Strange

Ronnie Lee Gardner’s brother, Randy, says no. “There’s no humane way to execute anyone,” Randy Gardner told NBC news on Monday. “I had the opportunity to see my brother after four bullets hit his chest, and I could have put my hand in anyone of the holes. It didn’t look very humane to me.”

“He was tied down with a hood over his head. Terrorists around the world and Isis, when they execute people, that’s what they do.”

Last year, Ed Pilkington spoke with Deborah Denno, a Fordham University professor who specialises in execution methods:

Denno has studied the history of the firing squad in the US, and found that in most of the cases in which it was used it was relatively quick and effective. In 1938, a “human experimentation” was carried out on a 42-year-old inmate who was executed by firing squad, with his heart monitored using electrocardiograph tracing. The results showed that his heart was electrically “silent” within a matter of 20 seconds.

The only known case of a botched execution by firing squad, in 1951 in Utah, appears to have been an act of vengeance on the part of five trained marksmen pulling the trigger. They targeted the wrong side of the prisoner’s chest, apparently intentionally, and he bled to death.


Yes, heart
stopping is a pretty good indication of looming death. But it’s not what we actually define as death these days. Cessation of brain activity is what we do define as death these days. Which means that aiming for the skull is a great deal faster than aiming for the heart.

Ludicrously therefore, the Chinese and Soviet execution methods, a bullet to the brain, are thus “more humane”.

And as to hanging, yes, I know, snapped neck, heart stops. And I’ve been told that something or other (told around here that is) means near instant unconsciousness at the same time. But I’m not entirely certain myself. No one ever has actually run an MRI of a brain as it expires from a hanging after all. And those experiments with the heads of those guillotined seem to indicate that there’s consciousness there for a while.

Since these various execution methods were designed we’ve changed our definition of death somewhat. So shouldn’t we be changing our methods to meet our new definition? That is, execution should be a method of ceasing brain function, not a method of ceasing breath or heart?

A cattle bolt perhaps?

201 thoughts on “Strange”

  1. For humane you don’t necessarily need quick death, you need quick cessation of consciousness. Death can take its time thereafter.

    And stopping the heart will do that quite nicely. The one time it happened to me, I recall being stood up and feeling a bit weird and dizzy. I don’t recall hitting the floor, but do remember waking up on the floor, plus minor injuries.

  2. I’m still not sure why they just can’t stick a mask over their mouth and nose and let them breathe and inert gas. Without the CO2 build up they won’t panic and won’t notice themselves slowly drifting off to slumber and then death.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’m not sure we could class keeping people on death row for any number of years as humane either. Perhaps they should go the whole way to copying the Chinese and March the prisoner round the back of the court as soon as sentance is passed.

    And for the avoidance of doubt I’m against the deaths penalty.

  4. Why the clamour for humane execution, voluntary medic supervised euthanasia? A while back there were young healthy idiots killing themselves unintentionally by drinking shots in quick succession causing depression of the respiratory centres of the brain. Throw in beforehand some over the counter antiemetic medication to prevent vomitting and I guess you have a fairly cheerful way to go. Not halal of course, you can behead them.

  5. Also the bullet to the brain, that’s probably harder to pull off. Definitely harder for having one executioner with a pistol, as opposed to five men with rifles.

    The internet abounds with unpleasant pictures of people who shot themselves in the head but failed to kill themselves in the process.

  6. The Portillo programme on the death penalty from a few years back suggested that hypoxia from an atmospheric chamber was the most “humane” way of killing someone.

    I’m perhaps at odds with a lot of commenters on here in that I’m opposed to the death penalty. If we (rightly) complain about the state screwing up health care, taxes, IT projects, immigration etc then why trust them to get justice right?

  7. I would revert back to the situation pre 1997 – where the death penalty was only available for treason and piracy on the high seas via repeal of the HRA.

    A number of high ranking members of the previous administration and a few high profile people writing in the Guardian with links to the Warsaw Pact or other dubious countries could thus be tried for multiple offences – with Murphy and Owen Jones’ links with ISIS and Venezuela they might well be in scope as well.

    Couple of points to note:

    A/ I’m for the most part with GlenDorran in that you cannot have the death penalty except for the offences outlined above – so not even for child murder. For Christ’s sake there are authorities investigating people for ‘homophobic comments’ on social media sites about a rugby match official whilst burglary clear up rates in their areas of responsibility languish at single figure percentages: We have forces devoting 15% of their criminal investigation manpower to sex offences committed more than 4 decades ago by perpetrators who in some cases aren’t even alive. Would I trust such people with the investigation of crimes and indirect responsibility for providing evidence to a judiciary which could give the ultimate sanction? – not on your life.

    B/ Just because the death penalty exists for treason doesn’t mean it would always be used – there haven’t been many prosecutions for the offence anyway, and I think the last execution even before Blair (wisely given his actions in office) abolished it as a pre-emptive measure was in 1946.

  8. What is meant by “humane”? If it means quick, then the ISIS method of high buildings is as good as any.

    The medical profession is getting caught on the horns of a dilemna, refusing to administer death to the guilty but consenting to kill the innocent.

  9. So Much for Subtlety

    Van_Patten – “I’m for the most part with GlenDorran in that you cannot have the death penalty except for the offences outlined above – so not even for child murder.”

    Why? I find myself in agreement with H. G Wells. Oddly enough:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6424

    Three felonies or seven misdemeanors and there is no more reason for society to tolerate your presence. True, Wells would exile them to an island. But I assume that means “exiling” them, to “an island”.

    “whilst burglary clear up rates in their areas of responsibility languish at single figure percentages”

    Partly because we don’t execute. Most crime is the work of a small number of repeat offenders. We need to execute them. Then the police will have the resources and time to persecute retired scout masters.

    “Would I trust such people with the investigation of crimes and indirect responsibility for providing evidence to a judiciary which could give the ultimate sanction? – not on your life.”

    But what is your choice? We need criminals to be punished. If the courts won’t do it, ordinary people will do it as in India and much of Latin America.

    The solution is to use their organs as the Chinese do. We may execute the occasional innocent person, but we could save three or four people every time we do. That is a net plus.

  10. Pardon my lack of sympathy for the brother of multiple murdering shitbag Ronnie Lee Gardiner, I believe his victims ended up with big holes in them too, funny how we never here about them isn’t it!
    Toss them into a blast furnace or headfirst through a tree shredder, cheap and solves the disposal problems too.
    Perhaps we should bring back the Roman games, the idea of rapists and (real rather than ‘Yewtree ‘fantasy) child molesters being chased by angry women in those chariots with the spinning blades on the wheel hubs has a certain appeal!

  11. Vets humanely execute animals every day. I find it hard to believe that humanely executing a human can be much different.

    That is if you want to execute people. We tend to import every terrible American idea, but so far at least we haven’t descended (back) to this barbarity.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “The death penalty is social hygiene.”

    It is odd you should say that:

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/03/politically-incorrect-paper-of-the-day-death-penalty-eugenics.html

    At the beginning of [1500]… the English homicide rate was about 20 to 40 per year per 100,000 people. At the end [1750, AT], it was about 2 to 4 per 100,000, i.e., a 10-fold reduction (Eisner, 2001).

    …Can this leftward shift be explained by the high execution rate between 1500 and 1750? During that period, 0.5 to 1% of all men were removed from each generation through court-ordered executions and a comparable proportion through extrajudicial executions, i.e., deaths of offenders at the scene of the crime or in prison while awaiting trial. The total execution rate was thus somewhere between 1 and 2%. These men were permanently removed from the population, as was the heritable component of their propensity for homicide. If we assume a standard normal distribution in the male population, the most violent 1 to 2% should form a right-hand “tail” that begins 2.33–2.05 SD to the right of the mean propensity for homicide. If we eliminate this right-hand tail and leave only the other 98-99% to survive and reproduce, we have a selection differential of 0.027 to 0.049 SD per generation.

    …The reader can see that this selection differential, which we derived from the execution rate, is at most a little over half the selection differential of 0.08 SD per generation that we derived from the historical decline in the homicide rate.

    Citing this article:

    http://www.epjournal.net/articles/western-europe-state-formation-and-genetic-pacification/getpdf.php?file=EP1302300243.pdf

  13. “Social hygeine”. Dear God, I never thought I’d see people overtly arguing for State eugenics here.

  14. Can this leftward shift be explained by the high execution rate between 1500 and 1750?

    Questions we can answer with “no”.

  15. ““Social hygeine”. Dear God, I never thought I’d see people overtly arguing for State eugenics here.”

    I’ll be honest, it doesn’t come as a total surprise.

  16. V_P: I’m with you that treason should be countered by the death penalty, including allowing the country to be overrun by hostile tribal colonists with no intention of tolerating the local liberal culture. Perhaps also the murder of policemen, judges and soldiers in their official capacity if evidence is bulletproof.

    Those serving indeterminate sentences for horrendous offending should never be allowed to set foot outside a closed prison until their trip to the crematorium.

  17. “Three felonies or seven misdemeanors and there is no more reason for society to tolerate your presence”

    Just as well as Sally Clark was only wrongfully convicted for two felonies then, otherwise she’d have been killed.

    Still, omelettes and eggs eh?

  18. Meanwhile, in the ‘Indy’, some cause/effect comprehension issues:

    The report, which was released on Monday, has been in the works since 2013, when Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey asked for help in figuring out why officer-involved shootings were increasing in the city even though violent crime was falling.

    Because if the police keep shooting bad guys they aren’t able to commit crimes..?

  19. “Jeez, not quite sure who is trolling and who is legit here…..”

    Nice of you to try and draw the distinction. If you need to, however: they’re for real.

  20. Mr E, however low individual agents of the state may act, they remain our best hope for an orderly peaceful society. Better checks and balances of those who act on our behalf is more desirable than anarchy in their absence.

  21. plus minor injuries

    Five bullet wounds to the chest ’tis but minor injuries. I take my hat off to you, BiG, you are surpassed only by the Black Knight of Holy Grail fame.

  22. So Much for Subtlety
    March 25, 2015 at 10:03 am
    Why? I find myself in agreement with H. G Wells. Oddly enough:

    Three felonies or seven misdemeanors and there is no more reason for society to tolerate your presence. True, Wells would exile them to an island. But I assume that means “exiling” them, to “an island”.

    Really? You trust your government that much?

    The government that’s chasing down people for prosecution for posting stupid shit on Facebook? The government that ignored the years of rape in Oxfordshire but went after dale McAlpine?

    You trust *that* government to have the intelligence and *restraint* to decide which felonies and misdemeanors merit execution?

    Keeping in mind that *littering* is a misdemeanor.

    While I don’t have any particular problem with the death penalty itself, there is not a single government that has ever existed on the face of the planet that I would trust with the power of life and death (not even my own).

    Me, personally, I wouldn’t even allow the DP for treason – the state should not have the authority to kill people who commit crimes against the state. We don’t allow victims to decide sentencing, let alone extract retribution for anyone else, the state shouldn’t get special treatment.

  23. SMFS unleash your inner fascist. Despot (a.k.a. John Prescott) made it illegal to do your own wiring unless you had accreditation, are you seriously suggesting people should spend the rest of their lives in prison for wiring in three sockets.

    As for the executing murderers diatribe. I’m afraid your critical faculties are dead, if you can even countenance believing such a thing. Even if the statistics were reliable it assumes that nothing else changed in a 250 year period.

  24. JuliaM
    March 25, 2015 at 11:27 am

    The report, which was released on Monday, has been in the works since 2013, when Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey asked for help in figuring out why officer-involved shootings were increasing in the city even though violent crime was falling.

    Because if the police keep shooting bad guys they aren’t able to commit crimes..?

    Its more along the lines that if you can kill with impunity, and American LEO’s pretty much can – you should see the protections they have, from ‘cooldown’ periods where they can’t be questioned, to union support and cover-ups by their peers – then you get people that will kill more often.

  25. @SMFS,

    I like this idea of exiling crims to an island. We could save money by pooling resources and doing it Europe-wide. What we need to find is an island, somewhere off the coast of Europe, ideally one already full of criminals and other undesirables, and send all our criminals and undesirables there.

    Oh, wait…

  26. @Docbud, I didn’t survive a firing squad (now that would be a tale), merely an unexpected cardiac arrest.

  27. “@Agamammon: and the crime rate goes down as a result. I say it’s win/win.”

    Allowing police to shoot with impunity people they think are “bad guys” is a win/win? Yeah, that can only end well.

    Haven’t you been complaining about the forces of the law pursuing Jimmy Saville et al?

  28. Ian B,

    > Questions we can answer with “no”.

    I think that gives it too much credit. The question should be answered with “Fuck off.” Because, even if the answer’s yes, the ends don’t justify the means.

    Would these keen eugenicists support a state-enforced curfew for all citizens during the hours of darkness? It would drastically lower the crime rate, so presumably yes.

  29. Glen,

    > Just as well as Sally Clark was only wrongfully convicted for two felonies then, otherwise she’d have been killed.

    Let us remember that Sally Clark actually was effectively killed.

    And let us remember her conviction the next time some fuckwit starts using the phrase “for medical reasons” as if the opinion of a doctor makes a decision a good one.

  30. Squander Two, Glendorran: bleeding hearts girly men both.

    Sally Clarke, Barry George? meh, can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs eh.

    As /EcksSMFS/Intersted says, we may execute the occasional innocent person, but we could save three or four people every time we do. Killing judges: social hygeine.

  31. @SQ2:

    I know a family who lost their three month old daughter to cot death several years ago. Having witnessed their grief and ongoing trauma, I can’t even conceive of what Sally Clark and her family went through. Or the other mothers who were wrongly convicted.

    There is a special corner of hell waiting for Roy Meadow.

    Still, greater good and all that.

  32. SMFS

    Thanks for confirming we are indeed different people, firstly. I see what you are saying – here’s an alternative, rather than ring fence the Foreign Aid budget why don’t we send some of our criminal population to these ‘aid recipient’ jurisdictions to rot for a few years. I think even five months in some hole in, say Guinea- Bissau would reduce recidivism rates to near zero…….

  33. A cynical thought crosses my mind…..

    40+ comments in a few hours, and this one will probably run and run.

    Is Timmy indulging in clickbait?

    No, surely not. He’s interested in the reasoned debate of the commenters here.

  34. Ironman:”As /EcksSMFS/Intersted says, we may execute the occasional innocent person, but we could save three or four people every time we do. Killing judges: social hygeine.”

    It is a mark of the humourless to fail to recognise humour. Very black humour perhaps but humour none the less and a wry recognition of the role of Judgeboy trash in undermining our few remaining freedoms.

    I don’t believe I have ever advocated the state death penalty on this blog. I would much prefer to see vicious and violent scum downed by those they are attempting to victimise.

    ljh–With the best will in the world that is pro-government boilerplate. If the population decided they had had enough of peace and the Golden Rule–which is what really creates order not the dictat of arrogant fools–half the coppers in this country would be dead by nightfall and the other half would have taken to their heels–as they did in Cairo with the Arab Spring malarky . Followed by the Judges–not able to run but making steady progress on their aged and spindly legs.

  35. @SQ2: a better question – would George’s conviction (on circumstantial evidence only) be enough to get him the DP should one ever be reintroduced here?

    I suspect the answer’s no. We’d insist on the same sort of ‘extras’ that the US jurisdictions usually do.

  36. But a woman like Sally Clarke who was convicted of killing her own child? What ‘extras’ do we need?

  37. For the record; my objection to capital punishment is not based on a few unsafe convictions; I oppose it for the guilty.

    Treason would be the only exception.

  38. “But a woman like Sally Clarke who was convicted of killing her own child? What ‘extras’ do we need?”

    Especially when it was based on the expert testimony of an eminent medical professor.

    Perhaps the death penalty should only be enforced where the evidence is based on peer-reviewed science, where there is a consensus and the science is settled? You know, like we do with climate change science which you all believe?

  39. @JuliaM:

    You’re right. I’m not comparing like with like.

    One is the abuse of power, law and due process to pursue decades old allegations where the crimes can never be proved.

    The other is policemen shooting bad guys.

    Sorry, my mistake.

  40. Ironman

    I agree with you. What’s your opinion on the other offence on the statute book prior to 1997, ‘Piracy on the High Seas?’

    It’s not inconceivable that a British born subject who moved to Puntland hypothetically might be arrested by an EU member state for piracy and transported back to the UK – should he face the possibility of death?

    GlenDorran – at least the genuine troll who entered the fray half cut last night hasn’t reappeared yet. Also – thanks again for the confirmation that you and I are different people…

  41. What Ironman said at 2.03pm. Although I don’t support it for treason either.

    And the reason I’ve been focussing on unsafe convictions is that I didn’t want to bring my own “morals” into it (and it is a moral objection more than anything else for me). We criticise Murphy for his reliance on “morals” so I didn’t want to go down that road.

  42. The objective isn’t to give them a nice ride, it is to kill them. Short of lingering torture, I couldn’t care less how it’s done.

    How decadent are we that we worry about methods of execution?

  43. Gamecock

    A personal opinion:

    Worrying about how you treat those whose actions you despise does not make you decadent.

    I take my personal morality from my faith. Happily accept that my morality isn’t everyone’s. Try not to impose it on others and accept society be stable for very long if I did. But this is the morality that has existed for two thousand years now and that took the world by storm. Many do not believe in Christ’s divinity; not many call him decadent.

  44. Julia,

    > a better question – would George’s conviction (on circumstantial evidence only) be enough to get him the DP should one ever be reintroduced here?

    Are you on crack? Of course it bloody would. As has been mentioned several times in this thread, how comes so many people who usually think (rightly) that the state is incompetent and malicious suddenly think it’s infallible and good? Why would a state willing to lock up a man for life — and, when finally forced to let him go, to fuck up his life — on the grounds that a TV presenter was really dreamy balk at the thought of killing him?

    Once you have the death penalty, it becomes simply another thing that the state does. It becomes part of the routine.

    > We’d insist on the same sort of ‘extras’ that the US jurisdictions usually do.

    Ha! Yes, I do like that. You’re not supposed to convict, regardless of sentence, unless the case has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And yet they still have different classes of sentence depending on how well the case was proven. Well? Was it beyond a reasonable doubt or not? If it was, why is this convict still alive? If not, why are they in prison? The very existence of those extras is simply an admission that the system doesn’t bloody work.

    Glen,

    > There is a special corner of hell waiting for Roy Meadow.

    Not half. And, after all he did, all the blood on his hands, he had the chutzpah to appeal the GMC’s decision to strike him off AND WON. Cunt.

    I trust that his bit of hell will be full of distinguished experts earnestly informing him of the statistical impossibility that he be suffering.

  45. S2: I think we should add expert witnesses who use fake evidence to manipulate and mislead, esp with dodgy statistics, because they put their opinions ahead of facts into the capital offences squad. Roy Meadow, Rachel Carson, Michael Mann…

  46. @SQ2: “And yet they still have different classes of sentence depending on how well the case was proven. “

    Which is, I suspect, what we’d have here.

    So ‘circumstantial evidence only’ convictions would go to life, while ‘he was standing there with the weapon in his hand, the corpse at his feet & fifty observers willing to testify when the cops read him his rights’ convictions would get the DP.

    @Gamecock: “The objective isn’t to give them a nice ride, it is to kill them. “

    Yes. So I always wince when I hear ‘the execution was botched’ or ‘the execution went wrong’. Unless the crim is still alive, and they usually ain’t…

  47. @BenS: no, because of that wonderfully elastic Hippocratic Oath that lets doctors willingly and enthusiastically off the disabled and suicidal and sometimes mentally ill, so long as they have ‘capacity to choose’, yet makes them draw the line at seeing off a duly convicted killer whose exhausted years of due process appeals.

  48. @JuliaM:

    What about the “yes, we have compelling scientific evidence that has convinced the jury and therefore we can get out the gallows?”

    You know, like Sally Clark? Or you know, like so many other cases? Pick one at random from that Wikipedia list of miscarriages of justice I linked to and tell me which ones would and wouldn’t meet your nice simple criteria for snapping necks?

    And you’ve totally missed SQ2’s point. Either a conviction is safe or it is not. You don’t get degrees of Guilty.

  49. I’m ambivalent about capital punishment. Some crimes are so evil that they deserve death, but I don’t trust the government to empty my bins regularly so am not keen to let them have the power of life and death over people.

    There’s definitely no humane way to kill a man. If it were humane, it wouldn’t be killing.

    So, why not privatise capital punishment?

    It could be a reality TV show: “I’m a convicted murderer: get me out of here!”

    Does anybody have Ant and Dec’s contact details?

  50. “while ‘he was standing there with the weapon in his hand, the corpse at his feet & fifty observers willing to testify when the cops read him his rights’ convictions would get the DP.”

    Well that’s all right then. It’s not as if witnessss and police have colluded to fit up the innocent in the past. Or even the guilty for that matter.

  51. JuliaM: You’re right that executing people who have broken the law prevents them from ever breaking the law again. But that’s an argument for executing people for…what? Illegal parking? Speeding in a built-up area? Etc, etc.

  52. SMFS, thanks for the link. Most interesting.

    1500-1700. Those were the days, eh? Hang ’em, and hang their children too. Just in case.

    Good to see the precautionary principal has such traditional roots.

    What? They didn’t? Then we must search for an alternative explanation. Greg Clark’s, perhaps.

  53. Ironman
    March 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Gamecock

    A personal opinion:

    Worrying about how you treat those whose actions you despise does not make you decadent.

    I take my personal morality from my faith. Happily accept that my morality isn’t everyone’s. Try not to impose it on others and accept society be stable for very long if I did. But this is the morality that has existed for two thousand years now and that took the world by storm. Many do not believe in Christ’s divinity; not many call him decadent.

    ==================

    Governments are instituted amongst Men for mutual protection. Governments determine that some individuals must be removed from society in order to maintain that protection.

    The idea that you can worry about those you despise DOES make you decadent, in that it presupposes protection has been achieved, hence you can treat the heinous casually.

    Treating the heinous casually creates a danger to society, your sanctimony notwithstanding. Governments’ duty is to the law abiding, not the criminal. Embracing the criminal is a primal failure of government, and is absolutely decadent.

    As for “Many do not believe in Christ’s divinity; not many call him decadent,” I simply ask for some evidence that Christ ever existed. There is none.

  54. “Governments’ duty is to the law abiding, not the criminal.”

    I’d take issue with that straight away. Governments have duties to the law abiding and the criminal.

  55. ” i take my personal morality from my faith. Happily accept that my morality isn’t everyone’s.”
    How does that work? Faith is neutral surely in whether to execute someone. (source: Texas)

  56. Embracing the criminal is a primal failure of government

    Except that placing limits on the forms of punishments available to government is not the same as “embracing the criminal”.

  57. Once you have the death penalty, it becomes simply another thing that the state does. It becomes part of the routine.

    This.

  58. GlenDorran

    Absolutely agree that governments have duties to those whom they convict of crimes, even if, in the case of those convicted of treason, the death penalty might (and might not importantly) be enforced. From recollection, the state would have recognized such a right even had the death sentence been passed when capital punishment was still legal for offences other than those I listed in my first post.

    Is it time for Charlieman to speculate that you, SMFS and I are in fact manifestations of the same schizoid personality?

  59. Julia,

    > he was standing there with the weapon in his hand, the corpse at his feet & fifty observers willing to testify when the cops read him his rights

    That’s practically a textbook definition of fitting someone up. The only usual reason for evidence that good is that it’s made up.

    That aside, again, you would usually be first in the queue to object when the Left use this tactic on any other issue. Want to push through something contentious? Use obviously reasonable examples that no-one’s going to object to. Then, back in real life, such examples almost never happen and the legislation is used for controversial crazy shit. This is why we have schools using terrorism laws to spy on children to check they live in the right cachement area. This is why people can be given criminal convictions for marginally overfilling their bins. I find it bizarre that someone would rightly object to such things but, when the stakes are so much higher, literally a matter of life and death, say, “Meh, fair enough. What could go wrong?”

  60. @SQ2:

    Indeed. I remember years ago watching you argue patiently and eloquently with a bunch of deranged US pro-choicers on some site or other and thinking “I’m glad I’m on his side”.

    Same story here.

  61. Squander Two

    Great point – the ‘Sledgehammer to miss a nut’ principle – I simply do not trust this power would not be used for completely the wrong purpose. I do make an exception for treason, with the proviso that it is very much the final end of a huge range of sentences and would only be used under exceptional circumstances – the last execution for the offence predated the abolition of capital punishment by two decades, and was used on someone who had aided a wartime adversary. Given his Kuwaiti background I’m not sure even ‘Jihadi John’ would be a shoo-in for the gallows….

  62. Glen,

    That was Amanda Marcotte and her acolytes. The idea that such people are “pro-choice” survives maybe five seconds of conversation with them.

    They’re deranged, yes, but Marcotte was made John Edwards’s official campaign blogger within a couple of weeks of that fight, so her frankly murderous views are apparently mainstream enough on the American Left to survive vetting by the Democrats’ professional presidential-controversy-avoiders.

  63. “On the other hand you’re also on my side so, swings and roundabouts.”

    Heh. Abortion and death penalty debates often make for strange bedfellows.

  64. Van Patten,

    > I do make an exception for treason

    Me too. Treason is simply war that isn’t happening on the battlefield. If we’ve accepted that our soldiers can kill enemy soldiers, the death penalty for treason hardly seems worth arguing about.

  65. I see no reason to make an exception for treason. And we have very strict rules about soldiers not executing other soldiers.

    A soldier’s job is not to kill the enemy, but to achieve military objectives which may involve killing the enemy. If the enemy do not oppose you, you don’t kill them. Hence putting their hands up, white flags, yelling “I surrender” and so on.

    If treason is an act of war, then a person accused of it is a prisoner of war, not a criminal.

  66. ” I do make an exception for treason”

    I don’t.

    We accept soldiers killing enemies. We don’t accept them killing prisoners of war. I don’t see why we should kill someone guilty of treason when they are, by definition, captive.

    If you accept killing for treason then it’s time to tear up the Geneva Convention. At the risk of being called a liberal pinko, I think that’s a step too far.

  67. We could set the bar for the DP so high that miscarriages of justice would be incredibly unlikely – eg unequivocal dna evidence + witnesses to the accused intentions and murderous behaviour.

    I find it curious that several people here conflate the judiciary with the government, when they are not the same thing.

  68. Ooh like the GD and VP points… I’m arguing with myself.
    1.Just war justifies death of combatants.
    2. If treason is part of war, then death for treason is justified.
    3. Death for treason is punishment.
    4. Therefore death for treason is not part of war.
    5. Therefore death for treason is not justified.

  69. GlenDorran/Ian B

    It’s usually (at least in modern warfare) been used for spies and people in non-combatant roles (the last two people killed were enemy propagandists during WW2) – I think the Geneva convention did at the time allow this. I would need to check whether it does now.

    I respect your beliefs and consider it a matter of personal opinion – I’d hope that does at least render our disagreement a degree less fundamental than some of the other posters here….

  70. People tend to confuse the certainty of a DNA identification with the certainty of how it got onto the suspect.

  71. SQ2: “That’s practically a textbook definition of fitting someone up. The only usual reason for evidence that good is that it’s made up.”

    Lee Rigby begs to disagree. Well, he would. If he hadn’t been slaughtered in the street in front of all those witnesses…

  72. @V_P:

    Absolutely, no flame war starting from me. I would never fight my alter-ego – I’m not a Marvel character. 😉

  73. GlenDorran

    It could be a ‘Crossover’ scenario between the Marvel and DC Universes (no-canon of course) perhaps?

    Thinking about it – Where’s Charleyman to pronounce ‘it’s fucking over’ when you need him?

  74. In reality, any “high bar” would not be predicated on the quality of the evidence anyway, but rapidly degrade to being based on the degree of outrage at the crime. There is no objective measure of evidential quality.

  75. They also used to execute people like me, in fact ISIS still do.

    So, not really a fan of the death penalty for the guilty, never mind the innocent.

    This bunch of morons can’t even run a decent library, so why should I trust them with the power of life and death?

    As for the argument about “Treason = Death”, that’s all very well, but given our increasingly fragmented world with people being born in one place, being raised in another, working all over the world and then dying somewhere else – what country should he/she be loyal to?

    – The place where they were born?
    – The country / countries which issue their passport?
    – The country in which they were raised as children?
    – The country in which they are currently resident?

    It comes down to loyalty to whom and treason against what. I would certainly give my loyalty to any of the bands of thugs champing-at-the-bit to takeover the UK (including the current lot).

    If I say “Sod the lot of you, I’m throwing my lot in with the Latvians” am I guilty of treason then?

  76. John Galt

    did you mean to say ‘I certainly wouldn’t give my loyalty to any of the bands of thugs’ – otherwise you’d appear to be some kind of ‘A- Team’ mercenary for hire!

    You make a valid point – how do we say what treason constitutes in the modern era – that’s why I also mentioned given ‘Jihadi John’ comes from Kuwait, would it be reasonable to execute him for treason in the UK? Or would you issue a lesser sentence. I’m no lawyer – but that’s what we need a robust debate about the issues.

    The death penalty (for 2 crimes lest we forget – and it had not been used for either for over 5 decades) was whipped off the statute book by the then PM’s wife, IMHO because she knew her husband was committing constitutional crimes that could be easily viewed as treason in a certain context – (I think somewhere in an old hard drive there was a word document where I calculated Blair was indictable on nearly 70 counts of treason) that’s the reason for the point being raised. I hope I haven’t opened a can of worms with that statement 100 comments in…..

  77. > we have very strict rules about soldiers not executing other soldiers.

    The traditional and accepted punishment for being a combatant on a battlefield out of uniform is summary execution. That is within those very strict rules.

    > If you accept killing for treason then it’s time to tear up the Geneva Convention.

    The Geneva Conventions apply, by definition, to lawful combatants. There are all sorts of people who don’t qualify. The Conventions also do not apply to nations who don’t abide by them themselves.

    So take ISIS. I don’t think we need to have an argument about whether they abide by the Geneva Conventions, do we? No, so, when fighting them, no-one else has to (though we may choose to, for reasons that escape me). According to the Geneva Conventions, we can do what the fuck we want to them on the battlefield, because they — by choice — don’t qualify.

    So what’s the argument here? That it would be absolutely morally abhorrent to sentence someone to death after a fair trial for having been fighting for Al Qaeda against British troops, but it’s OK to kill them while they’re fighting against British troops?

    If the CPS fail to prosecute you for murder, they don’t just have the police shoot you instead. When we argue about the death penalty for most crimes, we’re arguing about whether the convicted should be killed at all. When we argue about the death penalty for treason, there is no such debate: it’s absolutely fine to bomb the accused to a pulp, with no trial. The argument is about whether, given that it’s absolutely fine to kill them without trial, it’s acceptable to kill them after a fair trial.

    It’s not that I don’t see the technical distinction. I just think it’s hardly worth arguing about.

    An example that always springs to mind is the behaviour of IRA cadres when caught.

    “You’re a terrorist who has committed a crime.”
    “No, I’m not. I’m a soldier who has committed an act of war. Here’s my name, rank, and serial number. I do not recognise the authority of this civilian court. I am a prisoner of war not subject to trial.”

    Let’s just say, for the sake or argument, that the British had responded — as they were legally entitled to — with:

    “Fair enough. Now, since you were on the battlefield without uniform or insignia, we’re going to shoot you now. Come on, up against the wall. Here’s your blindfold.”

    Would that be supposed to be some great victory for human rights, because they were being executed by a martial court for espionage rather than a civilian court for treason? I don’t get it.

  78. @Van_Patten:

    Yes – you’re quite correct.

    It’s not an entirely theoretical point either. I have passports issued by Ireland and the Isle of Man, live in Malaysia and between April and November I am usually working somewhere in mainland Europe – rarely the same country two years running.

    So why should I feel any loyalty to any of these nations or conversely by subject to accusations of treason by any of them?

    As for Tony Blair, I would be stunned if his crimes would be limited to 70, I suspect they would fill a few volumes.

    The difficulty is though, that the creation of the European Union was the initial act of treason and every act, regulation and statutory instrument related to it is a separate act of treason by every MP that voted for it.

    Should we create a new Tyburn in Parliament Square just to deal with the buggers? Have them carted there in tumbrils with cackling UKIP supporters as the tricoteuse hallowing the latest turn of the screw?

  79. John,

    > If I say “Sod the lot of you, I’m throwing my lot in with the Latvians” am I guilty of treason then?

    Depends. In this scenario, are we at war with Latvia, and are you fighting for them?

    It’s not complicated. We didn’t do people for treason for being loyal to Germany in 1913.

  80. That it would be absolutely morally abhorrent to sentence someone to death after a fair trial for having been fighting for Al Qaeda against British troops, but it’s OK to kill them while they’re fighting against British troops?

    Yes. The point here is that if you’re arguing against a death penalty, making an exception for “treason”- especially on the basis of war- is rather weak.

    The Geneva Conventions were written in a different age, and we’ve had discussions here about the problems in the modern age where non-state warfare is more commonplace. If Wee Eck raises an army and marches south, are they traitors or official soldiers? And so on.

    Personally I see no more moral grounds for executing a spy than a combatant. You can argue consistently either way, but exceptions are hard to justify.

  81. Van Patten,

    > given ‘Jihadi John’ comes from Kuwait, would it be reasonable to execute him for treason in the UK?

    Depends whether he comes back, I suppose. But it would certainly be entirely reasonable to kill him on the battlefield.

  82. Equally, if we’re going to prosecute people for killing for ISIS then surely we would end up doing the same for their opponents in the Kurdish militias

    What is the difference?

  83. Equally, if we’re going to prosecute people for killing for Germany then surely we would end up doing the same for their opponents in the French resistance.

    > What is the difference?

    Making a value judgement and taking sides.

  84. > Are we actually at war with ISIS?

    Didn’t say we were. We don’t have the death penalty for treason, either. I was talking hypotheticals.

    That aside, it’s a tricky question. UK policy is no, I believe. ISIS say they’re at war with us. ISIS are a branch of Al Qaeda, who also said they were at war with us for many years before we reciprocated. Have we declared an end to hostilities against Al Qaeda? If not, do branches of Al Qaeda qualify? And does it really take official declarations from both sides for a war to be real?

    I think we tend to take a modern European definition of war and assume it’s universal. Silly. At the siege of Samarkand, were there people arguing that they weren’t really at war with the Mongols because the right paperwork hadn’t been signed?


  85. Fair enough. But it wasn’t me who brought up Geneva”

    Yeah, that was me and wasn’t properly thought through. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.

    I guess my point is that I don’t think it appropriate to kill someone if they are no longer in a position to harm you. On the battlefield, in their barracks, hiding in their safe house: yes, because they can cause you harm at that point or at some future point.

    When they are under your control as a captive? No, I don’t think that’s on.

    Personal view, and as V_P said above, doesn’t affect the overall principle that the death penalty is wrong, which we seem to fundamentally agree on.

  86. John Galt

    I do think exhuming the body of Ted Heath to be posthumously hung, drawn and quartered would both have constitutional precedent and appease some UKIP supporters…..

  87. I’m not sure that I saw the EEC as a threat, it was a trade block with stupid rules about the straightness or otherwise of cucumbers. It was the European Union that was the definitive act of treason – ergo it was John Major who should be first in line as he was the PM who signed the Maastricht Treaty which created the behemoth.

    The fact that the EU was the destination all along and the EEC was just a more palatable route to that destination is arguable, but not definitive.

  88. So Much for Subtlety

    Agammamon – “Really? You trust your government that much?”

    No I don’t trust my government at all. But someone has to keep law and order. Either they do it or we drag people out of prison cells and lynch them without a trial. Which do you prefer?

    “We don’t allow victims to decide sentencing, let alone extract retribution for anyone else, the state shouldn’t get special treatment.”

    So you trust the state with decisions that result in people being locked up for decades, but not with decisions that end life directly? Either the state is capable of deciding what the sentence is – and is the morally capable organ to do so – or it is not. Which is it? If the state refuses to punish, and it does by and large, people will respond as mobs have responded in India and Bolivia. How is that an improvement?

    Ian Reid – “Despot (a.k.a. John Prescott) made it illegal to do your own wiring unless you had accreditation, are you seriously suggesting people should spend the rest of their lives in prison for wiring in three sockets.”

    You have that exactly backwards. Do you think Prescott would have passed that law if it might result in people being killed? Making prison a holiday camp means that everyone – starting with Prescott and going on down – regard the law lightly and the punishments it hands out with contempt. He should have been asked whether he is prepared to kill someone for this. As in New York where a man was killed selling individual cigarettes. Idiots passed laws and did not think about how they might be enforced. Then they were shocked by the inevitable result. Well, the solution is to make it clear that people die when laws are passed.

    “As for the executing murderers diatribe. I’m afraid your critical faculties are dead, if you can even countenance believing such a thing. Even if the statistics were reliable it assumes that nothing else changed in a 250 year period.”

    What diatribe? It wasn’t my article.

  89. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke in france – “What? They didn’t? Then we must search for an alternative explanation. Greg Clark’s, perhaps.”

    Conviction for a felony probably resulted in loss of all property and a ban on inheritance at that time. So essentially they were killing the children too through starvation and disease.

    Greg Clark does actually make a eugenics-based argument. You need to read him carefully. Not about crime admittedly.

  90. Surreptitious Evil

    1. The Geneva Conventions (the fourth and Protocol II particularly ) do apply, Shrub administration lawyer word-bollocks notwithstanding, to “unlawful combatants” and other criminals.

    2. Summary execution in wartime has been illegal since 1949.

    3. Why is everybody ignoring “Arson in a Royal Naval Dockyard”?

  91. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Dear God, I never thought I’d see people overtly arguing for State eugenics here.”

    I am not sure you do now. But everything the government does have a eugenic or dysgenic effect. It doesn’t go away because you don’t like talking about it.

    Ian B – “Questions we can answer with “no”.”

    How do you know? We know there is a gene that is linked to a propensity for violence and crime. I doubt that executing people removes it from the population. But who knows? How can you rule it out?

    GlenDorran – “Still, omelettes and eggs eh?”

    There is no such thing as a perfect legal system. What we have is a compromise between our need for law and order and squeamishness about how the forces of law and order go about achieving it. Innocent people will always have their lives ruined. We accept that. If we cared, we would torture. We don’t. Instead we let juries make the decision. Which is fairly random.

    The problem is there is no alternative. The solution must be to reduce the suffering of the innocent as far as possible. As the largest source of misery for the innocent is criminals, we should be focusing on preventing those criminals from re-offending. We could jail them, but if we do not have the guts to execute someone, we won’t have the guts to jail someone either. Which is what has happened in Europe.

    Even if we do jail them, all they do is go on re-offending through escapes, riots, prison rape, stabbing each other and the occasional prison officer and so on.

    So eggs are going to be broken whatever we do. We should minimize that as much as possible.

  92. So Much for Subtlety

    Van_Patten – “I see what you are saying – here’s an alternative, rather than ring fence the Foreign Aid budget why don’t we send some of our criminal population to these ‘aid recipient’ jurisdictions to rot for a few years. I think even five months in some hole in, say Guinea- Bissau would reduce recidivism rates to near zero…….”

    I have said here before that we ought to pay people benefits but only in Jamaica. With the proviso that any marriages and children they may have will not be entitled to a British passport or residence. I am sure they would like it a lot more than Swindon. Their money would go further as the weed is much cheaper.

    And when they have had enough they might be worthwhile citizens.

  93. We know there is a gene that is linked to a propensity for violence and crime.

    Next you’ll be telling me that it is most commonly found in unemployed, black male teens.

    😐

    /sarcasm

  94. So Much for Subtlety

    Churm Rincewind – “You’re right that executing people who have broken the law prevents them from ever breaking the law again. But that’s an argument for executing people for…what? Illegal parking? Speeding in a built-up area? Etc, etc.”

    As opposed to the alternative? Which is not punishing them for anything much. I think we can agree that a world where people do not illegally park is better than a world where people kill each other as freely as they illegally park.

    There are consequences to not executing. Yes, it may mean that occasionally an innocent person is killed. That is tragic. But on the other hand the lack of a death penalty results in things like this:

    A convicted Indiana killer out on bail allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house and stabbed her to death — before eating her heart, lungs and brain.
    Joseph Oberhansley, 33, is accused of trying to force his way into 46-year-old Tammy Jo Blanton’s Jeffersonville home at 3 a.m. Thursday.
    Cops were called and he left the scene.
    But he then allegedly returned to the home to carry out the brutal crime.
    Officers arrived to check on Blanton at 10 a.m. after concerned colleagues dialed 911 because she hadn’t shown up for work.
    They found her dead under a tarpaulin in the bathroom’s tub.
    She had fatal injuries to her head, neck and torso. A plate and cooking utensils were also found covered in blood and bone.
    Her skull had apparently been crushed. Tissue from her body was found in a garbage can.
    Oberhansley was still inside the property. He was restrained by officers and then arrested and charged with murder, abuse of a corpse and breaking and entering.
    “He further admitted to cooking a section of her brain and eating it,” the arrest report said, according to Wave3.

    Oberhansley had previously murdered his mother and his girlfriend just days after she had given birth to their child. He served his time. He was out on bail for speeding away from a police stop.

    Everyone who fights to prevent murderers being executed is responsible in some way for this crime. It could have been prevented. It should have been prevented.

  95. So Much for Subtlety

    John Galt – “Next you’ll be telling me that it is most commonly found in unemployed, black male teens.”

    You know, it is odd that you say that …..

  96. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “We do, do we?”

    Yes. We do. I just linked it then. More importantly some actual genuine scientific studies have linked one or two genes to higher levels of violence.

    That link may be poor, those studies may be even worse, but linking has taken place:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monoamine_oxidase_A

    Although obviously violence, while having many causes, has a clear genetic origin. Trees and jelly fish do not savage each other. Male mammals often do. You can breed for it.

  97. SMFS at 8.52

    Conviction for a felony probably resulted in loss of all property and a ban on inheritance at that time. So essentially they were killing the children too through starvation and disease.

    me at 21.40

    That *probably” is doing an awful lot of work. Attainder was a live issue for the barons at Runnymede a thousand years ago. And there are countless examples of Dukes and Earls losing their heads, only for their sons to become dukes and earls. Indeed, the attainder debate can be seen as a precursor to the limited liability joint stock company.

    Yes, Greg Clark does make a eugenics argument. He specifically raises the objections to it before making it. For a more plastic view of human propensity to violence, see Steven Pinker.

  98. I’m going to be briefer than I’d like to be here, but the basic problem with the psychological eugenics argument is that biology doesn’t map onto morality. “Violence” is simply an action. It has in itself no moral content. The reason for committing the act of violence has the moral content, and it might be noble or damnable. Indeed, much of our entertainment (movies, etc) consists of heroic figures committing acts of noble violence.

    So even if we ignore all the other logical and reality-based criticisms of this line of thinking, it amuses me that somebody who would talk of the positive effect of reducing “violence” is also the kind of person who would desire our culture to have a professional violence agency who do that violence to our enemies. Where does our eugenically pacified nation get its army from, SMFS? Breed them in special jars like your friend Mr Wells imagined?

    One might also speculate that those most keen for the death penalty might also be those most genetically predisposed to this “violence”. Oh, what a can of worms.

  99. “Everyone who fights to prevent murderers being executed is responsible in some way for this crime.”

    So we’re trading horror stories now?

    Sally Clark.
    Stefan Kisko.
    Barry George.
    Guildford Four.
    Birmingham Six.

    That’s right off the top of my head. It’ll take seconds to come up with many many more. All found guilty through either incompetence, malice or downright corruption. All could have been killed because some copper wanted to “get a result”, or some “expert” knew nothing about probability, or someone thought they were a bit weird and no one would mind if they were set up.

    When it’s the power of the state lined up against the little guy then I know which side I’m on.

    And as someone said above, what lengths are you prepared to go to to “preserve order”? Curfews? Tagging? Killing those who seem a bit iffy?

    I thought you were joking when you said you’d kill anyone if they committed three felonies. Seems you weren’t.

  100. “John Galt – “Next you’ll be telling me that it is most commonly found in unemployed, black male teens.”

    You know, it is odd that you say that …..”

    Jesus, there is nothing new on the internet. I remember years ago Samizdata was plagued with “race realists” linking to studies that “proved” non-whites were the devil, genetically speaking. What goes around comes around.

    I usually only comment on economics related threads here and try to stick to my principle to never ever get involved in debates about abortion or the death penalty. I don’t know why I didn’t stick to it today.

  101. GlenDorran

    This barely scratches the surface – good Lord if you go into the Deep Web it’s f&£king terrifying what you might find’ – if it’s any consolation, With luck we’ll topple Murphy’s TRUK from the position of ‘number 1 economics blog’ if this comment rate continues. I agree this was a slightly surreal experience – a student of logical fallacies could have run an entire philosophy course from some of the comments here….

  102. SMFS looks to me like he’s making a rod for his own back with this MOA gene stuff. But don’t mind me, keep on whittling.

  103. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke in france – “SMFS looks to me like he’s making a rod for his own back with this MOA gene stuff. But don’t mind me, keep on whittling.”

    I tend to agree. I don’t care for it much. The basic concept of morality in the West depends on us being free to make our own moral decisions – and hence the rightness of punishing people who make bad decisions.

    But if that is what the science says, that is what the science says. I don’t think I have endorsed it. I don’t remember actually. I think I have only pointed out it exists.

  104. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke in france – “That *probably” is doing an awful lot of work.”

    Attainder for felony wasn’t abolished until 1870. I doubt they would go chasing some common run of the mill murderer for his rags, but once the breadwinner was dead, his family would have been in serious trouble either way.

    “Yes, Greg Clark does make a eugenics argument. He specifically raises the objections to it before making it. For a more plastic view of human propensity to violence, see Steven Pinker.”

    Well he has to doesn’t he? To stay a good member of the academic club. But he does raise it. If I remember right, Pinker does raise the genetic issue too. He is not a Blank Slateist.

    Ian B – “I’m going to be briefer than I’d like to be here, but the basic problem with the psychological eugenics argument is that biology doesn’t map onto morality.”

    Except when it comes to pre-nubile teenage girls. Some people around here are inclined to make a moral argument based on biology then.

    “Where does our eugenically pacified nation get its army from, SMFS? Breed them in special jars like your friend Mr Wells imagined?”

    Well one of the problems with the West is that we are no longer willing to consider any sort of violence, even righteous violence. So we don’t hang the treasonous. We don’t even jail them. Muslims can rape English girls to their hearts content and we do nothing. We have become sheep. So it does have its downside.

    “One might also speculate that those most keen for the death penalty might also be those most genetically predisposed to this “violence”. Oh, what a can of worms.”

    Then I am obviously dealing with it in a healthy and socially useful way.

    GlenDorran – “So we’re trading horror stories now?”

    Sure. After all, it is an exchange I cannot lose. As bad as your horror stories are, far worse is done by people in prison or by people who have been released. As long as the ledger is positive to the State, we ought to be executing.

    “When it’s the power of the state lined up against the little guy then I know which side I’m on.”

    But this is not the State lined up against the little guy. Well Barry George was. Normally it is the State lining up with the littlest people against the slightly bigger. The State needs to protect the weakest members of society who aren’t suspected murderers but their victims.

    “And as someone said above, what lengths are you prepared to go to to “preserve order”? Curfews? Tagging? Killing those who seem a bit iffy?”

    We are going to do all of those because we won’t execute. America is experimenting with curfews. We won’t be far behind. All because we won’t take basic steps to protect ourselves.

    “I thought you were joking when you said you’d kill anyone if they committed three felonies. Seems you weren’t.”

    No I am not.

    GlenDorran – “Jesus, there is nothing new on the internet. I remember years ago Samizdata was plagued with “race realists” linking to studies that “proved” non-whites were the devil, genetically speaking. What goes around comes around.”

    It made it on to Wikipedia. Which is largely a politically correct cesspit. So if they can’t reject the science, the science has to be damned well documented.

  105. Except when it comes to pre-nubile teenage girls. Some people around here are inclined to make a moral argument based on biology then.

    Not at all. The moral argument is not based on biology; indeed, I’ve never presented a moral argument. What instead I have done is simply point out that the moral arguments of others are not consistent with the biology. Which is a different thing.

    You cannot derive ought from is. But also, your ought must be consistent with the is.

  106. So Much for Subtlety

    GlenDorran – “I thought you were joking when you said you’d kill anyone if they committed three felonies. Seems you weren’t.”

    Just in passing, how many felonies do you think someone has to commit before you would accept that his values are simply irreconcilable with life with normal people? How many people’s lives does he have to ruin before you are willing to accept that rehabilitation is a myth? Which it is.

  107. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Not at all. The moral argument is not based on biology; indeed, I’ve never presented a moral argument. What instead I have done is simply point out that the moral arguments of others are not consistent with the biology. Which is a different thing.”

    Well I think we could have a discussion about that but let’s agree to avoid it. Let’s ask here what the science says and what it is consistent with. There is science that says that bad genes combined with a bad upbringing makes criminals violent and dangerous. It is therefore obvious that the Christian-based prison system is not the right solution. You cannot rehabilitate genes. The entire prison system cannot survive the Christian Reformers that created it. That belief system is now dead. We ought to accept it. The science says prison only serves to incapacitate. Maybe the science is wrong. Maybe not.

    “You cannot derive ought from is. But also, your ought must be consistent with the is.”

    You mean you cannot derive is from ought. It is simple to derive an ought from an is. Human beings have two sexes that produce infants who are helpless for a long time. Therefore people ought to get married or at least form long term partnerships. As opposed to marrying sheep.

    We shouldn’t execute innocent people. But we will. We should not let criminals re-offend. But if we don’t execute them, they will. This is the is. Therefore we ought to engage in damage minimization. We have a responsibility to protect the weak. By executing the guilty. The mistake is to think that we should not execute and therefore innocent people will not be killed by offenders, or brutalised when in prison, or stabbed in the showers or whatever.

  108. No SMFS, you cannot derive ought from is. David Hume. We’ve known this for about two and a half centuries.

    That a baby will die if not looked after does not prove that you ought to look after it. That depends on whether or not you want the baby to live, which is another “ought”, and so on ad infinitum.

    It’s sometimes called Hume’s Guillotine because it cuts the head off most philosphical moral assertions.

    So one way we can look at this is that morals are always contextual. One has to be a relativist. They depend on what outcomes you’re after. How does this help us with your “bad” genes for “violence”? Well, it tells us that “bad” is subjective.

    Young man on death row. He shot another gangster from a rival gang. “Bad” genes, right?

    Well, presuming a genetic propensity (itself highly speculative), the answer is “no”. In another context, he’s just the young man you want who will fight loyally for his community against competing communities. Same genes, same behaviour, different interpretation due to context.

    David killed Goliath, in a turf war between rival gangs. Bad genes or good genes?

  109. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “you cannot derive ought from is. David Hume. We’ve known this for about two and a half centuries.”

    Values that conflict with reality will not long survive.

    “That a baby will die if not looked after does not prove that you ought to look after it.”

    Strange world, this moral philosophy innit?

    “One has to be a relativist.”

    But not when it comes to the death penalty it seems.

    “In another context, he’s just the young man you want who will fight loyally for his community against competing communities. Same genes, same behaviour, different interpretation due to context.”

    Except that is incredibly unlikely. Poorly socialised young men who shoot each other in the streets do not grow up to be good soldiers. People who care for and trust the other people around them do. Anyone who ends up on Death Row for murdering another young man is likely to be a selfish sociopath – just the sort of person you want to keep out of the Army. It is not the same behaviour at all.

    “David killed Goliath, in a turf war between rival gangs. Bad genes or good genes?”

    Well David is the poster child for sociopathic genes.

  110. JuliaM
    March 25, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    @Agamammon: and the crime rate goes down as a result. I say it’s win/win.

    Yep, because killing people like Kathryn Johnston is worth it to fight ‘crime’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathryn_Johnston_shooting

    Or tossing flashbangs into a kids crib.

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/05/baby-in-coma-after-police-grenade-dropped-in-crib-during-drug-raid/

    Or killing people in a raid on a private poker game

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/25/AR2006012502245.html

    Or this guy

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ins9VAo-xLY

  111. “So Much for Subtlety
    March 26, 2015 at 1:02 am

    Just in passing, how many felonies do you think someone has to commit before you would accept that his values are simply irreconcilable with life with normal people? How many people’s lives does he have to ruin before you are willing to accept that rehabilitation is a myth? Which it is.”

    That would depend on the felonies wouldn’t it?

    For example – felony drug possession.

    Or, an example from your nation – ‘felonious speech’

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Order_Act_1986

    Carries a maximum penalty of *seven* years in prison.

    You’d be for killing someone who said ‘Islam breeds terrorism’ three times.

  112. Anyone who ends up on Death Row for murdering another young man is likely to be a selfish sociopath – just the sort of person you want to keep out of the Army. It is not the same behaviour at all.

    Except he is. He is expressing the same behaviours, instincts, genes (choose your model) which have led countless young men to kill and die for their tribal group and thus preserve it for future generations. Gang culture is a rather pure expression of natural human tribal organisation, including the high death rate from (a) ingroup enforcement of the tribal code and (b) outgroup conflict.

    It all depends how the individual defines their ingroup. That ingroup enforcement instinct is the same one that impels you to desire his execution (your ingroup definition is different to his, that is all). The outgroup killing is what armies do. Same instincts, same genes, different contexts.

  113. The basic problem is that the eugenic idea, in terms of psychology, is fool’s gold. Humans certainly have a nature determined to a large degree by genes, but the human instincts of which it is comprised- aggression, status, hunger, lust, bonding etc do not map onto crimes. The genome knows nothing of moral codes.

    The best you can say is that you no doubt could breed humans sufficiently passive that they do not aggress. They wouldn’t do much of anything else either.

  114. Agamammon: “Yep, because killing people like Kathryn Johnston is worth it to fight ‘crime’.”

    She fired a gun at police officers. Pray tell me by what strange magic bullets are less lethal because it’s an elderly lady’s finger on the trigger?

    Your other examples are simple errors & poor gun control.plus failure on the part of the dead to comply with police instructions.

  115. “So you trust the state with decisions that result in people being locked up for decades, but not with decisions that end life directly?”

    One can be reversed (at least in part), the other can’t.

    I can’t believe that this actually has to be said.

  116. “But this is not the State lined up against the little guy. Well Barry George was. Normally it is the State lining up with the littlest people against the slightly bigger. The State needs to protect the weakest members of society who aren’t suspected murderers but their victims.. ”

    So who on my list wasn’t the little guy? All were innocent. All had the full power of the legal system turned on them. All were fitted up. All were victims. And yet you back the state here?

    “The State needs to protect the weakest members of society who aren’t suspected murderers but their victims.”

    There’s a very important word in that sentence. “Suspected”. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. But in SMFS world that principle goes out the window. Well, good luck with that when you’re the one on the wrong side of a malicious allegation or a knock on the door during the night.

  117. Julia,

    > failure on the part of the dead to comply with police instructions.

    (a) In the US, they now have no-knock warrants, which means a lot of these cases are occurring because people fail to comply with instructions from gangs of armed men who suddenly storm their house in the middle of the night and who insist afterwards “Yes, we announced ourselves, they knew it was the police.” Bollocks they did.

    (b) Fuck off anyway. On-the-spot death penalties for not doing what men with official badges tell you?

  118. Just look at the British police’s attitude to photography: the entire nationwide force has spontaneously decided that it is a criminal offence to photograph a police officer and that they have the power to confiscate the camera of anyone who does so. It seems nothing can dissuade them from this view, no matter how many times our lords & masters issue public statements assuring us that it’s nonsense and their own chief constables issue memos telling them to bloody stop it. When they tell you to hand your camera over, you have the right to refuse — in fact, you should refuse — at which point they will start giving you a load of grief. So, what? We should allow them to kill people who don’t do what they tell them? And that would be AOK in Julialand, would it?

  119. @SQ2:

    When the police are using their badges to shoot bad guys (usually non-white) then that is ok.

    When they are usin their badges to investigate allegations against old white men then that’s not ok.

    Simples.

  120. “@MatthewL: Yes, I am in favour of people carrying guns for home defence.

    Against intruders. Not against law enforcement officers.”

    And as SQ2 says, when an armed gang bursts into your home at night, you are shit-scared and full of adrenaline, how do you make that distinction?

  121. “@SQ2: The entire force..? Really? All of them? Every single copper from Land’s End to John O Groats?”

    There are stories from every single police force about this, from people in tiny Highland villages down to tourist resorts in Cornwall. Possibly not very copper, but evey force, yes.

    I’m still confused by the disconnect between your apparent belief that the legal system and its agents aren’t abusing power when going after “bad guys”, but the prosecution of Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall et al is so concerning.

    (…and for the avoidance of doubt, I do have concerns about the latter as well).

  122. And here’s what happens when the police get all camera-shy (like what British bobbies have done) but have guns and are allowed to point them at people who don’t do what they’re told:

    http://www.steynonline.com/6487/holiday-memories-youll-cherish-forever

    Worth noting that, apart from the gun, all the elements of that story are drearily familiar in Britain: the police’s insistence that you are obliged always to do what they tell you, even when what they’re telling you is made-up bollocks; making up and then enforcing non-existent laws on the fly; the belief that taking a photograph is something only terrorists do; and mercilessly victimising anyone who tries to assert their actual rights. Too many of our police already have the attitude demonstrated there. Cool, so let’s add the guns.

  123. @GlenDorran, because there’s a distinction between prosecuting ancient historical cases with little third party evidence and ongoing live gang investigation such as the Duggan shooting, maybe?

  124. Julia,

    You’ve repeatedly stated that you have no problem with the police shooting people.

    > if the police keep shooting bad guys they aren’t able to commit crimes

    > the crime rate goes down as a result [of American law enforcement officers killing with impunity]. I say it’s win/win.

    > Your other examples are simple errors & poor gun control.plus failure on the part of the dead to comply with police instructions.

    So what’s your point? You wouldn’t want it here, but it’s great when the American police kill Americans?

    > the fact they have ‘Police’ written on their jackets & baseball caps..?

    Yes, I know when a large gang of men suddenly break into my house in darkness, I always make the effort to read what’s written on their backs.

    You should read those Mark Steyn links. And here’s Kevin D Williamson:

    When police were called to a home in Boiling Spring Lakes, N.C., by parents seeking assistance in getting their mentally ill teen-aged son to the hospital for emergency treatment, two officers arrived and began attempting to calm down the agitated young man until a third officer, apparently an impatient one, showed up and ordered them to use their Tasers on the 100-pound teen, who was holding a screwdriver. Unsurprisingly, the tasing did not calm down the young man, who, according to his parents, was suffering from schizophrenia and had failed to take his medication. So he was shot to death by a police officer whose last words before pulling the trigger were: “We don’t have time for this.”

    When I imagine the police officer in question, I don’t hear the voice of Dirty Harry — I hear the DMV lady and the clerks at the local IRS office, bloodless, officious little bureaucrats to whom the people they encounter every day are not citizens to be served but objects of contempt and problems to be endured until retirement, as though humanity stopped at the edge of the counter. The bureaucrats do not have life-and-death power over us in most cases, but when they do, they can be counted upon to misuse and abuse that power.

  125. “@GlenDorran, because there’s a distinction between prosecuting ancient historical cases with little third party evidence and ongoing live gang investigation such as the Duggan shooting, maybe?”

    But it’s not just the Duggan case though is it? What about the Scotsman carrying a table leg, shot because someone thought he was an Irishman with a gun? You seem completely at ease with this kind of case happening.

    And more generally with respect to the death penalty, which you’ve expressed your support for. You’ve noted your concern before about the convictions of Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall on flimsy evidence. How do you square this with your comment about the extra standards required for killing the guilty? As SQ2 said above, the Guilty verdict is black or white. Would you be happy if someone was sentenced to death based on the standard of evidence in the Harris case? And if not, why not?

    You do seem very trusting that the police and prosecution services never fuck things up, either through incompetence or malice, when it comes to bad guys.

  126. I hope TW never starts a thread where he suggests that those who practice circumcision should suffer the death penalty, because it might break the internet.

  127. Jonah Goldberg:

    There is an old joke in the publishing industry which says that the three best words to sell a book are: Lincoln, Mother, and Dog. So the best-selling book would be about Lincoln’s mother’s dog. A more recent version of the quip says that you can’t go wrong with a book about Lincoln, Nazis, Golfing, and Cats. My mother — a literary agent of some repute — used to joke that if she could just get a picture of a Nazi teeing up to drive a cat across the fairway she could make millions selling books with blank pages. I asked her why she wouldn’t just put Lincoln in the Nazi uniform and she answered, “please.”

  128. @GlenDorran, if you think I’m trusting of the police and prosecution services, you’ve clearly never read my blog…

    But every single time anti-police people bring up the table leg case, I have to point out he WASN’T shot just because they thought he had a gun, but because he didn’t comply with their instructions. They were not simply given a pat on the back, but investigated up the wazoo at great cost.

    And if they fuck things up with bad guys, my reaction is ‘Meh’.

  129. Ok, fine about the table leg guy. What about all the others? As SQ2 says, the police do have a poor record on shooting the fuck out of innocent people. .

    “And if they fuck things up with bad guys, my reaction is ‘Meh’.”

    Well that’s a shitty reaction. Call me a pinko liberal, but a basic tenet of society is that everyone is entitled to due process of the law.

    And I’m not anti-police; I just recognise that they are human, with all that entails.

    I haven’t read your blog before. I’ll have a look later.

  130. Julia,

    > But every single time anti-police people bring up the table leg case, I have to point out he WASN’T shot just because they thought he had a gun, but because he didn’t comply with their instructions.

    Again, you support on-the-spot death penalties for anyone who doesn’t do what they’re told by men with official badges.

  131. The problem with such cases is that you can’t ask the dead why they acted as they did; why for example Harry Stanley turned when challenged and told to drop his weapon. The disturbing thing is that anyone might react in the same way as him (particularly if intoxicated): turning to find out who is shouting at you about a weapon you don’t have.

    A motif of such cases is that the firearms officers seem to put themselves in positions where a shooting is inevitable. You approach a drunk man from behind, he may well turn to see what the noise is about, which you perceive as a threat so you shoot him. You bash an old lady’s door in, she may well shoot at you thinking you are a criminal intruder, which you perceive as a threat so you shoot her.

    People seem to forget that the dead person may have a genuine fear for their own safety and acted per that fear like anyone else just as the officer acted on a genuine fear for their own safety (or the safety of others) and fired his gun.

  132. UKL,

    > People seem to forget that the dead person may have a genuine fear for their own safety and acted per that fear like anyone else

    Exactly.

    > The disturbing thing is that anyone might react in the same way as him (particularly if intoxicated): turning to find out who is shouting at you about a weapon you don’t have.

    Especially since, if you don’t have a weapon, you will probably turn around to see where the armed man is that they’re shouting at.

    From that Mark Steyn piece:

    Anyone who goes into law enforcement assumes the risk that a traffic stop might turn out to be something more. Mr Tolan, Miss Ramsey and the rest of us should not have to assume any such risk. In routine encounters with law enforcement, a citizen should not have to weigh the likelihood that the officer will decide to shoot him dead. That’s about as basic a standard for civilized society as one can muster.

  133. Ukliberty/SQ2:

    An Aussie mate of mine was nearly shot by a police officer when he was on holiday in the US.

    He’d been pulled over while driving his hire car. Standard procedure in Oz (he said) is to get out of the car and stand at the side of the road. He did this, when the police car was parked about 20 yards behind him.

    The US cop, who was 20 yards away by his car, nterpreted this as a threat and pulled a gun. If my mate hadn’t stuck his hands straight up and shouted “don’t shoot”, and if the cop had been slightly trigger happy, then he would have been dead.

    All for not understanding some arbitrary rules of engagement which the police have decided upon, but which the public aren’t aware of.

  134. So Much for Subtlety

    Agammamon – “That would depend on the felonies wouldn’t it?”

    Do tell. But to go back to an earlier point – we have joke laws because we have joke punishments. If the law makers were told they would be executing people for saying Islam breeds terrorism, they would not be passing laws making it a felony to say Islam breeds terrorism. And juries would not convict. A bit of a win-win really.

    Ian B – “Except he is. He is expressing the same behaviours, instincts, genes (choose your model) which have led countless young men to kill and die for their tribal group and thus preserve it for future generations. Gang culture is a rather pure expression of natural human tribal organisation, including the high death rate from (a) ingroup enforcement of the tribal code and (b) outgroup conflict.”

    Except he isn’t. He just isn’t. Group identification may be the same, but the gang member is not just joining a football club. He is predating on his fellow citizens. He has got the wrong sort of ingroup in mind and is willing to prey on them. Which is no doubt why gang members sell each other out so fast when they get arrested.

    Ian B – “The basic problem is that the eugenic idea, in terms of psychology, is fool’s gold. Humans certainly have a nature determined to a large degree by genes, but the human instincts of which it is comprised- aggression, status, hunger, lust, bonding etc do not map onto crimes. The genome knows nothing of moral codes.”

    Eunuchs don’t rape much. I agree genes don’t map directly on to crime but it is likely that they map on to behaviours that make someone more inclined to commit crime. Levels of testosterone are likely to be genetically caused but they are also likely to make people lose their temper more easily and hence kill more often.

    Matthew L – “One can be reversed (at least in part), the other can’t. I can’t believe that this actually has to be said.”

    No it can’t. What you mean is that one makes you feel better about yourself because it is not a real punishment. The other does not. You cannot give someone those 20 years back. It trivialises the problem to pretend otherwise – no matter how much better it makes you feel about the criminal justice system. It is exactly the same thing that makes the government pass stupid laws – 20 years in prison isn’t a real punishment! It is like a holiday! So make homophobia a felony. It is absurd.

  135. So Much for Subtlety

    GlenDorran – “So who on my list wasn’t the little guy? All were innocent. All had the full power of the legal system turned on them. All were fitted up. All were victims. And yet you back the state here?”

    I don’t back the state here. I point out that such cases are inevitable. We can’t avoid them. We have always had them. We will always have them. The question is not a perfect system as it doesn’t exist. The solution is harm minimisation. Which means execution.

    It is not as if I have not been very clear on any number of occasions in this thread alone about that.

    ““Suspected”. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. But in SMFS world that principle goes out the window. Well, good luck with that when you’re the one on the wrong side of a malicious allegation or a knock on the door during the night.”

    No it doesn’t. It does not go out of the window. Nowhere do I argue for the execution of suspects. You are simply flailing around trying to find a point to make because you don’t like the point of this thread.

    Squander Two – “In the US, they now have no-knock warrants, which means a lot of these cases are occurring because people fail to comply with instructions from gangs of armed men who suddenly storm their house in the middle of the night and who insist afterwards”

    Which has nothing to do with the death penalty but with the increasing violent society America has become. In part because of the refusal to jail or to execute. They have no knock raids in states with the death penalty and they have them in states without the death penalty. We will have more and more of them over time as well. It is irrelevant.

    As Britain becomes more diverse and vibrant, we will face inevitable demands for the police to be armed – they will have to keep on running away from mobs of angry Muslims if they aren’t – and to have more no knock raids. Even though we won’t execute.

    Or we could just decide to get on top of the crime problem by removing the more serious offenders from the gene pool and preventing any more immigrating here.

  136. So Much for Subtlety

    ukliberty – “People seem to forget that the dead person may have a genuine fear for their own safety and acted per that fear like anyone else just as the officer acted on a genuine fear for their own safety (or the safety of others) and fired his gun.”

    Indeed. I am highly sympathetic to people who respond to police raids by opening fire. Easily done really. But what is the solution? The police will still be afraid. Theirs is a fairly dangerous job. The public will still be afraid. Perhaps the best solution is to reduce the level of fear? The police won’t fear every encounter will turn into something like a 70s crime show if they know that criminals are routinely executed and so they are unlikely to bump into one. We need to get crime levels down so the police can walk around unarmed.

    That is not going to happen. We already have police in body armour, carrying sub-machine guns, on the streets of the UK. Armoured vehicles can’t be far behind.

    I have a two step solution to this – we execute serious criminals and we stop immigration. You all have what? Pious hopes? A visceral hatred of the police that means you want them to patrol violent areas with nothing to protect them? What?

  137. So Much for Subtlety

    GlenDorran – “Define serious.”

    I have suggested a definition already – three felonies or seven misdemeanors. Even drug crimes. People are not forced to use drugs. They know it involves people being blown up by land mines in Colombia, people’s houses being robbed in the West and murder all over the world. They know what the law says and what the community thinks. They choose to break the law anyway.

    That way when your son goes to prison for a DUI he spends time with other first offenders and is not raped by a gang of lifers.

  138. SQ2: “Anyone who goes into law enforcement assumes the risk that a traffic stop might turn out to be something more. Mr Tolan, Miss Ramsey and the rest of us should not have to assume any such risk.”

    I normally agree wholeheartedly with Steyn, but well done for finding a piece where I wonder what he’s been smoking.

    It seems what he – and you? – wants in armed police that are superhuman. I think we all saw in ‘Robocop’ how that turns out, didn’t we?

  139. GlenDorran: “All for not understanding some arbitrary rules of engagement …”

    Read any tourist guide & it’ll tell you what to do if stopped. I have driven in the US and I was perfectly aware that the response if flashed by a cop car is to pull over, stop, and stay in the car with your hands on the wheel where the cop can see them.

    Shouldn’t we show a little bit of personal responsibility to find these things out before we travel?

  140. “Shouldn’t we show a little bit of personal responsibility to find these things out before we travel”

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, as SQ2 says: you are fine with people being killed for not immediately following the orders of men with badges?

    And as ukliberty said, the rules of engagement are in a sorry state if the police think it’s ok to shoot someone for getting out of a car.

  141. “… three felonies or seven misdemeanors…”

    Yeah, because the police have never gone out to fit up people with a previous conviction, or those they don’t like.

    Still, I must be pious for even thinking about such a thing.

  142. So Much for Subtlety

    GlenDorran – “Yeah, because the police have never gone out to fit up people with a previous conviction, or those they don’t like.”

    You keep saying this as if it matters. It is irrelevant. Yes, the police will occasionally fit people up. Whether we have the death penalty or not. Thus on occasion innocent people will be executed. I have been over this any number of times. What was it about the last six times I explained this that you did not follow?

    The solution is harm minimisation. Innocent people will die. They will die if we execute. They will die if we don’t. They will die if we jail. They will die if we don’t. There is no perfect solution. Innocent people will die if you just sit there and insist on doing nothing. The best we can hope for is to have the fewest possible innocent people die. Which means we should execute as criminals kill a lot more people than policemen.

  143. “What was it about the last six times I explained this that you did not follow?”

    Oh, I follow you.I just disagree entirely with you. As you do me.

    Just when you look at the history of states that have the power to kill; it doesn’t end well.

    Like all death penalty/abortion debates, this hasn’t gone anywhere and isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. All it does is draw out people’s views and entrench them.

    You think I’m a pious do-holder who is responsible for murder. I think you’re a rather frightening authoratarian.

  144. SMFS,

    > we have joke laws because we have joke punishments. If the law makers were told they would be executing people for saying Islam breeds terrorism, they would not be passing laws making it a felony to say Islam breeds terrorism. And juries would not convict.

    For someone who likes to talk about learning the lessons of history, you’re not very good at it, are you?

    Wikipedia:

    Sir Samuel Romilly, speaking to the House of Commons on capital punishment in 1810, declared that “[there is] no country on the face of the earth in which there [have] been so many different offences according to law to be punished with death as in England.” Known as the “Bloody Code”, at its height the criminal law included some 220 crimes punishable by death, including “being in the company of Gypsies for one month”, “strong evidence of malice in a child aged 7–14 years of age” and “blacking the face or using a disguise whilst committing a crime”. Many of these offences had been introduced to protect the property of the wealthy classes that emerged during the first half of the 18th century, a notable example being the Black Act of 1723, which created 50 capital offences for various acts of theft and poaching. Crimes eligible for the death penalty included shoplifting and stealing sheep, cattle, and horses, and before abolition of the death penalty for theft in 1832, “English law was notorious for prescribing the death penalty for a vast range of offenses as slight as the theft of goods valued at twelve pence.”

    I suppose one might claim the national character has changed so much since then that the reintroduction of such a serious penalty would now prevent the writing of trivial laws even though it didn’t back then. It would be difficult to make that claim, though, if one had stated repeatedly that human nature is dominated by genetics and evolution and had disputed others’ contention that culture is more important.

    Mind you, judging from what you keep saying about the gene pool, I’d’ve thought you’d be all for the death penalty for strong evidence of malice in a child.

  145. Julia,

    > It seems what [Steyn] – and you? – wants in armed police that are superhuman.

    Managing to restrain yourself from pointing a gun at the head of an unarmed boy scout is now superhuman?

  146. Glen,

    > Just when you look at the history of states that have the power to kill; it doesn’t end well.

    What is interesting is that half the people we’re arguing with would usually back that statement to the hilt if you were to substitute the word “kill” for pretty much anything else. A state with the power to force cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging? Tyranny! A state with the power to place television adverts telling us to eat less salt? Fascists! A state with the power to kill us? Bring it on.

  147. Yes, they seem to take a very utilitarian view of things when it comes to crime which they don’t apply to other things.

    I’m wondering whether it scales up? After all, some view the killing of millions as a price worth paying in achieving their dream socialist state. How many “bad guys” do they want to kill to achieve their crime-free nirvana? Do they have a target?

    On this occasion, I’m quite happy to be in the pinko pious liberal camp.

  148. “No it doesn’t. It does not go out of the window. Nowhere do I argue for the execution of suspects.”

    I didn’t say you were calling for execution of suspects. I made the point that the law and the state should protect everyone. Innocent until proven guilty. You appearsd to disagree.

    I specifically mentioned “suspected” because you did. You said:

    ” The State needs to protect the weakest members of society who aren’t suspected murderers but their victims.”

    Suspected. Not guilty, but suspected. Not convicted, even with made-up evidence (which you are comfortable with). So as soon as someone becomes investigated by the law, regardless of evidence or justification, then it’s game over in your view.

    You don’t care about the possible corruption, incompetence or malfeasance of the state. I know. You are keeping a ledger and as long as it’s positive then all is well.

    I’m worried about the powers of the state. I’m worried because people like you will try to seize that power.

  149. It is the states’ job to protect us. It’s why they exist.

    GlenDorran: “I’m worried about the powers of the state.”

    “So, if someone is breaking into your house, call a hippie.” ~ 1968

    GD, without powers, there is no state.

  150. “GD, without powers, there is no state.

    Yes.

    That doesn’t mean we don’t keep an eye on those powers and how they are used.

    Otherwise, as SQ2 says, people should shut the fuck up about cigarette packaging, sugar, or whatever other bit of legislation we’re outraged about.

  151. GlenDorran
    March 26, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Ukliberty/SQ2:

    An Aussie mate of mine was nearly shot by a police officer when he was on holiday in the US.

    ===================

    False narrative. The cop pulling his gun does not equate to “nearly shot.” The appearance of a firearm stops conflicts. Without shots being fired. But that messes up your Aussie friend’s exciting story.

  152. Gamecock,

    > The cop pulling his gun does not equate to “nearly shot.”

    You obviously don’t follow the US news. Completely innocent people are shot by the police regularly in precisely this circumstance.

  153. “False narrative. The cop pulling his gun does not equate to “nearly shot.” The appearance of a firearm stops conflicts. Without shots being fired. But that messes up your Aussie friend’s exciting story”

    Yeah, apart from the cop saying “I would have shot you if you hadn’t put your hands up”. Which I didn’t think was necessary to make the story any more exciting.

    And there wasn’t any conflict *until the cop pulled his fucking gun*.

    And, as far as I understand gun safety, a gun should only be pointed at something you are prepared to shoot. So I think “nearly shot” is a reasonable description.

    But if you think stepping out of a car *with no other signs of aggression or threat*, or, you know being a fucking boy scout, justifies a cop pulling a gun then fair enough.

    Once again, some people seem to be quite happy to do whatever a man with a badge says, and are happy that that man can shoot them if they don’t comply. To go back to the title of Timmy’s post: strange.

  154. Oh, by the way, my Aussie mate was pulled over for the suspected crime of driving a hire car. He assures me he wasn’t speeding, DUI, driving erratically or anything that would arouse suspicion. Other than driving a hire car that wasn’t from that cop’s neighbourhood.

    Of course, if things had escalated* and the man with the badge had exercised his right to kill my mate then what do you think would have happened? “The suspect was driving erratically, speeding, refused to follow instructions, was aggressive…”

    *when I say escalated, I mean that the cop would be one doing the escalation, since he initiated the conflict and pulled his fucking gun…….

  155. I should expect you to cling to your false narrative, being isolated from people who actually have guns.

  156. “I should expect you to cling to your false narrative, being isolated from people who actually have guns.”

    Maybe you could explain what my false narrative is? Are you relying on the fact the cops actually have guns means that cops will always follow the rules that are set for them?

    Oh, I’m sure that the boy scout with the gun held to his head will be interested to hear about this false narrative.

    By the way, I’ve made no comment at all about gun control or anything about the US Constitution, so don’t even go there.

    My beef is with the people who seem perfectly happy for the state to execute people, that not listening to a police man becomes a valid reason for being killed, and who don’t seem to question why the police automatically put themselves into a situation where the use of guns becomes so likely.

    But I’m just a pinko pious liberal who is responsible for murder, so what do I know.

  157. “Maybe you could explain what my false narrative is? ”

    Defensive use of guns occurs hundreds of thousands of times every year in the United States. In over 99% of these cases, NO SHOTS ARE FIRED.

    The fact the the policeman presented his gun does NOT IN ANY WAY SUGGEST HE WAS ABOUT TO SHOOT. He was over 99% likely NOT TO SHOOT.

    “An Aussie mate of mine was nearly shot by a police officer”

    At a minimum, this is ignorant.

  158. Ok Gamecock, thanks for clarifying my “false narrative”. I’ll withdraw my “nearly got shot” claim. How about this?

    My Aussie mate was in the US. He was pulled over to the side of the road by a cop for no reason other than he was driving a hire car (as explained by the cop later)

    Due to a misunderstanding on my friend’s part, and despite displaying no threatening behaviour or attitude, a policemen pointed a gun at him. Now, again, my understanding of gun safety is that you do not point a gun at something you are not prepared to shoot – please correct me if I am wrong. So if a gun is pointed then perhaps a natural reaction is “I’m going to get shot”. Due to my friend’s quick and fearful reaction, the policeman did not shoot him (as the policeman made clear afterwards).

    However, the policeman’s reaction put my friend into a situation where the next step in an exchange, which he did not initiate and did not view as threatening, would have been my friend’s death. If he had not heard the instruction, or hadn’t taken immediate action for whatever reason (fear, adrenaline, a reaction of “what the fuck?”) then he would have been shot dead. For getting out of a car.

    To be repetitive, and to parrot SQ2, at what point does it become acceptable for someone to be shot dead for not immediately obeying the instruction of a man with a badge? Especially when, from your point of view, you have done nothing wrong and are of no threat?

  159. “However, the policeman’s reaction put my friend into a situation where the next step in an exchange, which he did not initiate and did not view as threatening, would have been my friend’s death”

    More bullshit. 90% of gunshot victims DO NOT DIE.

    Your friend was not in significant danger from the officer. Indeed, he was in greater danger of being struck by another stupid motorist, which is why the officer didn’t want him to get out of the car in the first place.

    “at what point does it become acceptable for someone to be shot dead for not immediately obeying the instruction of a man with a badge?”

    Society sides with the man with the badge; he decides whether he feels threatened. Civil defense works the same way. In my state, in fact, it is codified that an intruder in my home is assumed to have deadly intent and can be shot on sight. This applies to home invasion BY THE POLICE. Homeowners who shoot police officers bursting into their homes with no knock warrants are NOT prosecuted.

    To be repetitive, you have no knowledge of cultures where guns are ubiquitous, but that doesn’t stop you from pontificating. You can comfortably question the actions of the police because of the actions of the police.

  160. Ok. Thanks for your explanation.

    I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to explain this to me, and you’re right I don’t understand this, and I have a better view of the police’s position thanks to this. I’m sorry if I came across as pontificating.

    My friend did not realise that he was in no danger. He was not familiar with the training and discipline of the cop. He made a mistake, like all humans do. Never having had a gun pointed at him means he was frightened. It’s a natural reaction. And he will probably have seen news reports about people being shot by cops. He was probably frightened that the cop would ask make a mistake. They are human too.

    However, as noted above, can you appreciate my concerns about the power being vested in the State, in the form of the cop? And why there should be oversight, constraints and concerns about it getting out of control?

    Others on this thread have taken the view that “yeah, bad guys had it coming”. I’m very worried about that.

  161. Oh, one point of clarification:

    “he was in greater danger of being struck by another stupid motorist,”

    This insinuates that my friend was a stupid motorist. He wasn’t. He was pulled over for driving a hire car. As explained by the cop.

  162. “More bullshit. 90% of gunshot victims DO NOT DIE.”

    Ok. And I’m genuinely not being snarky with my next question*

    In the aftermath of cop shootings, there are sometimes questions along the lines of “why didn’t they try to shoot him in the arm/leg?”

    The usual response given is that cops are trained to aim for the torso, as that is most likely to bring the person down quickly.

    So, are cop shootings 90% non-fatal? Not trying to be smart, not trying to be clever, just interested to know the stats.

    *i would hope that people who regularly read this blog know that I do often ask “stupid” questions because I genuinely don’t know the answer and want to find out. That’s the case here.

  163. Gamecock,

    Society sides with the man with the badge; he decides whether he feels threatened. Civil defense works the same way. In my state, in fact, it is codified that an intruder in my home is assumed to have deadly intent and can be shot on sight. This applies to home invasion BY THE POLICE. Homeowners who shoot police officers bursting into their homes with no knock warrants are NOT prosecuted.

    Dunno if you’re making that claim about your state particularly (nor what your state is) or the USA generally, but homeowners have been prosecuted for shooting police who enter with no-knock warrants in the USA. Also, cases have been taken to grand juries some of which, fortunately for the defendants, have refused to indict.

  164. My state, as many others do, have what is known as Castle Doctrine. Essentially, one has no duty to retreat in one’s own home (and in some public settings in my state).

    Some states have the ridiculous requirement that you retreat, hence, prosecutions. Note that Castle Doctrine in my state prohibits civil penalties as well – the perp’s family can’t sue for killing their angelic offspring.

    “This insinuates that my friend was a stupid motorist.” The cop was worried about the other stupid motorists driving by. See youtube for videos.

    I discussed this thread with a state highway patrolman yesterday evening (at my gym, not on the side of the road(!)).

    http://www.scdps.gov/scstp/

    He related to me that my state does not have a rule or law requiring the driver to stay in the car. He called it, “Officer preference,” and that some officers do prefer the driver to stay in the car. He said that, with one caveat, he likes people to get out of the car. The caveat: he is very attuned to the behavior of the driver getting out of the car; his life depends on it. Aussie Friend, being extremely anxious I assume, did something that made the officer uncomfortable. AF probably doesn’t know what he did; the officer might not even be able to say what it was.

    On “90% non-fatal.” That is a general stat; I have no police specific data.

    But I can say it may be greater than 90%. Cops are notoriously bad shots. A study in NYC a few years ago showed that 83% of shots fired by the police missed the assailant entirely. It is a truism that the larger the city, the less cops are “gun people.” Their jobs tend to more paperwork. “Why didn’t you shoot him in the leg? Ma’am, I was damn lucky to hit him at all!”

    Interestingly, about 50% of knife attacks are fatal – it is far better to be shot than stabbed (!).

  165. And I should add, I appreciate you taking the time to write this. I try to be as civil as I can in discussions (apart from swearing at Ritchie), especially when I’m in a position where I should know that I could learn something new, like here.

    I let this one get away from me, apologies. I think if we’d had this conversation in person then it would have been far easier.

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