The death watch

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by mirror, Jun 11, 2001.

  1. mirror Registered Senior Member

    Are you for or against the execution of Timothy McVeigh?

    I say nay to the death penalty.
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  3. 666 Registered Senior Member

    Kill him!! We have all ready spent to much money on keeping a sorry excuse for a human being alive!!

    We know that we will never be able to let him back out into society again, becuase he will just do it again. If not somthing close to it. Why should we (we= tax payers) be forced into shelling out money to support some one can never be let out to contributed back to society. I would wather see the money spent on some one can be turned around.
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  5. pragmathen 0001 1111 Registered Senior Member

    Tough choice

    I was under the impression that most of the criminals on death row wanted to die. It's a hell of a lot easier than spending the rest of your days confined.

    The death penalty doesn't necessarily act as a deterrent. If someone were to kill another and then receive life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, perhaps there would be less murders. It's my understanding that convicted killers see the death penalty as a welcome release, an easy way out.

    And lethal injection? What better way to die? Gradually, your system shuts down, making sure that you are pretty much unconscious before the final shutdown.

    Although this thread is already academic, the death penalty is a tough one to decide on. If I had family members that were killed by that man, then I'm pretty sure I would think differently, perhaps even a little off-kilter as to what his punishment should be.
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  7. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member


    I couldn't agree more.
  8. 666 Registered Senior Member


    The only problem I see with the death penalty and life imprisonment is the fact that it is our system's all most only respones to crimes of this scale. If we see a rise in the sort of crime that merits this punishment then some thing needs to be done help head that type of crime off at the pass. What exactly needs to be I don't have the answer, but I can only assume that the answer can be derived from what leads pepole to make these choices in life.

    Lets treat the sickness and just the sysmptoms!
  9. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

    I know it's after the fact by now, but I say "Off him." I support the death penalty. Opponents often point to the cost of an execution, but it's cheaper in the long run. After the execution, the money can be used for people and programs that make society better, not worse.

    I have a friend who narrowly escaped death row (actually, I haven't spoken to him in years now. I have no idea what happened to him once they overturned the execution and he got shuffled into the system). I know what it's like to be sitting in a courtroom and hear someone you know personally get senteced to death. I went through a little hell myself having nightmare after nightmare. I came to grips with it, though, and realized that nobody forced the knife into his hand and made him murder that poor girl. I know he has a deeper story to it than being some generic scumbag. I know he had problems. But there are plenty of ways to deal with it. You're not weak if you seek professional help.
    Maybe my world is little too black and white, good and bad, with too few shady grey areas for most people, but I favor the death penalty. If it makes me no better than the criminals getting whacked, well, I can live with that.
  10. mirror Registered Senior Member

    Thanks for your responses everyone.

    Yes, this can be a tough question to decide. However, I am as black and white about this as Oxygen is, except, my opinion falls at the other end of the spectrum - and I have had both a relatiive and a close friend murdered during my lifetime.

    I can understand outrage in response to the act of killing another human being or human beings. I can understand murderous thoughts in response to feelings. Those are irrational, however, and I cannot understand the acting out in kind through government-sanctioned murder.

    It is times like these when I am outraged to be an American, included among its citizens who are collectively responsible for killing human beings in the name of justice. It makes absolutely no sense to me. We have a valiid alternative in "Life in prison without the possibility of parole". Once in prison, individuals like McVeigh pose no immediate threat to society. Think about it... We are not even acting in self-defense. We are commiting pre-meditated murder, justifying our actions with the same self-righteous reasoning that McVeigh used when commiting his murderous act. It's a viscious circle - of killing.

    As for the finanacial considerations mentioned, they are not considerations in my mind when the subject is the life of another human being, no matter how heinous we self-righteously might judge him or her to be.

    Just as McVeigh could have chosen a valid, alternative response to what he perceived to be the murderous act commited by the government at Ruby Ridge, Waco, or whatever... we could have chosen a valid, alternative response to his murderous act.

    It seems like "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" justifies all sorts of murders these days.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2001
  11. Merlijn curious cat Registered Senior Member

    Mirror, you are not alone at the extreme of the spectrum.

    Everybody will understand that feelings of revenge can be very strong for a person. However, these are actions of a system; and for a system (juridical/political) revenge is a poor motive.
  12. rde Eukaryotic specimen Registered Senior Member

    Yeah! And let's kill all the handicapped as well! Freeloading bastards!
  13. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Death penality

    Myself, I support the death penalty. Without it there is no deterrent to the killer. Those with the moral view that nothing but self-defense justifies a killing do not have to worry about it.

    For others who would take a life just because they are angry it will not be a deterrent either. Nothing will bring back the loved one. However, if sentenced to death by all means carry it out. That’s one who will never have another victim in society. If in prison for life, there is always the possibility of escape. And sooner or later if not apprehended they will return to murder. There will be that circumstance that drags the anger back again.

    I for one don’t want to be the victim from a mistake that escaped. Would you?
  14. mirror Registered Senior Member


    No. I would not want to be victimized by an escaped murderer. However, the odds of that happening are probably less than the odds that we (the people of the United States) have put innocent people to death in the name of justice.

    Regardless of guilt or innocence, as much as I would not want to be a victim, I also do not want to be part of the murdering machine that is currently in place in our society via capital punishment.

    You wrote:

    "Myself, I support the death penalty. Without it there is no deterrent to the killer."

    I believe that life in prison without the possibility of parole is a deterrence for most people. Incidently, someone like McVeigh might not have commited his act if he knew that he could not be martyred (in his mind) and spared the punishment of approximately 50 to 70 years of living in isolation in prison.

    There is no panacea with regard to deterrences, including the death penalty.
  15. pragmathen 0001 1111 Registered Senior Member

    The State

    In State-run societies, such as the United States, The State has control over what kind of punishment to inflict on those that do harm to The State.

    In New Guinea, a form of State-run society had a very specific legislation against those that committed adultery with one of the King's harem of wives.

    First, the wife's cheek was pierced with a dagger so she could not curse the king. Then she was roasted alive in front of the court.

    The male perpetrator did not get off so easily. The man's cheek was also pierced with a dagger for the very same reason. In addition, however, a serrated ring was run through the man's septum and fastened in place. Next, the man was dragged through town behind a horse, which made stops at the houses of important chieftains. When the horse stopped at the house, the chieftain would come out and lop off a limb, then they would proceed to the next house. Eventually, no more limbs would be available and, if the man was still unlucky enough to be alive at the end of the trip, he would be taken to the King's Court. There, the children of the King would cut off the man's buttocks and then would place what was left of the man on a pile of gun powder, which was then lit.

    Did this act as a deterrent? Naturally. As much as I'd like to think that the death penalty acts as a deterrant to murder, it does not. I used to be for the death penalty, but it took a serious look at the statistics and psychology behind the death penalty for me to change my stance on that.

    Take McVeigh. What did he call his lethal injection? State-assisted suicide. People think he got what he deserved. But what did McVeigh really detest? The State. Being in a constantly controlled environment for the rest of his days would be torture to McVeigh, regardless of how cushy the place was. Take away any means of escape, as well as personal space and some dignity, and McVeigh would be reduced to what he reduced others to arbitrarily. As it is, McVeigh received the death penalty. And he died a relatively uneventful and perhaps, even lucid, death. After the event, some of the people who had relatives die at Oklahoma City had said, "Well, he's dead, but I still feel the same. Nothing's really changed."

    Perhaps the worst death for McVeigh would have been to have thrown him in some vault-like prison and simply forgotten him.

    Besides, the death penalty isn't really much of an "Eye for Eye" policy. McVeigh wasn't placed in a building and subsequently imploded. He was put out of existence in the most humane way imaginable. So, I see McVeigh's case as being disgruntled on both sides. Those for the death penalty would have wished for a stiffer version of extinguishing McVeigh. Those against would have wished for a terminal stay in a heavily-controlled prison.

    Thankfully, McVeigh appears to have been unsuccessful in trying to come off as a martyr for his cause.

    So, the question remains: How do we come up with a successful enough deterrent to where those that kill will think at least a hundred times before they attempt it?
  16. Merlijn curious cat Registered Senior Member

    A valid question - as long as a large portion of a society is not opposed to capital punishment, or worse: has the desire to inflict suffering onto others (e.g. putting them in an oubliette). I am afraid that such is the case. Here is why.
    Yours (and unfortunately ours as well) is a hate-driven country. And such a country will produce hateful people.
    Do you really expect me to believe that you (plural) are actually looking for a deterrant?!
  17. pragmathen 0001 1111 Registered Senior Member


    I did not intend to come across as putting McVeigh into an oubliette and letting him waste away or into some Room 101 (<i>1984</i>) where unheard of tortures would await him. Sorry about that misunderstanding.

    What I meant by saying putting him in a vault-like place and simply forgetting him was that, to McVeigh, all outside media and people would seem to have forgotten him. As long as he wasn't able to influence others, that would be his worst punishment. If he was just locked up in some heavily-controlled prison system without any means to communicate with his loved ones or the media, then perhaps that would act as a deterrent. He would not be starved to death or tortured mercilessly, but simply forgotten. Megalomaniacs do <b>NOT</b> like the idea of being forgotten.

    Are you sure about America and the Netherlands being a hateful country? Unless you work in customer service, I'd have to disagree with you. I've met oodles of people, both religious and irreligious that I consider top-notch and friendly. Deep down we might have our insecurities, but I wouldn't go so far as to say we're blatantly hateful.

    Then again, I don't know about the Netherlands. But, would you really want to label everyone under hateful because of the death penalty? You must examine the psychology behind such symbolic acts as well as from the victim's perspective before you make grand generalizations.

    But, hey, thanks for responding and welcome to sciforums! Hopefully, you'll stay and write some more thoughts from time to time. It's a great place to try and get your point across.



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  18. Merlijn curious cat Registered Senior Member

    Well, of course I do not think everybody (or even most people) are hateful. It is is just that I get worried about people want to punish criminals because they have revengeful feelings and want to be satisfied/compensated. I am afraid things can get out of hand and we may end up introducing torture again. Okay, it is not at all a real fear of mine, but you get my drift.
    I wonder: do two wrongs make a right?

  19. Corp.Hudson Registered Senior Member

    Death Penalty

    The death penalty is wrong, no matter what the crime. If being morally opposed to murder isn't enough to turn you against the death penalty, then consider that it is racist. A black man is much more likely then a white man to get the death penalty for the exact same crime. The death penalty is also classist (is that a word?) because a poor man is more likely to get the death penalty then a rich man.

    It also costs much more to kill someone then it does to keep them in prison for life. Just something to think about.
  20. discord5 Registered Senior Member

    my thoughts on this ....

    stoning !!
    let the family of the victims take the killers life in a brutal manner. now that is a deterent, i mean from a psychological point of view if the person knows that their actions could end up in suffering a violent slow torturous end they may do a little more thinking on the issue before acting it out.
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    I hope we're all happy

    The only reasons I even countenance accepting the death penalty in my nation are fairly simple:

    * Wesley Alan Dodd requested to die. His reason? He was, apparently, bright enough and conscionable enough to want to stop, but not quite bright enough to figure out how. He raped and murdered two little boys, and asked to die because he wanted to do it again. In such cases, I am inclined to withhold any objections so long as the state remains gracious throughout.

    * As a strong adherent to the value of the mass social conscience, it might possibly be of greater value to the human race to commit just one more murder and then get on with life. Under any normal circumstances, I object without reserve. However, considering that this is a human society, I am inclined to remain peaceful during these times simply because I'm foolish enough to keep thinking that eventually, we'll get over it.

    The execution of Timothy McVeigh has done nothing to deter future acts of terrorism against our people; case and point: Tacoma, Washington suffered a medical-facility bombing earlier this week. (Normally I shrug this off, but I have actually met and spoken with the doctor targeted; he guest-lectured in an ethics class at my high school some years ago.) Fortunately, nobody died in this blast, which was rather small.

    The execution of Timothy McVeigh does not atone for 168 lives lost. The most moving image I recall from that period was of a fireman and a police officer handing off a wounded infant while extracting the surviving victims from the Murrah rubble. There is no atonement for such a pointless act. Execution is equally pointless.

    The execution of Timothy McVeigh does not restore the confidence of the people in their leaders; with what appears an airtight case, those leaders could not resist the temptation to, in the words of The Economist, cock it up.

    But the execution of Timothy McVeigh does accomplish at least two things:

    * The public taste for revenge is sated.
    * The public has affirmed, by killing, that killing is wrong

    Something else the execution of Timothy McVeigh will not accomplish: Americans never look for the root cause of things. What do I mean here? A couple of simple examples:

    * Childhood: I recall once tearing a pair of horrible maroon pants with grey piping down the leg (all the style at the time) while helping keep a friend from falling down a fair-size slope (memory tells me it was about twenty or thirty feet). My parents were spanking furious that I had gotten my pants dirty and torn a hole in them; they never even asked how it happened. Another childhood example? Anyone ever get jumped in the schoolyard? Now this, specifically, is a personal thing with me: what's the kid who's attacked supposed to do, lie there and take it? To the other, in my schools, you were generally punished for fighting so it was well worth getting your licks in. Not like a kid? Want to get him detention? Want to get his parents pissed off at him? Have a friend hold him down while you beat him up. He will be punished by the school for being involved in a fight, and punished by his parents for getting in trouble at school. It is my experience that nobody asks why Johnny did wrong. Here we find an early template for the mode of thought which gives no consideration to the cause of these things.

    * Baseball: As the last example carried the critical difference of the punished victim being innocent to a certain degree, we do not find that with Mr McVeigh. Thus, I present Exhibit Alomar. So a couple of years back, Roberto Alomar (correct me if it was Sandy) spit on a major-league umpire during an argument in a baseball game. Everyone was rightly horrified. We can leave out the botched suspension, which allowed Alomar to play in the playoffs, but that's what we expect from MLB. However, the relevant aspect is that nobody gave a rat's behind what caused this outburst. Sure, Alomar was wrong. But the damn league was perhaps a hair's-breadth away from fixing the games. Balls and strikes were abitrary; a guy could, by the leagues regard for the umpiring, strike out ten times without ever seeing a strike as defined by the rulebook. Umpires were calling cheap balls and strikes just to go home, some days. Many games that year were absolutely ruined by imbecilic umpires who really thought they were being subtle. The umpires fostered certain superstars; the umpires fostered home runs. Sure, Alomar was wrong, but did the league care what his reasons were? That they might have been legitimate? Of course not; the league doesn't answer to anyone. So everyone was upset at Alomar's conduct and made the excuse that the umpire called that ball that hit the ground in front of the plate to be strike three (and thus end the game, as such) because "They're only human and doing their best." Their best? Ha! MLB umpires may well be the reason God created Hell in the first place.

    So, in a parallel sense: McVeigh lets loose. He spits on life and the face of the nation in an act of ludicrous violence and hatred. We are all appalled. But nobody gives a damn why he did it except those people who want to follow in his footsteps. What about Joe America? His complaints may mimic what McVeigh said: government intrusion, abuse of power, institutional injustice, ad nauseam. Sure, he doesn't go out and blow people up, and we all appreciate that. But on the other hand, why did a guy with these complaints just vote for someone who's going to give him more of the same complaints? To wit:

    * Timothy McVeigh, in the end, offered nothing new in his complaints. These are common issues with many Americans. And while it is good that these other Americans aren't blowing things up, I'm amazed at how many of them voted for George W Bush. I'm not talking about militiamen; I'm talking about your neighbors and your family. My dad complains about the government, yet he voted for Bush. My dad complained about greedy people, and then voted for Perot. My dad complains about lawyer/accountant/nitwit/whatnots, and then elects them to office. You don't have to blow anything up to make that change. You just have to stop encouraging the things that offend you.

    So in this sense, I hope we're all happy. I know I'm not. Why? I'll admit that McVeigh stretches the envelope of my belief against the death penalty. But I expect this thing to happen again because nobody listened to the monsters when they were merely protesting or writing bad letters to the editor. Nobody listened to them when they shooting at the police. Nobody listened to them when they blew up the Murrah building. Nobody's listening to them, and that means nobody will notice what's coming next until it's already happened. If I thought executing McVeigh would do the nation any real good, instead of just satisfying our bloodlust while excusing ourselves of murderous guilt, then sure, I'd say let's do it. If I thought people were so horrified that they wanted to prevent this from happening again, I'd say fry the bastard. But the simple fact is that Americans are maintaining the conditions that incite people to protest, and the apathy demonstrated toward those protestations is creating violent reactions. It matters not how you feel about this violence: the violence is real, and the rest of us are apparently permitting it in order to justify our own lust for destruction.

    Think about Columbine: I still hear the questions of why did it happen? And yet nobody gives any weight of credibility whatsoever to the words of the perpetrators, who explained their reasons. People will condemn those reasons, but never stop to figure out how things went this far in the first place.

    How do situations get out of hand? People choose for them to be.

    The country is out of hand on the day a guy can blow up 168 people. We haven't come back from that, and I don't think we will. Our outrage is almost a living spirit that demands perpetuity: sometimes I think people like putting the nation through this; since we have no real soul here, we like to pretend.

    In the meantime, people are getting hurt and dying. I will not accept execution unless we get from it something more positive than a satiation of our bloodlust.


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  22. Merlijn curious cat Registered Senior Member

    wake up and smell the coffee. Cruel punishments do NOT deter.
    just take a look at the stats.
    also: in gang warfare and in the world of the maffia there are some quite cruel punishments. Yet this does not stop those who are involved.
    maybe the death penalty even creates new cases of T.McV.s. If that is the case, you had protected the public better by not killing terrorists and criminals.
  23. discord5 Registered Senior Member

    i been drinkin coffee for a long time now and have always enjoyed the smell
    thank you for the criticism but you fail to offer a better idea than lets go out and hug some trees untill prople start being nice , well guess what people just aint gonna change cause you would like them to. most people suck and just think about #1 well if #1 is gonna get his ass kicked for a certain behavior that will convince #1 to stop the poor behavior, if you think the world works any other way than that then i hope you dont mind getting walked all over in this world

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