Rick Perry Has No Faith in Government but Total Faith in the Death Penalty

Why pro-death penalty rhetoric is not pro-individual rights.

Given last night's high-profile executions of Troy Davis in Georgia and Lawrence Russell Brewer in Texas, the question of the death penalty is certain to be discussed at tonight's Republican presidential candidate's debate (the program will air on Fox News Channel at 9 p.m. Eastern Time).

All told, September hasn't been a good month for fans of the death penalty. Republican Gov. Rick Perry's state, Texas, temporarily halted two executions in as many weeks over fears of racially biased expert testimony and claims of ineffectual legal representation. There was no question of Brewer's guilt in the horrific, racially charged 1998 dragging murder of James Byrd, but the victim's family came out against the death penalty. Over in Georgia, serious questions about the guilt of convicted cop killer Troy Davis transformed his execution into an international cause.

But Perry, the leading contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, is probably not worried about any of this because he is, he says, a true-blue small-government conservative. 

During the previous GOP debate, Perry trashed Social Security and ObamaCare, and said that a Democrat or Republican in the White House didn't matter as much as "get[ting] spending under control and capping it, cutting it, and getting a balanced budget amendment." According to Perry (and many like-minded conservatives), government programs are almost always inefficient, ineffective, and riddled with bureaucratic incompetence. Yet in response to a question from NBC News' Brian Williams on whether the number of executions he has presided over as governor ever gave him pause, Perry expressed perfect faith in one aspect of government: the state of Texas's ability to execute only the guilty. His response brought forth applause from the audience. 

Perry and another candidate for the presidential nomination, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), have the Republican party, Texas, and a rhetorical devotion to the Constitution and federalism in common. During his 11 years as governor, Perry has overseen 236 executions, tried to veto a bill to prevent executions of the mentally ill, and spoke out against the 2005 Supreme Court decision which blocked execution of criminals who were minors at the time of their crimes. Paul wrote in Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom that even if he were elected president, constitutionally he can't "interfere with the individual states that impose" the death penalty. That's another point of commonality: Perry agrees it's "a state-by-state issue" and added in his own book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington, that people who don't support gun-toting and the execution of convicted killers should just avoid Texas completely.

Paul, though, wrote in the same chapter of Liberty Defined, “I no longer trust the U.S. government to invoke and carry out a death sentence under any conditions.” The 123 men exonerated while serving time on death row in the past 30 years was enough to convince him that something was wrong. He would prefer to err on the side of not one single case like Cameron Todd Willingham, whose 2004 execution for killing his three children in a house fire is now widely accepted to have been a mistake based mainly on junk science from supposed arson experts.     

Unlike his fellow Texan, Perry is not similarly deluded or dismayed. He admits that yes, the recently exonerated Anthony Graves was innocent. Another man eventually pleaded guilty to the murders that Graves spent 18 years jailed for and would have lost his life over. The governor even signed off on the $1.45 million taxpayer-funded apology for Graves’ wrongful sentence. But conveniently enough, to Perry, every one of the 12 Texas death row exonerations of the past 30 years just proves that the system has all the safeguards it needs already in place. 

The huge responsibility for overseeing executions isn't the governor's alone. But Perry plus the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) can be a fearsome team. An article in The Austin Chronicle article explained the appeal procedure, noting that, “Since 2001, the BPP has made three recommendations that a death sentence be commuted to life. In two of those cases, Perry rejected the recommendation and allowed the offender to be executed.”    

In particular, the less said about Cameron Todd Willingham, the better for Perry. Not only did both Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles ignore Willingham's appeals, but, according to The Washington Post:

The state forensic science commission began to review the case and the state’s arson unit after investigative journalists cast increasing doubt on Willingham’s guilt. But just before the commission was to hear from an investigator it had hired, Perry dismissed the chairman and replaced three members of the commission.

Perry’s newly installed chairman, a prosecutor who had called Willingham a “guilty monster,” delayed the commission’s hearings and asked the attorney general for an opinion about whether the commission could actively investigate the Willingham case. 

Many media observers were horrified when the audience applauded Perry's absolute confidence in the death penalty during the last debate. As creepy as it may seem to some commentators, a 2011 Galllup poll shows a 65 percent majority of Americans support the death penalty. There's some fluctuation in the numbers. Support climbs 15 percentage points in Timothy McVeigh-type notorious crimes and drops to around 50 percent when life without parole is offered as an option. 

Even the low end of that range makes the death penalty relatively easy politics—especially for people already inclined to support Perry. With the exception of Ron Paul and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the rest of the GOP candidates mostly fall into line. Johnson, the two-term governor who will be back on the stage for tonight's debate, changed his mind after thinking through the issue and reading the news. Last November, he told The New Republic, "Naively, I really didn't think the government made mistakes." Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), doesn't seem to have a record of her stance, but since she stresses her pro-life credentials, she's probably for executions (being pro-life and pro-death penalty is a popular package among Republican office-seekers). Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could have avoided the issue since the Bay State doesn't have capital punishment, but instead he introduced a (failed) bill to bring it back in 2005. And then there are folks such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who supported the death penalty for drug dealers.

A recent Politco article posited that people may just not care about the death penalty as an issue anymore, as its use fades from its peak in the tough-on-crime-crazed 1990s. (In 1999 there were 89 executions, in 2010 there were 49; presidential candidate Bill Clinton proved his bona fides by overseeing the execution of a low-I.Q. killer named Ricky Ray Rector.) Even Perry, with his eyes on the White House, wants to talk about bigger things like a balanced budget amendment. The death penalty, like supporting the status quo in the drug war, is just one more well-established conservative pennant to wave around, even as blind faith in its inerrant application contradicts everything else anti-government politicians claim to believe about the public sector.

And besides, Gov. Perry has the perfect take, no matter what happens: If you catch mistakes in time, it's proof the system works. If you don't, well, then there's no doubt the person was guilty and deserved Texas justice.

Lucy Steigerwald is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Jay S.||

    Ah yes, the Death Penalty. The one area where tons of conservatives (but certainly not all) all of a sudden have the utmost faith in the government to act with absolute infallibility.

  • ||

    Can you blame them? They just like to kill stuff.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Right. War, too. Government is inept, corrupt and untrustworthy, except when it comes to killin' the right people!

  • Barack Obama||

    Yeah, those of us on the left hate war!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Uh, those of you on the left don't pretend to question big government.

  • Barack Obama||

    We do pretend to be against war, though.

  • Joe Biden||

    I pretend I'm Vice President sometimes.

  • Joe Biden||

    Squirrel!

  • Brubaker||

    It isn't faith in the government, it's faith in our system of justice and the 12 men and women who actually make the decision.

    Curiously, whenever an obviously guilty person gets off, liberals chant that the jury has spoken and the decision must be respected. Doesn't that also apply when the jury says the verdict is guilty?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    It isn't faith in the government, it's faith in our system of justice...
    Hahahahahahhaaahahahahahahhahhahah!
    (gasp)
    Ahahahahahahah!

  • ||

    Ah, the conservative delusion that the justice system is somehow not created, supported and enforced by the government. Just like how a gigantic military is also exempt from being part of the government.

  • ||

    Sure it is the government. And sure it is fallible like everything else. But we have to have a justice system. Unless you are an anarchist, you really have to support the monopoly of violence and the government role in enforcing the law.

    So playing the "you are not catholic enough to be the small government pope" argument is really stupid and besides the point. Libertarians don't like government. But most of them think it is a ok for said government to lock people in a cage for their entire lives. Does that mean they are hypocrites? I don't think so.

  • ||

    You can unlock the door of a prison cell and set the person free. Have you tried undoing an execution lately? Or does Rick Perry have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    But didn't you hear? Being jailed can be, like, worse than being killed? Maybe we should kill 'em all, just to be sure.

  • wingnutz||

    )))*applause & cheerz*

  • Mo||

    klaatu barada n-something

  • ||

    John, saying that you really have to support the government monopoly on violence unless you are an anarchist is not theoretically true.

    Don't you think that there are non-anarchists who might, given the evidence, support competition in the administration of justice?

    From a pure utilitarian perspective, how can it be said that monopolizing the use of violence has been a positive? Would utilitarians be satisfied with the constant warfare / welfare state of affairs? The spectacular misallocation of resources with such government monopolies? The hundreds of millions slaughtered by the very same monopolists?

  • ||

    John, here's what he said:

    It isn't faith in the government, it's faith in our system of justice and the 12 men and women who actually make the decision.

    Pretending that you don't have faith in something, but picking and choosing the parts of it you don't have a problem with, is the hypocrisy.

    Even the parts of government I concede are probably necessary doesn't mean I still take take their word for it. Even the smallest government still needs to be looked at with a gimlet-eye.

  • ||

    But...but...anarchists! Must...support....government!

  • Left-wing anarchists||

    It's okay when WE do it!

  • Warty||

    What good is faith if you can't kill people over it?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    gimlet...wasnt he a dwarf? Did he look like Gordon Ramsey?

  • ||

    SF,

    Take the case of Troy Davis. Here we have a guy who drug someone to death and says he would do it again. I say lets kill him and be done with. You say, lets lock him in a cage for the rest of his life. Are you really that much less trusting of the government than I am? Yeah, if he really is innocent we can let him out decades later and say we are sorry after we have taken the majority of his life. But that is pretty cold comfort isn't it?

    You can be like Epi. Who is legitimately batshit insane on this issue and thinks that the government should not have the power to do either. That is crazy, but it is at least consistent. But if you are not that way and trust the government to lock people up for their entire lives, I am sorry but you don't get to claim you somehow trust the government less in any meaningful way than the people who support the death penalty. It is a question of degree not kind.

  • ||

    Troy Davis did not drag anyone to death; he is the guy executed for the murder of a Savannah cop. The case came under fire when 7 of 9 eyewitnesses changed their testimony, begging a few questions:
    --9 eyewitnesses? Really? Seems unusual given that the murder was at night in a parking lot.
    --7 recanted, so they were lying then or lying now. Charge their asses with perjury.
    --given that, no issue with holding off on the execution.
    --in the Byrd case, many of the same folks who oppose the death penalty favor the insane notion of hate crime laws, as if those would have made that murder more heinous. Two of the convicted got death sentences, the third got life. Maybe their executions should come though the same means under which their victim died. I mean, if we're going to have a death penalty, let's not get bogged down in namby-pamby psychobabble about lethal drugs being tough on the system.

  • ||

    I confused the names. I meant the asshole in Texas who also got the needle last night.

  • well...||

    12 people decided someone needs to die, it must be OK!

  • ||

    No.

    The government controls the administration of justice; not the jury. In fact, the government, from day 1, has moved to circumscribe the ability of the jury to speak.

    Jury nullification has been under constant attack from those in the ruling classes, i.e., the judges, the lawyers, the "experts", public schools, the academey, big media and the like.

  • ||

    The biggest problem is the death of the use of clemency by governors. Governors are supposed to be the last resort and use that power to do justice regardless of process. And they have been totally derelict in that. Most of them are just cowards afraid of doing something that they might some day be held responsible for.

  • Maxx||

    You mean like Hucky releasing future rapists and murderers?

    Yeah that really served justice.

  • ||

    I would agree with your first sentence if indeed juries were fully informed of their powers and of the consequences of their decisions. But since they are kept in the dark regarding A) their ability to judge the law as well as the facts of a case, and B) the possible sentence a defendant will face if convicted, the system is run by the government, not juries.

  • Maxx||

    Those points are:

    a) Generally true

    b) Not true at all in death penalty cases. In those cases, the juries are selected with the knowledge of the ultimate penalty in case of conviction.

  • ||

    Agreed, on b) I was thinking of victimless crimes (e.g. drug possession)--juries might not "approve" of drug use but might not vote to convict if they knew the defendant was looking at prison time (esp. recidivists who potentially face life in prison for mere possession in many states).

  • Mo||

    Also, much of the evidence presented is the result of shady backroom deals from jailhouse informants initiated, but not recorded, by the government. The "experts" are vetted by the government, but their questionable qualifications are not presented. &c.

  • Maxx||

    Curiously, whenever an obviously guilty person gets off, liberals chant that the jury has spoken and the decision must be respected. Doesn't that also apply when the jury says the verdict is guilty?

    Liberal insanity is even more fundamental than that.

    They abhor the death penalty because of the fundamental unfairness they perceive in our criminal justice system and yet want to constantly expand the behaviors that are subject to that "unfair" system.

    Here's a suggestion for all you douchebags. Stop worrying about the dozen of criminals killed every year and start worrying about the tens of thousands of lives ruined by overcriminalization.

  • TheShag||

    Liberal here, no I don't.

    I'm for ending government punishment for all victimless crimes and the removal of unenforceable and over-specific gun regulation.

    We probably differ in what qualifies as victimless, but I don't know when you guys came under the delusion that all of us we want to criminalize everything.

  • Fort Worth Real Estate||

    No comment

  • ||

    ""It isn't faith in the government, it's faith in our system of justice and the 12 men and women who actually make the decision.""'

    In general I agree. But we are putting some faith that government isn't gaming the system by coercing witnesses. And faith the people will resist coercion.

    Including faith that government will right a wrong. But that faith would be misplaced.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "faith in our system of justice"

    Including the perfect police and the honorable judges who always enforce civil rights.

    "12 men and women who actually make the decision"

    Most people are retarded.

  • JohnD||

    Only someone that actually is retarded would claim that most people are retarded.

  • JT||

    "Doesn't that also apply when the jury says the verdict is guilty?"

    No. Innocent until proven guilty and a prohibition against double jeapordy but not retrial. The prosecuter and law enforcement are supported by the state to argue for a guilty verdict and have privillages for evidence gathering that the defense does not. For the purpose of balance, the rest of the process must favor the acused.

  • Kevin Carson||

    Depends on whether you think it's preferable for a guilty person to go free or an innocent person to be fried, I guess.

  • ||

    I don't think it has quite so much to do with the government being infallible as the belief that those on death row deserve to die. Pherhapes they watch too much CSI or don't spend alot of time thinking on the possibility that DNA evidence might be wrong. That being said I am not againt the death penatly, but great discretion must be used with it.

  • JohnD||

    No fool. They are accepting the decision of a jury of peers. In these high profile cases, the defense is usually made up of top flight lawyers that spend millions of dollars to ge tthe guilty off. Yet they still can't convince the jury.

  • ||

    Let's see, Ron Paul opposes the death penalty (and has articulately explained exactly why he holds and how he arrived at this view), he thinks any two people who want to marry should be free to do so, he thinks any American who wants to serve in the military should be able to, he is pro-life, but has also said that there are legitimate considerations on both sides of the issue, he thinks we should not fight undeclared wars and that war should always be a last resort and can only be justified when it's fought in self defense, he has opposed the drug war from day one and thinks it is wrong for a nation to punish people for "victimless crimes", he thinks that people should be judged as individuals and by the "content of their character",he is pro-peace and pro-liberty and on and on. I can see why you guys have so many misgivings about him. Man, what a scary, right wing nut job.

  • ||

    Maybe they don't like him because his most feverish supporters are whiny little bitches.

  • Warty||

    About the only thing I don't like about RON PUAL is his supporters.

  • ||

    The Nation of Boo-Hoo-Hoo.

  • ||

    Oh, Nerlman, you are all right; its your ties I can't stand.

  • Maxx||

    Maybe it's because he acts like an anti-libertarian performance artist.

    Like it or not, his erratic behavior and always pushing the envelope turns off twenty people for everyone that agrees with him.

  • ||

    I'm curious, what about Ron Paul is erratic? I hear that from individuals, but rarely can they ever articulate it. I simply think some talking head said that about him and it stuck.

  • Maxxx||

    I mean his mannerisms, body language and rhetorical style not his ideology.

    As I noted the prior create a barrier that prevents most people from acknowledging the latter.

    He comes across as a senile old bat to some and a borderline homeless bum to others.

  • emperior wears no clothes||

    If that's how you're determining where to park your vote - a candidate's mannerisms - then US America deserves all the bad presidents and governors it gets.
    Just sad.

  • AblueSilkworm||

    I don't think he's saying that he wouldn't vote for RP for those reasons, but that RP's deficiencies as an orator harm him severely in the public eye. I wish it weren't so, but I think he's right.

  • ||

    True. Most voters choose a president for trivial reasons, as if he were an actor or model.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I can see why you guys have so many misgivings about him.

    Paultardia, forever!
    (I'm a Paul supporter, by the way. But, really, fuck the Paultards.)

  • ||

    Oh, jeeze, you are hurting my feelings. And maybe you can explain to me how anything I wrote is inaccurate and how the sarcasm at the end does not speak directly to the conceits of many beltway libertarians and other cool folks who can not, just can not bring themselves to fully support the only libertarian candidate running.

    The idiocy of "yeah, I agree with RP on every single broad issue a President will have influence over and on virtually ever other particular issue, but I'm "put off" (or something) by and my sensibilities (or something)are troubled by Dr. Paul's goofyness" is pretty self evident.

    Yeah, he's libertarian and pro-liberty and anti-war and pro-peace, but he talks goofy sometimes and he doesn't look like GI Joe or a Ken doll. It's those "mannerisms" I can't get past. How can I possibly support a candidate with uncool mannerisms???

  • cynical||

    Maybe, like most people, they can't stand people that just won't fucking shut up and stop bothering everyone about their personal obsession. And I'm talking about Paul fanatics there, not Dr. Paul himself.

    Anecdote: one person I know on Facebook writes around 8 or 9 posts on RP every day. Every. Fucking. Day. He writes about Ron Paul more than he does about anything else in his life, kids, job, whatever. WTF?

    I mean, Paulites, if you're trying sell other people on the guy, learn some fucking tact -- I'd rather talk to a fucking Mormon missionary going door to door than a Paultard. And if you're not, then please just shut the fuck up about it and pull the lever for him when the day comes.

  • ||

    "she's probably for executions (being pro-life and pro-death penalty is a popular package among Republican office-seekers)."

    Does Reason even employ editors? And is it that hard to figure out what Bachmann thinks about the death penalty? If you don't know, how about not saying? Saying she is probably for it because she is one of those people is flat out pathetic and beneath the standards of a serious publication.

  • some guy||

    Does Reason even employ editors?

    Apparently, yes.

    Lucy Steigerwald is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

  • Terence||

    Yes, please defend Bachmann from that oh-so vicious attack. How reason make such damning accusations without evidence.

  • Reasonoid||

    Is Lucy Steigwald a goat fucker?

    Probably because of the company she keeps.

  • Doug||

    This is undoubtedly a sloppy article. I've noted a few other flubs. Clearly a hastily written, quick-let's-take-advantage-of-the-latest-hype effort.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Wizards did it.

  • ||

    Are you a wizard?

  • ||

    and being pro-choice and anti-death penalty is a popular package among Dem office-seekers. There; we have seeming inconsistency on both sides.

  • ||

    "Over in Georgia, serious questions about the guilt of convicted cop killer Troy Davis transformed his execution into an international cause.:

    And from the other side:
    http://www.anncoulter.com/

  • Bender Bending Rodriguez||

    Quoth Ann: "There is more credible evidence that space aliens have walked among us than that an innocent person has been executed in this country in the past 60 years, much less the past five years."

    Um, since the DNA testing of forensic evidence has come into use, over 300 death row inmates have been released because DNA testing proved they could not have committed the crime for which they were sitting on death row. Most of those convictions were upheld upon appeal, BTW. So that's 300+ people who were sitting on death row, until the government was forced to admit, "Oopsie, looks like you didn't do it. Our bad."

    Ann Coulter cannot possibly believe all the shit she writes.

  • ||

    In Culter's defense, the Davis case becomming a cause, whether local or international, is a laugh. A shitbird deserving of a fry if ever there was one.

  • ||

    There is no defense for saying what she said after the exonerations that have taken place, you bloodthirsty fuck.

  • JohnD||

    She doesn't need anyone to defend her, you freaking bleeding heart faggot.

  • Yet Another Dave||

    Ann does say a lot of crap that's hyperbole. But there's other stuff that she calls into question that does make one wonder. In this case, she notes that there were 34 eyewitnesses to the murder, not the nine being reported by most other outlets (and Ann isn't the only one using that figure - I did a google search and came up with a handful of outlets, but the major outlets are all using nine). She also calls into question the seven who supposedly recounted their testimony.

    Someone is lying to us about this case, or at a minimum twisting the facts to fit their agenda, and it's enough years after the shooting that it can't be attributed to misinformation in the heat of things as often happens with early reports.

  • Fluffy||

    The inescapable conclusion a reasonable person would draw would be that in the days before DNA testing, at least that number of innocent people were executed.

    To argue otherwise one would have to believe that during the time period covering the conviction of those men, we became dramatically worse at convicting the right person than we had been before.

  • The Dan||

    unless she is privy to a crap ton of evidence that aliens have walked among us.

  • Fluffy||

    Maybe at night she takes over her plastic face and eats whole rats with her giant lizard mouth.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    And ANOTHER hot 80s actress might I point out (except for that whole evil lizard alien part).

  • ||

    300+ people who were not executed.

    It's a semantics thing. You have to provide credible evidence that an innocent WAS executed in the last 60 years to refute her.

    If they're alive, for this statement at least, they don't count.

  • CanuckintheUS||

    Is that really surprising? Yet people still claim that she's a comedian. Yeah, ok

  • o2||

    but she IS an entertainer like rush

  • emperior wears no clothes||

    the only problem I have with your statement is that you refer to it as "she."

  • some guy||

    The death penalty has never been about justice. Justice could be served with a life sentence. It has never been about keeping people safe. Criminals are harmelss to society while behind bars. It has never been about detering heinous crimes. Most executions occur decades after the crime, when the crime itself has been lost in hazy memories for all except those most intimately involved.

    Instead, the death penalty has always been about revenge; about satisfying that primal urge to lash out and destroy something after you have been harmed. And if you lash out at the wrong person, so what? You feel much better, don't you? Well, justice is fueled by truth, not by feelings. For this reason, among others, the death penalty has no place in a justice system.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I have no problem with a brutal murderer who is 100& guilty getting his/her ticket punched.

    ANY doubt, though, should be sufficient to keep said lowlife from being executed.

    Speaking of doubt. all cases where DNA tech can allow for review, *must* be reviewed. Innocence Project and suchlike. Get that shit done, and get the backlogs of unprocessed rape kits the fuck done as well. Get the guilty punished, and get the innocent the hell back into society.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Argh.

    100%

    Typing in the semi-darkeness... how do it work?

  • ||

    Or hurry and throw away those rape kits so ourfaith in the "system of justice" isn't shaken.

  • ||

    Correct. The death penalty is about the bloodthirstiness of its proponents, and nothing more. It says far more about them than anything else. "Kill! Kill! Kill!"...wait, let me rephrase that: "Someone kill someone for me! Someone kill someone for me!"

  • SIV||

    The death penalty does prevent the future release of heinous criminals.

    I still prefer extra-judicial violence to the state-monopoly kind.

  • ||

    Right, as long as someone else commits the violence for you, because you're such a tuff gai.

    Oh how you bore me.

  • ||

    I am asking someone else to do it. I would gladly pull the trigger on these guys. And if someone broke into your house Epi, I assume you would shoot them because you figure they need killing. Are you blood thirsty kill kill kill? I don't think so. But maybe you have more self loathing than me.

  • SIV||

    You are a fucking dumbass Episiarch. If the violence is extra-judicial it isn't being done for, or by, anyone not directly involved. Now quit pretending to be an anarchist.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "The death penalty does prevent the future release of heinous criminals."

    True. If I was released from being on death row, I would turn in to a "heinous criminal" by then. No amount of compensation would be enough to prevent me from obtaining revenge for that.

  • ||

    Grow up Episiarch, seriously. I support the concept of the death penatly, though I think its implementation should be used only in certain circumstances. Some individuals simply should not live and are better off removed from society. The only alternative is to keep them a ward of the state, which I do not support, unless you bring back hard labor in which case they would be of some use. But many individuals, probably many on this forum even, would find the concept of reintroducing hard labor, and I mean true fucking hard labor, as abhorrent. So what would you do as an alternative with individuals who clearly are a danger to society?

  • Bradley||

    Some individuals simply should not live and are better off removed from society. The only alternative is to keep them a ward of the state…

    Those are really the only options you can dream up? Kill someone or keep them in jail indefinitely with tax money? The statist false dichotomy strikes again.

  • o2||

    so what other choices than experiemntal brain treatments or perhaps cut-off the right hand?

  • Tony||

    True dangers to society, like criminal psychopaths, should be locked up and studied. That's a tiny proportion of any population, though, and our energies are best focused on rehabilitating people rather than spending resources keeping them locked up, which, in this country, is a practice that is frighteningly intertwined with both political and business interests. Whatever the problems in this country, not enough people being punished harshly enough is not one of them.

  • Edwin||

    Tony, didn't you say at one point that "we had found out how to create social harmony despite large numbers of indigent poor, by locking them up"?

  • Tony||

    Could be, do you suppose that means I endorse that method?

    I think if you're a prisoner of the state you have, if anything, a greater claim than average to having a democratic voice in that government.

  • Bradley||

    I doubt that even the more ardent death-penalty supporters would be willing to administer a lethal injection with their own hands. But add a few million people and some intermediaries and presto, wrong becomes right.

  • ||

    pose that question to the victims of death row inmates and you might be surprised how many would do it themselves. Maybe when one of your relatives is killed by one of these folks, you can lecture the rest of the class on why the assailant is really the victim.

  • Bradley||

    Maybe when one of your relatives is killed by one of these folks, you can lecture the rest of the class on why the assailant is really the victim.

    Of course: I'm not part of group X, so my arguments about issue Y are invalid. You conservatives are a hoot.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    Not for nothing, but "you don't know, so you can't say" is the bailiwick of many of my most hated groups:

    - Victims of crimes
    - Families of victims
    - Moms ("You've never been a mother!")
    - Parents in general
    - Minorities who use that as a sledgehammer to close debate.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: some guy,

    The death penalty has never been about justice. Justice could be served with a life sentence.


    Actually, justice could have been served through indentured servitude in favor of the family of the deceased (that would make me think twice about killing even the most obnoxious of assholes,) but that is not what prisons and the death penalty are about. They're about bureaucrats, unions, lawyers and money.

  • o2||

    finally old mex writes something thoughtful

  • o2||

    and im still batting .000

  • o2||

    but im in the game swingin babiee

  • ||

    Nice idea, but do you really want a psychotic killer living in your house as your slave? And how could you be around said killer without taking revenge and killing him anyway?

  • goneGalt||

    OM didn't say anything about having them around the house.

    I was thinking more in terms of them doing work for me at the office. Psychotic killers would fit right in with MY co-workers!

  • goneGalt||

    Don't DO give 'em any ideas!

  • goneGalt||

    That was for OM.

  • fuckthesouth||

    Actually, justice could have been served through indentured servitude in favor of the family of the deceased (that would make me think twice about killing even the most obnoxious of assholes

    that's what we need to bring back for black men on death row - slavery - because no fate is worse than death, right?
    what if the killer turns out to be innocent? 'at least he'd get to live' = why slavery wasn't as bad as this, 2.0 (1.0 was this)

  • Jim||

    I'm with Kant on this one; murderers should demand their own execution as a matter of pride, rather than be robbed of humanity and treated like a rat in a cage the rest of their lives.

    There is nothing wrong with retribution, and just because trial lawyers have succeeded in making exhorbitant sums on appeals and delaying the final sentence does not make the statement any less true.

    "Criminals are harmless to society while behind bars."

    This is a laughable statement; they cost more to inter, and all too often go free where they kill again, including in the prisons where they are housed.

    If you wish to tar me as being barbaric, then I will call you childish. So there!

  • some guy||

    This is a laughable statement; they cost more to inter, and all too often go free where they kill again, including in the prisons where they are housed.

    When was the last time a prisoner harmed someone outside prison? Occassionally you here about some gang boss ordering a hit from inside, but it is very rare.

    As for the costs: Administering the death penalty "fairly" costs a lot of money too. And I never said prison costs were reasonable. I'm with Old Mex on this one. We should make prisoners work their asses off to earn their keep.

  • ||

    Willie Horton. Nuff said.

  • Jim||

    Here's 30+ murderers who killed 50+ people. But that is only a partial list.

  • Ray Pew||

    When was the last time a prisoner harmed someone outside prison? Occassionally you here about some gang boss ordering a hit from inside, but it is very rare.

    Why does it have to be outside prison?

    http://articles.nydailynews.co.....ff-members

  • ||

    Childish is supporting state sponsored murder.

    The enemy is statism. Far more murders are committed in the name of the state and under the color of law than by non-state individuals.

  • Ray Pew||

    Childish is supporting state sponsored murder.

    This is blurring the lines to the point of blindness. The execution of innocents IS murder, but the execution of murderers is not. Unless one can present a compelling argument why the killing in self-defense is acceptable but the killing of a person who ACTUALLY murders another is not acceptable.

    The enemy is statism. Far more murders are committed in the name of the state and under the color of law than by non-state individuals.

    Undoubtedly. But this does not argue that all actions of the State are illegitimate.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "The execution of innocents IS murder, but the execution of murderers is not."

    The term murder covers all deliberate killings of individuals. You can argue that murder may be justified in that case, but its still murder. I can think of some other situations besides defense or war where murder may be justifiable to me.

  • Ray Pew||

    The term murder covers all deliberate killings of individuals. You can argue that murder may be justified in that case, but its still murder. I can think of some other situations besides defense or war where murder may be justifiable to me.

    From my understanding, murder is not an all encompassing concept for killing. The term derives from "unlawful killing; secret killing".

  • ||

    The term you are looking for is homicide, the deliberate killing of a person. The killing can be justifiable, such as in lawful self defense. If not justifiable, it is usually considered murder.

  • R||

    No, it doesn't, at least not according to law. There's also justifiable homicide and manslaughter.

  • Gojira||

    ^^ This is why I changed my handle. The other Jims stopped posting for awhile, and I was beginning to think I'd made it all up in my head.

  • Ray Pew||

    The death penalty has never been about justice. Justice could be served with a life sentence.

    And it could also be served with execution. You haven't demonstrated why the latter is not also a form of justice.

    It has never been about keeping people safe. Criminals are harmelss to society while behind bars.

    This is a laughable statement. Criminals have escaped jail, they have orchestrated crimes from within jail and they also threaten the lives of other jailmates and the prison staff.

    It has never been about detering heinous crimes.

    Deterence and justice are not equivalent. If the punishment deters others from committing the same type of crime, then this is a plus, but justice is about compensation for the victim.

    Instead, the death penalty has always been about revenge; about satisfying that primal urge to lash out and destroy something after you have been harmed.

    Then, by your argument, any punishment for a crime is simply a "primal urge". By this logic, penalties for crimes are never reasoned, they are simply emotive. Which is obviously ridiculous.

    And if you lash out at the wrong person, so what? You feel much better, don't you? Well, justice is fueled by truth, not by feelings. For this reason, among others, the death penalty has no place in a justice system.

    Your argument leaves no room for justice being anything but irrational emotions, so I can't see how it can ever be based on truth.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "justice is about compensation for the victim"

    They convicted the guy, but did you ever get your bike/car/wallet back?

  • Ray Pew||

    They convicted the guy, but did you ever get your bike/car/wallet back?

    So if you are the victim of a beating, you will ask the court to pardon the accused because a jail sentence doesn't produce an "unbeating"? The recognition that criminal activity is subject to punishment is a form of compensation.

  • Mr. Mark||

    "It has never been about detering heinous crimes."

    Deterred me about a half and hour ago.

    That's how many times this week...?

    Just sayin'

  • JohnD||

    Criminals are harmless when behind bars? That's a stupid statement. I guess you never heard to the black rapist in Georgia that over powered his guard and killed the judge and a court officer? I guess you are also unaware that many convicts are murdered by their peers while in prision? Fool.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Anyone watch Maddow and Sgt. Schultz blather about this last night? I managed to choke down a record three minutes of their weepiness/blame conservatives/sop to the NAACP bullshit... AND managed to not puke.

  • Bradley||

    The Twitter was awash with "This is why we need more Democrat-appointed judges" grumblings.

    You know, so SCOTUS can unanimously reject stays of execution with a little more compassion.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    That makes sense. Same mindset calls for death to "righties" without compunction.

    Fuck the Teams.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Ricky Ray Rector was not a "low-IQ killer." At least, not particularly low-IQ at the time of his crime. He shot a man in a night club, shot a policeman who tried to arrest him, and then shot himself in the head. It's certainly "arguable" that he should not have been held competent for trial, but he was so held. Read a lot about it here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricky_Ray_Rector

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Via Alan Vanneman:
    Sherlock Holmes and ...
    Aw, fuck it. I give up.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Badgered Dwarf?

  • Warty||

    How did you survive to adulthood, Vanneman?

  • ||

    Sheltered inside the vagina of a giant pangolin.

  • ||

    No, no, you idiots. Vanneman sprang into being, whole and adult, from the thigh of Bette Midler. No need to survive childhood, see?

  • Solanum||

    So The Rose is actually about Vanneman? No wonder I've always hated that putrid song.

  • Fluffy||

    Look, we have argued a lot about the death penalty in the last couple of days.

    But I definitely acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree about the death penalty.

    At different times, I've been on both sides of the issue myself.

    I think Lucy is wrong if she thinks you can't be a small-government conservative and be in favor of the death penalty.

    All that being said, I can't see how anyone of any political persuasion or any opinion on the death penalty can look at this:

    The state forensic science commission began to review the case and the state’s arson unit after investigative journalists cast increasing doubt on Willingham’s guilt. But just before the commission was to hear from an investigator it had hired, Perry dismissed the chairman and replaced three members of the commission.

    Perry’s newly installed chairman, a prosecutor who had called Willingham a “guilty monster,” delayed the commission’s hearings and asked the attorney general for an opinion about whether the commission could actively investigate the Willingham case.

    ...and not think that this episode alone disqualifies Perry from holding any higher office or even his current one, and that if the Republicans nominate him for President that the Republicans deserve to lose, no matter to whom.

  • ||

    I think Lucy is wrong if she thinks you can't be a small-government conservative and be in favor of the death penalty.

    Me, too. Whether you oppose a particular penalty or not is pretty much irrelevant to whether you think government should be small and limited.

    Unless, of course, your vision of small government does not include things like courts and criminal laws.

  • ||

    Exactly. That is what I tried to point out to Sugar Free above.

  • Bradley||

    Given that the President is first and foremost a murderer-in-chief these days, that ought to make Perry more qualified for the job.

  • Fluffy||

    I don't mind so much that he's a murderer-in-chief.

    It's his shamelessness in openly declaring, "If anyone ever gets close to finding out the truth about a policy I favor, I'll do whatever I have to do to stop that from happening."

    It's like if someone was investigating Solyndra and the day before they were going to report their results, Obama fired them, and said, "Hey, if anyone hears the truth about Solyndra, fewer people might support green energy - so I'm going to bury this report as deep as I can, forever."

  • ||

    Since Obama has fired him some inconvenient inspector generals, I guess this puts Perry and Obama on equal footing.

  • Fluffy||

    Yes, and Obama also buried the torture photos.

    They're on equal footing - it's just that the equality of their footing is, "You can't possibly vote for either of these guys without being scum."

  • ||

    Logically, one cannont support state sponsored murder and be for small government notwithstanding R C's declaration to the contrary.

    If one supports state sponsored murder, one necessarily supports bigger more intrusive government. How can one describe a government as "limited" if it can murder?

    The reality is that state sponsored murder imposes tremendous costs upon those of us who actually make, produce and service upon a voluntary, consensual basis. We have money confiscated from us and redistributed to the legal / prison builiding / security complex. Warehousing the death row inmate / the mandatory appeals / the judges, the lawyers, the court personnel / the positive feedback to aggressive state action and the opportunity costs associated therewith do not leave any room for one to support the foregoing and be simultaneously be a small, limited government supporter.

    Any time one favors more aggressive state action including the power to murder, one can not logically be called a small government type of guy.

    If one is truly a small government type of guy, one, by definition, given the facts on the ground today, must never be in favor of anything that enables the state to project more power.

  • ||

    We may be talking past each other on what we consider "small government". To me, small government is about the scope of government, what is within its purview, and what is not.

    To me, the smallest of small government, true "night watchman" minarchy, includes criminal laws, courts and trials, and criminal penalties. I think you can be a night watchman minarchist and support the death penalty.

    Sure, its a relatively expensive penalty, but that expense is part of the overall expense of a having even a minarchist prison system, and is decimal dust in the bill for the Prison-Industrial Complex. If you want to get our Prison-Industrial Complex under control, the death penalty is not the place to start. The Prison-Industrial Complex is a creature, not of the death penalty, but of the metastasizing criminal code.

  • ||

    R C, I can't argue your last point as the prison complex is not borne of the death penalty. I do believe that the death penalty feeds the complex-but the metastasizing criminal code is the primary feeder.

    As for the night watchmen minarchy, if it has the power to kill, by definition, it is bigger than a night watchmen minarchy that does not possess that power.

  • ||

    "I do believe that the death penalty feeds the complex-but the metastasizing criminal code is the primary feeder."

    How? We have had the death penalty since the dawn of time. In fact it was used a lot more before the days of the prison industrial complex. If anything the death penalty goes against it. If we went back to hanging people for theft, there would be a lot fewer people in prison.

  • ||

    If the death penalty is "state sponsored murder," then there's no way that imprisonment can be anything other than state-sponsored kidnapping. Do you want to go there?

  • JohnD||

    LibertyMike.... Your calling the states ability to execute criminals as murder, disqualifies you from any reasonable discussion of the death penalty.

  • ||

    Perry's coverup of the Forensic Science Commission's investigation of the Willingham case indicates he has something to hide.

    Unlike Governor Bush, Perry has refused to release any of the death row case memos or any indication of how he decides clemency decisions for death row inmates.

    Perry received a report from a leading fire expert, Gerald Hurst, the day of Willingham's execution. Hurst claimed that all the physical evidence of arson was based on flawed science yet Perry did not issue a 30 day stay of execution to give time for other fire experts to confirm Hurst's findings.

    Perry failed to do his duty because the governor has the power to grant a 30 day stay exactly for the kind of last minute exculpatory evidence submitted by Hurst.

  • Colin||

    There's a reason why they call Georgia "The Penal Colony."

  • SIV||

    Who's "they"? Ignorant Yankees who never read any colonial history?
    Georgia was never a penal colony.

  • o2||

    yankeez is soo 2 centuriez agoo

  • PIRS||

    The always accurate Wikipedia states this:

    "English settlement began in the early 1730s after James Oglethorpe, a Member of Parliament, promoted the area be colonized with the worthy poor of England, to provide an alternative to the overcrowded debtors' prisons. Oglethorpe and other English philanthropists secured a royal charter as the Trustees of the colony of Georgia on June 9, 1732.[1] The misconception of Georgia's having been founded as a debtor or penal colony persists due to the numerous English convicts who were sentenced to transportation to Georgia. With the motto, "Not for ourselves, but for others," the Trustees selected colonists for Georgia. On February 12, 1733, the first settlers arrived in the ship Anne, at what was to become the city of Savannah."

  • SIV||

    Oglethorpe envisioned the province as a location for the resettlement of English debtors and "the worthy poor", although no debtors or convicts were part of the organized settlement of Georgia.

    Those wiki GA History entries are a mess. I know (more than) a little bit about printed and manuscript Georgiana.
    I can't recall any documentation of anyone sentenced to transport to the Trustee colony. Georgia's earliest settlers came quite voluntarily. Slavery was prohibited.

  • ||

    Australia is also called that, and yet they abolished capital punishment in 1985.

  • ||

    Australia is also called that, and yet they abolished capital punishment in 1985.

    Atually, no. Criminal law is a state matter, just as it is in the US.

    The Federal Government of Australia abolished capital punishment for federal crimes in 1973. This applied to the Northern Territory as well.

    All six states had the death penalty at one time. Queensland was the first state to abolish the death penalty in 1922. New South Wales abolished capital punishment for murder in 1955 and for all crimes in 1984. All the other states ended it some time between the first and last dates.

  • ||

    We can't let cancer patients die in peace, that would violate the sacred princiable of life! Now excuse me, I have to go attend a good old fashion convict fry, YEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAWWW, LIGHT'EM SHERIFF!

  • o2||

    unlike the death penalty, euthanasia is akin to...to teh eevilz abortionz !

  • ChrisO||

    Since the death penalty is mostly a state matter, I don't consider it a front-and-center issue for presidential politics.

    However, Perry's bullheaded certainty as to the death penalty in the face of conflicting evidence is worrying to me in the context of decisions he'd have to make as president. Does the guy actually listen to and honestly weigh different points of view on difficult issues? That's what a leader is expected to do, and I'm not seeing much evidence of it from him. A little worrying for a guy trying to gain access to the 'nuclear football.'

  • Warty||

    Rick Perry: Put your hand on the scanning screen, and you'll go down in history with me!
    Five Star General: As what? The world's greatest mass murderers?
    Rick Perry: You cowardly bastard! You're not the voice of the people, I am the voice of the people! The people speak through me, not you!

  • ||

    Excellent.

  • ||

    That's from West Wing, right?

  • Fluffy||

    I loled.

    Funny, I thought that was from Twilight's Last Gleaming at first, but I guess it's not.

  • ||

    THE ICE...IS GONNA BREAK!

  • JohnD||

    Chriso, try substituting Obama for Perry and include every decision he makes in the above rant.

    So is Obama a leader in your mind?

  • ||

    A shitbird deserving of a fry if ever there was one.

    Why do you waste your eloquence on us?

  • ||

    a prosecutor who had called Willingham a “guilty monster,”

    Once again, the kettle points its finger at the pot.

  • ||

    There was a time where I was a full supporter of the death penalty, in large part due to my naiveté concerning the criminal justice system. I am no longer a wholesale supporter, but not because of some moral issue with taking a life. I have an issue with the possibility of taking an innocent life.

    Some people DESERVE to die for their crimes. I suggest raising the bar for its use from "beyond a reasonable doubt" to "NO doubt". When you have the incontrovertible evidence, such as video tape, hundreds of eye witnesses, or where the perp is actually apprehended in the act of committing the crime...there is NO doubt. In these circumstances, the death penalty is still fully justifiable.

  • SIV||

    Just kill 'em on the spot.

  • GSL||

    Yeah, this was why I thought the Davis execution was awful. I don't know whether he was innocent or not, but the gray area seemed to be significant enough to merit sparing his life.

  • Sparky||

    +1

  • ||

    +1 ampere

  • ||

    I'd agree with that mindset

  • Edwin||

    completely agreed. The possibility of a mistake wqith an innocent person is my only concern

  • Zeb||

    I agree with this. But I would also add that if it is to be used, the death penalty should be applied more consistently. Instead of having a penalty stage of the trial where emotional pleas are made to the jury to execute/not execute the murderer, there should be specifically defined circumstances that trigger the death penalty.

  • ||

    I'm sure its revealing that the high-profile cause celebre for the anti-death penalty movement always seems to be a black guy convicted of killing a white cop.

    Can't be a coincidence, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it means.

  • Fluffy||

    I think it's half that it's easier to whip people up if the defendant is black, and half that if the victim was a cop it really doesn't matter what evidence comes up after trial, death penalty advocates are going to demand the execution goes ahead anyway.

    So you have a force-and-object type thing going on.

  • ||

    It is not always. Brian Kieth Coleman was a cause celebre for a while. And he was white. He was often held up as an example of an innocent person being executed. That is until DNA evidence later proved he was guilty as hell. The shock on the do gooder preacher's face as he heard that Coleman lied to him was priceless.

  • Mo||

    Yes, it's always the case.

    :eyeroll:

  • Mo||

  • ||

    I don't recall the Willingham case getting nearly the press time that the black cop-killer cases have.

  • Mo||

    Willingham got the full 20 page New Yorker treatment and got loads of play.

    I think part of it is that a black cop killer or a guy that kills two cute young girls is far less likely to get a fair shake than anyone else.

  • ||

    I'm sure its revealing that the high-profile cause celebre for the anti-death penalty movement always seems to be a black guy convicted of killing a white cop.

    Can't be a coincidence, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it means.

    ...

    I don't recall the Willingham case getting nearly the press time that the black cop-killer cases have.

    This might explain why it seems that way to you.

  • ||

    Could be. Its a subjective perception thing.

    I've just been hearing about Mumia and Troy Davis off and on for years, and only remember Willingham surfacing for a brief time in connection with Perry's terrible handling of the case.

  • ||

    Unfortunately for Willingham, his case apparently got no national media attention until after he had been executed in February 2004.

    Hurst's report saying the Willingham fire was not arson was only completed a few days before the execution and was sent to the Texas courts, parole board and governor Perry.

    They should have also sent it to all the major newspapers.

    I believe the first major national story was in the Dec. 9, 2004 Chicago Tribune.

  • JohnD||

    Isn't it obvious that the Reasonoids hate cops? Therefore any black accused of killing a cop deserves to be defended.

  • Doug||

    but the victim's family one member of the victim's family came out against the death penalty.

    There. Fixed that for you.

  • ||

    And exactly what would stir in you a passion to cull the herd of an obnoxious fuck? Gassing trainloads of Jewz? Raping an adolescent and chopping off her arms with an axe (only later to be have been deemed to have "served his time". After all, it wasn't murder.). If so, how about loading the boxcars? Is their no behavior, however repugnant, that qualifies one to have the rest of us punch his ticket?

    Maybe better you truss your girdle and let others handle the dirty work.

  • ||

    Hey, tuff gai, we're talking about evidence here, but you're too bloodthirsty to get that, I suppose.

    Maybe better you truss your girdle and let others handle the dirty work.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Are you executing the guy, tuff gai? Are you doing the "dirty work"?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Warty||

    I hopez I hopez I hopez this is Cesar.

  • ||

    That would be pretty good, but I doubt it. It's not like this armchair executioner shit isn't common.

  • Warty||

    That's the beauty of it. Real or fake, we're in the presence of an artist right now.

  • ||

    A bit tougher than some I suppose, but it's hardly the point. I've been bemused by Ron Goldman's father prancing his outrage in front of cameras when what he should have been doing is biding his time until he could cap OJ. How someone could take a fucking like that and sit still for it amazes me.

  • ||

    same goes for sheople taking crap from caesar's toadies.

  • ||

    ""when what he should have been doing is biding his time until he could cap OJ""

    Why would Mr. Goldman want to go to prison when OJ didn't? You can't kill someone out of revenge.

  • o2||

    u can if ur willing to pay the price

  • ||

    Give the name and the place and I will gladly shoot any of those people in the head and go home and sleep like a baby. You think I am kidding. I am not.

  • emperior wears no clothes||

    I'm with you on that one.
    I'd have no trouble aiming for the bull's-eye on a murderer's chest.
    No. Trouble. At all.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    What is wrong with you two? Killing someone is the most soul-sucking thing ever. Someone was living and breathing (and yeah, he was shooting at you), and now he's not. Poof...no more life.

    It's indescribable, but I assume that both of your attitudes means you have no idea how it feels.

  • ||

    You would assume wrong.

  • JohnD||

    I'm more concerned about what is wrong with you, Rev Moon. Most of these criminals are scum that deserve to die. You sound like one of those morons that hold twilight vigils for criminals about to be executed.

  • Warty||

    Maybe better you truss your girdle and let others handle the dirty work.

    This is how to troll, people. ILLEGAL AINT A SICK BIRD

  • Tim||

    Give us Barrabas!

  • Kyle||

    Guys, guys, calm down. It's OK - Perry just says a prayer to the Sky Cake Fairy, asking for guidance, and the Fairy guides his hand on the Execution Ouija board to the right option - to stay executions or allow them to proceed.

    DON'T YOU HAVE FAITH IN THE SKY CAKE FAIRY??!?!?!?

    #blamerickperry

  • o2||

    cuz god told perry WHO to murder?

  • PIRS||

    o2 are you unable to detect sarcasm?

    Please, go eat some santorum.

    If you don't know what that is Google it.

  • o2||

    ha my brains are santorum

  • o2||

    hey priss for brainz, i responded w complimentary sarcasm reinforcing kyle's post. pls try to keep up

  • o2||

    see? it's santorum all the way down...

  • PIRS||

    Kyle's sarcasm was clear - you simply appeared to be criticising him - especially since that is normally all you do - normally all you do is criticize. It seems to be your default mode.

  • emperior wears no clothes||

    I'm more offended by the lack of punctuation and the ipad-gen spelling.
    Not cool. Write like an adult.

  • ||

    Maybe better you truss your girdle and let others handle the dirty work.

    Manly.

  • Doug||

    His response brought forth applause from the audience.

    Actually it wasn't his response that brought the applause, it was the number of executions presented in the question. The applause began well before Perry responded.

    C'mon Lucy, you can do better than this.

  • ||

    for the life of me I can't figure out what it means.

    DOGWHISTLE

  • Sparky||

    +1

  • Sparky||

    Hmm, maybe this belongs somewhere appropriate.

  • Dallas||

    Ok, Perry is a di** and I never hope he is close to the presidency, but in some cases these people have done horrible things. Last night was unfortunate, when the man was screwed by the system. However, most deserve it.

  • Doug||

    di**

    Feel free to spell it out. This is a libertarian site, after all. ;)

  • ||

    Are you talking about DICK Perry?

  • Terence||

    Aside from the moral dilemma of executing an innocent, doesn't the death penalty actually cost more than a sentence?

    It seems counter-intuitive but I vaguely recall that executions eventually cost more. It's seems possible given the great lengths that ought to be taken to ensure guilt.

    We spend too much on these few murders a year. Government shouldn't be in the revenge business.

  • ||

    government should be in the going out of business business

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Well, for me the death penalty is not a legitimate authority of government. Says right there in our founding documents that Life is its first duty to protect. The principle is simple in my mind: I own me. The state has been granted the autority to restrict the exercise of my rights when I demonstrate a lack of responsibility in doing so. However, it is impossible to exercise your right to life irresponsibly. The things you do in life yes, but not life itself. My existence can in no way infringe on the equal right of another to exist. Period. Therefore the state has no authroity to restrict my ability to exercise my right to live.

    Now, if a robber breaks into my house, taking his life is the reasonable way for me to defend myself. A prisoner has already been kept from infringing anyone elses rights so taking his life is not necessary to protect the rights of others but keeping him there is.

    And don't give me some stupid shit about being trapped in an airtight pod where your breathing threatens another's life or some such.

  • ||

    Where in the federal constitution is there a specific grant of power authorizing the feds to incarcerate any person?

    where is there textual support for the proposition that the feds can create a humongous, parasitical bureaucracy like the Bureau of Prisons?

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    Given that treason is mentioned as a crime in the Constitution, it would be odd for there to be a federal criminal offense without providing the federal government with a means of punishing it.

  • ||

    My statist aunt said this same bullshit to me when I said that the US Constitution had no provision for a federal criminal code. It says that the SCOTUS was to TRY cases of treason, nothing else is said about defining federal crime.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I am unclear as to why you post this irrelevant question. The constitution applies to the federal government and, by tenuous extention, to the states through the 14th. So your question relates not at all to the principles i have outlined above.

  • ||

    Master Bates-

    Is there a specific grant of power authorizing the feds to kill people?

    The answer is no.

    Is there any language in the constitution authorizing the feds to imply, for themselves, powers not specifically granted?

    The answer is no.

    Is there anything from the founding era that supports the proposition that where there is some doubt or incomplete thought upon whether the feds have the power to act in a certain way, that the power should be implied?

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    Is there a specific grant of power authorizing the feds to kill people?

    I suppose that whole "Declare War" grant in Article I means Congress can declare a pillow fight.

    This is why you get filtered.

  • ||

    Founding documents:

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

    Perhaps the founders were wrong to think so, but they seem to disagree as to whether the death penalty can legitimately be imposed by the government.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I never said the founding documents specifically restricted the state from carrying out the death penalty. And the "founders" were is a great deal of disagreement witha great many things (slavery being only one example). This still has zero bearing on the PRINCIPLE i outlined above. The reference to founding documents was to demonstrate that, presumably, the most important legitimate function of the state in our founders minds was the protection of individual rights, namely Life, Liberty, and Property.

  • ||

    It's good that you didn't, because they specifically allow the state to carry out the death penalty.

    The bearing it has on the principle you outline is that they disagreed with you. I specifically pointed out that their belief may be incorrect, but despite your interpretation of founding documents, they clearly intended for the state to have the right to take away life after due process was given.

    presumably, the most important legitimate function of the state in our founders minds was the protection of individual rights, namely Life, Liberty, and Property.

    Odd. Why does your principle (excuse me, PRINCIPLE) only apply to life, and not liberty or property?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    You again make no sense. I had no limiting language. The prinicples of fundamental inherent rights cover an infinite range. Were are talking about the death penalty not buying lattes.

  • Smart Aleck||

    The headline on CNN is "World Shocked by US Execution of Troy Davis." Nothing about Lawrence Russell Brewer.

    If one is going to oppose the death penalty, (and not simply dispute a finding of guilt in individual cases) one also has to oppose it for racists as well defendants whom you feel are falsely accused.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I agree with this and since my position is 100% principle based I have no problem with consistency.

  • PIRS||

    Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the President of the United States have the power to stay an execution? Even if it is a state issue?

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    You're wrong: crimes against the United States only. You have been corrected.

  • Thom||

    Especially given that the Byrd family has said that they did not support Brewer's execution. Killing him serves no purpose other than reaffirming the state of Texas' right to kill people.

  • Thom||

    The death penalty has always been one of my main issues when I'm evaluating people who want my support for drawing a taxpayer funded salary in exchange for telling me what to do. It's one of the few issues where I cannot understand how the other side thinks. Even if I had the faith in government competence required, the death penalty still seems much too risky. Not just that we might execute an innocent person, but that we might come to the realization at some point in our futures that we are not supposed to be killing other people, even the guilty ones. Why would anybody prefer such unnecessary risk when modern prisons are able to render violent criminals harmless and keep society protected?

  • ||

    For one thing, most prisons are not modern.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I have been on this board for over 5 years (lurking to start) and I have never seen such a split amongst "libertarians" over the death penalty. Being involved with LP and other liberty organizations this is pretty boilerplate stuff. I am truly stunned.

  • ||

    If libertarianism is true to the non-agression principle, no person can logically claim to be a libertarian in favor of the death penalty.

    Some people conflate libertarianism with support for "limited" and / or "small" statism.

    Cognitive dissonance: Libertarians who are hostile to anarchy.

  • ||

    The non-aggression principle, taken to its logical conclusion, does indeed rule out any form of state altogether. The state depends on initiation of force other than in self-defense, after all.

    But I disagree that being a libertarian requires either (a) strict adherence to the non-aggression principle or (b) a belief that anarchism is the most desirable form of social organization.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I agree with RC.

  • Tony||

    The state should not commit homicide if it can possibly avoid it. It's never been demonstrated that the death penalty serves any practical purpose.

  • o2||

    except that person will NEVER commit another crime

  • ||

    The job of the Governor of a state, any state, is to carry out the law, not make the law. The Governor is remiss, barring believe that due process was not followed, if he/she does not carry out the law. The Governor cannot or at least should not, pick and choose when to follow the law. If a Governor is against the death penalty on principle, then he/she needs to grant a [whatever the correct term is] for all persons sentenced to death; no picking and choosing. (Pls. read desclaimers before you start shouting at me)

    Once upon a time, I was pro-death penalty. A past governor of Maryland changed that opinion. Paris Glendenning, bowing to political pressures, for principles and Glendenning’s name should never appear in the same sentence, changed a person’s death sentence into a life sentence because Glendenning stated that he was unsure of the person’s guilt. Christ on a cracker, if his guilt was in doubt, then he should have been immediately re-tried or freed, not committed to a life sentence. While in this case someones death sentence not being carried out, it showed me that the death sentence was very much open to politcial BS.

    Three disclaimers:
    1. I am anti-death penalty with one exception – traitors during time of declared war. (I understand the definition of traitor is tricky, but I’d have no problem capping John Walker myself, but I digress)
    2. I agree with Smart Aleck|9.22.11 @ 12:32PM|#
    3. I have no opinion of Perry one way or the other.

  • ||

    ... principles and Glendenning’s name should never appear in the same sentence...

    I apologize for using the word principles in the same sentence as Glendenning's name; I'm bad.

  • ||

    The problem is not Perry or any other governor. The problem lies with the legislatures

  • ||

    @ Tony|9.22.11 @ 1:08PM|#

    Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

  • Tony||

    I'm always on the side of freedom.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Tony, that is the most deluded thing you have ever written. You support big government, the abridgment of property rights through taxation, regulation and outright confiscation (help am I channeling Jesse Jackson!). You are a tool and apologist for every socialist pol, program, and ideal.

    Weapons grade stupid indeed.

  • emperior wears no clothes||

    I was actually thinking this is a different Tony.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Then I apologize to this Tony. New Tony, your handle is associated with a troll. This is going to cause you to catch mountains of shit around here. Your call regarding keeping this handle.

  • Tony||

    I am the Tony and I clearly am on the side of freedom more often than you guys. It's just that you're in a weird little cult whose tenets claim that government per se is antithetical to freedom, which is of course absurd.

  • ||

    Weapons grade stupid it is!!

    The Power of the Collective is antithetical to Freedom of the Individual. Freedom is about risk, and responsibility. Statists are about risk reduction and taking away responsibly.

    The welfare state is a monument to this Statist 'progressive' group think. The stones of this monument are mined from those who produce wealth, stolen in the name of the collective. Those stones represent time and effort that is wasted on a grotesque experiment in societal leveling.

    The lazy and the stupid should not reap what they have the entrepreneurial genius of American has sown.

  • ||

    Emperor!
    Your majesty, I believe you got your Toni's mixed up.

  • Edwin||

    "Rick Perry Has No Faith in Government but Total Faith in the Death Penalty"

    Except that the legislature and (legal) code-writing companies effecting the economy are not the same as the criminal justice system

  • Edwin||

    nice false conflation, but it won't fly to anyone who can think for a few secondss

  • jacob the barbarian||

    I am against the death penalty for one reason -- the government should not have that level of power.

    The current prison system is a disaster. The current manner in which sentences are applied appear capricious, and is a function of income as much as anything else.

    Government is inept. Is there an actual path to cleaning up this mess aside from scraping it and starting over?

  • ||

    Perhaps it stems from being a direct descendant of a guy called "Charlie Bullets", but I simply cannot understand people who take issue with revenge. The desire for revenge - to kill those who have proven themselves a threat by injuring you or those you care about, thus removing the threat - is a huge survival advantage. Which is why almost everyone has it, and why almost everyone supports the death penalty unless it is made into a social taboo. Now, in practice, disagreements about who is a proper target for revenge lead to cycles of vengeance, feuds. So, rather than abandoning the threat-elimination upside of revenge entirely, we agree to allow a third party to determine whether or not a particular person is the proper target for revenge for a particular crime, and to abide by that third party's decision. We call this system of third party mediated revenge "justice" and the third party a "justice system," whether governmental or private. If you believe your justice system is incapable of determining whether or not someone is a proper target for revenge, then that is an argument for fixing or replacing the justice system, not for abandoning justice altogether. A justice system that refises to kill those it considers murderers is undeserving of the title.

  • ||

    We currently have a third party - its called trial by jury.

    What would you put in its place ACME Trials and Revenge? While E. Coyote CEO? How would this end up as an improvement?

    It could be more fiscally efficient, but would it be seen as less corrupt?

  • ||

    I wouldn't replace trial by jury, and though I would accept a system of private, competing, jury trial providers, I realize that is a minority opinion, and wouldn't campaign very hard for it.

    What I would campaign for is looking for cases where innocents were wrongly convicted (regardless of the punishment they received), analyzing those cases to determine, if possible, what led to the wrongful conviction, and modifying the trial process in an attempt to reduce or eliminate repeat occurances of that mistake.

    I wouldn't expect that to lead to a 0% wrongful conviction rate, regardless of whether the trial provider is government or a private party. And I wouldn't try to tell people that, because we live in an imperfect world, they can't have the revenge/justice they want. I don't think they would accept it. I certainly wouldn't.

    I am a libertarian & capitalist because these are among the very few philosophies that expect people act the way they do rather than they way they ought to. If a system is dependent on people being other than they are, it will inevitably fail. Demanding people abandon revenge is expecting people to act as you think they ought, and is therefore doomed.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Do not get me wrong, I like revenge personally. The issue is what happens when the act of revenge is put into the public at large, w/o license, or supervision.

    The historical data shows that idea of a sociological 'Leviathan' being most conducive to limiting violence and crime in general. Leviathon is the state. We live in a country where the state is the only entity that is allowed to initiate violence in order to facilitate revenge upon those who have committed crimes against the law abiding.

    Murder, rape, robbery destruction of property etc. all warrant getting a visit from law enforcement.

    The issue is what to do when Leviathan is perceived to be corrupt. When someone reference to the law enforcement system as the Criminal JUSTICE system peals of laughter erupt from various quarters -- for good reason.

    There are issues with farming out jury selection or any other aspect of law enforcement.Bounty hunters are the result of farming out policing to private concerns. A private concern running a jury pool may not fare better.

    Back when it was a local sheriff with a deputized posse you got mixed results. Today we have militarized police forces, and the result is mixed as well. The difference is the manner in which the two systems fail, and the cost. Sheriff w/ Posse much cheaper than SWAT. Sheriff w/Posse is not practical in high urban areas.

    Yes. It is more complicated than the simple model above.

  • ||

    I agree. It's not practical to allow people to go around acting on their revenge impulses. It needs to be filtered through a third party. Most people agree that 3rd party should be the government and I'm cool with that. Our government is doing a poor job with that responsibility right now, and that should be fixed. I'm just arguing that the way to fix it is to address the problems with the system of determining guilt, while realizing thaat it's never going to be perfect. Reducing punishments isn't the way to fix it because, if the punishments delivered don't fit the crimes in question, it won't address the desire for revenge that prompted creating the system in the first place. And because you can no more give a person back the years you kept him in jail - let alone un-prison-rape him or explain to the gang he joined that it was all a big misunderstanding - than you can bring him back to life.

  • ||

    I said nothing about the length of the sentences. I said that the choice sentence severity is a function of wealth or is capricious. Either leads to distrust.

  • Zeb||

    I don't see revenge as that useful. If someone needs killing because they actually pose a threat and there is no other way to deal with them, then yes, killing them serves a useful purpose. But it should be done because it is necessary/useful, not because of a desire for revenge.
    I don't think that a person who desires revenge is necessarily bad, but I do think that revenge is never sufficient justification for killing someone.

  • ||

    I don't understand this. If you are looking to kill someone in revenge, then they have already proven themselves to pose a threat by comitting whatever crime it is you are avenging. What am I missing? Is this analogous to hate crime, where admitting that you were thinking those wicked revenge thoughts as opposed to wholesome thoughts of rational necessity makes an otherwise good act evil?

  • ||

    The desire for revenge - to kill those who have proven themselves a threat by injuring you or those you care about, thus removing the threat - is a huge survival advantage. Which is why almost everyone has it, and why almost everyone supports the death penalty unless it is made into a social taboo.


    Ooh, I see we have an evolutionary psychologist among us.

  • ||

    So, what is your point? Do you believe that one should simply never make an assertion? Or that human behavior is not influenced by evolution? Or that the emotional desire for revenge is learned behaviour? Or that eleiminating threats, and therefore the desire to do so, is counterproductive to survival?

  • ||

    My point was that you have no idea what you're talking about. Was I too oblique?

  • ||

    I was under the impression I was talking about the validity of revenge. What was I actually talking about, o wisest of the wise?

  • The questioner asked:||

    "All incompetent leaders who have no clue what you're doing, raise your hand,"

    http://storyballoon.org/blog/2.....d-nations/

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Whether or not execution is justifiable in theory, it is not something that is necessary for the state to be doing, and is too easy to fuck up.

  • anonymous||

    The questions about Troy Davis' guilt weren't serious.

  • ||

    In Texas there have been 39 people convicted, and sentenced which were subsequently acquitted. The system is flawed.

  • ||

    In Texas there have been 39 people convicted, and sentenced which were subsequently acquitted. The system is flawed.

  • ||

    Out of how many total?

  • ||

    Hey, I think that people who rape and murders kids (or anyone else) should butchered alive and yet, somehow, I oppose the death penalty. Wow, that's a tough one for some to riddle out. Thing is, the law is not about what I think or how I feel or what I think "should" happen to these sorts of people.

  • ||

    Life without parole means that monsters have nothing to lose by murdering guards and fellow inmates.

  • ||

    Stiegerwald hopelessly confuses pro life with what she claims is "pro death." Funny, she doesn't seem at al bothered by the senseless death produced at the hands of the killers.
    If Stiegerwald actually engaged in some thought, perhaps she would see that protecting murderers is not particularly "pro-life", nor is expecting the victim's relatives of these killers to gladly provide tax dollars to keep the killer's safe and secure in a prison cell for the next 60 years, at a cost of tens of millions.
    I'll tell you what, Lucy. I'll agree to
    give all these killers life sentences if you and those who think like you, agree to pay for their incarceration. Steigerwald simply cannot reason beyond the end of her "all life is precious" nonsense. Everyone knows that some life is better off eliminated from our midst.
    Ethical cowards like Lucy have no standing as someone to pay any attention to. We should strive to make sure there are no more victims, not
    spend time trying to protect those whose actions have demonstrated that the do not deserve to live. This isn't rocket science, you know.

  • James M. Martin||

    Wouldn't it be interesting if one of the people Perry put to death in Texas gets proved innocent by irrefutable evidence? I think the whole country would push for abolition of the penalty except the Tea Party people at the GOP debate who applauded Perry's shocking record. This man has blood on his hands. Have you seen the smirking camera hogging he pulls on TV? This man is less than zero.

  • ||

    This is all silly. There is no contradiction between support for limited government and support of the death penalty. Even with a flawed criminal justice system. As far as the correct role of government, enforcing legal penalties is fundamental. And while I certainly don't like the breadth of use for the death penalty, I can certainly see a role for it. The government must get permission from the people (a jury) for that sort of penalty. I dislike the current arrangement, but in principle the death penalty is certainly within the very narrow range of legitimate government power, and the framers of the Constitution certainly believed so.

  • ||

    True, there is no contradiction between support for limited government and support for the death penalty (in principle) . I agree that the death penalty is sometimes warranted. The problem I have is that time and time again the government, limited or not, has proven itself incapable of administering the death penalty correctly.

    One of the supporting arguments for limiting government is that government is incompetent to handle many affairs. I would argue that they fuck up everything they think about touching and thus should be limited to the barest minimum necessary. Administering the death penalty is no exception; too many innocent people have been executed.

  • Ron||

    But there's a difference between people who favor small, limited government and those who can definitively say that government (even the small, limited type) is inherently inept and incompetent and cannot possibly be entrusted with the authority to execute its citizens.

  • oben smith||

    Well it looks like the Republicans have their man. Rick Perry will be the next president. he has passed a good majority of what I call the 'tests' . Meaning he has the fooled the public and the media so far. No democrat or independent will even come close to winning and thank Obama and his staffers for that. The Republican plan worked to perfection. Allow the Democrats to win 2008, knowing there was no way to fix the damage the Republicans did years ago . In theory Obama does not have much of a choice in what he does, and he looks stupid in the eyes of the public. this only guarantees/seals a Republican victory in the 2012 race. God I love politics

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