Monday, March 19, 2012

Death Penalty

Careless MSNBC internet surfing has me pondering the controversial capital punishment topic. It's all hypothetical since I'm in no position to decide what a state or nation should abide by as a whole. But as "Taxi Driver" demonstrated, everyone has the individual ability to make decisions and dispatch "justice". The movie does a good job of showing how unlike a superhero vigilantism really is. --------->>>
It's a beautiful topic to debate because it brings out every dimension of philosophical insanity, which as you know is the blood that gives me life. Mental masturbation countdown 3...2...1...commence...For instance, the dog that attacked me had absolutely no problem putting me on trial and finding me guilty of suspicious and threatening behavior (in his mind) and sentencing me to death. It was an instantaneous decision that happened to be totally wrong, but so what? The dog understood his strengths and decided he could kill me and that it was in his best interests to kill me. The decision was a no-brainer and there were no appeals or quibbling over misleading evidence or change of venue, or "the possibility of my innocence". The dog and probably every dog in the world would laugh at such nonsense. "Instinct" prevails in the dog world. Bite first and ask questions later. Some dogs are raised to kill and you could say their instincts have been corrupted but it's safe to say Mankind is a ponderous animal and our instincts are largely unmolested...until politics and Fox television are concerned and then everything goes to hell.

My point is that other animals live and let live up until that exact moment when they feel threatened and at that point they kill without hesitation or regret. Somehow, mankind now questions this natural procedure. Some states permit capital punishment and some don't, Canada is opposed to it. 50% of countries have abolished it and about 30% still retain it.
The land of Oggy is undecided because, as I've said, it's a debate that has so many dimensions that in 100 years I'll never completely analyze all the angles. Is abortion itself capital punishment on an unwanted fetus? Does someone who gets an abortion qualify for capital punishment? Is war a form of mass capital punishment? The Oklahoma City bombers were executed because they executed people as payback for the execution of some other people who may have also executed people. See? It's enough to drive any van dwelling gypsy insane. I can't even afford a gallon of gasoline so how can I solve this age-old puzzle?

There are lots of forums that debate this ad infinitum. Some people say the case is closed and Capital Punishment can never be used. Other people say capital punishment is only justified when there is 100% certainty that someone is guilty of being a horrible person. Blah blah blah. Others speak like the dog and say it's obvious that when someone is a dirtbag then you kill them. Done.
"But you might have a innocent person's death on your conscience," is the response.
But that's projecting a delicate conscience on the mind of the capital punishment proponent. The dog that attacked me will not even entertain the idea that I might have posed no danger to him and his master. He has the perfect conscience. He's not a killer because he doesn't meditate on murder, but if he kills and that's in the past then that is where it stays for the two seconds that he can remember who he just bit.  So it is with many people...they actually won't care if they killed an innocent person because the theory of self defense at any cost is more important. All they have is their instinct that someone is guilty and deserves to die. No, that's not the right way to put it. The debate really isn't about "deserving" to die. It's more about the natural desire to protect yourself from harm.

Can we agree there are harmful people in the world? And can we agree that if you capture a person and a jury decides they are guilty of socially harmful acts that you can no longer trust this person to act in the best interests of society? Now, the philosophers among you will ask, "What is defined as socially harmful? Is socialist blogging considered anti-social?" And I applaud you because that's how to attack any argument. You define terms, as Socrates always said. And that's a serious request. So serious I can't even think of a joke to lighten the dark mood in my brain. To define my terms would take more megabytes than Google allots to their bloggers. So I'm not going to do it. I will try to sum up my conclusions and let you fill in the blanks.

I alternate between being 99% in favor of the death penalty and 1% too stoned to care. Firstly, there aren't enough resources available to feed, house and monitor criminals. Basically, any water a criminal drinks is stolen from a totally innocent person dying of thirst. That's because the innocent person is free and the criminal is property of the state. Personally, I think the free person should be higher on the list of priorities than the criminal and let nature take its course. Also, a smart state doesn't keep broken property. So, there's no justification for an $11 trillion debt that includes prison expenses. Sorry. That's pure flim flam budgeting that defeats any "moral" argument against capital punishment. We can not afford to raise poisoned crops. If morality is your concern then every penny in the dept. of corrections budget would be transferred to the Children's Oncology wing at the local hospital. To put it another way, if you had to balance the state budget or you would be executed (a philosophically valid demand) then how many state finance subcommittee members would elect to die before they allowed an incarcerated child rapist to go without food? Call me crazy, but I'll bet they find ways to save money and don't lose much sleep over the bones piling up in jail. But because state finance managers have managed to rig budget books as crooked as my left toes then we magically get new chemistry labs in high schools and an upgraded prison infirmary. Believe me, that won't last forever.
Secondly, and finally, the only way to guarantee 100% that a criminal will not commit another crime is to kill him. It seems that the department of justice should be concerned with 0% recidivism and they can actually achieve this goal. If you release a criminal who then commits another crime then you basically sentenced everyone else to death because you wanted to protect the convicted criminal's rights and defend your own corrupted morality. That makes no sense. It's a choice between killing someone who might be innocent but who was found guilty or killing someone who is definitely innocent and is minding his own business when Mr. Parolee got an uncontrollable urge to kill. What would the dog do? Collateral damage will occur no matter what and you can either control it with some well aimed cyanide or clean up the mess you failed to control. I opt for the low resource option in the name of protecting the future rather than throwing good money after bad with get out of jail free monopoly cards. Opponents whine about how it's impossible to be 100% sure someone is guilty so we can't afford to kill innocent people. But ask yourself this: Can you be 100% sure that someone up for parole will not hurt another person? No? Then why the fuck are you paroling them? I heard a funny line today, "If you want a perfect world then go live in a grapefruit under the sea!" hahahaha. If we're going to make a mistake then I'd say mistakenly keep criminals in jail for as long as possible. And go ahead and kill them without total confidence they are guilty. <sarcasm>Ooops!</sarcasm>

Those are my original angles on the debate. I also agree with the generic/knee-jerk reaction of "They are dirtbags and so you kill them." Or, "Eye for an eye."* or "you play you pay" type rhetoric but those are easier to contradict so I don't want to defend them. But the biggest arguments against capital punishment are usually not related to the killing of criminals part but the possibility of killing innocent people. Well, that sounds like a procedural argument and not a moral one. How about we take steps to determine guilt. and if you still can't sleep with a rapist's death on your hands then why don't you hold a bake sale so he can eat and have warm clothing. Go ahead. Bake and sell cupcakes "to benefit a rapist" and see who buys one. Whatever helps you sleep at night.
Really, the only argument against capital punishment that I can't refute is that this world is merely the fleshy realm prior to the kingdom of heaven and since God alone can decide the fate of man then it is not my decision to kill or save. I follow Jesus and He leadeth me to green pastures. What can I say to this? Bullshit!

Mostly you will find problems with my opinion in the same places I find problems with my opinion. Such as, "giving a state/nation the capacity to kill is flawed to begin with because a state can't even fill potholes let alone kill the right people"...or "Who decides who is a criminal worthy of killing?" or "Slippery slope philosophical slides lead to dictatorships where no one is safe." Etc. And those are the 1% of doubt. There are too many angles to cover and that's why I want to thank the dog for attacking me. Dogs do not equivocate when their safety is concerned. They do not debate. They do not regret. It's a rare dog who had the chance to save himself with his fangs and claws but died in the process of debating the morality of violence. They make mistakes and they are punished but the fear of punishment does not override a dog's instincts and I don't think it should override ours. It's safe to say this debate will never die so I don't know why I care. We live in a flawed land of Disney World Serial Killers and candy coated poison and I'm trying to sort it all out. In the meantime: you should buy a gun, get some training at a firing range, shave your head, and act like a good-natured dog who is packing a .38 special in his shoulder holster. Do not trust the state to protect you because they are up to their ass in debt accrued feeding nun fuckers.

Since we're being hypothetical how about this: Let's have the death penalty but if a jury sentences someone to die and it's later proved they were innocent then you get to kill all the jurors. And if that later proves to be a mistake then everyone in the state is executed. And so on until only the Kangaroo are left sleeping in their grapefruit under the sea. And while we're at it, if you are on the parole board and release someone who later commits a crime then you will share their next jail sentence whatever that may be. Hell, you get to be their bunk mate since you thought they were good enough to parole. Who's in?

*An argument against this is a line M. Gandhi famously said regarding the Hindu/Muslim clashes during the partition of Pakistan and India. "An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind."
My response today is this: Yes, if 50% of humanity blinds exactly the other 50% of humanity and then the blind half manages to respond by blinding the first half (if they can't see then how would that happen?) then you will have a 100% blind world....but I'll take my chances you ignorant homespun hippie!

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