Death Penalty

Alleged Synagogue Shooter May Be a Monster, but He Shouldn't Be Executed

No matter how heinous the crime, the state shouldn't be in the business of killing its citizens.

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Pittsburgh Police Department

It's looking increasingly likely that Robert Bowers—who's accused of murdering 11 people at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday—could face the death penalty.

In the hours after the massacre, President Donald Trump was the most prominent public figure to call for the suspected shooter's execution. "When people do this, they should get the death penalty," Trump told reporters. "Anybody that does a thing like this to innocent people that are in temple or in church…they should be suffering the ultimate price, they should pay the ultimate price."

Prosecutors appear to be in agreement. Earlier today, Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Fox News that Scott Brady, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, has begun the process of seeking the death penalty for Bowers. Brady still needs the approval of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Capital punishment is currently legal under federal law, thanks to the 1976 Supreme Court ruling in Gregg v. Georgia. It's also allowed in the majority of states, though some (most recently Washington state) have outlawed state-sponsored executions.

In Pennsylvania, capital punishment is legal in certain circumstances. Bowers is facing federal as well as state charges, since he was allegedly motivated by anti-Semitic sentiments. It's a problematic issue in and of itself that his fate could be decided in a federal court rather than a state one. As Reason's Jacob Sullum observed following the 2015 Charleston church shooting, the feds were able to charge Dylan Roof under the federal hate crime statute since Roof was motivated by racism. "It is an unconstitutional attempt to federalize a crime that South Carolina's courts are perfectly capable of handling, for the sake of sending a message that the criminal law should not be used to send," Sullum wrote. Similarly, Bowers now faces federal charges due to his anti-Semitism.

But whether Bowers is sentenced by a federal or state court doesn't change the fact that he shouldn't be executed. To be clear, his alleged crime was nothing short of heinous. To gun down 11 people, some of them elderly, while they were worshiping is despicable. If found guilty, he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

That being said, the government should not be in the business of executions. Civil libertarians and classical liberals have long argued against capital punishment. "The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice," the ACLU argues. "Well-publicized problems with the death penalty process—wrongful convictions, arbitrary application, and high costs—have convinced many libertarians that capital punishment is just one more failed government program that should be scrapped," Ben Jones writes at Libertarianism.org.

For one thing, there are numerous questions over the death penalty drugs administered to death row inmates. As Reason has documented in the past, states often operate in the shadows when it comes to these drugs. In one instance, Texas even sought to procure banned drugs from a shady company overseas. There have also been questions regarding how humane death by lethal injection really is.

From a practical standpoint, the death penalty is simply too expensive. Studies from various states suggest it's more expensive for the government to put someone to death than it is to keep them behind bars for life, according to Amnesty International.

But the main reason Bowers shouldn't be put to death is simple: It's not the government's job to put its own citizens to death. As Reason's Nick Gillespie wrote in 2014:

The state's first role—and arguably its only one—is protecting the lives and property of its citizens. In everything it does—from collecting taxes to seizing property for public works to incentivizing "good" behaviors and habits—it should use the least violence or coercion possible.

No matter how despicable murderers can be, the state can make sure we're safe by locking them up behind bars for the rest of their—and our—lives. That's not only a cheaper answer than state-sanctioned murder, it's a more moral one, too.

Again, all the evidence suggests Bowers is a monster. But killing him won't bring back the 11 people whose lives he's allegedly responsible for ending. Revenge is not the same thing as justice, and in this case, justice is best served by imprisonment, not more death.

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  1. …Scott Brady, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, has begun the process of seeking the death penalty for Bowers.

    It’s not about Bowers. He and what he allegedly did are incidental.

    1. Nonsense. I’m certain that Scot Brady and all attorneys general across this great nation are grateful to each and every one of the people whose broken bodies and destroyed lives they step on to reach higher elected office.

  2. ” It’s a problematic issue”

    While that is true, your use of the word “problematic” makes you kickworthy.

    1. “To be clear”

      OMFG Joe.

      1. At some point, I think it’s safe to assume he is trolling us.

  3. If the guy was killed at the scene by a bystander no one would bat an eye but because he is killed at a later date by the government it’s a problem?

    1. In one situation he’s an armed imminent threat. In the other situation he’s unarmed and in a cage. One situation is defensive, the other is just murder.

      1. No, murder is an illegal act of killing. Capital punishment is state sanctioned.

        1. The special state-legitimacy dust makes it okay!

          1. It makes it not murder. Ok? Maybe not.

            But you’ll cry about it regardless.

          2. Execute the fucker.

            No society can be truly civilized without a properly thought out death penalty.

      2. Because holding a man in a cage while subjecting him to the dehumanization of other violent criminals (including some ostensible guards), and giving him lousy food, and crappy healthcare until he croaks is so much more libertarian.

        1. Right now he gets a lot more free healthcare than many law abiding citizens.

          Execute him. After he receives due process, of course.

          1. make sure to use some alcohol swabs before you apply the lethal injection…

            1. Reason comments need a Like button.

      3. Now apply the same analogy to someone from whom the State wants to collect a capitation tax, heavy on the attempted escape and resisting arrest–for purposes of providing murderers a comfortable cage with indoor plumbing and a roof overhead–plus bodyguards.

    2. Or if he were an infant able to live out a life outside of the womb, but unfortunate enough to be in the clutches of Planned Mengelehood.

  4. Here’s a little thought experiment – imagine calling up CNN or MSNBC the NYT and telling them you’re Robert Bowers’ attorney and that he’d like to grant them an exclusive jailhouse interview to explain what exactly he did and why he did it. How fast do you think they’d slam down the phone after screaming at you that there’s no way in hell they would possibly countenance giving this monster a platform for spreading his hateful opinions?


    1. How fast do you think they’d slam down the phone after screaming at you that there’s no way in hell they would possibly countenance giving this monster a platform for spreading his hateful opinions?

      Are you serious?

      Slam the phone down?

      Hell, they’d be offering everything they had as they rushed to the man’s side to get that interview.

      1. But would they get deplatformed?

      2. I think he was being sarcastic!

      3. I think he was being sarcastic!

      4. MSNBC would be offering unlimited sexual favors from Chris Hayes as part of the package.

  5. I am generally against the death penalty. But not in this situation. Fuck this guy.

    1. When the perp is gusty beyond ALL doubt, and this heinous, I can’t think of a single reason to keep him alive for the rest of his life. Please note I am also 100% against capital punishment in any kind of circumstantial case. Guilt has to be certain to employ capital punishment. Period.

    2. Yes as long as there is certain proof of a heinous crime the death penalty is fitting, as is in this case and those like this sickening crime.

      1. “…certain proof”? An uncertain proof is not proof, i.e., your term is redundant.

        The state decides what is proven and can use its unlimited funds to intimidate and indite a “ham sandwich”.

        I would trust a citizen at the scene to execute the death penalty before I would trust “The Dept. of Injustice”.

        DNA proved hundreds of innocent have been executed. Who gets punished for murder when the state frames? No one! No one ever gets fired. This is a license to kill, just like LEOs, soldiers, and secret police (CIA).

  6. “That being said, the government should not be in the business of executions.”

    The Constitution of the United States of America disagrees.
    . . . . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; . . . .

    Therefore, with said due process, you may be deprived of life.

    The purpose of execution is to declare to the world that there are some acts so heinous that the only way a people can demonstrate their revulsion is to remove the offender by death. This is one of those acts.

    1. The hanging of leading Nazis at Nuremberg was one of the proudest moments in our nation’s history.

      1. Not really. It was a low point for Americans to preside over a kangaroo court. I am not trying to say the Nazi dickheads didn’t deserve it. But those show trials were a complete joke. Americans, the Brits, and other allies, especially their buddies the Soviets, had done similar things (attacked civilian centers on purpose, committed genocide and ethnic cleansing etc). Yet they got parades instead of the noose. It would have been more moral to shoot the Nazis on sight than to make a mockery of blind justice and legality and all that.

        1. We committed acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide during the war? Do tell.

          1. Well, the concept of ‘total war’ is an American tradition dating back to the great humanitarian Abraham Lincoln, who approved Gen. Sherman’s ravaging of civilian properties. Destroying the “civilian” population and infrastructure will reduce the enemy’s will and capacity to fight and all that jazz.

            Sherman to Henry Halleck, December 1864;
            “We are not only fighting armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect in this respect. “

    2. It’s the only way to balance the scales of justice.

  7. “Murder” is an unjust killing. Describing executing someone duly tried and convicted of mass murder when it is obvious he is guilty as “murder” by the state is stealing an intellectual base in the best light, dishonestly mangling a definition in the worst.

    1. ^This.

      I’m only against the death penalty if there’s any possibility that the person is innocent. This does not seem to be one of those times.

      1. “against the death penalty if there’s any possibility that the person is innocent.”

        I think that’s the best way to put it.

      2. Unfortunately the states and the Feds have been proven to have trouble determining the “possibility that the person is innocent” thingy. They’ve imprisoned and executed the certainly guilty, the might be guilty might be innocent, and the almost certainly innocent with equal fervor.

        The laws that allow the execution of this asshole are going to allow the execution of the innocent. There’s no way around it.

        For that reason, nobody should be executed.

        1. ^ This.

        2. A flawed process doesn’t negate the validity of the punishment. If a mind reading machine existed and could prove beyond a reasonable doubt a person had committed murder would you approve of the death penalty then?

          1. “A flawed process doesn’t negate the validity of the punishment. If a mind reading machine existed and could prove beyond a reasonable doubt a person had committed murder would you approve of the death penalty then?”

            Well, of course a flawed process negates the validity of the punishment, if the flawed process results in an outcome that reflects the reality of what actually happened. So does a perfect process, if the result of the process is that an innocent person is punished. You’re saying that there’s some way to consider the punishment of an innocent person by the government as being valid? I have no problem with the morality of the death penalty, just the practicality that it’s being administered by a borderline incompetent entity.

            It’s a gaping hole in the logical consistency of those on the right. They correctly point out that the government is frequently incompetent – except when it involves the police and prosecutors, in which case it’s perfect every time.

            And there are those on the right who admit that the justice system screws up sometimes, but subscribe to the “breaking eggs to make an omelet” philosophy that we need to tolerate the execution of a handful of innocents in order to execute the guilty. To those folks, there’s only one thing to say: You first, asshole.

            1. Should have read “fails to result in an outcome that reflects the reality of what really happened”. Sorry for the mis-type.

            2. It’s a gaping hole in the logical consistency of those on the right. They correctly point out that the government is frequently incompetent – except when it involves the police and prosecutors, in which case it’s perfect every time.

              And immigration too. Government is terrible, unless it’s kicking out foreigners.

            3. “Well, of course a flawed process negates the validity of the punishment,”

              Since all processes are flawed, all must be eliminated. No law, no police, no prisons. That would leave us with either the mob carrying out lynchings, or the rule of crime.

              Demand perfection, get hell.

          2. If a mind reading machine existed and could prove beyond a reasonable doubt a person had committed murder would you approve of the death penalty then?

            No, because the corrupt state would inevitably tamper and abuse the results of this supposedly accurate mind-reading machine.

            1. What if it’s Libertopia?

              1. So, you’re asking a bunch of hypothetical questions that are impossible in reality. Do you think it’s ok for the government to execute a few innocent people in order to insure that the guilty are adequately punished?

                1. depends on the “innocents” now doesn’t it?

              2. Even in Libertopia there would still be fallible humans in charge of the minarchist justice system.

                1. Sorry – that question was intended for Trey, not you.

                  You and I are in the same place on this one.

          3. The way I see it, the outcome will be unjust, no matter which way it goes.
            In our system, if a person is convicted of murder and not sentenced to the death penalty, the following injustices are entailed:
            1. The victim’s heirs are denied their right to just and proportional retribution (i.e., the right to murder a murderer).
            2. The victim’s heirs are denied their right to trade their right to proportional retribution for compensation.
            3. The taxpayers are forced to provide support for the incarcerated murderer.
            4. The taxpayers are forced to pay the costs of justice.
            5. If the incarcerated murderer is later found to be innocent, no one is charged with kidnapping and secuestration, but (sometimes) innocent taxpayers are forced to pay reparations.
            If sentenced to the death penalty:
            1. The taxpayers, including those against capital punishment, are forced to pay for capital punishment and other costs of justice.
            2. The victim’s heirs are denied their right to waive their right of retribution.
            3. The victim’s heirs are denied their right to trade their right to retribution for compensation.
            4. In case the executed murderer is later found innocent, no one is liable for his murder, but if reparations are paid, they will be paid by innocent taxpayers.

            This is a system where, among other injustices, the costs of rectifying the mistakes of the system (to the extent that there is rectification) are socialized, and persons responsible are not held to account.

        3. Referring to an execution as murder if you have a reason to believe the convicted might be innocent is a quite different assertion than saying an execution is murder in every case.

        4. The government need to clean up their act when it comes to the adminstration of JUSTICE. Too many times some copper wanting to make a name for himself singles out some innocent walking down the street, accosts him, and he, knowing he’s done nothing wrong, resists, gets thumped around a bit…. the coppers and such rig an identification by the victim or others, make up incriminating evidence, withhold exonerating, and he goes up to the Big House, death row. And even when caught, the riggers rarely ever even get their hand slapped. Rigged jury instructions, exclusion of witnesses, even falsification lf crime lab “results” and dirty prosecutors/defenders send the patsy down the river. Meanwhile the perp walks free….. unidentified, because Hot Shot Copper “broke the case”…… twenty years later, the perp fesses up, and after all that time on Death Row Mr. He Didn’t Do It is released….. no compensation for his ruined life.

          Right now in I think its Oklahoma City there is a big stink about crooked crime lab techs in cahoots with dirty prosecutors and coppers. Hundreds of tainted cases are involved, including some death sentences. ALL those involved or who even KNEW aobut any of it NEED to go down the river…. the penalty for false witness, biblically speaking, is that the liar endure the punishment the innocent got, or would have gotten. Even it it is death. Apply THIS to our court system for one decade, watch crime rates drop through the floor…..

        5. Bullshit. There are most certainly people of whom guilt is not in question. This guy is probably one of those cases. So was Ted Bundy.

    2. Murder is the intentional illegal taking of human life.

      Just or not is not a factor; a father killing the rapist of a daughter is just, but still murder.
      The state, following due process, killing that same rapist, is not murder; it is execution.

  8. It’s not the government’s job to put its own citizens to death

    The government doesn’t put it’s own citizens to death. The citizens do. In the form of a jury. The government is just the instrument used.

    He took 11 lives. Ended them. He doesn’t get to breathe anymore.

    I am forever perplexed that most who write for Reason have no problem with ending the potential lives that are represented by abortion, of people who have, quite literally, done nothing, but are so adamant about maintaining and preserving the lives of those who have committed the most heinous of crimes.

    1. Being an extremist about the death penalty seems to be reserved for those who know nothing of pain or death. It’s a big bad world out there full of demons, there’s nothing wrong with putting a few down.

    2. This.

      Preserving those lives so that they rot in a maximum security prison for decades.

      Yet heaven forefend that a woman have to spend ten month bringing a child to the point of adoption.

      1. Preserving those lives so that they rot in a maximum security prison for decades.

        At a cost of about $80K per year per criminal. That’s quite a lot of cash should have remained in the pockets of WE THE PEOPLE.

        THEN you have sick states like California releasing some of those same guys because they don’t have enough jail cells to go around.
        How’s about springing loose ALL of the guys in da joint for smokin a joint back before it was “legal” and who didn’t harm anyone. IN fact, release ALL in jail for victimless “crimes”. Restore restitutioin as part of the sentence for those who DID harm someone by taking stuff.

  9. I agree, I think he should not be executed and should spend the rest of his life in prison. The reason is that killing him makes him into both a scapegoat and a martyr. In general crimes like this do not occur in a vacuum. Instead they are enabled by wider societal issues such as incitement by political leaders. Sure we can kill the guy and feel good like there was justice, but if we don’t address the root causes, then it is destined to happen again. Secondly, he will become a martyr for others to inspire, because they think, “We are right as proven by the fact that the state had to kill one of us.” There is actually some truth to this thinking. Finally, as a Jew we are taught “Thou shalt not kill”. The guy who led the kidnapping of Eichmann in Argentina and brought him back to Israel to be executed now calls the neo-Nazi party in Germany “Europe’s great hope.” There is a lot we can learn from keeping this guy alive, and executing him will only enable a repeat of history.

    1. “A Sanhedrin which executes once a Sabbatical cycle [ie once in seven years] is called destructive. Rabbi Eleazar b. Azariah says once every seventy years. Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva say, ‘if we had been on the Sanhedrin a person would never be killed.'” (Makkot 7a)”

      1. Yup. Many Zionists claim that “Rise and kill first” is a Jewish doctrine. It’s not. It’s actually pretty satanic if you ask me.

    2. Your entire post elevates Bowers far closer to martyr status than anything an execution could do.

      To hear you tell it, you’d think he has followers around the world waiting for his execution as a sign that they should bend the arc of history rather than him being a ho-hum foot soldier sociopath of a minority political movement.

      There’s nothing to be learned from him unless you accept him as a teacher.

  10. “Capital punishment is currently legal under federal law, thanks to the 1976 Supreme Court ruling in Gregg v. Georgia.”

    It’s legal and always was thanks to the Constitution itself.

  11. Murder is a state issue. Those of us outside of Pennsylvania should stay out of it if we truly respect federalism.

    If you live in Pennsylvania and you reject him getting the death penalty while you support women killing their babies, you’re a Democrat even if you call yourself a libertarian. At least the murder will get a trial by peers.

    1. Ah! So finally here’s the Comstock Law sockpuppet to have someone else hold guns on doctors as a way of forcing coathanger abortions on girls trying to rid themselves of the likes of the coercing sockpupper itself. Take this Teedy Rosenfeld race suicide quote to your Aryan programmers: But the man or woman who deliberately avoids marriage, and has a heart so cold as to know no passion and a brain so shallow and selfish as to dislike having children, is in effect a criminal against the race, and should be an object of contemptuous abhorrence by all healthy people.

      1. Issues such as abortion and the death penalty sift the libertarians from the deplorable right-wing authoritarians.

        Immigration and tariffs, too.

        Carry on, clingers. Feel free to lose the culture war as long as you want to keep fighting progress.

        1. Only an anti science ignoramus like you would be against abortion on scientific grounds. Developing infants have rights too. And one of them is the right to stay alive.

  12. If he’s adjudicated to be sound mind and found guilty of multiple instances of pre-meditated murder then he should be put to death.

    1. I don’t agree that the morality of capital punishment requires the judged to be of sound mind. Mens rea is a logical part of conviction and punishment meant to dissuade the judged from committing the act again based on an appeal to his morality. But if the purpose is to dissuade the judged from committing the act again based on the threat of punishment, it is logically reasonable to punish a person even if they don’t have a sound mind, so long there mind works well enough that it dissuades them. And if the crime is so heinous that you are going to execute them based on the vileness of the act itself, the state of mind of the accused is irrelevant.

      We shoot rabid dogs don’t we?

  13. It will probably take years or decades before Bowers is executed, especially in a federal case, and although PA has the death penalty, it is almost never used. So unless Bowers decides himself that he wants the state to kill him, which he very well may, the death penalty in this case is irrelevant. I won’t be disappointed if he is executed, but would rather he rot away in prison.

  14. Revenge is not the same thing as justice

    Not the same thing, but vengeance is an essential element of justice.

    1. Agreed, although I would say retribution is an essential element of justice. The reason why we have a criminal justice system is that human nature is such that when someone wrongs us, we want to wrong them back. Which left unchecked leads to a never spiraling mess of feuds and retribution ? often with innocent people getting caught in the crossfire. Instead of that, we’ve each agreed to forsake any “right” of vengeance by having the state act in our stead through a system of adjudication with protections for the accused and the expectation that if they are determined guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they will be punished for their transactions. Do away with the “retribution” in justice and people will go back to seeking it themselves.

      1. You think it wrong to seek justice?

        1. He is saying it gets messy if people seek justice outside the law, I think.

          1. Yes – it’s a common anthropological opinion that the social purpose of a justice system is to provide a substitute for blood-feuds, which tend to merely escalate, sometimes to the point of completely destroying a society.

            The idea is that state-power becomes the only legitimate dispenser of justice. You can’t go take revenge on your own, you have to appeal to the state’s power to initiate violence. The state then develops a process to a make a single act of violence the one, unilateral event that resolves the issue, and the accused-and-convicted is owed no vengeance against the state in return, thus preventing a blood-feud from developing.

            It means the state has to do enough to satisfy the victims without inspiring the kin of the perpetrator to seek redress for their own wrongs. A balancing act, of sorts.

            1. The state retaliates with force.

  15. I totally disagree with the statement that Robert Bowers if convicted should not be executed. Execution is a means of controlling criminal activity. In cases of premeditated murder as is in this case death penalty will if carried out judicially would cause some who are contemplating murder to rethink their action.
    Until it can be determined that the person is rehabilitate and is no longer be a danger to the public execution for heinous crimes is a viable option.

    1. Until it can be determined that the person is rehabilitate and is no longer be a danger to the public execution for heinous crimes is a viable option.

      I don’t want the state to rehabilitate people. I don’t want to pay the state to rehabilitate people. Half the heinousness of the drug war is because people think the State can rehabilitate people of their marijuana habits.

    2. Execution of murderers is also a way of preserving the lives and freedom (from coercion) of the citizens who rightly wrote and voted for the laws that built the gallows, chair, firing range, gas chamber and finally went out and bought a cheap needle. As a dues-paying member of an anti-aggression hence anti-tax political party trying to drum up votes I call upon the educated members to beware the hostile sockpuppet urging us to betray the trust of voters to whom we promise freedom–not loose murderers or enslavement by armed tax collectors for the benefit of comfortable convicted murderers.

  16. No real interest in supporting this defective animal for the rest of his life.

    1. Nearly a dozen bodies is a pretty high number for a defective animal.

      1. Keep licking those statist boots, as good little faux libertarians should.

  17. “Alleged Synagogue Shooter May Be a Monster, but He Shouldn’t Be Executed”

    Obligatory:
    Agreed for all the reasons I’ve posted for all these years without changing the mind of anyone who disagrees.

  18. “Well-publicized problems with the death penalty process?wrongful convictions…

    I understand why some people support the death penalty as the “ultimate punishment” used to protect the rest of society from people who have committed crimes so heinous that the only answer is to remove them permanently. And I agree with that thinking, there are some things that are beyond the pale, such as murdering 11 people who were doing nothing other than attempting to practice their religion.

    However, wrongful convictions are probably the biggest problem with the death penalty. Juries aren’t infallible, and due process doesn’t guarantee that only the guilty are sentenced to death. Perhaps there should be a higher standard of proof above “beyond a reasonable doubt,” IANAL, so I don’t know if there currently is any defined legal standard above that threshold.

    That said, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem in this case. The guy surrendered to police, and it sounds like it’s pretty close to 100% certain that he’s guilty. So fuck this guy.

    1. If there was even a shadow of a doubt about the man’s guilt, I would agree with halting the death penalty. However, he was captured in a police shootout while leaving the crime scene. There is no rational reason to question the man’s guilt. This is similar to Nuremburg or Sadam Hussein.

      While I can understand not seeking death as a practical argument (no benefit but high cost), I find the moral argument nonsensical. The state has always held the power of life over us. This is why police officers are allowed such leeway in their weapons. If there was no power of life, the army could not exist. This is explicitly written into the constitution for this reason. The scriptures of every religion that I am aware of allow or mandate the execution of murderers. The idea that the state should not have the authority to execute a murderer is made up whole-cloth with no legal basis for this reason.

      The “shady” tactics used to legally execute people has been due to extra-legal efforts by protestors to back-door-ban executions. As for getting banned drugs. What’s the worst they can do? Kill the guy? The attempts to redefine the most humane method of extinguishing someone’s life as “cruel and unusual” is, again, an attempt to change the law outside of the legal process that has been established for doing these things.

  19. It’s amusing to see people who don’t believe in God speak of “morality,” “justice,” and “vengeance.” As if their godless worldview can even logically define the terms.

    Seems more like self-centered, emotion-based outbursts…

    1. It stops being self-centered and emotion-based if you really believe.

    2. You missed the discussion on this topic last Friday, where I was criticizing the atheists who disingenuously push the NAP.

      1. How is that disingenuous?

        1. Oh boy, here we go again. The libertarian ethos is a purely materialistic one. Once you come to grips with this, the obvious question is: From whence do you derive your NAP?

          1. From whence do you derive your NAP?

            All sentient creatures can suffer. No creature wants to suffer against its will. Therefore it is immoral to impose suffering on other sentient creatures. Especially if this here material world is the only one.

            In contrast, it’s much easier to justify filling this world with pain and suffering when you believe there’s a better world waiting somewhere else for your special chosen group. One might argue that’s more of a basis for immorality than vice-versa.

            1. Okay, so is it immoral for a wolf to eat a deer? For a cat to eat a bird? These acts cause suffering…

              Moreover, what makes you think suffering is evil? That’s a massive leap. I would propose that there is no reason to assume suffering is evil, but more a reality of life.

              What do you define as a moral good? From whence do you derive that?

              1. Instead of “sentient,” perhaps he should have said “sapient.” And you don’t need religion to recognize a strong difference between a human and a deer or wolf. We do elevate certain types of life over others based on judgments about its self-awareness.

                That said, there are plenty of athiests who are vegetarians for moral reasons, without needing any higher order or spiritual understanding to tell them they don’t want animals to die for their own nourishment.

                1. So suffering is only bad sometimes, or when it is convenient for your definition, right?

                  1. So suffering is only bad sometimes, or when it is convenient for your definition, right?

                    You’re eliding the question in order to avoid it – it is wrong to cause suffering.

              2. Okay, so is it immoral for a wolf to eat a deer? For a cat to eat a bird? These acts cause suffering…

                Have you ever heard of a book called The Baghavad Gita?

                One should mention that it comes from a Hindu perspective from which, yes, it is immoral for a wolf to eat a deer or for a cat to eat a bird. In this perspective, these are lower life forms whose tendency is to be even more subject to sin and immorality than humans. But by the same token you wouldn’t call a wolf or a cat to answer for themselves in a human justice system.

                My point being, in The Baghavad Gita Arjuna is leading his forces into battle against his own kin in a civil war sort of situation. He stops moments before joining the fray to ask his chariot-driver, who happens to be the god Krishna, to call the whole thing off because he can’t see a way out of this situation that doesn’t involve him having to commit many sins.

                Long story short, Krishna points out that being alive often involves having to choose between the sins one is going to commit. So yes, the wolf is being immoral. But it’s also not really any of your business because you don’t have eyes to see the whole situation.

                There’s a line from a book you probably know, that goes “Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord.” Do you know why the Lord sayeth that?

                1. I would propose that there is no reason to assume suffering is evil, but more a reality of life. What do you define as a moral good? From whence do you derive that?

                  I’ve already explained that morality is “not causing suffering.” I personally came to that conclusion through Buddhist philosophy, but atheistic existentialism comes to the same conclusion.

                  Or, perhaps there is no such thing as morality? If morality isn’t “refraining from causing suffering to others,” then what good is it?

            2. Also, RE “belief in an afterlife makes you more willing to justify causing pain”

              Atheism was responsible for more death, destruction and suffering in the 20th century than Christendom was in the whole 2,000 years of its existence.

              1. Atheism was responsible for more death, destruction and suffering in the 20th century than Christendom was in the whole 2,000 years of its existence.

                How so? Please indicate for me when the bands of atheist holy warriors purged the world of their heathens? I don’t mean totalitarian communists who happened to be kinda-sorta atheist. I mean people killing in the name of atheism.

                Caveat: I am not an atheist, and I am frequently to be witnessed on these pages throwing down against the “religion causes war” people. I don’t blame “Christianity” for the Inquisition or the Crusades, and I don’t blame “Atheism” for the Cultural Revolution.

                1. Comment won’t post so I’ll split it.

                  I mean people killing in the name of atheism.
                  – The League of Militant Atheists in Soviet Russia, which eventually became part of the Komsomol, arranged for hundreds of thousands of orthodox priests and believers to be arrested and sent to the gulags, or just shot.

                  – In Revolutionary France in 1793, the War in the Vend?e began as a revolt by peasants against the exile and slaughter of 30,000 priests, the conversion of churches into “temples of reason” where atheist “services” were held, and for banning the cross and even forbidding people from placing crosses on relatives graves.
                  The Cult of Reason (real name BTW) took advantage of this rebellion as a chance to eliminate all religionists in the area, and had the Committee of Public Safety order a “pacification” of the region by complete physical destruction. In Anjou alone, 50,000 Vendean civilians were massacred by the colonnes infernales (“infernal columns”, real name BTW), 7,000 Catholic rebels were shot by firing squad or guillotined and 2,200 prisoners died from disease in cages.
                  The estimated number of those killed is 450,000 out of a population of around 800,000.

                  1. – Atheist Mexican President, Plutarco Calles, enacted anticlerical legislation known unofficially as the Calles Law. He outlawed religious orders, deprived churches of property rights and deprived clergymen of civil liberties, including their right to trial by jury, and the right to vote.
                    Due to Calles’s violent enforcement of anti-religious laws, people began to oppose him. Calles sent in government troops, but the people fought back.
                    He hung a Catholic from every telephone pole for 200 miles, almost 100,000 people died.
                    A truce was negotiated with the assistance of U.S. in which the Cristeros agreed to lay down their arms. However, Calles reneged on the terms of the truce within a few months; he had approximately five hundred Cristero leaders and 5,000 other Cristeros shot in front of their wives and children.
                    Cont…

                    1. After the truce was Calles insisted on a complete state monopoly on education, suppressing all religious education and mandating an atheist one. Persecution continued until 1940, when a new President took over.
                      The effects of Calles’s policy on Catholics in particular were profound. Between 1926 and 1934, at least 4,000 priests were killed. There had been 4,500 priests in Mexico prior to the rebellion, but by 1934 there were only 334 priests licensed by the government to serve fifteen million Catholics, the rest having been eliminated by expulsion and execution and assassination. By 1935, seventeen states had no priests at all.

                      Okay, this is getting to long. There are hundreds of other examples, just google them.

                      Oh, and look up Kirchenkampf on Wikipedia.

                    2. Shall I make list of people slaughtered by “Christians,” now? Did you miss the point that hard?

                    3. Don’t play 3 card monte. You switched your question. He answered your question almost killing the internet in the process. The appropriate response is “Thank you for giving me a serious answer to my question.”

          2. Our nature as sapient beings who survive by the use of reason.

          3. Moral Rights and Political Freedom is a competent derivation of relevant ethics. Rather than trail off into releasing murderers and starving to spare cabbages from suffering, a read would be germane and productive. Viable Virtues, also by Tara Smith, is another competent ethical approach to these issues. Now, for a political approach, keeping the Communist Income tax in order to feed and clothe murderers in lazy comfort–knowing full well that the IRS and allied bureaucracies send armed special agents clothed in permission to use deadly force to collect those taxes–is as counterproductive as an argument gets if the idea is to earn enough votes to reduce the INITIATION of deadly force.

    3. Seriously you use God and logic in the same sentence?

      1. Logic is not your strong-point, is it?

        1. It is which is why I’m a Pastafarian.

        2. Choose reason. Every time.

          Especially over sacred ignorance or dogmatic intolerance.

          Most especially if you are older than 12 or so. By then, childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse for superstition, ignorance, backwardness, and bigotry. By ostensible adulthood it is no excuse.

          Choose reason. Be an adult. Or, at least try.

          1. You’re such an idiot.

      2. So did you.

    4. It’s amusing to see people who don’t believe in God speak of “morality,” “justice,” and “vengeance.”

      Saying “x is a moral thing to do because my sacred book says God will pat you on the head after you die if you do it” =/= “deeply logic-based morality.” It’s actually just self-serving moral wage-slavery that grants as much moral substance to a sociopath as it does to Jesus.

      It’s almost like you don’t know anything about the history of moral philosophy.

      1. It’s almost as if you build up straw-men to tear them down, because actually addressing the issue would cause some pretty serious issues with your world-view to become quite obvious.

        1. because actually addressing the issue would cause some pretty serious issues with your world-view to become quite obvious.

          Actually addressing what issue? That you and Moridin are unaware of the thousands of years of discussion about Divine Command ethics and its inability to form a meaningful basis for morality?

          If God said “Thou Shalt Never Touch Doorknobs” would that make touching doorknobs wrong on the same level as murder? If so, morality is arbitrary. If morality is not arbitrary, then we don’t need God to command it.

          Frankly, the only thing you are demonstrating is that you are blissfully unaware of the existence of atheistic moral philosophy.

          1. No, I’m quite aware of it Square. You just are apparently unaware of the thousands of years of answers in return.

            1. You just are apparently unaware of the thousands of years of answers in return.

              I literally spent decades studying exactly this. Seriously considered a career in Divinity. You want to slap me with some knowledge? Lay it down. When you say you’ve got something great just behind this curtain right over here, I don’t believe you.

              1. Your argument from self-authority carries no weight, other than to reveal your egotism. It is not a Reason. In a similar vein, the argument because “children are trusting and gullible, therefore what they believe is not true” is also an example of an inability to Reason.

                Here’s an example of Reason that sheds light on the topic as opposed to providing the dogmatic answers craved by internet posters (of which, Reason posters are at least entertaining and sometimes interesting):
                We are in a closed system, either by our own perceptual ability or by the system we refer to as the universe. Proving the existence or lack of existence of the Creator through a mathematician’s lens is a fool’s gambit because the lens is restricted to the universe by the tools with which it is constructed and the nature of what it was meant to examine.

          2. Nice straw man.

            Taking a polemical position does not necessarily mean that one is unaware of the opposition position.

            The term “atheistic moral philosophy” is an oxymoron. The atheistic worldview has no basis to argue for morality because it lacks objective standards of any kind. To the atheist, even the “law of logic” or thought itself is a purely subjective construct of the mind that cannot be objectively verified. The atheist can only argue that morality is a subjective concept created by society based upon what any society views as most beneficial to itself. And to do even that, it must steel from a Christian worldview. That is it. End of story. Any argument made from a worldview that claims there are no objective standards or truths is simply equivocation and disingenuous.

            1. I think your response should be framed.

              First you say I’m roasting a straw man, and then proceed to give a completely fictionalized and personal definition of “atheism” that I don’t think any actual “atheist” shares.

              Then you declare that you are aware of atheistic moral philosophy immediately prior to denying it even exists in an argument that is 100% circular.

              And then you claim that your view that “because God said so” is the basis of morality is a solely Christian view uniquely grounded in “logic” and “objectivity” that is the basis for everyone else’s notions of morality.

              Priceless.

    5. You’re more a fan of superstition than reason, you credulous, half-educated rube?

      Childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse when you reached ostensible adulthood.

  20. As long as he dies in prison, I don’t care how it happens.

    1. As long as he dies in prison, I don’t care how it happens.

      C’mon we’re not all idiotic civil libertarians; cheapest method preferred.

  21. That being said, the government should not be in the business of executions.

    I agree. There is a huge social benefit for the state to be the entity in charge of making sure the evidence about a crime is collected fairly, that the alleged criminal is treated as an innocent before trial, that the evidence in court is both objective and relevant to the crime itself, and that the defendant is correctly identified and judged by the jury/judge and given their chance to appeal that process. Some states – looking at you Texas – seriously fuck this part of it up because they are too eager to get to the next part and politicize it for politicians benefit.

    The final outcome is that the state declares that the person is an outlaw in the original sense of that word. Outside the protection of all law. They can then be released – and anyone can kill them – on sight – without any legal consequence at all. If they themselves fear they will suffer a cruel/unusual death, they themselves can, as their final legal act within society, petition to be put to death by noncruel/nonunusual means – administered by either the state or private ‘death chambers’ of their choice.

    1. I might be persuaded by your argument if I thought that state had some particular ability to either craft the rules, collect evidence, be objective in making the judgment, etc. But based on my personal experience, none of this seems to be the case.

      In this case, arresting the alleged criminal, treating them in a hospital, gathering evidence, treating the alleged criminal as innocent before trial, etc. is orthogonal to justice. Given a firefight with police, the appropriate response is for police to kill the alleged perpetrator and then face judgment on whether their firefight was justified by the available evidence.

      In this case, I think most folks would be okay with the outcome. But when things are more debatable, our current system lets the police get away with murder sometimes. In a process that is expensive and controversial.

    2. I might be persuaded by your argument if I thought that state had some particular ability to either craft the rules, collect evidence, be objective in making the judgment, etc. But based on my personal experience, none of this seems to be the case.

      In this case, arresting the alleged criminal, treating them in a hospital, gathering evidence, treating the alleged criminal as innocent before trial, etc. is orthogonal to justice. Given a firefight with police, the appropriate response is for police to kill the alleged perpetrator and then face judgment on whether their firefight was justified by the available evidence.

      In this case, I think most folks would be okay with the outcome. But when things are more debatable, our current system lets the police get away with murder sometimes. In a process that is expensive and controversial.

  22. The death penalty is wrong, independent of this particular case.

    Yes I agree that IF we are to have the death penalty, THEN this particular case would be among the strongest arguments to use it.

    BUT, having the death penalty *in general* means that more questionable cases will also see it applied. Such as all of the cases with individuals who are exonerated years later.

    Quite frankly, the state should not have the legal authority to take human life not in self-defense. The state is powerful enough as it is without this additional power to legally end someone’s life.

    All of the usual arguments about the state being an inept corrupt oppressive entity apply just as much to the death penalty as they apply to every other sphere of government action.

    1. I like this take.

      I’ll add this:

      He deserves the death penalty. He earned it, in spades. Worse, actually. Simply putting an end to him would probably count as letting him off lightly.

      Loads of people deserve it. Lots more than actually get sentenced to death.

      At the same time, the death penalty is just wrong. In the immortal words of Clint Eastwood, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

      Here’s my suggestion: Let’s just not kill people, because killing is generically wrong. Even when people have earned no better.

      And may we all avoid getting what we actually deserve.

  23. If he’s sentenced to death in PA court, it’s unlikely he’s be executed. We’ve executed, like, two guys since the early 1960s.

  24. The intent of the Justice system is to enact and mete out Justice; to restore injustice to justice, as best as can be done. If this man did the crime, and is tried, and convicted, then the system should do whatever is in its power to mete out justice.

    To those who argue that he should face life imprisonment, rather than death… that is a death sentence, but to be carried out in the slowest of methods. And it is to say that it is justice to claim this man is completely beyond repair, so depraved as to be unworthy of a second chance, but that he must be kept alive, and separate from society. And it is to say that it is justice to the citizenry that he be cared for at their expense until such time as he dies in his old age.

    1. You are implicitly assuming that the state can be fairly trusted with this power.

      What if it cannot be trusted with this power?

      1. Someone must be trusted with the institution of justice. If not the state, who?

        A state–especially a republic or democracy–is merely people. To say “The state cannot be trusted to X” is to say “the people cannot be trusted to X”.

        That is not to say there should be no safeguards, or that the current ones are sufficient or proper.

        1. A state–especially a republic or democracy–is merely people.

          “Government is the name for the things that we all do together”

        2. Someone must be trusted with the institution of justice. If not the state, who?

          We the people begrudgingly entrust the state with the power to administer justice, only because the alternative would be worse. We don’t do it because we think the state does a great job at it.

          We *know* that the state will use its power ineptly, corruptly, and oppressively. That is why we created safeguards and appeals and checks and limitations on the state’s powers. At the end of the day though, we know that any system designed by man, even if everyone is well-intentioned, will still fail and miscarriages of justice will occur. These miscarriages are *certain* to occur when people do *not* have the best of intentions, as is the case when the state administers justice. If/when these miscarriages of justice do occur, it is important that those who were victimized by the state be alive in order so that restitution may be afforded to them.

          1. We the people begrudgingly entrust the state with the power to administer justice, only because the alternative would be worse. We don’t do it because we think the state does a great job at it.

            ^ This.

        3. Someone must be trusted with the institution of justice. If not the state, who?

          Those who actually suffered the injustice. The state is not the victim of that injustice. The state should only be in the business of discovering the injustice and making sure that the correct person who did do it is identified. The objective there is to protect the innocent from suffering a second injustice at the hands of the blind fury/rage of the first victims.

          And it should be vigorous about that goal – protecting the innocent. Because once it does declare that someone is guilty, then it should allow those first victims to seek their own retribution from that guilty party – with no legal consequence because whatever harm they do is not being done to an innocent.

          1. Those who actually suffered the injustice

            Even chemjeff, would tell you this is an absolutely terrible idea. The last person to be entrusted with the institution of justice should be the injured party.

            1. The last person to be entrusted with the institution of justice should be the injured party.

              Yeah – I have to agree on this one. The traditional idea of the “Outlaw” has a certain attractiveness from an anti-statist perspective, but this was the practice in Iceland well into the late Medieval period, and it didn’t work all that well, at least if you accept that the premise of the justice system is to prevent blood feuds. Not everyone will agree that the guy who went up and killed the Outlaw was in the right, and that all by itself can start a feud.

              1. The medieval practice of outlawry failed for two main reasons:

                First, outlawry could be declared – in absentia – simply by a judge issuing a bench warrant for failure to appear. The ‘Robin Hood’ type outlaw – who becomes a hero simply because he is charged with a crime and was not able to defend himself.

                Second, outlawry did not have to be a public declaration with all the charges/evidence/adjudication made public and widely known. In that case, it was de facto a ‘private’ lynch mob with everyone involved connected with and part of the state.

                you accept that the premise of the justice system is to prevent blood feuds.

                I don’t really accept that as the premise of the justice system. The justice system is absolutely there to prevent INNOCENTS from dying in blood feuds. But it is not – and cannot – be a substitute for the rage/emotion/pain of those who’ve been harmed. That is itself a very dangerous path to go down. Not only does it require that the state declare itself to be a victim of that crime (which means a state-declared crime doesn’t actually NEED to have a victim) but it also requires that the state have a punishment that everyone can agree on that won’t start more blood feuds.

                IOW – there is no ‘right’ answer without deeper consequences here.

                1. IOW – there is no ‘right’ answer without deeper consequences here.

                  Yes. And we live in a world with sadists and serial killers in it. Is the idea that if you publish all the intimate details of a fellow’s crime and cut him loose in society with “feel free to do whatever to this guy that you wish” sign around his neck that that will result in equitable punishment?

                  If this system results in a guy getting skinned alive by a sociopath for jaywalking? IOW, how do you make the punishment fit the crime?

                  1. cut him loose in society with “feel free to do whatever to this guy that you wish” sign around his neck that that will result in equitable punishment?

                    Well presumably those adjudged guilty would often seek the protection of the state via incarceration. The terms of that incarceration being a negotiation between the first victim, the guilty, and the state. At the successful end of which, the ‘outlaw’ verdict (a separate verdict from the guilty verdict – and obviously not a possible verdict in some jaywalking/nonviolent offense) is rescinded.

                    IOW – There is no longer a unilateral denial of liberty here. There is no longer an obligation by the state to protect/support the guilty. There is far more incentive for the guilty to acknowledge their guilt – and compensate for it.

                    And if a guy like this guy gets skinned alive and tortured after release by some psychopath on a mission – well do you really care? I’d much rather have America’s psychopaths go after these sorts of guys than the innocent.

                    1. Well presumably those adjudged guilty would often seek the protection of the state via incarceration.

                      There is no longer an obligation by the state to protect/support the guilty.

                      These two things don’t seem compatible.

                      And if a guy like this guy gets skinned alive and tortured after release by some psychopath on a mission – well do you really care?

                      No. But this guy’s is a pretty uniquely clear-cut case. The Outlaw system has only two states – you’re either protected by the law or you aren’t. Plus, if your outlaw is, say, Mike Tyson, it may be difficult to make him pay for his crime or to prevent him from going around victimizing even more people.

                      I get the appeal from a “don’t give the state this power” angle, but I think that this power is pretty fundamental to the existence of society and the rule of law in the first place, and I doubt it can be done away with without serious real-world consequences for liberty.

                    2. The Outlaw system has only two states – you’re either protected by the law or you aren’t.

                      Yes. And there are other circumstances – eg gangs who are already engaged in wars on the streets or someone who kills prostitutes/homeless where no one else cares – where my proposal could raise concerns. The point is not that I have the solution. But that we do need to stop thinking that society is a victim and that it thus decides what needs to be done. The state punishing people directly is pretty recent.

            2. I’m not saying the injured party should be entrusted with ANYTHING.

              I’m saying the role of the state should be limited to identifying who did the injury. And once they have identified that party – to withdraw the protection of the state from that party. To let what will be be.

              Right now, the state has to either a)carry out the punishment as an agent of the aggrieved or b)protect the guilty FROM the aggrieved by imprisoning them forever. Both are a serious problem where the state has absolutely no interest and no skill and plenty of potential conflicts.

      2. Amd in rides Jeffy with some weak philosophical argument that one expects from a dim first semester college freshman.

        What a surprise.

  25. Like living the rest of ypur lofe in prison is better than a quick death.

    1. At whose expense? Why not run for office and tell voters its OK for the IRS to decapitate THEM if they aren’t quick to fork over capitation taxes to keep Aryan National Socialist boy there in warmth and comfort without his ever lifting a cruel and unusual finger to provide reparations, why dontcha? Herbert Hoover did pretty much that with the Moratorium on Brains, and it bought us and Europe the Third Reich!

  26. So… no free injection for Bowers?

  27. This is fucking stupid…..

    “That being said, the government should not be in the business of executions. Civil libertarians and classical liberals have long argued against capital punishment. “The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice,” the ACLU argues. “Well-publicized problems with the death penalty process?wrongful convictions, arbitrary application, and high costs?have convinced many libertarians that capital punishment is just one more failed government program that should be scrapped,” Ben Jones writes at Libertarianism.org.”

    This man was witnessed shooting those people and surrendered to the police at the scene. That is very different from the many questionable convictions of people based on poor witnesses or circumstantial evidence which are the primary drivers for those criticisms.
    Combined with the lengthy appeal process that adds decades and millions of dollars to the case of the convicted, that is why the death penalty is such an expensive mess.

    This case is the complete opposite in that it should result in a very speedy trial and execution avoiding all that time and expense. This should be a poster case for the correct application of capital punishment.

    1. You recognize that even in the case of people who have been executed or are currently on death row but have been demonstrated to probably (and in a few cases, definitely) innocent, that various states are still vehemently arguing that the innocent guy is somehow guilty?

      There’s no way to have a fool-proof justice system in which this obviously guilty guy is executed but the innocent are spared. The powers that be aren’t capable of or willing to make the distinction.

    2. It shouldn’t take ok fear than a year or two to present all relevant appeals if capital cases are restricted to those where guilt is in zero doubt. This is likely such a case.

  28. IF, and that’s a big IF, the State can prove beyond reasonable doubt that an accused killer is guilty – without resorting to jailhouse snitches, withholding exculpatory evidence, or otherwise cheating – then killing the killer is no different than killing a rabid dog. No moral high ground is held by not executing a John Wayne Gacy, or a career thug who has a string to dead victims behind him.

    But the State needs to institute serious safeguards on its capitol case trials. Prosecutors and police who conspire to game the system so as to run up more impressive conviction numbers should themselves be put on trial for their lives.

    1. Well said.

    2. “Prosecutors and police who conspire to game the system so as to run up more impressive conviction numbers should themselves be put on trial for their lives.”

      We’re so far from that right now you can’t even see it from where we are. Prosecutors and police who game the system are rarely sanctioned at all, and only rarely put on trial for anything (I can think of one case involving a prosecutor and that wasn’t a death penalty case), and never put on trial for their lives. Most often, they’ve moved on to higher office or higher positions because their misdeeds are discovered long after they are committed – it’s the nature of the system.

      There is no justice system that can be put into place that will guarantee correct outcomes in every instance because those systems will always have to be implemented by imperfect human beings…?.

      1. Oh, I agree. But to say that execution g a killer is wrong sidesteps the problems with the death penalty. The idea that the long suffering taxpayers should maintain this mook until he shuffles off this mortal coil on his own is insane.

        Now, there are a LOT of problems with the system, and for that reason, I am leery of any penalty as final as execution. BUT, if I was reasonably well convinced that the prosecution was doing its damndest to keep the trial as fair as possible, my objections would vanish. People who do mass shootings, or confess to multiple millings (as some serial killers do, for whatever reason) need to die. Preferably in public. I would favor a return to public hangings, for that reason.

        But I’m a Crank.

        1. I’ve had a solution to this rattling about in my brain for a while.

          Remember when they went through that big round of military base closings?

          Well, there’s a solution in that.

          Just maintain a couple of big military bases as “permanent exile” colonies. Kinda like Australia. Except only men.

          Give them a kit of supplies and send them in to fend for themselves. Seeds, rake, hoe, bucket, shovel…. good luck.

  29. I can’t believe there are so many people here who are pro-death-penalty.

    How is this pro-death-penalty position espoused here different than the standard conservative position on the death penalty?

    1. No libertarian supports the death penalty.

      You may be mistaking a bunch of authoritarian right-wingers for libertarians. Or for decent people with sound judgment.

      1. No libertarian doesn’t support the death penalty.

        1. Right-wing bigots, gullible rubes, faux libertarians, and half-educated statists love the death penalty.

          Libertarians oppose the death penalty.

      2. Isn’t this a great example of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy?

        1. The “No true Scotsman fallacy” is itself fallacious.

      3. Arty, you are no arbiter for what makes one a libertarian. One thing that is certain, YOU are no libertarian.

      4. Arty, you are no arbiter for what makes one a libertarian. One thing that is certain, YOU are no libertarian.

    2. Are you surprised? People come to the libertarian position from all sides of the argument, and bring many of their prior opinions with them.

      You made a good point on your 2:39 post. I agree, eliminating the death penalty entirely is probably a wise choice. It has been implemented too problematically.

      However, that is quite different from the death penalty being unethical. Wisdom and ethics are two different things. I have no problem with the death penalty as a rule. It’s not an absolutist position, but I think it’s the right one. Finally, this change should be implemented by the legislature, not by prosecutorial fiat.

    3. If there is a public perception that monsters are not dealt with, the public will deal with them. I am in favor of self-defense. I am not in favor of vigilante ‘justice’. As bad as the present system is, with all the wrongful convictions, I am not by any means persuaded that vigilantism would constitute an improvement.

    4. Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has to offer. –Ayn Rand

  30. Libertarians — and decent, informed people in general — recognize that no method devised and implemented by man is to be trusted with killing convicted criminals. Police and prosecutors make mistakes, are susceptible to inappropriate motives (including ambition), and are granted undue deference. Juries are as bad, if not worse.

    Faux libertarians, however, seem eager to trust government, perhaps uniquely, when it comes to killing. It is difficult to respect someone who claims government can’t be trusted to provide a school lunch or a flu shot but is fit to investigate, accuse, prosecute, convict, and kill a defendant — especially after multiple exonerations demonstrate the fallibility, bias, and abuse associated with our criminal justice system.

    1. So you have a problem with the process not the penalty itself.

      1. The Rev maybe wants us to build him a time machine so he can go back to Nuremberg and Tokyo in 1946 to stop the Government of Occupation from hanging those poor collectivist wretches for involuntary genocide. It makes me so ashamed of my parents and grandparents who selfishly refused to surrender to those dutiful altruists, I could cry all the way to a front-row seat facing the gallows. Think how many wrongful gentile deaths could’ve been avoided by refusing to lift a hand in anger against National Socialism and the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere. Of course the Jews might not’ve fared so well, but Greatest Good for the Greatest Number, right? For today’s sermon open Aldous Huxley’s Ends and Means, Chapter 1, “From Isaiah to Karl Marx”…

      2. The Rev maybe wants us to build him a time machine so he can go back to Nuremberg and Tokyo in 1946 to stop the Government of Occupation from hanging those poor collectivist wretches for involuntary genocide. It makes me so ashamed of my parents and grandparents who selfishly refused to surrender to those dutiful altruists, I could cry all the way to a front-row seat facing the gallows. Think how many wrongful gentile deaths could’ve been avoided by refusing to lift a hand in anger against National Socialism and the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere. Of course the Jews might not’ve fared so well, but Greatest Good for the Greatest Number, right? For today’s sermon open Aldous Huxley’s Ends and Means, Chapter 1, “From Isaiah to Karl Marx”…

      3. The Rev maybe wants us to build him a time machine so he can go back to Nuremberg and Tokyo in 1946 to stop the Government of Occupation from hanging those poor collectivist wretches for involuntary genocide. It makes me so ashamed of my parents and grandparents who selfishly refused to surrender to those dutiful altruists, I could cry all the way to a front-row seat facing the gallows. Think how many wrongful gentile deaths could’ve been avoided by refusing to lift a hand in anger against National Socialism and the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere. Of course the Jews might not’ve fared so well, but Greatest Good for the Greatest Number, right? For today’s sermon open Aldous Huxley’s Ends and Means, Chapter 1, “From Isaiah to Karl Marx”…

    2. Can you please provide me with some rational explanation that a man who was identified by multiple people, encountered leaving the scene of the crime, subsequently got into a shootout with the police, injuring several, and then surrendered at the scene of the crime, is the wrong person? Any explanation that doesn’t involve magic would be accepted.

      I agree that in most situations, the death penalty is unwise due to the possibility of false conviction. That is not a rational argument in this case.

      If you wish to argue that we should ban the death penalty in general due to these possibilities, I would agree with you. However, that should be done via the legislative process, not protestors demanding prosecutorial discretion, which almost always will mean that the completely-evil-and-typically-white-mass-murderer gets life in prison, while the poor-typically-black-guy with the public defender gets railroaded into death row for looking somewhat like the murderer. (Yes, I went there. Statistically, most of the Innocence Projects false-convictions were black).

    3. The opponents, one and all, assume that the only way to be permanently rid of a psychopath is for state agents to kill him. No sir! I call for the return of certification of outlawry. One such as this, if found guilty, would have a short grace period to find sanctuary. If someone will provide that, whether for money or from pacifism, then their walls can keep him alive, but now law of general society affords him any protection. — end of problem, without the State acting.

    4. I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust juries. I don’t lynch mobs. They will all make mistakes.

      But I also don’t trust not allowing individuals and groups of individuals to protect themselves just because they are acting with deliberation, rather than in the heat of the direct conflict.

      1. Anarchist communists will always find a way to justify making robbery and murder legal. They succeed in making voters seem much more intelligent by comparison.

  31. So you oppose doing something about murder.

    1. That, in a word, is the position of the Libertarian Party Platform Committee–the ones who in the 1980s asked for votes in exchange for endorsing child prostitution, and just now cost us another 13 million likely votes by welcoming 52 million antichoice illiterati marching across the Rio Grande thirty abreast. Now–instead of restitution as provided by the 13th Amendment “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction–these sabotaging cretins, with Seyton as their spokesman at Reason want to enslave VOTERS to support killers who by their very actions have waived all rights. Brilliant!

  32. “It’s not the government’s job to put its own citizens to death”

    Is that meaningfully different from using deadly force against them in law enforcement, or locking them up for decades? I mean, it literally is government’s job to use force against its own citizens, in very specific and strictly limited circumstances.

    That’s the whole basis of the State, with agreement from Hayek to Rothbard (who is agin’ em anyway, but see Nozick on how that works out).

    Asserting over and over that it’s Just Unacceptable won’t make that true; it’s a matter of debate, not settled fact (or even “The One True Libertarian Opinion”, which I don’t know if there is for anything at all).

    Reason’s tendency towards smug assertion of the Current Policy Preference makes it less serious, and another reason to keep adblock on – hell, it makes me want to argue against them on principle just to tweak their damned noses.

    (Is capital punishment fraught with possible abuses and injustices, and has it executed the innocent? Yes! Even more than just prison time, yes.

    But that’s an argument for using it very, very sparingly, not just saying “It Is Beyond The Pale For Reasons But Prison Is Fine!!!”

    You can’t give prison time back to someone, either.)

  33. Keeping worthless murdering bag of crap alive for 30 years… $250,000+ ( I have no idea, but a lot).
    Enough electricity to make him crispy… $20

    My fiscal conservatism trumps ‘L’ibertarian civil liberties in this case.

    I see no point in keeping people like this alive.

    1. “I see no point in keeping people like this alive.”

      Folks in Texas said the same thing about Rueben Cantu. And Carlos de Luna. And David Spence. So they killed ’em. But, oopsie daisy, it turns out they didn’t do what they’d been accused of.

      Darn the luck. But at least they saved a few bucks…??..

      1. You’re comparing apples to lumps to crap.
        There is no doubt or ‘getting the wrong guy’ here.

        1. No, I’m not.

          Please describe for us a system that would allow for this mutt to be executed but would preclude the execution of someone that is innocent. The system that we have ain’t it.

        2. Do you claim you are you up to drawing the line on who is ‘unquestionably guilt,’ libertynugget? If so, I question that assessment, because you sound like a dope.

  34. Death Penalty cases are already handled as special process. I submit that this process should be escalated to one where the state supreme court decides if the case is a death penalty case. The criteria is, certainty that this is the person who did it. That means no circumstantial evidence, no difficult investigation, it is obvious that the person was guilty. This case is an example. There is no way to argue that he didn’t do it. I use the example of the Best Buy shooting years ago in Sacramento where the shooter was filmed firing into the backs of his prone victims.
    In these cases due process should be short circuited as it really doesn’t need to be prolonged to be fair. If it deemed to be a death penalty case by the highest court then there may or may not need to be any other due process. Execution is handled quickly. The government is in the business of protecting citizens and one way to do that is to have sufficient consequences carried out quickly.

    1. Make no mistake, I don’t believe ANY other case should have the death penalty. Only those that are so completely obvious as to be indisputable. And I don’t believe that it is that hard to define what completely obvious is. If there is any judgement call to it then its probably not completely obvious.

      1. Prosecutors and cops think that EVERY case is open and shut once they decide to go for the death penalty. Hell, even after people are exonerated by virtue of DNA the cops and prosecutors on the case (and sometimes the judges) still insist the exoneree was guilty.

        One example – look up Roy Criner and Sharon Keller and “the unindicted co-ejaculator”.

      2. Any minute now your beliefs will strike me as more important than making another such cretin think twice before committing a like misdeed. Go ahead and hold your breath till it happens, I believe it’ll be soon.

  35. But this isn’t mistaken identity, is it? This is the guy. He’ll admit to it, proudly. There’s no doubt. The objections don’t apply.

    It costs more to incarcerate someone for 40 or 50 years than it doesn’t to stand them up against the wall and shoot them? I call that a failure of imagination.

    Reason provides a seriously weak, and somewhat tired, rebuttal to the death penalty in cases such as this. But we all know, that given that ticking nuclear bomb, Reason would follow all legal and moral guidelines and not take the bomb maker out the back to kick the truth out of him.

  36. From a practical standpoint, the death penalty is simply too expensive.

    The anti-death penalty two-step:

    1) Use every legal means to make it slow, difficult, and expensive to impose the death penalty.

    2) Argue that the death penalty should be ended because it’s slow, difficult, and expensive to impose.

    1. Since you want a rapid, easy, cheap system to impose the death penalty, it seems that you’re fine with innocent guys getting killed as well.

      So I assume you’re willing to volunteer to be executed as an innocent to insure that we get what you want. I mean, certainly you’re not ok with it because it’s some other innocent guy who’s going to get the needle but not you, right?

      1. In many cases such as this one, there is simply no question about guilt. In those cases it should be quick and easy and cheap, yes.

      2. What a moronic comment. This guy is innocent, is he? He not only admits to it, but he’s proud of it. If anyone’s guilty, it’s this guy. And after he has his rights, his taxpayer-funded trial, and appeal, he’ll still be the guiltiest bastard any of us have ever seen. Do you agree?

        Now why shouldn’t he be executed?

        Now, if pressed, I’d come down on saying no to the death penalty, not because of any utilitarian arguments, but because of what it means for the executioners, both proximate and at large. It diminishes us in the same way that castrating a rapist or torturing a torturer would diminish us. Punishment should generally be proportional to the crime, but that doesn’t mean an eye for an eye.

        How about admitting this guy SHOULD suffer death? That death IS a proportional penalty. But then rise above it for more morally-advanced reasons. But you better have something more solid and admirable than, it costs too much, or he might be innocent. He’s not.

        1. You missed the point, or maybe I didn’t make it well.

          This guy is clearly guilty, and is deserving of the most severe punishment allowed under the law. The problem is that the set of laws that allow we the people to execute this guy allow us to execute anybody and everybody else that commits the crime that this guy did or something similar. I don’t trust we the people with that power.

          You’ll say that we the people should only execute anyone who is undoubtedly guilty, but the problem is that we the people think that everybody who has been sent to death row and/or who has been executed were undoubtedly guilty. But some of them weren’t.

          1. I said the opposite of that. I’m suggesting the arguments so far advanced are weak and sound more like moral cowardice. Especially the utilitarian arguments. What a fucking cop-out.

            Yes, the fallibility argument holds water. But I’m suggesting we have to do better than that because with this particular guy, he’s as guilty as sin.

            Right? You agree that he’s guilty of mass murder? No doubt. He admits it. He’s proud of what he did.

            So why not execute him? You tell me.

        2. “Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent” – Ayn Rand

          1. You know what, Trey? I give up. Fuckin’ kill ’em all. I mean, somebody somewhere thinks they did something, and that’s good enough for government work. Amiright?

      3. Bevis: Did you not read my whole comment or is this to someone else? Under my idea NO innocent person would be executed because the death penalty would not be on the table unless there was NO question of innocence. There are enough cases where the guilt is OBVIUOS. In fact under my “cheap and easy” so called method it would eliminate the death penalty for any but the obvious so have the opposite effect of your missive.
        Personally there are two big problems with the current system (probably more)
        1. it is so long and drawn out that it is hardly the deterrent it is supposed to be
        2. it allows for innocents to be put to death based on all sorts of miss carriages of the justice system (over zealous prosecutors being one of the most heinous)

    2. Then wonder why so many cops just cap rough people. Cops know THEY are exempt, so the exemption needs to be extended to wanton murderers to make things better? Is this an argument for gun-free school zones too?

  37. OT: Attention San Francisco area H&R readers! There will be a meetup of H&R/Reasonoids/Glibertarians in San Francisco on Saturday evening, November 3rd. If you would like to attend, email me at my handle at gmail.com and I’ll send you the details.

  38. Put him in with the general population and let them “SHANK” him..

  39. “Bowers now faces federal charges due to his anti-Semitism.”

    No. He faces Federal charges because he killed eleven people.

    1. Forget it, Jake, it’s mediatown

    2. If he’d just killed 11 randomly chosen people, it would only be a state murder case – or at most, the federal charges would be violating the victims’ civil rights, as in several 1960’s cases where the civil rights charges were laid after the state blew the murder charges.

      The federal murder charges are possible only because of the thought-crime.

  40. “Bowers now faces federal charges due to his anti-Semitism.”

    No. He faces Federal charges because he killed eleven people.

  41. If “the state” shouldn’t be in the business of killing, then line the bastards up who “deserve/need to be killed” (because they broke the social covenant by taking another life in anger) and let the people kill them in the finest tradition of “an eye for an eye”.
    Oh, wait a minute, that’s what the “state” does, in the People’s name, isn’t it: The People v. ……..!
    Remember, the Scripture says: Thou Shalt Not Murder!

  42. So Joe, which of the remaining alternatives do you and the suicidal Platform Committee recommend? Does the Political State send men with guns out to collect taxes to fatten these thugs in warmth and comfort–knowing there is no way to tax adults without killing a few now and then as examples. Or shall the Political State turn them loose, perhaps in front of your home, to shift for themselves?

  43. There are a lot of different issues running together in this article.

    1. The federal government has no authority to prosecute murder under the Constitution. That’s a state power.

    2. I loathe hate crime specifications. If a man guns down an innocent old woman because he wants to take her purse is that somehow less reprehensible than if he guns her down because she’s Jewish?

    3. The “more expensive” argument has always seemed like a weak debate tactic to me, because the people using it would almost never be okay with the death penalty if only we made the process cheaper.

    4. The government is incompetent. I would be okay with a higher evidential standard for application of the death penalty: beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    1. Regarding point 4, all of these evidentiary standards are completely arbitrary. What does proof beyond a reasonable doubt mean, given the occurrence of people folks later judged innocent by things like DNA evidence and accusers recanting? What does the preponderance of evidence mean when juries are non-quantitative in assessing evidence?

  44. He’s only a bunch of cells

  45. I am proud to have been leading the effort in North Carolina’s LP to get a plank opposing “execution of prisoners”, a position I hold follows directly from the NAP. Subsequent history has only reinforced that opinion. State sponsored killing is bad, period.

    1. Execution is retaliatory force.

    2. If state-sponsored killing is bad, period, then what about state-sponsored kidnapping (or as it’s generally called, imprisonment). That’s just the same, right?

      No? Then why not?

      1. Those who are found to have been mistakenly imprisoned can be released, but not those who were mistakenly executed.

        And there is a huge problem with erroneous convictions in non-death penalty cases, and an even bigger problem (in terms of man-years wrongly spent in prison) with people accused of minor crimes who can’t make bail and have serve their sentence awaiting trial.

  46. “That being said, the government should not be in the business of executions.”

    The rationale for the state carrying out executions, was so that it would no longer be a matter of individuals taking the law into their own hands. If you would use semantic sleight of hand to remove the state from the business of justice, then you must return it to the hands of civilians. Otherwise, you stand guilty of being the enemy of justice, and the ally of evil.

  47. Talk about bad faith arguments.

    “Uncivilized”: The death penalty is one of the pillars of civilization. No death penalty, no justice. No justice, no law.

    High costs: The costs are only high, because ruthless supporters of murderers have sabotaged the process. One solution is to impeach anti-justice judges.

    “There are numerous questions over the death penalty drugs?”

    More sleight of hand. There are no such questions. The purported point of using drugs to put men down like dogs was because justice opponents asserted that older methods caused heinous criminals pain. It then became clear, when the opponents came up with phony arguments against drugs, that they had never been honest to begin with. Then let’s go back to inflicting the maximum amount of pain: garroting, drawing and quartering, firing squads, hangings, electrocution, you name it!

    And so that glibertarians aren’t offended, we’ll let mobs of civilians carry out justice. Mustn’t let the state be tainted by carrying it out!

    1. Yes, let people bid to be the executioner! Cost problem solved by the free market!

  48. More grounds for the death penalty:

    Convicted killers can and have killed while in prison. What’s the punishment for them? Less TV time? Oh, but that would be cruel and unusual punishment.

    The sentence of “life without parole” has been effectively ended, and replaced by life until parole. What happened was that death penalty opponents (read: Supporters of murderers), once they succeeded at effectively ending the death penalty, moved on to the next phase, of eliminating life without parole. Their endgame appears to be the complete elimination of prisons and policemen.

    However, following the logic of justice opponents, civilians may also not enforce the law. Thus, we have the rule of criminals.

    Which was the point, all along.

  49. The death penalty isn’t just punitive, it’s (theoretically) preventative. Who knows how many lives have been saved because some potential killer didn’t like the idea of being executed? It’s unknowable, but at least plausible. That is how the State protects its citizens. In cases of absolutely known guilt, I say chemical execution is far too lenient. The electric chair is far more fearsome, and therefore more of a deterrent.

    1. This proposed effect been studied pretty extensively. As a whole, if it exists, it’s not detectable in crime statistics.

      As a rule, criminals tend to not be very smart and either assume that they will get away with everything or they are so angry at the time that they don’t care about the consequences. Life behind bars versus death row isn’t meaningfully different.

      1. Under the current system the death penalty as a deterrent is hindered radically by the time it takes to actually happen. What kind of deterrent is it when it’s a dozen or many more years between the crime and the ultimate punishment. At that point few other than the victims close family even remembers the crime.

  50. Too expensive.

    Park a $.03 .22 rimfire in his brain then feed him to hogs and that’s still more than any murderer is worth.

    1. How does an authoritarian, bigoted wingnut find himself at a libertarian site?

      1. Rev. I think the statement by Rob is flip of course but how do you see bigotry in it? That is a HUGE stretch and to me symptomatic of the current state of actual bigotry in the country. At a huge risk of being castigated mightily I think much of it is imagined.

  51. The state’s first role?and arguably its only one?is protecting the lives and property of its citizens

    Nope, not at all. Government’s Job One is to protect our rights as outlined wihtin our Constitution. NONE of those rights, enumerated or otherwise, include the deliberate taking of someone else’s life without due process of law. Thus this monster, IF the story we have is true, did indeed end the lives of those eleven people. God’s Word declares that when one man unrightously sheds innocent blood, his own blood SHALL be forfeit by the hand of other men. This is not retribution, nor is it revenge. Again, “revenge is MINE, says the Lord, I will repay”. He further states that HE establishes the civil magistrate “to bar the sword against those who do harm”. Thus the civil magistrates, including the executioiners, are His servants. It is through them He metes out justice.
    The death penalty does two things: it removes such evil from society, and it serves as an example to others who may consider similar action.

    1. As to the red herring of the expense involved in execution, I call foul, phony, untrue. I recently had to have some surgery, and read the breakdown of the costs incurred. General anesthetic was interesing…. a cocktail of four drugs were used to put me under…. total cost of those four was less than fifty bucks. Then the guy added Fentanyl, I did not know what that was until after. Wish I had. THAT stuff gave me serious problems, I hated what it did. it did NOT put me out, it is a powerful narcotic painlikker. But, since I was totally out, there was no pain to kill. The bill for THAT ONE DRUG was $400!!
      So, to gently administer a lethal dose of whatever to turn off the criminal’s heart or brain or both, simply put him under like that doc did me, total cost of fifty bucks. Then, being totally out, NOTHING would be cruel or unusual. The stories I’ve read of agnising deaths lasting for a long time are totally avoidable.
      There is also the firing squad, which worked quite well for a long time. For criminals such as this one, I doubt it would be too difficult to find volunteers. SOft time game rounds cost at most a dollar apiece.
      The alternative to the death penalty in such cases is…. MORE such cases.

      1. The medical community will not cooperate for some reason.

        The drug companies will not sell. The doctors and nurses seem to have no interest in helping out.

        Besides why bring anesthesia into it. There are many ways to kill. The drugs are for the executioner not the executed. What they need anesthesia now?

        You seem to want some soft humane way for state executions. It should never be that.

      2. the cost of administering the death penalty is not in the method its in the process. Long drawn out repeated appeals and court appearances and we the people typically pay for both sides.

  52. Yes, this guy deserves the death penalty.

    The sociopathic power seekers who run the legal system and the mental deficients that get chosen by the sociopaths to serve on juries don’t deserve to have the death penalty in their toolbox. They can’t be trusted not to misuse it, and you can’t un-kill an innocent man. I’ll continue to oppose the death penalty for that reason alone.

  53. Oh Cry me a river!!!! Just execute this garbage.

  54. Wouldn’t that be ironic if he gets executed in the gas chamber? Off to the showers for him. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

  55. “Anyone who does this to innocent people”? You mean, like bombing a school bus full of children? Bombing wedding parties, funerals, hospitals? How about snipers gunning down unarmed Palestinians? What hypocrites Americans are.

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