your ox killing a man or woman, losing your virginity before marriage (women only), marrying your wife's mother, gluttony and excessive drinking, disobeying your parents, consuming blood, eating leavened bread during the feast of unleavened bread, wearing cloth made of more than one fabric, and so on.

          In some cultures murder is not a big deal. In recent times, an anthropologist spent some time with an indigenous culture (I forget where) and he noticed that certain disputes were resolved by killing one's opponent. There were no legal repercussions. It was simply an accepted way of resolving a conflict.

          He started asking around to see how common a practice it was and one woman said her husband had been so killed. When he asked by whom, she said, "By my current husband."

          In other words, the things we are willing to kill one another for change from time to time and from culture to culture.
      • Jul 23 2011: I understand what you mean, but that doesn't make capital punishment wrong. It makes the reasons for capital punishment wrong. As I've stated, I'd only follow it if certain parameters were met. The statement of "the death penalty is unjustifiable" can be easily made null when talking about genocide, mass-murder, mass torture, etc. I understand your point, but I think it's just to say no matter which culture you belong to, and what customs you hold, and what you think is "worthy" of capital punishment, as an individual from a modern society, in which most people are afforded a chance, and no strict religious beliefs or customs governing the way we administer or debate justice, there are (a few) cases in which capital punishment is still the best option

        I think of it like this: In India, a little while back, a group of Dalits (the lowest cast) was mobbed and lynched for trying to skin dead cows, so as to make a living. This type of death punishment is oriented by the religious and cultural belief that cows are sacred. In America, if a man kills X amount of people, he warrants the death penalty. This isn't governed by religion: it's a modern judgement, made with religious or cultural predisposition or bias.

        On a side note, You say YHWY... I say YHWH, as in יהוה‎... Was that a typo? Or is it some other form I've never seen?
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          Jul 23 2011: Hi Benjamin,

          I've seen both YHWY and YHWH used; as well as: Yahweh, Yahveh, YHVH, Jehovah, Yehovah, יהוה and others. Perhaps it reflects regional or cultural differences.

          You say, " ... if a man kills X amount of people, he warrants the death penalty. This isn't governed by religion: it's a modern judgement, made with religious or cultural predisposition or bias."

          Yes, this is "modern judgement" but then, not too long ago, killing a 10-year-old child who demonstrated definite signs of malice was considered "modern judgement" (a decision made with religious or cultural predisposition or bias.)

          One could argue that if something is wrong, then no reason (or excuse) will ever make it "right;" and if something is "right" it is right regardless of the reasons we do it.

          So, if it is "right" to kill people, it is right to kill people for any socially sanctioned and culturally accepted reason. Or for no reason at all ... because killing is "right."

          And if killing is wrong, it is wrong to kill for any reason.

          Of course, we do not all agree that killing is wrong. You don't.
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    Jul 18 2011: I think the strongest argument against the death penalty is that it is actually the easier way out for a murderer.
    Sitting in jail for 50 years or more appears to be a much tougher punishment than a lethal injection.
    In other words, I'm in favor to abolish the death penalty, but primarily for above reason.
    • Jul 20 2011: Harald you should also worry- that you are not the subject of a miscarriage of justice like Professor Bhullar in India. That you are not a political dissenter- because trust me in any country- any country, like India, you could face a political execution through the death penalty. Therefore as torture is being liberally used by countries all over the world- the court is no longer fair and therefore the arbiter cannot be the death penalty when it is all a random act now.
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        Jul 21 2011: Yes, you are right. That is a valid concern indeed.
        This discussion actually brings up the question what is the appropriate punishment for the most heinous crimes ?
        I think, Matt has a point when he brings up the economical aspect of lodging and feeding the worst of society for decades. Why should society pay for that ?
        But then, what are the alternatives ?
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    Jul 17 2011: The U.S. nearly abolished the Death penalty in the 70s with the ruling against cruel and unusual punishment but state by state it has been brought back so that about a third of the states now have it again. Texas being the chief practitioner I believe. The recent wave of cases in which DNA proved that people on death row were innocent has made few converts for those who oppose the Death penalty. Yes it is illogical and expensive and ineffective but since we have a modified form of democracy that does not deprive the ignorant of their right to vote then lots of popular policies continue in the face of any evidence that they are a bad idea.Perhaps the most glaring failure of American education is its' obvious inability to teach logical thinking. This is shown by the fact that we continually elect a congress that denies reality. It all goes to prove the ancient dictum that only two things in the universe have no observable limit, the first being the ignorance and willful stupidity of mankind. Saying "you can't be that stupid" is silly, of course they can and are. The second limitless noun apparently is the mercy of Deity.
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      Jul 18 2011: See, this is totally ludicrous: a "humane" form of killing doesn't exist. It's still killing, murder, butchery.

      With the death penalty things are simple: either you abolish it, and you don't kill, or you don't abolish it, and you kill.
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        Jul 18 2011: Of course many of the same "conservatives who support the death penalty rabidly oppose abortion because that is real murder in their eyes. Some legislator in South Carolina recently proposed to give full rights to every fertilized ovum and to investigate miscarriages as suspected homicides. The fact that the majority of said ovum never implant and I believe the majority of those that do implant on the uterine wall spontaneously abort is okay because God has the right to pick and choose whether by lightning or otherwise. I myself oppose abortion after the first six weeks max, but will agree to make it punishable only when the sperm donors are made equally responsible. Birth and death of course are totally natural we slaughter pigs for bacon and they are at least as intelligent as dogs and apparently more than some congressmen. If we ate executed prisoners like the Aztecs are alleged to have done would that then be more moral? I often contemplate becoming a vegetarian at least as far mammals [chicken is so tasty} fish is supposed to be good for you but I fear my mercury limit is already filled.
      • Jul 19 2011: The Death penalty is anything but simple. There are truly evil people in the world. In a society where such people can be locked away from the population for life I agree, the Death Penalty should not be necessary. What about other societies that have a weak prison system where they can get out and kill or torture again? What if heinous criminals could not be locked up? What do you want us to do, transport them to Brussels so you can pamper the viscous murderer and forget about their victims?
        • Jul 20 2011: Southern Celt- you havenot nailed it. You are worried about people getting out to kill, what about those who are tortured. What about you being locked up on a false charge and as time goes on you are tortured.......When will those people get justice.

          The EU and Brussels does not have a higher criminality than those so called countries using the death penalty. We don't need to do it. It's appalling. If your friends were tortured I doubt you would want them executed on the basis of a death penalty. Under torture people can confess to anything. And torture is the new state order of the day.
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    Jul 17 2011: I cannot think of even one reason to justify killing someone. I do believe self defense is allowable.
    • Jul 20 2011: Helen I totally agree with you. The Professor Bhullar case in India has so many doubts, inc Justice Shah finding him not guilty- yet this man who Germany would have given political asylum to- faces imminent execution. It is terribly sad, terribly sad- when you see someone who has had their father murdered, their friend murdered by state forces- that the state has tortured them for 8 years in solitary confinement that the state can execute someone and no one will lose sleep.
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        Jul 20 2011: Simarjit...............How HORRIBLE !! We (society) does not have a right to punish anyone and especially in such an awful manner.
  • Aug 2 2011: Okay omni-universal laws is pushing it a bit far. I would prefer to call it mutually agreeable laws.
    Yes murder is stupid but again your definition of murder is very big, It includes every species on the planet.
    Yes, our species are the most thoughtless and cruel when it comes to murder.
    I don't really know why you are talking about ideas, but i agree with you there.
    No, your arguments were great just overly ambitious. You are casting the net too wide. (hope you understand this one)


    Sanyu, not even i know how i will act in such an event. I know i will fight to live. But even i have my own code of conduct. For me collaboration is far better than confrontation but it just so happens that the world is full of "me first" and "me only". Laws holds us together and if they were to disappear believe you me it won't be pretty. I don't think that is possible anyway, making rules is in our genes but that won't stop many people from doing stupid things.

    So the best thing for me to do, if such a situation were to happen, is to look for a nice cave and hide in it with lots of supplies, water and books. So the chances of me doing unspeakable things to you is pretty low.... I will be busy reading books and sleeping.
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      Aug 2 2011: I'm glad to hear that, Jaeyun (about the reading, water, sleeping and cave).

      Omni-Universal laws certainly exist. I mean, we're all here in Existence aren't we? We didn't create it, so there are many laws we are likely to be completely unaware of.

      What is wrong with dreaming big? If I reach for the stars and I only reach half way, that is still higher than most people even dare to think of, let alone hope for. You'll find I have a "big" personality should we interact more. I cast my nets wide as protocol and when necessary. This topic is about why the Death Penalty should not exist. If you weren't looking to talk to people about "casting a wide net," you really came to the wrong topic of conversation.

      I spoke about ideas because they are kind of the root of "ideals" and everything else we enjoy in this modern day existence that wasn't here before us.

      Lastly, as someone pursuing a Masters in Global Criminology with a focus in Penology and Criminal Rehabilitation, I am very much preparing myself for a time where laws falls into the "grey areas." I am just hoping that I can rehabilitate criminals to do the same. This hope is ambitious, but it is mine and I will make it actual to the degree that I am personally able.
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    Aug 2 2011: There should be no disagreement that pre-meditated murder should be met with punishment swiftly and severely - but must also conform to our society's values.
    Yes, it is highly frustrating (to say the least) NOT to kill the murderer. But it is not just. It is not ethical. Ultimately it is not what's best for the victims
    In my mind, what IS just punishment within the boundaries of justice, ethics and punishment is:

    -Life in prison w/o chance of release(except in the case of mistaken identity)
    -Removal of all rights afforded those in our society
    -Provision of only basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
    -Bare minimum of material pleasures (books, recreation, etc.)
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    Jul 31 2011: Andrea - I think all we (individuals, organizations and societies) can do is to make every effort to comfort and support victims. Much moreso than we do in US.

    For every important issue, whether it be death penalty, civil rights, health care, human rights, etc., I believe their needs to be at some point a visionary, charismatic leader to bridge the gap between the problem and the solution. Not someone with all the answers. Someone with all the passion and vision to inspire the right people to come forward and together make the changes needed.

    But as it relates to your concerns, I think what victims of viscious, violent crimes such as the survivors of the Norway tragedy need most is to be given the opportunity and the means to pick up the pieces and carry on... And one important way of doing that is to find and punish the murderer in such a way as to send a message to the victim that we have done everything within our power AND within our moral and ethical principles to bring justice to the victim.
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    Jul 30 2011: Hi Wayne,

    I answered your post below but because of the response hierarchy, it got moved way below your question so I am copying it here so you are more likely to find it.

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

    QUOTE: "Hello Thomas, correct me if I am wrong but in your conviction I sense a core of peace. Can you tell us perhaps a little about how your experiences have brought you to your insights."

    Hello Wayne,

    You are not wrong.

    Your question is very touching. Thank you for asking.

    In very simple terms: I have a deep and profound appreciation for life. My life. Your life. Life itself.

    I seem to have come by this inclination somewhat naturally. That is, it seems to be an innate part of my character. But I have also spent a good deal of time and effort nurturing and developing my appreciation.

    A long time ago, someone told me that what I was looking for was within me. I suspected he was right and have spent 40 years or so checking out this simple statement's veracity. So far, it holds up very well.

    As my appreciation for my own life has grown, my appreciation for all life has grown.
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      Jul 31 2011: Thank you Thomas and you are welcome.
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    Jul 30 2011: Hi Wayne,

    I answered your post below but because of the response hierarchy, it got moved way below your question so I am copying it here so you are more likely to find it.

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

    QUOTE: "Hello Thomas, correct me if I am wrong but in your conviction I sense a core of peace. Can you tell us perhaps a little about how your experiences have brought you to your insights."

    Hello Wayne,

    You are not wrong.

    Your question is very touching. Thank you for asking.

    In very simple terms: I have a deep and profound appreciation for life. My life. Your life. Life itself.

    I seem to have come by this inclination somewhat naturally. That is, it seems to be an innate part of my character. But I have also spent a good deal of time and effort nurturing and developing my appreciation.

    A long time ago, someone told me that what I was looking for was within me. I suspected he was right and have spent 40 years or so checking out this simple statement's veracity. So far, it holds up very well.

    As my appreciation for my own life has grown, my appreciation for all life has grown.
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    Jul 26 2011: From a logical point of view,
    and as far as I understand it, death by definition can not be a penalty. First, because it is universal and second
    because it is unexperinceable.

    For something to be a penalty, there has to be a behavior by which it can be avoided.
    There is nobody, who will live for ever, we all die.

    You might say, that beeing killed makes life shorter, but after being killed, the person can not feel this shortness.


    Emotionaly seen,
    to use the killing of a person as something like a punishment is at least from my point of view an insult to everyone, who
    has sacifised his life to provide us with freedom, security and wealth.

    It means to treat someone, who has done horrible things in the same way, or in a better way, than JFK, Lincoln, Jesus,
    Socrates, Martin Luther King...., have been treated.
    In my opinion employing death penalty means to put many of my and possibly your personal heroes on the same stage
    with murderers and rapists.
  • Jul 26 2011: Let me explain why i take so much offence at Thomas Jones' comment. I do not think he is wrong. I just arrived at that conclusion through a different path. For him taking a small part of my words and turning them against me is galling. Since i thought it was obvious why it doesn't work. By saying that "By this logic, people who support the death penalty should be executed." he is also saying that all the people who have found all criminals guilty should go to jail because they are removing that persons rights, be it the right to drive, the right to live where they want, the right to love, the right to seek happiness. Saying that criminals and people who judge should suffer the same consequences is just illogical. The death penalty is not murder. It was decided by people by the majority. The death penalty is not illegal so why say the people that give the death penalty are murderers and should equally be put to death. He deems to not understand this point and will not bother to reply. So be it. He has yet to give a satisfactory explanation to support his point. I believe a superficial explanation is not enough for this topic.
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      Jul 26 2011: Whoa, whoa, whoaaaaaaaaaaa.

      "The death penalty is not murder" because it was decided upon by a majority?!!!!

      ANY premeditated killing is STRAIGHT UP MURDER, Jaeyun, including WAR. (This is my opinion, obvi).

      By your statement minorities being systematically murdered throughout United States history were not actually murdered because they were in the minority of the population.

      Your theory also would apply to the Muslims in Serbia and the Tibetans in "China."

      And defining whether something is right or wrong based on whether it is "legal" is a questionable way to go about deciding upon what should and shouldn't be done.

      By that policy, I, a female, first generation, pigmented person should never have demanded my rights because they were considered legally suppressed under voting laws, marriage laws, education laws, property owning laws and self-autonomy laws...

      How about you reply to me and let me know how I cannot deduce such a conclusion from what you've said above.

      Thanks!
      Sanyu
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        Jul 27 2011: QUOTE: Whoa, whoa, whoaaaaaaaaaaa.

        Is a local idiom and might not convey the same meaning in an international forum. Just sayin'
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        Jul 31 2011: Hello Sanyu:

        As alluded by Thomas the spiritual, emotional and intellectual frustration that must by satisfied in disputing such issues is fundamental to our growth as a species. 'Life is a succession of lessons that must be lived to understand'.

        In my professional career I have often used an argument similar to yours. For similar reasons I too am critical of laws, policies, rules etc... answer questions and question answers...

        What are we to do?!?
      • Jul 31 2011: If you start an argument by denying our laws then you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Our laws are our laws and if you don't like them you change them. The laws you are talking about were bad laws and they were changed. Laws are not made perfect but denying them will not make them better. And by that very reply to my post you are saying that in fact all soldiers regardless of what side, who, when and how are murderers. Tell them first why you consider them murderers and then you can tell me why i'm wrong. I also believe killing is wrong. I would prefer not to kill to eat. (Do you think killing animals is murder? by your definition, it is) But nature is not so forgiving. Only the winners survive. You live in a time of peace and prosperity beyond what people in the past could imagine. What you think barbarous now was everyday life then. Don't be judging everyone by your lofty standards. There are plenty of people who would kill for what you have. Freedom to change the very laws that constrain them.
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          Jul 31 2011: 1) I agree, Jaeyun, we cannot learn from what we choose to ignore or forget.
          2) Soldiers are trained killers. They don't have to be murderers however.
          3) You are right, nature doesn't and perhaps never has cared about what we think is fair. Just what is s/he up to then?
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          Aug 1 2011: Hello Jaeyun,

          I don't know what baby and what bathwater you're referring to; but if I don't question everything I perceive, I'm likely to throw myself out with existence.

          I agree that if I don't like something I must do my part to change it. I am doing that.

          I'm not sure where I am "denying" laws simply by stating that some of them are stupid and many of them have been BEREFT of ANY form of truth, honesty or integrity. This is just a fact of our historical existence on this planet. It's something to be considered when thinking over any law currently implemented.

          And yes, you're right. All soldiers DO ENGAGE IN MURDER. Even self defense is murder when it becomes clear that the attacker is giving you the option of your life or theirs. At the point that you decide it will be your life (and not everybody does), you have accepted that you will murder someone else to ensure your existence - though you were forced to because they would not allow for other options. It doesn't change the act from murder, it just makes it unwilling, unintended or unwelcomed murder.

          If you think rehabilitating a "Criminal/Prisoner" and rehabilitating a War Veteran are any different, I suggest you do some research into what is required to rehabilitate ANYONE engaged in the taking of other people's lives.

          Yes, I do believe killing animals is murdering them, specifically in that we do not kill them with integrity or respect for their existence. Indigenous American's were very respectful in killing animals for sustenance and they did not make an industry out of it. If you look in another conversation on TED you will see that I am currently making the transition to being a vegetarian actually.

          Last but not least, I will judge people in any way I please. I find it ironic you'd call my position lofty. Is peaceful discourse rather than murder, "lofty?" I actually think murder is egotistical and self important, thereby making itself 'lofty" and even "honorable" in modern world societies.
      • Aug 2 2011: Sorry about using an expression you know nothing about. Yes, some laws are abysmal and i question the sanity of lawmakers. By denying one law you deny them all. They are all made through the same process. As for your views, they represent a small fraction of humanity. I would say the better fraction. Still your views are but ideals that many people will not agree to. If you think that only you are right and that only your views are correct and that only you know truth and that only you should judge. Then I have nothing to say to you. You will learn that the world is more stubborn than you are. It does not change easily and when it does, it does so violently.
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          Aug 2 2011: You speak very "loftily" yourself, Jaeyun. Though you have "nothing to say" to me, you have said something. And I know what baby out with the bathwater is, but it is a poor expression to begin with and you used it poorly.

          That laws I strive to operate by are more the onmi-universal laws than the kind determined by our species. I will not get into what I believe the omni-universal laws to be here, but should the opportunity present itself I will do so on another occasion.

          It's not even that murder is "wrong." It is that murder is STUPID. It solves nothing and it's not sustainable for the species' that take part in it. Particularly as our species takes part in it recreationally. It's petty, immature and teaches great lessons at terrible costs.

          I don't know where you live, and honestly I'm not even going to bother to look. Society is built on ideals and ideas. The computer, the table, the shirt on your back and the ideas in your head did not "grow on trees." They were ideas that occurred to people that then were manifested into constructs that we NOW take for granted.

          You clearly do not like the way I have presented my argument. It seems I have bothered you by not agreeing with you. That is of little concern to me, though I do appreciate your managing to write down your thoughts as opposed to killing me over the disagreement. Not that you could through the computer and all.

          Should the time come that our species decides to learn the cost of ignorance, egoism and violence the EVEN HARDER WAY than history has already made EVIDENT, I will be sure to stay far away from you. You've made it clear what instincts you will resort to: no law, no reason to abide by them, right? No thanks.
  • Jul 25 2011: Without taking a stance it is my belief the death penalty is cost control for the prisons. The amount of work we need to actually turn around prisons is equal to the amount of work we have in education and healthcare- and it is last on the list of things to accomplish. We have an ignorance to those who commit crimes, we put them into a why care about them pile.

    "Rebellion is a knot of the heart not of the mind"-Stephen Covey

    There is a significant amount of resources needed to help the prisons and America is not ready to even think about that.

    It is distressful to me that we can cheer even the largest of american enemies dieing- like earlier this year. Death, like life is sacred and even if I believed it was the smart thing to do- I do not celebrate.

    I would be happier to hear we change the programs available for prisoners to mend their souls than to just remove the death penalty.
  • Jul 25 2011: Without taking a stance it is my belief the death penalty is cost control for the prisons. The amount of work we need to actually turn around prisons is equal to the amount of work we have in education and healthcare- and it is last on the list of things to accomplish. We have an ignorance to those who commit crimes, we put them into a why care about them pile.

    Rebellion is a knot of the heart not of the mind

    There is a significant amount of resources needed to help the prisons and America is not ready to even think about that.

    It is distressful to me that we can cheer even the largest of american enemies dieing- like earlier this year. Death, like life is sacred and even if I believed it was the smart thing to do- I do not celebrate.

    I would be happier to hear we change the programs available for prisoners to mend their souls than to just remove the death penalty.
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    Jul 25 2011: To be clear, in almost all cases the death penalty in the US is a state's right -not federal.31 states have it, 29 don't.

    The constructive question is not "Is the death penalty justifiable?" but rather "What IS justifiable punishment for heinous murderous humans?"

    I don't think there is any justification for the death penalty. But I do think there is justification for taking away their "life". By that I mean solitary confinement, elimination of material pleasures, provision of only the basics of food, clothing and shelter, and assignment of hard labor for their remaining years.
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    Jul 25 2011: If someone killed a member of my family or a loved one, and I had the chance to kill them without repercussions, I think I would. Is this different? That might make me an awful person, but I'm sorry, that is how I feel.

    It doesn't quite seem like justice though, a mass murderer for example, being kept in a prison and fed for the rest of his life with (I'm not sure about this bit, I don't know what privileges they would have) games consoles (not government funded, of course...hah), books to read, things to generally keep them occupied.

    To be very honest, the murderer of a loved one of mine would, at my hand, be locked in a room without food.
    And if that's how I feel, how I can I say to someone else that the 'death penalty in unjustifiable'? Instinctively, I would say the death sentence should be abolished, but how can I say that when feeling the way that I have mentioned above? That, also, would be wrong of me. Sorry if this disgusts any one, but I must be honest.
  • Comment deleted

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      Jul 25 2011: QUOTE: "An average of 15 or more hours of calligraphy practice per week should keep most people out of trouble."

      Good idea.

      An average of 15 or more hours of ANY kind of practice per week should keep most people out of trouble - fifteen hours of arts, crafts, reading, exercise, yard work, community involvement, dancing, ... anything positive.

      Fifteen hours of drinking, gambling, TV, partying ... maybe not so much.

      --------------
      I am learning how to write (and speak) Chinese but my teacher got married and moved away. I'll find a new one soon.
  • Jul 25 2011: Ok I lose, you win. The death penalty is completely unjustifiable. Perhaps as an alternative we should just simply ask criminals what they think their penalties should be! Problem solved.
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      Jul 25 2011: QUOTE: "Ok I lose, you win. The death penalty is completely unjustifiable. Perhaps as an alternative we should just simply ask criminals what they think their penalties should be! Problem solved."


      Hmmmm ... something tells me there is a slight chance that just maybe you are not being completely and totally sincere.

      It's just a hunch, mind you, but I like to think I am sensitive that way and can pick up on the subtle nuance and hidden messages that lie just below the surface.

      Actually, there might be some validity to your suggestion that we "ask criminals what they think their penalties should be!"

      I am not an expert on any country's legal system but, I think if you check, you will find that there is something along these lines employed in the Japanese system and it is, apparently, quite effective.

      (BTW, they do have the death penalty too)

      And, if you learned something, and I learned something (and I did) then I would see our exchange more as a win/win.

      As I say, my intention was not to change your mind. Only you can do that - and I suspect that you didn't. My intention is to share my view, hear yours, and see what happens. We do not have to agree with one another's points of view to understand one another.
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    Jul 23 2011: Laurens your question is a difficult ethical challenge to me something like that "Trolley Problem".
    What's your feeling about the recent Norwegian killer who indiscrimantely killed 87 innocent young lives ?
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    Jul 23 2011: Thank you Bart for you courteous correction of my misstatements. I went back and edited them to reflect your info as I feel sure that you are accurate. But the big word is "IF" in several of your statements. My impression is that in part due to the full prisons and other factors life sentences are very rare. The Nurse who was circumstantially convicted of killing infants got a long sentence however as I remember. Has that now been corrected? But tell me do you agree that the Dutch system is perhaps too soft and needs to deal with professional criminals in a more effective way? By the way I lived in Het Nederlands twalf jaren (and yes my Dutch is still imperfect). I live now in the States and often praise many aspects of Dutch society particularly health care and that it is more Democratic in many ways than the States. And although it is changing at least it is not yet primarily a Government by the Corporations and for the Corporations like the U.S. seems to have become. If you have read some of my other statements you will understand that I am very concerned about the state of education in the Netherlands. Which although it seems to be in free fall is still ahead of the states academically.
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    Jul 22 2011: By the way Laurens, it seems to me that you could easily apply your argument to war...but plenty of "civilized countries" (and "uncivilized countries") engage in war anyway.

    What do you have to say of that? Are you anti-war as well?
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    Jul 22 2011: I agree that there is no justification for premeditated murder aka the death penalty; but I too find issue with your use of "civilized countries."

    Isn't it your location of residence, Laurens, that has put the DRC in the situation it's in today? I believe they called that "civilizing" Africa in the 1800's and 1900's. Though I would hardly call those colonizing Belgians "civil."

    The truth of the matter is that "civilized" is a historically loaded, hegemonic and condescending term. What is "civilized" is a matter of preference. The definition of "civilized" means, "characterized by taste, refinement or restraint." That's an extremely subjective context for a word to come from. Some cultures prefer to eat with their hands. Does that make their country uncivilized? I hardly think so, but plenty of our Earth bound ancestors disagreed. Just as many of them disagreed that Aztecs should a) write books, b) be known for writing books and c) have any knowledge worth writing books about.

    So in trying to speak for a humanitarian cause - Life - you use hegemonic, patronizing language to support your argument. The death penalty has nothing to do with people who are "civilized" or people who are "uncivilized." The death penalty has to do with societies not wanting to take responsibility for the outcomes of their societal actions; those outcomes being their actual citizens. Criminals don't raise themselves and most of them are not born in prisons. That means that society, in conjunction with the prisoner, has put the prisoner there. After all, it's society that determines what is and isn't "deviant" behavior. Clearly "deviancy" has morphed over time. At one point in history I might have been stoned for having sex out of marriage (the death penalty), yet we now live in a world where independence and freedom of choice are considered the hallmarks of "civilized" people.

    The death penalty has to do with societal conditioning and conceptions of reform. Not being "civilized."
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      Jul 22 2011: Hi Sanyu:

      Some comments on your comment :)

      First of all (paragraph 2): your mistakes can’t be justified by someone else’s, example: “yes, I killed the guy and it was illegal, but other people killed more people, so they are worst than me, so, let’s change the subject”, if you did or do something wrong, what other people did does not change what you did.

      (paragraph 3): I understand you may be offended, but I can also understand the common association between violence and civilization.
      He is not talking about table manners, but about what a society does with people it doesn’t like. So, you can say that word is too strong, that this is only one aspect of your country, etc, but you can’t say the comment is completely out of place… also I think you will agree that as time passes violence levels tend to go down, compare the middle age in its level of violence with 100 years ago with today (there is even a ted talk about that).

      (paragraph 4): “The death penalty has to do with societies not wanting to take responsibility… having sex out of marriage” totally agree!!!!!!!!

      I think your ideas are in the right place but you are having an unnecessary nationalistic reaction to the intentionally built (I think) opening statement.
      (remember Laurens started this as a debate)

      Question to you:
      Do you think that the perception is changing in the US?

      Regards!

      JB
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        Jul 22 2011: Julian,

        I would first like to say that you are making an assumption that I am "American" simply because I live in the United States. I am, in fact, a first generation United States citizen, but I was not responding to Laurens at all in a nationalistic way. I can say that with confidence because I actually believe "Nationalism" to be a form of bureaucratic fascism and therefore I have no interest in defending the rights of one country while neglecting the same rights in all the others.

        Second, I can tell you that I dislike it greatly when people who do not know anything about me proceed to tell me what I'm doing "wrong," or "right." Wrong and right are subjective. Whether you like what I say or not is fine and well within your rights. But then make a statement that is, "First of all I think you are wrong" or "I think you are starting your response the wrong way." Otherwise I can't help but see the ego in your statement.

        I am making a point about what "civilized" nations deem to be "civilized" and how that is a) hegemonic, b) subjective as most of the "civilized countries" that people tend to speak of wrecked INCREDIBLE SAVAGERY on "third world countries" and c) that what Belgium did in the DRC is a BONA FIDE FACT of what "civilization" can mean to the other party. It's said the losers do not write HIStory, I am making this point. If you read my very first sentence you will see that I DO NOT BELIEVE THE DEATH PENALTY IS JUSTIFIED.

        That you can understand the "common association between violence and civilization" is understandable...yet, I am not making YOUR point, I am making MY point. I used table manners as a basic example. Would you like me to bring out the more relevant examples? There are hundreds of these. I was just making a point about how stupid the concept of "civilized" and "civilization" is and how many places in the world it has been applied to BY FORCE, which is contradictory at best as civilized interactions should be based on mutual DISCOURSE.
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        Jul 22 2011: Further, I do not understand what you mean by, "So, you can say that word is too strong, that this is only one aspect of your country, etc, but you can’t say the comment is completely out of place."

        I find the above sentence entirely confusing. Please elaborate.

        Also, I do not agree with this statement, "also I think you will agree that as time passes violence levels tend to go down, compare the middle age in its level of violence with 100 years ago with today (there is even a ted talk about that)."

        Perhaps proportionally speaking we are not killing with the same frequency as in the Middle Ages, but we are more populated and we are still killing on a regular basis on present day Earth. So either provide the link for the TED talk or for arguments of that regard. Just because we're not organizing all of our murdering into nicely titled wars does not mean people are not dying at the same rate. By the way, as I do happen to live in a country where more than 1/99 people ARE IMPRISONED, I can hardly agree with a statement that violence has gone down when I know recidivism to be a FACT OF PRISON LIFE IN THE UNITES STATES.

        Lastly, as someone whose father is from Uganda and whose mother is from Belize and who was born in Los Angeles; I find your accusation of me being "nationalistic" to be laughable. I grew up with three worlds/countries in my house, I can hardly consider myself to be loyal to any one particular country when I consider myself a World Citizen first and foremost.

        Perhaps you should consider reading over my original comment without lacing it with your presumptions. Then we could be debating about what I actually said rather that what you ASSUME I MEANT.
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          Jul 22 2011: Hi Sanyu!

          Two comments before I start:

          First, please don’t get angry, we are arguing, and neither you know me nor I know you, so my comments are only about your words (and my understanding of them, taking in account I’m not a native English speaker).
          Second, before you commented I changed my comment a bit, hopefully I sounds nicer now :)

          Now to your points:
          First of all the link I didn’t add earlier http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html , I personally believe this to be correct.

          The assumption you are American is because your TED profile says you live in America (high chance of being right) and because your first reaction is attacking the nationality of Laurence, instead of going for the answer. Agree that nationality is a very arguable definition… but that’s where I got my assumption from.
          If you have a really loose notion of nationality, then Laurence comments would completely irrelevant to you, or that’s what I think.

          I don’t claim to know anything about you, just commenting on my understanding of your words. And I always (or most of the time) start my statements about right or wrong with a “I think, I consider, etc” that is to imply that is only my opinion and not “the truth”, and I can fail and change my mind :)
          Yes I have an ego, I think so do you, is that a problem? I’m far from a Buddhist monk or an enlightened being, sadly…

          I did read your post, that’s why I say at the bottom that we agree regarding the death penalty. I also agree that the word civilization was used to do terrible things to different cultures.

          Sorry for my bad English… I meant to say that I understood your could be offended, and that you could say that was only an aspect of the society, etc.

          Hope this clarifies

          Regards!

          JB
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        Jul 22 2011: Hey JB,

        I'm not angry, I'm just sharp tongued. It can be a vital tool in debate, but it is not my ultimate aspiration.

        I was wondering about whether there was a language barrier, but I didn't want to make an assumption because you speak and write English much better than I speak or write in your language. Therefore I think you actually understand a lot.

        I was not attacking Belgium by stating a true fact about its history that relates EXACTLY to Laurens perceptions of "civilized." Laurens presents an argument that essentially says, "we here in these European countries are civilized, that is why we don't have the death penalty. What's your problem United States?" Ironically enough, Belgian's did, and perhaps still do, kill PLENTY OF PEOPLE. So the fact that they don't have a Death Penalty in their own country is certainly recommendable, but hardly classifies them as "civilized." Leopold II of Belgium was a brutal pig (I realize in saying this I'm insulting pigs) and he was a Belgian. So Laurens polarizing statements could use some perspective. (By the way, I don't call myself an American because there are 3 American continents aside from the US; Central America is debatable as a technical continent, but they certainly do their own thing).

        I've seen that TED talk and actually don't much care for Steven Pinker's explanation as it is also largely hegemonic. You can see more of what I think about that here: http://www.ted.com/conversations/4089/what_can_science_tell_us_about.html (if you care to).

        In case you don't know, plenty of non-US citizens live in the US and I'm sure they interact on TED. So I wouldn't make such assumptions if I were you.

        Yes, I do believe ego is bad and certainly overrated on the planet Earth at present.

        Don't apologize for your English. It's great. I suppose picking up on nuances is difficult via type.

        Cheers,
        Sanyu
  • Jul 22 2011: I am afraid that I have to disagree with you. First, "barbaric states"is a very discriminatory saying.I have to address that there is no brutal, savage nation in this world. Different countries have different domestic circumstances and conditions, you just cannot point fingers to the domestic affairsof other nations, even if you're an American. Second, I insist that there should be death penalty in countries where the legal system is not fully operated. Justice cannot be done without it.
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      Jul 22 2011: QUOTE: "Justice cannot be done without it."

      What is this "justice" you speak of?

      You "insist" there be the death penalty?

      What if I defined "justice" in such a way that for it to be realized you would have to be executed?

      What if I insisted on the death penalty?

      "Oh," you say, "I have not agreed to the value system by which you measure justice. And, just who are you to insist on the death penalty (particularly now that it will affect me personally?)"

      "Oh," and you say, "that is silly because the values 'I' use to insist on the death penalty make sense ... 'everybody' can see that; the values 'you' base your evaluation on are arbitrary and not universally held (and, I might point out, they affect me personally.)"

      "Oh," I say, "too bad, my values trump yours and off with your head."

      Or something like that.
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    Jul 22 2011: I guess I'll go through the original list of reasons in order.

    Morally, I feel that certain crimes are so dehumanizing in their nature that they strip their victim of every right as a human. Murder and rape are the best two examples, and when one commits those crimes, I feel that they are sacrificing their right to the rights they stole. In my mind, this classifies them as sub-human creatures where euthanasia is a perfectly acceptable option. To this end, the death penalty is akin to amputating a gangrenous limb; the removal of something that serves no good purpose but does cause harm.

    Legally, there is little need for justification. the legal system is in place to judge whether crimes violating the law have been committed and to dole out appropriate punishment, not to question the laws that exist within the country where the crime took place.

    Socially, prisoners are paid for by taxpayers. Assuming a more efficient legal system with fewer appeals allowed, the death penalty would reduce the number of lifetime sentences. In prisons that cost about 70000 USD per prisoner per year, the fewer prisoners present the better. More death penalties for murderers and rapists means fewer prisoners. Obviously not having crime would be better, but that is unimportant to this topic.

    Lastly, as an atheist, I feel that religion should have no influence whatsoever in matters of state and law. Due to that, I agree that there is no religious justification for the death penalty.
    • Jul 22 2011: Hmm. Well said! As a theist, I believe that religion should have no influence whatsoever in matters of state and law, so long as we preserve our morality without said religion.

      Meaning, I totally agree with you. Except I don't have to be an atheist to do it. I think the best argument for religion is: If you don't want them on the earth, send them to God, and let him deal with them. :)
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    Jul 21 2011: Laurens,

    I think it is inhumane to intentionally take another humans life, for any reason. I think any person or entity that supports killing is pathologically inhumane.

    I intentionally use the term "pathological," by which I mean not necessarily "terminal." Pathologies, like humans, can evolve to improve for positive outcomes or devolve to escalate negative ends.

    Andrea
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    Jul 21 2011: Hi Laurens, agree with you.

    I would only take out the religious justification from your statement, as many religions did or do support death penalty, and that does not justify anything from my perspective (some even actively killed people as you know).

    You reminded me of one line in the Zarathustra: “Evermore did he now see himself as the doer of one deed. Madness, I call this: the exception reversed itself to the rule in him.”

    My understanding is: the person commits a crime and then he is a criminal, one act then defines the whole person (all other acts) from the past and the future.

    Regards!

    JB

    PS 3 more quick comments:
    1 life in prison seems more like torture to me
    2 we are all part of a system, the shame is on us if we produce “criminals”, they are not an isolated and autonomous phenomena.
    3 I come from a country w/o death penalty