Friday, March 28, 2014

“The Death Penalty Honors God!”: Screw God…sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.

Fundamentalist Christians, and a significant portion of mainstream Christianity, are largely death penalty advocates.  The Bible, mostly the Old Testament, gives countless examples of God demanding the death penalty for various trespasses.  While more difficult to uncover, even a verse or two in the New Testament implies capital punishment is justified. At worst, it doesn’t speak directly against it.

Here’s a link that spells out the biblical justifications for the death penalty:

I’ve had people ask how it is I can possibly side with the death cultists of Christianity and Islam (Jews being too mixed on the subject to easily cubbyhole).  For surely, if the blood thirsty hallelujah and jihad bunch see the death penalty as God’s will it must be inherently wrong.  They go on to insist that in the very least, being a free thinker, a modernist, a man of reason, that surely I must  be more progressive and morally advanced than those who’d take a fellow human’s life irrespective of how heinous his crime may be.  Yeah, well … No.

The fact that the majority of the most religiously afflicted and I agree on this issue doesn’t trouble me in the least, because while we are in some level of agreement, we reach the same conclusion for totally different reasons. 

I imagine that at this moment my more genteel, socially evolved and progressive readers are horrified and champing at the bit [’s “champing” not “chomping”] ready to post a comment declaring me a troglodyte and throwback.  But, before you lambaste me let me be more specific as to my position so you can lambaste me for the right reasons and with full understanding.  

First:  I do not applaud Texass [not a misspelling] for holding the country’s title for most executions of any state. I condemn them.  In 2006 Texass accounted for 60% of the nation’s executions. They currently represent somewhere about 35% of annual US executions. It is obscene, wanton. It is disturbingly applied more often to minorities, and is virtually necessitated by certain laws and by certain politics not the least of which is the unique way appellate judges find themselves in office in that state. Here’s the whole ugly story about why Texass is the capital punishment capitol of the nation, if you’re interested:

I do not endorse capital punishment for every murderer, or even most murderers.  Shooting your spouse or neighbor during an argument; killing someone during an armed robbery; a gang banger or drug dealer blowing away an opposing gang member, or competitor drug dealer; and others, are all run of the mill examples of murder.  Life behind bars, with or without the possibility of parole works fine for me. Maybe they can be rehabilitated, and the likelihood of their committing additional murders while in prison is low or moderate.  As far as I’m concerned candidates for execution by the state must be exceptional by virtue of their depravity.   

What’s depraved enough in my opinion to justify the death penalty? Here are a few examples, not necessarily a complete list:
-Home invasions where the victim or victims are raped and/or tortured and killed.  -Wanton intentional mass murder of innocent people by arson or any method.
-Acts of terrorism where WMDs indiscriminately kill innocents.
-Murder in the course of a kidnapping, or to cover up a rape, or child molestation.
-Serial murderers and serial child rapists.

And in all cases the fact of the defendant’s guilt must be totally beyond reproach ... that is, the trial is on the level of a formality. Examples: the Aurora, CO movie theater murderer. Or the Boston marathon bomber.  Or the confessed Connecticut  home invasion perpetrators a few years back, who tortured, raped, burned alive and murdered an entire family … save the father who survived.

You see, to me these people have no reasonable chance for “redemption.” I have zero interest in pursuing their rehabilitation.  Am I seeking revenge for their crimes?  Yep…guilty!  Revenge is a normal human emotion, I feel no need to suppress nor deny it.  The death of society’s most horrific fiends is cathartic. 

Am I devaluing human life? On the contrary. The proper application of the death penalty reinforces the value of those human lives that abide by societies mores, who respected the right of others to live ones life well and to its full term / natural conclusion.  It only devalues the lives of those to whom societies mores and the societal convention of living a good life means less than nothing and worthy only of their contempt, or just utter disregard. Thus those criminal’s lives ARE of less value. People who oppose the death penalty for these uniquely grotesque deviants are the ones devaluing the lives of their innocent victims, in my opinion of course.    

I don’t care that capital punishment is more expensive than incarceration. It’s only more expensive because we let it be more expensive.  I do not hold the lives of such people to be special by virtue of their specie. They deserve no more consideration than would a rabid dog terrorizing your neighborhood; indeed, perhaps less so, since the dog isn’t acting out of malice or for its gratification or a political or religious agenda.

Yes, I understand that among many atheists this position - while not truly unique - is harsh &  unpopular, considered something of an anomaly. But atheist means “having no belief in God/gods” period.  So, I respectfully invite you to lambaste away – I’m good with it.


crazydad said...

I'm a little surprised that you didn't include police and firefighter killers in your list of capitol crimes.

I wouldn't have, either.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thought about it. But it doesn't meet the depraved criteria I speak of.

Kompani said...

America is perhaps the last of the first world countries executing its own civilians. I am surprised at your stance on this issue as it is a measure of a countries cultural and civil progress in how it treats its minorities, less fortunate and prisoners. America is no better in the execution of prisoners than Iran, Saudi Arabia, China see:
I hope you change your mind over this barbaric treatment of your own countries population. America cannot truly be called 'civilised' until it stops this needless execution of prisoners.

crazydad said...

At least we spell 'civilized' correctly.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks for your perspective.
As you saw I'm unsurprised by this response.

I hope it came through in my article that I fully agree that we need to stop "needless executions," albeit perhaps we have different definitions of "needless."

In my perfect Camel world, it is only those who have relinquished any semblance of humanness and whose continued presence on earth degrades humanity itself and the memory of those they slaughtered, who would be dispatched.

That's a much higher bar than any of the other nations you mention, or the State of Texass, can even conceive of.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing though, that if we heathenous atheists represent approximately 20%+\- of the population and the same holds true for the prison population, then there is a huge christian prison population. Then 80% on death row are also Christians. How's that for a testament to christian beliefs?

Dromedary Hump said...

actually, atheists are 8-10% of US population. The Pew survey that has 20%+/- includes "nones", who may have faith but no specific affiliation.

Atheists represent roughly 0.2% of prison pop., according to Fed. Bureau of Prisons. So atheists are a disproportionately lower % of incarcerated than their US population; while Christians are 78% of the US pop., and approx. 80% of the prison population. Disproportionately higher.

yeah..go figure. ;)

longhorn believer said...

Bart, I came to the same conclusion you have on this issue. I have no moral problem with the death penalty when it is applied in those cases where the trial is a formality, the crime is heinous, and there is no remorse or hope for rehabilitation. I have two caveats. I don't agree with using the death penalty on people who have a psychosis that they cannot control, and did not ask for. The guy who committed the crime in Aurora MIGHT be someone like that. I realize this is an exception that is difficult to define, but I think it should be defined and debated.

My second caveat is that I generally oppose the death penalty as it is currently applied in the US because there are so many cases of people, especially people of color and people with few economic resources, being wrongfully convicted. As you pointed out in Texas, it is applied in shameful ways for political reasons by an extremely flawed justice system. Not to mention extremely flawed investigations done in crime labs that are horribly incompetently run. It is literally a regular occurrence these days for someone in Texas to be set free after having been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for years, and there has been an ongoing scandal about the crime lab in Houston for almost a decade now, maybe longer.

So I oppose the death penalty generally speaking because if we're going to kill someone, we should be certain they are guilty and because there is too much damn unwarranted certainty in Texass. Applying the death penalty to someone who didn't commit the crime is the taking of an innocent life. That's what I oppose. I don't oppose taking the life of someone who is of no further good to society, and deserves the punishment.

dorian said...

You and all supporters of death penalty are fundamentally wrong. That has nothing to do with being an atheist or not. Death penalty is wrong because all human life deserves to be respected and NO ONE has any right to destroy it. All those who suuport death penalty are not better than the people they want to be sentenced to death because they do just the same thing.

Dromedary Hump said...

I'd say we are in full agreement.
Thanks for the comment.

Thanks for your input.I detect your passion.

When you say "all humans deserve to be respected" I have to ask: "Why? Where did you get that philosophy from?"

You see, it sounds suspiciously religious in nature to me, albeit you'd protest not.

So, what sets all humans' lives on an equal level worthy of the full measure of respect just by virtue of sharing the same species? Why doesn't human action and behavior trump the fact that we all share the same genetic code? Nah.. that's religious indoctrination speaking in my book.

I say judge living beings by their actions, not by virtue of species they happily stumbled into by accident of birth. Their species should not be the sole criteria for respect, any more than ones "beliefs" automatically demand respect.

Neale said...

I concur with much of your stated view. Still the validity of it [that state sponsored execution for crimes] relies, almost totally upon your single sentence: “And in all cases the fact of the defendant’s guilt must be totally beyond reproach ... that is, the trial is on the level of a formality.”
Our criminal law affixes punishment for conduct accompanied by the requisite mental state. For that reason, a trial cannot be a formality as it is necessary to infer the defendant’s mental state from all the circumstances at hand.
Your focus is execution as punishment is the almost exclusive reason. (The other three considerations for sentencing—deterrence, isolation, and rehabilitation—are less involved.) Certainly for this extreme sanction, punishment—satisfying our need for revenge—is probably a proper focus. We are generally aware the death penalty is not much of a deterrent. If imposed, it does prevent the defendant from killing again.
In this world, like Yogi said: “It is tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” I would totally accept your view, instead of 90%, if we had certainty.
As philosopher king, I would know all and freely impose the death penalty in those cases you describe. I would also get my timing right, and impose the penalty in advance, upon those who are about to commit such unspeakable acts. The death penalty’s real flaw is timing.

apostate630 said...

I thought that the proper punishment of Timothy McVeigh, he of the Oklahoma City atrocity, should have been life without parole in a cell wallpapered with forensic photgraphs of the crushed and mutilated bodies of his victims. In solitary confinement.

A long, long life, surrounded by those pictures.

I oppose the death penalty, but I am not a stranger to the thirst for vengeance.

Dromedary Hump said...

Nicely stated.

Just to be concise: my reference to a trial being a "formality" implies that the incontrovertible evidence / forensics provide enough data so that there is 100% agreement / no question in the minds of the accused, and his attorney, the prosecution, the courts, witnesses, and the surviving victims, that the accused is the actual perpetrator.

But, yes, you are correct, that the mental state must be assessed, and if the accused is deemed insane by the legal standard, execution would be inappropriate.

In any circumstance, even with it being the so called formality /foregone conclusion, the trial would always be retained.I would never imply otherwise.

Thanks for your insights.

Dromedary Hump said...

apostate 630,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Ive often heard that perspective, that making the convicted contemplate his crime for the rest of his life would be a just punishment.

The problem with that is, it presupposes that a murderer of the magnitude I exampled has a conscience like you and I, and would be troubled / feel guilt being surrounded by images of his handiwork.

I reject that, since anyone capable of the most heinous crime may just as well experience exhilaration, sexual gratification, or pride in what he had wrought.

Sometimes I think people who oppose capital punishment in any circumstance are too quick to project their / our sense of empathy,humanity, guilt, need for redemption, etc ... all the things that keep us from being "the worst among us"... onto those who are utterly devoid of those attributes/emotions.

Again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anything pertaining to capital punishment should not be decided on the basis of a religious belief or an atheist non-belief. For those involved in capital punishment directly such as law enforcement, grand juries, lawyers, judges and trial juries, the rules, laws and guidelines concerning capital punishment are already in place and should be followed without prejudice. In theory an individuals personal beliefs or in the case of an atheist non-beliefs should not enter into the equation. Because we are human these outside factors too often do enter into our thought processes. When our thought processes are skewed by religious beliefs, like it or not, to some degree the entire process becomes corrupted. For this reason force of logic dictates that atheism does have an advantage due to not having to address any issues of religion or the supernatural and I say this even though I am not an atheist. This is not to imply that a religious person cannot separate their religious beliefs from their adherence to the rule of law for I am sure there are many religious people that can.
There are many compelling arguments both for and against capital punishment and it is not my intent to rehash them. Rather I would like to take this opportunity to point that concerning capital punishment as covered in this blog, we are addressing the issue at the bottom of the criminal organizational chart as opposed to starting at the top and working our way down. In the final analysis we are really discussing crime (murder) and punishment. To put this in perspective a person robs a convenience store of several hundred dollars if caught they will be held accountable and after being tried and convicted they will suffer the consequence. On the other hand Wall Street can rob millions of people with impunity. No charges, no convictions, no consequences. This same type of scenario happens concerning mass murders the difference is they’re not called murders, they are called collateral damage. So the powers that be, can commit all manner of murder and atrocities with impunity. While we the little people are focused on our local murderers. I do not mean to trivialize anyone’s murder, I am just saying a murder is a murder and a murderer that murders one or thousands should not be allowed to hide behind rank or station, wealth or power. Anyone proven responsible for a murder or murders should be forced to face the consequences of their actions regardless of rank, political office, wealth or power. I think it was Stalin that once said something to the effect, that one man’s death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. Concerning murder and capital punishment we must arrest and bring to trial all the murderers local as well as those murderers on the world stage because as long as some murderers have impunity, in a larger sense there will never be true justice in this world.

WhyNot said...

Wow. While I'm atheist and European (and also Australian) and therefore have 100% viewpoint regarding death penalty, which is simply that it is the most retarded, barbaric and prehistoric trait of humanity, I can also vaguely sort-of understand the average retarded blood-thristy American mentality which leads them to jump for joy and reach for another Jesus-dildo for yet another orgasmic nirvana at the prospect of deep-friyng yet another human being.

In this respect I'm impressed (to the point of nearly wanting to swear by Jesus-fucking-christ) by your anti-death penalty stand.

In fact, I have to confess I'm nearly surprised (but pleasantly so, I assure you) - meaning that there have been several issues where I totally and diametrically disagreed with you, especially regarding your views on Arabs ( and I mean ARABS, NOT fucking Muslims) versus the ultimate fascist/imperialist scumbags of this planet, i.e the vomit-inducing of all breeds:

The Jews/Israelis.

"Am I seeking revenge for their crimes? Yep…guilty!"

Lololol, yep, bro, I proudly plead guilty till the cows and camels come home!

"Yes, I understand that among many atheists this position - while not truly unique - is harsh & unpopular, considered something of an anomaly."

NOT with me, bro! I'm 1000% with you on this one!!! In fact, I'll vigorously and unashameldy state that any atheist who thinks the opposite is an appaling disgrace to the label of "atheism".

In conclusion, my message to those retarded cunts is: go fuck yourselves with the nearest Jesus dildo.

"At least we spell 'civilized' correctly."

Wow. You sure are one of the most retarded dumbfucks ever to roam this planet, lol. But hey...

AT LEAST, YOUR RANT WAS SPELLED THE CORRECT microscopic length, lol. Thank Jesus fuckin' Christ!!!

My hat to you, sir!

Dromedary Hump said...

Note to readership:

I have to confess, I read Whynot's comment three times, and other than his taking umbrage with crazydad's comment and offering a fevered anti-S emetic perspective ...I have no clear understanding if his comments are sarcastic or not, thus where he stands on cap. punishment; and what the purpose of the comment was. It maybe a language/cultural barrier.

Nevertheless, I will post most any comment that isn't religious in nature, seemingly drug induced, or patently off topic.

WhyNot said...

"It maybe a language/cultural barrier. "

Lol, you might be exactly right. I mean, I only speak 2 lingos (En & FR), and 3 versions of EN (Oz, UK, and US). I also spent 24 years in Oz land and 2 in Florida.

You must be the first American I ever met who has difficulties understanding me. Lol.

Anonymous said...

Your argument is in line with what I think also. Some people are so damaged they can't be saved and aren't safe to be allowed out with the rest of us. And what is all this uproar about finding drugs to do painless excisions? There are many meds to O.D. someone and they will go to sleep and not feel it. And did they care if their victims died painlessly?