Something about the American system

Moments before the execution, Miller was asked if he wanted to say anything, but his reply was not understandable. He was asked again and his attorney clarified that he was saying: “Beats being on death row.”

No, I’m not saying that there should be no punishment. But:

The study, “Designed to Break You,” collected accounts from former death-row prisoners who had been exonerated or who had received lesser sentences after their death sentences had been overturned. Their stories revealed numerous problems with death-row conditions, including, “mandatory solitary confinement, a total ban on contact visits with both attorneys and friends and family, substandard physical and psychological health care, and a lack of access to sufficient religious services.” Every prisoner on death row spends about 23 hours a day in an 8-by-12 foot cell for the duration of their time on death row.

Takes about 15 years to progress from sentence to execution.

Nah, sorry, don’t care, that’s wrong.

82 comments on “Something about the American system

  1. Typical Grauniad. We have to wait until the penultimate paragraph to learn that…

    Miller was convicted of killing 23-year-old Lee Standifer in 1981 in Knoxville. Standifer was a mentally handicapped woman who had been on a date with Miller the night she was repeatedly beaten, stabbed and dragged into some woods.

  2. I read somewhere that, on at least one death row, smoking is banned.

    Because it’s bad for you.

  3. It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

    It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working
    –bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming–all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned–reasoned
    even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone–one mind less, one world less.

    George Orwell, A Hanging

  4. It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees.

    It was raining. Hard. The prisoner looked and me and said “Miserable day for a hanging.”
    “What are you complaining about? I’ve got to come back in this.”

  5. ’… I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. …’

    They didn’t see it, or didn’t care if they did. So, why should I?

    I save my compassion for the victims.

  6. It might have been a bit closer-to-home for Orwell, given that he knew he was on an appointment list for a Stalinist firing squad in Spain, for having chosen the “wrong” True Socialists to join.

  7. “JuliaM

    They didn’t see it, or didn’t care if they did. So, why should I?”

    To show that you are better than them.

  8. Couldn’t they just not appeal endlessly? Isn’t that the problem? Or perhaps I’m talking out of the top of my head.

    Over here, for most practical purposes in serious crimes, you’ve got one appeal if you’re lucky.

  9. Couldn’t they just not appeal endlessly? Isn’t that the problem? Or perhaps I’m talking out of the top of my head.

    That’s why it drags on for decades. It’s normally only once all possible avenues of appeal have been exhausted that sentence is carried out.

    Those who don’t do this get executed fairly quickly.

  10. ‘Takes about 15 years to progress from sentence to execution.’

    That’s the prisoner’s doing.

    More likely his lawyers, wanting to stay on the payroll for that 15 years.

  11. Given that quite a few could be innocent of what they are accused of…likely most are guilty but no need for petty cruelty. Either turn ’em over to the relatives to be beaten to death or give them reasonable conditions and a chance to save us money by topping themselves. Petty spite and vindictiveness is not becoming to men.Kill the bloke or don’t but don’t piss about like nasty spiteful girlies.

    Non-child killers /non-peados/non-sadists etc should be give a chance to die fighting with honour. An arena with 6 highly armoured gunman. The relatives loved ones can apply to be given training and be among that group.The convicted is given guns with one bullet in two live ammo. They shoot it out. There is a small but not zero chance the convict might drop one of his foes but will not survive himself. Die with a little dignity like. Some bloke whose only crime say is to have hit some arrogant over-wheening costumed thug a little too hard deserves a decent death. Not capricious abuse from sadistic and cowardly screws.

  12. The US Bill of Rights, in one of its many plagiarisms from the English Bill of Rights, forbids cruel and unusual punishments. On an originalist interpretation of the Constitution (and any other interpretation seems just intellectual candy-floss to me) this sort of delay is unconstitutional.

    It might even have the side effect of encouraging juries to return marginal results as “guilty” knowing there will be a decade or more for appealing, haggling, and God knows what else. It may similarly encourage slackness among the police, DAs, judges, and even defence lawyers.

    The system is corrupt, cruel, expensive, and disgraceful.

  13. More or less on-topic, if you want to see a marvelous example of Lefty idiocy on things like the death penalty in Cuba, have at this juicy morsel: https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~marto/adpp/cuba.htm

    A little gem:

    Executionism (i.e., continued legal support for and practice of executions) has long been a feature of capitalism. This has lead a long-time student of executionism, Peter Linebaugh, to state that “capital punishment is the punishment of capital” (Linebaugh 1991).

    Just on a skim read, the pretzel logic required for some of these people to justify their positions is quite astounding. Only very intelligent, but very blinkered and ideological, people could manage it.

  14. “To show that you are better than them.”

    Murderous scumbags aren’t impressed by virtue-signalling.

  15. “I save my compassion for the victims”

    Tje day we think our compassion can be “saved” for anyone is I’m afraid the day we’ve lost it.

  16. It’s not a question of compassion.

    Personally I do not accept that the state should have the power of life and death over people.

    From a purely practical POV there is much to criticise in the death row system. It demeans US civilization.

    When the DP was abolished in the UK the sweetener was that it would be replaced by life sentences. This too has been totally mishandled. Life should mean life, the only exception being a successful appeal.

    The equation should be: you top someone, and never breathe fresh air again.

  17. “Theophrastus

    “To show that you are better than them.”

    Murderous scumbags aren’t impressed by virtue-signalling.”

    It isn’t the murderous scumbags I would be signalling.

  18. I long ago decided that it was the most terrible villainy to use torture and death on the same victim.
    Have a little class – pick one.

  19. Wait, the problem with the American system is that it goes out of its way to provide every opportunity for the condemned to appeal?

    Seems so unfair.

  20. Ah, The Guardian… Where they make decent men like Brett Kavanaugh out to be monsters and make monsters like David Earl Miller out to be decent men.

  21. Every opportunity? Well, perhaps. But what about every realistic opportunity?

    Arguing nonsense points will get you nowhere, except, by the sound of it, 15 years’ chokey before they kill you.

    I do not know what constitutes a nonsense point on appeal in the American system, but over here appealing is a difficult business and whilst, to some extent, I occasionally find myself thinking in a particular case it perhaps ought to have been easier, on the whole I think it works tolerably well.

  22. It may similarly encourage slackness among the police, DAs, judges, and even defence lawyers.

    I don’t think any of them need encouraging, especially the police, being slack, useless bastards is par for the course.

  23. What seems to escaped The Guardian includes the following:

    Death row prisoners are held in solitary confinement for the protection of prison staff, other inmates, and in many cases, for the protection of the inmate. Many death row inmates, because of the nature or notoriety of their crimes, simply cannot be housed in general population. Other prisoners would kill them immediately. Beyond that, these are, by definition, the most dangerous prisoners in the prison system. It then makes sense that they be subject to the most intense control available.

    Prisons cannot deny prisoners access to counsel. That’s been litigated all the way up to the Supreme Court. What prison can do is impose certain restrictions on access… That is usually determined by federal and state law, and not by the prison.

    Prisons usually do not ban visits from relatives and friends unless the prisoner has repeatedly violated prison rules. In most cases, a ban of visits is earned by a prisoner; it is not imposed upon them.

  24. To show that you are better than them.

    Leave it to Andrew to take a judicial execution and make it all about himself.

    Very Murphyesque.

  25. Tje day we think our compassion can be “saved” for anyone is I’m afraid the day we’ve lost it.

    Just as promiscuous charity encourages beggary, so promiscuous compassion encourages crime.

  26. Fifty years ago I was arguing that hanging was more merciful than the only reasonable alternative for those so evil that they should never be let free to harm more innocent victims. Now we we have the Grauniad bewailing the conditions that it was advocating.
    “Oh, they might be innocent” – but we *know* that the victims are (nearly always) innocent and the increase in the number of victims of what used to be “Capital Murder” each year now compared to the late 50s /early 60s is more than the total number hanged for “Capital Murder” in the 50s and 60s.
    I agree with Tim that that the US “Death Row” system is wrong but Dennis makes *the* good point; much of the rest is the fault of the lawyers.

  27. @JtD

    Personally I do not accept that the state should have the power of life and death over people.

    +1

    The state has shown itself to be inefficient, corrupt and self serving and should not be granted the power of life and death over people.

  28. John77, I agree with you on this – it’s actually why I am in favour of the death penalty.

    For those few inmates in this country who are whole lifers, or even for those who get, say, 35 years or some such, I think it must be worse than death.

  29. Anecdotally – I heard this from a squishy colleague of 40 years’ Call who was himself told it by a then senior (now probably dead) colleague – the pressure on barristers representing those accused of capital crimes, in the days when we had capital punishment, was extreme.

    [cue assembled commentariat]: “jolly good!”

    Thinking about it, that might undermine the suggestion that 35 years is worse than the long drop to the end of the short rope. Or maybe it’s, perversely, easy to reconcile oneself to a client serving that mount of time provided he is nominally alive. Dunno.

  30. Our resident ‘Murphy in America’ strikes again, unable to tell the difference between ‘you’ and ‘I’.

    Still, I suppose English is a second language in much of America these days. What’s Mexican for ‘fuck off’?

  31. “Theophrastus

    “It isn’t the murderous scumbags I would be signalling.”

    Still virtue-signalling, though”

    If you take that line, what isn’t?

    Are you signalling the virtue that you don’t virtue signal?

  32. The arguments against the death penalty seem to fall into two camps: the wrongness of taking a life on the one hand, and on the other, the risk that an innocent person is killed. The second of these is actually an argument against the quality of the legal system. I think that this point is made very well in the above comments.

    However, there are cases where the perpetrator is unequivocally guilty, as in the Rigby murder, and in cases such as that, the victim is not properly avenged by those squeamish about the death penalty.

    For those who think the death penalty is morally wrong, please stand up an apologise to the Nazis hung after the Nuremberg trials..

  33. For those who think the death penalty is morally wrong, please stand up an apologise to the Nazis hung after the Nuremberg trials..

    Why, I didn’t hang them?

  34. One benefit of a life sentence over the death penalty is that juries are more likely to find the defendant guilty, as it allows for a retrial.
    How often is the defendant wot dunnit ” a villain m’lud”. Both the state and various experts have a track record of getting it wrong.
    Would you support the death penalty for killing children?
    If so – shaken baby syndrome and it’s aftermath should be a warning against faith in the police and expert witness.

  35. ‘The system is corrupt, cruel, expensive, and disgraceful.’

    So hang ’em at sunrise day after sentencing.

  36. The long duration of the appeal process is due to how long it takes to get a hearing in court. Up to two year wait. When appeal is finally heard, and REJECTED, request for a hearing at the next level is made, and a new wait begins.

    As DtP says, the ability to appeal is a feature, not a bug. The long process is due to factors beyond the actual case being appealed. Too many bad guys in too few courts.

  37. I weary pretty fast of the moral arguments against the death penalty, and I think one of the factors that keeps many people supporting it is that they believe that once it is finally abolished the death penalty opponents will then start advocating for light sentences for murder. However, I also think it’s time to end it in in the US. For one, it is very slow and costly, and the slow grind towards an eventual execution can take decades because the opposition is determined. Secondly, it is somewhat inconsistent to be a conservative and to have generally a low opinion of government except when it comes to their ability to conduct a fair trial and precisely determine who is guilty. I’ve been through civil trials, and that will disabuse you of any notions of the nobility of the justice system. Lying is common, mistakes are made, and sometimes convicted people are later found to have been innocent. Swap the death penalty for reduced tax rates and less regulation perhaps.

  38. For a bunch of people who are normally contemptuous of the State’s ability to get anything right there does seem to be a lot of confidence in it when it comes to the death penalty. The Guardian would be proud of your new found faith, even if they’re against the death penalty.

    And I really don’t get the argument that its better to execute the innocent because being imprisoned for 35 years is worse than death. That’s a big decision you’re making for someone who would be out aged 53 if they’d been wrongly convicted aged 18.

    There’s been 1488 executions since 1977 and 164 exoneration since 1973, anybody willing to bet that none of those executed were innocent. Maybe we should ask the exonerate how many would have preferred to be executed rather than languishing on death row, they are the experts on the subject:

    For Inclusion on DPIC’s Innocence List:

    Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either-

    a. Been acquitted of all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row, or

    b. Had all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row dismissed by the prosecution or the courts, or

    c. Been granted a complete pardon based on evidence of innocence.
    ….
    Average number of years between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 11.3 years

    Its not like State has incentives to get it right and in some States getting the death penalty can enhance a political career:

    It was a long time coming, but finally America has reached a milestone in the area of criminal justice. In Texas, a former D.A. has made history by becoming the first prosecutor in U.S. to suffer criminal punishment for failing to turn over exculpatory evidence.

    In this case, Ken Anderson — the former Williamson County D.A. who was named the 1995 Prosecutor of the Year by the State Bar of Texas — was sentenced to 10 days in jail for a criminal contempt charge. His crime was evidence tampering, hiding evidence that was favorable to Michael Morton, who was on trial for the 1986 murder of his wife. Morton was innocent, to be sure, and Anderson violated a court order when the judge asked him whether he had any evidence that was favorable to Morton, and Anderson said no. In fact, Anderson was aware of statements made by several key witnesses, but chose not to disclose them.

    As a result of then-prosecutor Anderson’s blatant misconduct, Morton languished in prison for nearly 25 years — all for a crime he did not commit. DNA testing made him a free man in 2011. And yet, a little over a week in jail seems like an insult of a punishment, given the damage done to an innocent man.

    Nevertheless, no other prosecutor in this country has seen even a single day in jail for evidence tampering, and yet we know that many others certainly have committed the same offense.

    The National Registry of Exonerations maintains a database of 1,200 exonerations and false convictions since 1989. These men and women spent a total of 11,600 years in prison, each for an average of a decade. Official misconduct was a contributing factor leading to wrongful convictions in 44 percent of these cases, second only to perjury or false accusations (53 percent). And official misconduct is most common in homicide cases (58 percent on the wrongful convictions) and nonviolent crimes (55 percent).

    According to a report from the Innocence Project on the first 255 DNA exoneration cases in the U.S., of the 63 cases involving civil suits or appeals dealing with prosecutorial misconduct, 21 percent led to reversals, reflecting harmful error (probably an improper judgment by the court). These findings mirror a study by the Center of Public Integrity, which found that among 11,452 appeals alleging prosecutorial misconduct between 1970 and 2002, 2,012 (17.6 percent) resulted in reversals or remanded indictments.

    Yes I know, there’s lots of nasty people out there and I don’t like them either and am happy for the guilty to rot in jail, as long as they innocent have a chance of release.

  39. Our resident ‘Murphy in America’ strikes again, unable to tell the difference between ‘you’ and ‘I’.

    And our resident Andrew seems to be unable to fathom the point being made. Also very Murphyesque.

  40. It depends BiS. If you were lying on the ground with a broken leg would you prefer it if passers-by gave you a kick to exacerbate the pain or tried to do something to alleviate your suffering?

  41. What The Guardian, as well as the anti-death penalty folks in general, tend to forget is that sentencing someone to life in prison without parole (whole life tariff) is neither cost-free nor risk-free. An example? Robert Maudsley. Convicted of murder, given a whole life tariff, and sent to Broadmoor. There he killed an inmate. Then sent to Wakefield where he killed two more inmates.

    Maudsley got exactly what The Guardian wants… Mental health facilities at Broadmoor, and confinement in general population at both Broadmoor and Wakefield. Result? Three dead. So I have to ask: How does sparing one at the cost of three work out on the grand scale of justice?

  42. Here in ‘Merica, in most states, the appeals process for inmates sentenced to death is automatic. It is, for example, here in Ohio. If the prisoner wishes to forgo the appeal process, he can do so. Absent that choice, the appeals process is invoked and moves forward irrespective of how involved the prisoner or his legal team are. It’s a safeguard, plain and simple. Perfect? Hardly. But I’ll take a 15 year appeal process over having a repeat of the Timothy Evans tragedy.

  43. I’ve done a complete three-sixty on the death penalty. When I was a callow yoot, I felt that it was simply wrong to kill a human being deliberately, no matter what he’d done. Then when I reached adulthood I came to realize that some people really do just need killin’. But now I see that the state simply can’t be trusted to make that call, so I’m back to the anti-capital punishment position, not because of sympathy for the convict, but because of distrust of the state.

  44. ‘The system is corrupt, cruel, expensive, and disgraceful.’

    So hang ’em at sunrise day after sentencing.

    Here’s a case of someone who was 8 years on death row before being released (due to lack of evidence). Her life is still in danger, and even now she is not permitted to leave the country. Not all death penalties are equal.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-46130189

    Of course, whether death may be better than decades of suffering/imprisonment is an argument made by proponents of euthanasia. (e.g. confined in a home slowly going mad from Alzheimer’s, or completely paralysed with ‘locked in’ syndrome.) Others say that even suffering imprisonment for decades is always better than death. Who has the right to decide for you? The law? The state? Commentators on the internet?

  45. @diogenes
    What has that example got to do with the subject under discussion? But it neatly illustrates why I asked the question. It was in response to this from Rustybollocks:
    “Tje day we think our compassion can be “saved” for anyone is I’m afraid the day we’ve lost it.”
    Made me wonder why compassion must be dolled out even-handedly, irrespective of merit. And why compassion is regarded as virtuous. A trump card to be laid down in a debate
    Not saying they were known for showing much, but I presume it is derived from the teachings of the Catholic Church. As another way of abrogating responsibility for one’s decisions.

  46. “The State” does not have the power of life and death. A jury decides they should die, the state carries out the sentence.

  47. I don’t know about you, BIS, but if I see an old lady struggling upstairs with a small case I show compassion by offering to carry it for her. I don’t feel good for making that gesture. If anything, it embarrasses me, and the feel good factor is not the only reason for offering to help her, although there is a certain buzz from helping people. But the ethics are relative. For example I would not assist a landwhale with a cabin trunk but I would always help an individual with a pram occupied by a baby. How this discussion about compassion relates to prisoners who might or might not have committed horrible crimes is a question for the moralists on each side of the debate here. Should ethical principles vary according to what’s at stake? Or are these values absolute, so that if I help a struggling old lady then that implies I will make the extra effort for a convicted criminal behind bars? I prefer to stay grounded in the here and now. A neo-Stoic perspective. Ymmv

  48. NiV, you’re right. There’s no difference between murderers and those with locked-in syndrome. Well done.

    Tom, well done, again, for lighting the touch paper. Here’s hoping you can achieve the same thing with Contins. Needs accessibility tweaking.

  49. The State collects the evidence, has the labs, decides what will be shared with the defence, decides what charges will be brought, has unlimited access to lawyers and their time, appoints the judges, drafts the laws, controls the appeals process …

    The defendant relies on presumption of innocence, a nebulous concept to most people, and if they are poor rely on court appointed lawyer who doesn’t have time to wipe their arses let alone read briefs thoroughly.

    The jury is the least of the innocent person’s problems.

  50. @Mr. Black-““The State” does not have the power of life and death. A jury decides they should die, the state carries out the sentence.”
    That’s what I used to think. But for people who lack the resources to pay for first-class legal help (e.g. OJ Simpson), the jury hears what the state wants it to hear. The process is definitely rigged to favor the prosecution.

  51. I’ve always regarded the law as a device the lawgivers use to keep themselves at the top of the tree. Anything that might be regarded as justice comes out of it along the way is purely fortuitous.

  52. Mr in North D, that’s why the jury matters. It’s the last line of defence. And it errs on the side of caution and against obnoxious prosecutions. It’s not perfect. But just look at the puritan attempt to get rid of it in rape trials. Why would they want to do that?

  53. M’Lud,

    I’m a great believer in the jury, but there’s two systems being discussed here.

    I listen to, and read a lot about, the USA legal system and my comments above are aimed only at their system, which I think is badly flawed and getting worse. Some of the State asset forfeiture laws are nothing but confiscatory, but that’s a different issue.

    As to the latest attempt to rig rape trials, I have nothing but contempt for those who are pushing it. BBC’s Law in Action discussed this with a professor from Huddersfield University who did some of the original research. It struck me as pseudo intellectual bollocks and the thin end of the wedge, and we need to defend jury trials harder than Brexit – the slippery slope may be an theoretical logical fallacy but I’ve been around long enough to know its a practical reality.

  54. Indeed. Huddersfield “University”. A “professor” thereof. Ye Gods. That for which we must thank John Major.

  55. I mean, say what you like about the universities, Mr in Spain, but the present nitwittery coincides with Sir Major’s expansion of them.

  56. “Nothing gets compliance like a public hanging.” – GC

    The death sentence isn’t just for the perp; it’s for the public, as a deterrence from their committing a capital crime.

    “I felt that it was simply wrong to kill a human being deliberately, no matter what he’d done.”

    I don’t consider someone who has committed a capital crime to be human; I consider them an animal. Or “her,” in the case of Hillary Clinton.

  57. Public hangings seemed to multiply in Coercive regimes… In Russia anyway. I suspect that the chance of being caught is actually what counts. Ask BIS

  58. “NiV, you’re right. There’s no difference between murderers and those with locked-in syndrome. Well done.”

    No, you’re wrong. The analogy is between prisoners held in solitary confinement for decades and those with locked in syndrome.

    Not to worry, though. I’m sure nobody saw through your tactic to distract us from your neat evasion of the point! 🙂

  59. “I do not know what you are talking about.”

    Don’t you?

    I was drawing an analogy between being diagnosed with a terminal illness and being under sentence of death, between an illness that results in lengthy isolation/confinement and being in prison, and between this discussion and the issue of whether to allow euthanasia and a quick death, or whether it’s better to force them to drag it out for 15 years of hopeless suffering before they die anyway.

    When we have our discussions on euthanasia, the common view seems to be that euthanasia is murder, and we ought to drag it out. I note that in this discussion we seem to be taking the view that dragging it out is cruel, and we ought to offer a quick death. (Possibly by gladiatorial combat!) It strikes me as odd that people think the innocent should receive the worst punishment.

    I agree with you when you say: “it’s actually why I am in favour of the death penalty. For those few inmates in this country who are whole lifers, or even for those who get, say, 35 years or some such, I think it must be worse than death.” I was just noting that it’s the same argument used by those in favour of euthanasia.

  60. I’m not in favour of euthanasia. Not because I fail to recognise its potential to alleviate suffering, but because it is tantamount to state-mandated or sanctioned murder of those who have done no harm.

    Murderers have done harm. What is to be done with them? Lock them up for xx years, or put them to death? I have no problem with the state mandated death, or murder if you prefer, and think it is preferable to xx years inside. More humane.

    The point is, the comparison you seek to make exists only superficially. Beneath that superficial comparison, there are different considerations in play.

    And yes, when I said I do not know what you are talking about, I meant it

  61. Euthanasia has stuff all to do with the state, it is an individual deciding that, for them, the benefits of life no longer outweigh the costs, a right that all of us should have.

  62. DocBud, how are those who assist in euthanasia then to escape the law against murder – if euthanasia has nothing to do with the state?

  63. Euthanasia does not meet the definition of murder. The person dying does so willingly and therefore is not a victim. It only becomes murder when the state intrudes on something that should not be its business. The same is true of suicide, it’s a nonsense for suicide to have been illegal or still be illegal in some countries.

  64. Docbud, it certainly meets the definition of murder in English law.

    You might argue that that ought to be changed, but then parliament would have to intervene to change the law so it could happen …. whereupon it becomes, or remains, the province of the State.

    And there are serious if not insuperable drafting difficulties. For one thing, how do you prevent a more common or garden murderer arguing that his victim asked to be killed?

  65. @ Chris Miller
    I’ll believe you
    When I finally retire, I’ve got a lot of reading to do and J S Mill is just one part of it.

  66. @john 77
    No criticism intended. To come to the same conclusion as JSM independently is not a fault 🙂

  67. “I’m not in favour of euthanasia. Not because I fail to recognise its potential to alleviate suffering, but because it is tantamount to state-mandated or sanctioned murder of those who have done no harm.”

    You have a choice between two evils: torture or murder. You agree yourself that the torture is the worse evil, and oppose it even if the person is a serial killer. So why is the state-sanctioned torture of a person the preferable evil when they are innocent?

    “The point is, the comparison you seek to make exists only superficially. Beneath that superficial comparison, there are different considerations in play.”

    For many people, the comparison is more than superficial, and they see no other considerations.

    I’m not sure either what other considerations you think are in play. One possibility is that it is an act/neglect distinction – some consider that morally one should not positively act to cause an evil, but no moral responsibility accrues to allowing it to happen on its own. (To which I’d reply that the state has chosen to actively intervene to forbid euthanasia – and so becomes responsible for all the consequences of doing so.) Or maybe you have some other distinction in mind I can’t fathom.

    But whatever it is, I don’t think it’s obvious, or universal.

    “And there are serious if not insuperable drafting difficulties. For one thing, how do you prevent a more common or garden murderer arguing that his victim asked to be killed?”

    The same way you decide any other issue of informed consent.

    How does a surgeon prove he had your consent to operate? How does an executor prove that the deceased made the will? How does a widow prove her husband took out a life insurance policy? This sort of thing is done all the time.

    It’s a suicide executed by contract. Anyone has the right to commit suicide. Thus, the only person it is legal for you to kill is yourself. Giving orders for it to be done should be just as legal. And the one carrying out the instruction should be considered an agent acting on their principal’s behalf.

  68. “He joined a Muslim gang in prison for protection but he was forced out after he started claiming that he wanted a sex change.”

    L.O. fucking L.

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