Apr
23
2013

I can respect somebody being against the death penalty.

I can think of at least three arguable, intellectually coherent reasons for being against the death penalty; I do not share that position, but I can do a death penalty opponent the elementary courtesy of treating his or her opinion with respect. So I don’t get upset when somebody says No death penalty, even for scumbags – and means it.

I do get upset when a politician abandons principle for raw political expediency. Like, say, Boston mayor (and Democrat) Tom Menino.

…Mayor Tom Menino, in an uncharacteristic turn, called for the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“I have never supported the death penalty but I will say in this one I might think it’s time this individual serves his time with the death penalty,” Menino said.

Via AoSHQ.  That’s just obscene: if you don’t believe in the death penalty, then don’t believe in the death penalty.  But don’t switch your beliefs just because it’s suddenly politically expedient.  It’s cowardly (in a tough-guy way), hypocritical, cynical, and – depending on how you read Article I, Section 10’s prohibition of ex post facto laws – actually unconstitutional, to boot.

9 Comments

  • acat says:

    It is with a deep regret that I must hold up former Gov. George Ryan as an example of a politician who followed his beliefs on the death penalty. He became convinced Illinois was doing it wrong, and ended the death penalty here.
    .
    I *disagree* with Gov. Ryan, but I respect his convictions.
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    Menino? {spit}
    .
    Mew

  • qixlqatl says:

    I have heard no mention of murder charges against Tsarnaev, only terrorism and “weapons of mass destruction” charges, I guess because those are Federal and carry the death penalty.

    • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

      This is still early days. They have enough charges to hold him while they investigate further. (I think. IANAL.) Murder has specific criteria. Among other things, they need to demonstrate, to a certain degree, mental things. Ideally, you only prosecute offenses that you have the evidence to support.

      • qixlqatl says:

        I think (IANAL, either 🙂 ) that the construction of the bomb is pretty clear evidence of intent to cause lethal harm. Obviously not meant to be just a loud noise and a puff of smoke, yes? Put it this way: on a jury, given the evidence of an individuals culpability, I’d return a murder conviction for the act.

        • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

          One of the criteria for some of the more serious felonies, IIRC, is Mens Rhea, a guilty or evil mind. This is to a certain extent an awareness of wrongdoing, and mental competence to be aware of the difference between right and wrong.
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          a) I’d guess that it might be a little soon for the Feds to know for certain about what they could demonstrate in court about the man’s mental state. Or rather, it might have been when they compiled the initial document of charges. Maybe having the guy on tap for a few days, even badly injured, is enough. I’m far from an expert.
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          b) I’ve a feeling, and no evidence whatsoever, that the terrorism and weapon of mass destruction offenses may have been legislated to get around terrorists in the sixties claiming that they were doing the right thing in order to dodge Mens Rhea. Blowing up random people with a bomb is a physical thing, largely easy to demonstrate. Mental stuff is vague, with more room for liars to bullshit to people who want to believe them.

  • Cameron says:

    My opinion of the death penalty has changed over the past few years in light of the numerous people that The Innocence Project has managed to get exonerated. I can get behind the death penalty getting carried out at the scene of the crime by the intended victim, with only a cursory round of questioning by the police.
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    That attitude only applies to crime which is definitely NOT what we are discussing about Boston. I’m all for the gallows with the video uploaded on YouTube for this situation.

    • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

      *Grabs notes from my unwritten just-being-charitable partial defense of the Palmer entity. Revises certain bits for the current bit.*
      .
      You know, I have got to disagree with you. I favor the use of capital punishment in appropriate cases. I do not support exceptions due to age. (19 is just a year or so from being a minor, exempt from capital punishment.) I do not support making exemptions due to the untrustworthy nature of the legal system. (a] I would note that there have yet to be any actual convictions in this case, it is political, the administration has some influence, and has given the appearance of meddling in other political cases. b] If the legal system cannot be trusted to correctly exonerate the innocent, then it likely also cannot be trusted to keep the guilty in prison.) I do not favor exceptions due to overly broad readings of cruel and unusual. I do not favor exceptions to capital punishment that stem from people loving the law so little that they would be unwilling to see siblings or children dead, should those be guilty of common law capital felonies. I also disagree with those that build on loving family more than law, and extend that to capital felons who are other people’s family, and make weepy arguments about them being the child of somebody.
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      It may actually be legitimately a crime. Apparently US Citizen, US Jurisdiction, possible criminal acts, captured still alive, I haven’t heard that there is an organization involved to which we are extending military honors (or however that is phrased, my thinking on this point is muddled)…
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      Working too hard at an execution has issues. (Offending the dignity of the state and all that.) I like hanging. However, I think video taping and youtubing would each be too far. (I admit to not knowing usual practice for video at executions.) Similarly, for military reprisal, doing so would need to be appropriate for the offense reprised against. I very much do not see that this is correct for what you suggest here.
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      I would note that we haven’t seen the legal evidence yet, and he very much has not been convicted at this time.

      • Cameron says:

        It’s not so much the untrustworthiness of the legal system that has changed my opinion (Although that is a factor) as it is the fact that we have forensic technology available now that wasn’t around even a decade ago and quite a few people are getting found innocent based on that. I do think that the system drags things out far too long and there are people who (quite frankly) need killin’. But I’d rather be sure that the “beyond all reasonable doubt” part has been fulfilled.
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        My remarks about this not being a crime is more personal opinion. I am well aware that this is now considered a crime but the heinous nature of it (Along with the fact that it’s a terrorist attack) brings out my annoyance.

        • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

          We’ve got some weighty issues here, with room for sane people to disagree and debate.
          .
          On the tech side, the obvious counter argument is that newer technology has less of a track record, and we will have a fuller idea of the false negative rate in the future. I’d note that I am a recovering Technocrat, and extremely argumentative. I will argue causes where I see that an argument exists, even if I don’t see it as fully, or very convincing.
          .
          Other side of that is that the other sort of evidence, besides forensics tech, is human stuff. That, like much else, is limited by the human systems involved. There are very bad combinations of people implementing the legal system, and very good combinations.
          .
          For the grey area between stuff best solved by the criminal justice system, and stuff best solved elsewhere, I think Boston may fall in the middle, being a case that can be just as easily be argued both ways. On one side are things like the gangs, such as Crips, Bloods, and so forth that we’ve elected to send the cops after, rather than Marching through Chechnya in American cities. (Sherman and the Russians in, IIRC, Beslan. Posse Comitatus became law so that Federal troops used as in Reconstruction would no longer be lawful.) On the other side are the persons who sought to use only law enforcement against Al Queda, rather than the military force I thought most suited. If an overseas organization is/was involved, I think there would be cause to have the military, diplomatic, and so forth toolsets available. I still have greater confidence in the certainty of Obama screwing up that approach, than I do in him screwing up a criminal law approach.

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