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The Execution Will Be Televised
If we're going to have capital punishment, and if its proponents argue that it's a deterrent, well, why not make it Must-See TV? And come on, bring on the firing squads, none of this quietly lethal death-by-needle business. I got the idea from a letter from David Hayden, of Wilton, Connecticut, on The New York Times op-ed page:

Proponents of capital punishment demonstrate a peculiar inconsistency: they claim that executions punish criminals and serve as a deterrent, and yet they allow the process to become ever more secretive and antiseptic.

During the last century we have gone from shooting and hanging the condemned to gassing and electrocuting them; now the preferred method is usually strapping them to a gurney shaped like a crucifix and injecting them with lethal chemicals.

Any motion or resistance from the dying man causes controversy, and the process is hidden from the general public. It seems to me that advocates of execution should want the process to be public and obviously painful instead of covert and sanitized.

Posted by aalkon at August 14, 2007 9:56 AM

Comments

Absolutely.

Although I'm against capital punishment on the principle that it's bad to give the government the authority to kill, let's face it; there's people out there that just need killin'.

This guy is from my neck of the woods. You may have heard about the nice little incident in Cheshire, CT last month. Two recidivist burglars out on parole follow a woman and her daughter home from the market, and lie in wait. Break in to the house at 3 AM. The father goes down to the basement to see what the hell is going on, they beat him with a baseball bat, tie him up, and leave him to die. When the whole thing is over 6 hours later, the father is barely alive, mother and both daughters dead, house on fire, and they're trying to run over cops with a stolen car.

Hangin's too good for 'em. Or as my mother, noted pacifist, said: "They can't kill those two enough for me."

If capital punishment is truly to act as a deterrent, it needs to be swift, but public. The humiliation attached with swinging from the gallows is probably more of a deterrent than death itself.

Plus, I'm guessing there's something rather jolting about hearing the sentence delivered.

"Hanged by the neck until dead."

Posted by: brian at August 14, 2007 6:08 AM

I'm with you -- against capital punishment. But, if we're going to have it, we ought to have it: big, brightly lit, and televised; maybe with Dick Clark as the emcee.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 6:21 AM

As for that Connecticut case, death is too easy for those two. And prisoners should be made to finance their upkeep in the prison system...I don't care how, or how long they have to work. (You broke it, YOU pay for it.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 6:23 AM

I am for the death penalty and agree that they should be televised. Televised on pay per view with funds going to the victim's families. But, but Amy, never Dick Clark; too, too polite. I suggest "What's his name" from the "Gong" show.

Posted by: Dave at August 14, 2007 7:41 AM

TV execs would prefer Ryan Seacrest for the youth market. "Seacrest out and so is DOC 57383 for First Degree Murder."

Posted by: Joe at August 14, 2007 7:42 AM

Deterrence, rehabilitation, prophylaxis and retribution are the cornerstones of criminal justice.

Retribution is the least noble of these but it is necessary just the same. Potential vigilantes will be dissuaded from forming lynch mobs when they see the state knows which end of the rope goes over the branch. Retribution has a nasty tendency to take on a life of its own. If the townspeople get used to gathering every Sunday for a hangin’ it won’t be long before the list of hangin’ offences is edited to make sure the gallows don’t get cold.

Rehabilitation is the most noble and idealistic goal. And rehabilitation is obviously off the table after an execution but only in the sense that the capital detainee has a zero chance of becoming a productive member of society, something they were profoundly unlikely to be anyway. Is an offender more likely to come to some kind of personal understanding of the notion of right and wrong on death row than on the “lifer” plan? They say the knowledge that one is to be hanged in a fortnight concentrates the mind beautifully (Sam Johnson.) Whether the detainee “rehabilitates” him or herself in this manner is not a small point. The CT murderers described above will probably die of old age, lifelong guests of the taxpaying public, thoroughly convinced they are victims of gross societal injustice and deserving of sainthood for all their suffering. And a tender-hearted segment of the dull-eyed citizenry will agree. In the unlikely event they are sentenced to die for their crimes, I believe there is a greater chance they will come to feel genuine remorse for what they have done (not just for getting caught.) And they might even say so publicly, something that can actually promote healing for the victim’s families and de-glamorize crime for potential offenders.

Prophylaxis, the measures we take to rid the social body of disease and prevent needless destruction of what we value, is the dispassionate component of criminal justice. Putting offenders in jails keeps them from hurting anyone except each other. Criminologists can study detainees and try to learn what causes their behavior. These scienctists can try experimental alternative programs to see what, if anything, facilitates rehabilitation. The study of detainees shares characteristics of rehabilitating them. A detainee who will not cooperate offers no value to criminologists. And in their attempts to buy cooperation through special privileges and leniency, criminologists turn offenders into celebrities for other potential offenders, eroding the deterrent effect of incarceration. A condemned detainee might offer useful insights to a criminologist in the pre-dawn hours of his or her last day on earth just they might have confessed to a priest in an earlier time.

The deterrent effect of capital punishment is disputed but John Lott argues in “Freedomnomics” that the re-institution of the death penalty resulted in a significant reduction in violent crime in the United States. The “gansta” culture views prison as a right of passage, similar to college or military service. But the image of dying strapped down on one’s back, helpless, as a technician pokes a needle in your arm has yet to be glorified in a rap video. A method of execution that might be more satisfying to the public or the victim’s family would also tend to glorify the detainee.

The current system of capital punishment has definite flaws but it is a necessary component of civilization. The state has the power to kill. All the other powers the state has flow from that lethal prerogative. When a person has proved themselves to be a danger to society, there is no virtue in letting that person hurt others so I can feel noble. But, having said that, watching people die for entertainment is not a civilized way to spend an evening.

Posted by: martin at August 14, 2007 7:59 AM

Also, I lived in parts of the world where public executions and corporal punishments (public flagellation and cutting off of body parts) were a constant. Personally, I would never attend such functions. The closest was having dinner with a retired 'headsman' from Saudi Arabia. If I knew his job ahead of time, I would have faked illness to get out of it.

Posted by: Joe at August 14, 2007 8:00 AM

I just don't think we have the right to take a life except in self-defense. I'm for punishing criminals, even for giving them a lifetime of very hard labor, but not for capital punishment.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 8:13 AM

I remember Nathaniel Brandon telling me the same thing (your 8:13 comment)in the early 70s. He did have the caveat that he might have a different opinion if Patricia was brutally killed (sadly she died a few years later in an accident). Tough decision when it is your own loved one.

Posted by: Dave at August 14, 2007 8:21 AM

Didn't know you know Nathaniel. He seems very happy now with his new wife.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 8:23 AM

Indeed, Joe ("Personally, I would never attend such functions.")

It probably isn't quite like gawping at a bullfight when you're given an opportunity to view it for real.

Also Dickens' infamous knitting-by-the-guillotine character Madame Defarge did finally come to a sticky end herself.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 14, 2007 8:28 AM

I am all for stringing up the worst of them. Rehabilitation, like much of our criminal justice system, is a mockery.

Here in Coeur D Alene a few years back, a recedivist child molester brutally murdered three members of a family and kidnapped the two youngest children. He molested the boy and girl over the course of the next year, and later videotaped himself killing the boy in front of his sister. He was captured in the local Denny's with the girl.

I know that this was a one in a million occurrence, but I still fall into a panic if my 3 year old boy escapes my attention for 30 seconds. Now, we get to see Joseph Duncan trotted in and out of court on a regular basis, always with a smirk on his evil face. (Remember the Richard Ramirez smirk?) Justice delayed has become justice denied for this community.

Public executions are not something I would like to see though.

Posted by: eric at August 14, 2007 8:36 AM

Last time I talked to Nathaniel was in the early 80s at a seminar he gave in Dallas. I met his "new" wife, Devers (sp?) there. Is that is current "new" wife. I have always envied Nathaniel, for many, many reasons, one of which is his ability to find, and love such beautiful (in all ways) and brilliant women. Men like me gladly go to war to protect such women!

Posted by: Dave at August 14, 2007 8:36 AM

"I just don't think we have the right to take a life except in self-defense"

Fair enough. I tend to the opposite view: if you have a low-life who is truly just a waste of protoplasm, why should one pay millions to keep him alive for the next several decades?

In my mind, the only real argument against capital punishment is that it is irrevocable. Which is a problem if one finds out that an innocent person has been convicted. Which has happened too often.

It would be the best of both worlds if prisoners really did have to work for their upkeep . But you would have to really mean it: no work = "sorry, guess you ain't eatin' next week".

Just my cold-blooded 2 cents worth...

Posted by: bradley13 at August 14, 2007 8:40 AM

"prisoners should be made to finance their upkeep in the prison system" - Amy

They should work their asses off. No T.V time.

I can already here the lib left crying out "slaaaveeee laborrr!" Oh the horror. Criminals not being funded by victims and the law abiding public - SUCH and outrage.

Posted by: Gretchen at August 14, 2007 9:19 AM

> I would have faked illness
> to get out of it.

Don't pretend that your skittishness is so personal. The feelings that happen in someone's heart when they see another person killed don't always have popular descriptions, but they can be grim and primitive and they can loosen the grip. And it speaks well of Western Civ that we've been able to suppress them without having given them names. We don't have to know why we value individual life so highly over here, but it's very good that we do.

Every 25 years or so I flipflop on Cap Punishment, and this is the cusp of another oscillation: See Hitch's essay in Love, Poverty, and War.

Posted by: Crid at August 14, 2007 9:24 AM

"why should one pay millions to keep him alive for the next several decades?" - Bradley

...actually, it costs tax payers more to follow through with the death penalty than to keep the prisoner alive for a lifetime. The amount of dollars spent on a public defender (almost always a public defender) and other costs associated with the appeals process eats up MILLIONS per criminal.

For the big sickos out there death is too easy... put them in a cage w/ a hungry lion, I say!

Posted by: Gretchen at August 14, 2007 9:32 AM

How about a walk in chipper shredder? No missing a vein there...

Posted by: eric at August 14, 2007 10:12 AM

Here is my take.

Capital punishment only in cases of 1st degree murder, or for a death occuring while the purpotrated was under the influence of drug(legal or illegal) - and ONLY when there is a credable eyewitness. Lets face it even with forensics and all the evidencethere is the slightest possibility they are innocent.

Death penalty cases get 2 appeals - 1 state, 1 federal - both expedited so the appeals process take less than a year to ensure prisoners rights to a speedy trial are not violated. No delays if prisoner decided to get a new attorny the night before the court date.

Death penalty for the eywitness if it is proved they were lying

Child molesters - never paroled automatic life sentance.

Anyone getting life with no parole is exiled - put them on an island somewhere, let them fend for themselves and use the armed forces to make sure there are no escapes or rescue attempts - give them some practice.

Stop jailing people for simply having drugs on them, leave room in the jail for rapists and killers and violent offenders.

Once you are convicted and placed in the system you are given an account - it will keep track of the cost of your trial, your portion of the cost of feeding, clothing, housing, utilites, gaurding, and taking care of your needs both daily and medically.

You will work some job, your earnings will go to pay off your debt - you will not be eligable for parole if you are still in debt. Should your sentance reach conclusion and your account is still in the hole you will be placed on probation, not allowed to leave the state without permission and your future earnings will be garnished until your account is settled.

If your familly wants to chip in cash to pay it off , who cares, just get it paid.

If your conviction is ever over turned you will get your earnings returned to you minus taxes ofcourse, and any remaining debt forgiven.

Posted by: lujlp at August 14, 2007 10:15 AM

Here is my take.

Hang 'em high.

Posted by: Roger at August 14, 2007 10:21 AM

The last I had read anything about it, nobody had found any correlation between the death penalty and violent crime, so it doesn't seem to be a deterrent. I do admit that it's been ages since I saw anything about it, so maybe someone has new statistics that show otherwise.

I'm against the death penalty only because the state has a poor record of convicting innocent people. The worse the crime, the more pressure on the police to get results, any results.

Here in TX they do make inmates work. Some of it is hard work - my ex had to swing a hoe in 100+ degree heat.

I believe Gretchen is correct about the cost of executing someone. Because of the police and judicial errors, we need an elaborate appeals system so the innocent have a chance. I'm not saying that the majority on death row didn't commit the crime, just that too many mistakes are made.

Posted by: William at August 14, 2007 10:30 AM

Well there is some doubt that capital punishment is an actual crime deterrent. One alternative reason in the drop off rate of crime during the 1990s was the passage of 'The 3 Strikes' laws in various states. Which was a direct response to the crime epidemic and the correlation of the widespread use of crack cocaine in the mid to late 1980s.

Posted by: Joe at August 14, 2007 11:02 AM

TO: Amy Alkon, et al.
RE: Welcome....

"If we're going to have capital punishment, and if its proponents argue that it's a deterrent, well, why not make it Must-See TV?" -- Amy Alkon

...to the world of Starship Trooper.

A murderer was captured today. Tried and convicted.

The execution will take place these evening.

All channels. All nets.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment. -- James Madison]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 11:43 AM

How about the death penalty for people who post in memo format?

Posted by: eric at August 14, 2007 11:57 AM

"How about the death penalty for people who post in memo format?"

Not a sufficient deterrent even afterwards!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 14, 2007 12:09 PM

TO: All
RE: The Truth Will Out

"How about the death penalty for people who post in memo format?" -- eric

Interesting. Isn't it?

When they can't effectively discuss the issue at hand, they go for something as trivial as formating.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[If you can't beat them, kill them.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 12:20 PM

The greatest deterrent for people using memo format on a message board system is to ignore them. Now I break the rule from time to time, because of personal experiences with the memo warrior. So don't expect an actual conversation or exchange of ideas with the wackjob. I'm sure he harasses other sites too.

Posted by: Joe at August 14, 2007 12:39 PM

TO: Joe, et al.
RE: Deterrence, Anyone?

"The greatest deterrent for people using memo format on a message board system is to ignore them." -- Joe

Hardly.

The greatest deterrence is to 'kill' them. 'Ignorance' is a sorry third or fourth place, depending on how stupid one wants to actually 'be'.

Care to get back on-topic, anyone?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[If you can't beat em, 'kill' em.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 12:54 PM

Chuck,

So is killing an annoying online personality an option? Remember my comments on your behavior being slightly off?

Posted by: Joe at August 14, 2007 1:14 PM

TO: Joe
RE: Kill Em!

"So is killing an annoying online personality an option? Remember my comments on your behavior being slightly off?" -- Joe

Sure is. Just ask Armed Liberal, Oliver Wilis, Rachel Lucas and the 'lady' who manages Tim Blair's blog.

I've been kicked/banned/killed on all of their blogs. And for doing nothing more, nor anything less, than what I've done here....discussing various points from a different perspective AND 'winning' those points.

After all....it's THEIR 'blog'. They can do as they wish with it. That includes playing the blogosphere's version of a fascist. It's a game that has been played down through the eons. And played very well, by some sorts....the sorts that hate being contradicted. Especially when the contradictory agents are (1) factual, (2) articulate and (3) reasonably intelligent.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. I suspect this is why so many Mensans hide their 'candle' under a bushel, when it comes to the blogosphere....

....they've learned the lessons of history, starting with the first Emperor of China....who slaughtered the intelligentsia wherever he went.

P.P.S. So....are you suggesting that we should 'celebrate' my 'diversity', i.e., 'behavior being slightly off" with 'murderous intent'?

You won't be the first. And, be advised, your response will be a testimony at a later date....before some certain 'seat'.

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 1:24 PM

No, it is one of the main reasons why people dislike the memo format, Chuck. Its sole purpose is to be as vague as possible through the appearance of containing content.

Posted by: Joe at August 14, 2007 1:44 PM

.."and the 'lady' who manages Tim Blair's blog."

Oh join the club, Chuck.

Is there anyone who hasn't had their inbox scorched by her tongue, as it were?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 14, 2007 1:44 PM

I was enigmatic for awhile in college. It was alright.

Posted by: martin at August 14, 2007 2:00 PM

P.S. I suspect this is why so many Mensans hide their 'candle' under a bushel, when it comes to the blogosphere....

Chuck, being eligible to join Mensa isn't necessarily a reason to do it, but if you do find it necessary to become a member...it says a lot about you if you go around announcing it...and that lot is not positive.

William brings up a good point about the conviction of innocent people, but what I'm really interested in is...what was your ex in for?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 2:09 PM

TO: Joe
RE: In a 'Word'????!?!

"Its sole purpose is to be as vague as possible through the appearance of containing content." -- Joe

Bull-pucky.

I address the individual I am speaking to. What's 'vague' about that? Nothing.

I cite the comment I am addressing. What's vague about that? Nothing.

You're being obtuse. And I'm curious as to the reason.

Perhaps it has something to do with a rebuke I gave you earlier. Something about 'liar'.....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Evil has many tools, but a lie is the handle that fits them all.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 2:10 PM

Lemme put it plainly, Chuck:

The memo format is annoying as fuck. If I wanted to read memos all day, I'd work for some big corporation. I do not.

To address the individual you're speaking to, a simple "Joe, you say..."

or even just copying in some line of theirs and italicizing will do.

P.S. Being so annoying everybody bans you doesn't mean you're contributing to the discussion or even have anything to say.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 2:13 PM

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: Joining

"Chuck, being eligible to join Mensa isn't necessarily a reason to do it, but if you do find it necessary to become a member...it says a lot about you if you go around announcing it...and that lot is not positive." -- Amy Alkon

Why should I care if you like or dislike me for being in that group?

It's, literally, no different than my announcing that I'm a retired lieutenant colonel of infantry and an airborne-ranger. Is it not?

After all....it's only the 'truth'. Why should I hide it? Especially if it allows others to understand the perspective that I see thinks from?

As I recall from MANY lessons in public speaking, it is best to know your 'audience'. So. Now I'm being 'damned' for informing those addressing me of my personal background?

Seriously....

People tell me I don't know what I'm talking about relating to the military. So...I trot out my military career. And I get damned for it.

People tell me I don't communicate well. So I bring out that I'm appointed to several commissions, boards and advisory groups by my local government. And I get damned for it.

People indicate I'm not very 'intelligent'. So I bring out that I'm a member of a rather 'intelligent' group, as determined by any of a number of standard intelligence tests. And, guess what....I get 'damned' for it, again.

Is this a classic or what? Damned if you do. Damned ignorant if you don't.

Well...I'd rather be damned for telling the truth than for not being candid about it.

If you think I'm being merely boastful....maybe you should do some 'soul searching'. I do believe there is something in those old Laws about 'coveting' what ones neighbor 'possesses'. But I guess an atheist wouldn't 'appreciate' that....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Ride hard, shoot straight, and always tell the truth. -- Cyrus the Great]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 2:18 PM

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: Any Excuse In a Storm

"Being so annoying everybody bans you doesn't mean you're contributing to the discussion or even have anything to say." -- Amy Alkon

Bull-pucky.

There's, literally, 'no difference' between stating...

TO: Joe
RE: This

....or saying....

"Joe said this"
If you are looking for an excuse to 'kill' me, this is about as feeble as I've seen. Even the 'lady' at Tim Blair did better than THIS.

The only thing that will happen is that you'll show your true colors.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 2:25 PM

Chuck.

All you have to do is remove the TO:,RE:, Regards, Chuckle, [Quote] and you will have solved half your problem right there. That is all we are asking. Please understand that the memo format contributes nothing and only detracts from your points. IT'S LIKE ME WRITING IN ALL CAPS AND WONDERING WHY IM ANNOYING EVERYONE.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 14, 2007 2:33 PM

TO: PurplePen
RE: Au Contraire Ma Chere

"All you have to do is remove the TO:,RE:, Regards, Chuckle, [Quote] and you will have solved half your problem right there." -- PurplePen

I'd be eliminating over half of the precision in communication.

And using a subject, topic, comment precise format is HARDLY typing EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPS.

RE: The Formating

"....the memo format contributes nothing and only detracts from your points." -- PurplePen

You're wrong.

People who don't care to read my comments can breeze right over them. People to whom my comments are addressed, readily know I'm addressing them and what matter I'm addressing them about.

If you don't understand THAT, I suspect you need more education at the corporate or corps level.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. This formating is especially useful in heavily trafficked blogs.

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 14, 2007 2:41 PM

Look Chuck, several people have made it very clear how little you have to do to stop annoying them.

As of yet you have given no reason for still doing so, therefore I asume it is a personal preference.

However playing "poor, poor, pitiful me" simply because people let you know how agrivating they find your writting style is stupid.

Now you can adapt, or maintain your stance on something so trivial - giving us a reasonable expliantion might help, but I doubt it

Please not that should you continue to maintain your position it seems very apparent people will start taking YOUR advice and skip your posts

As Amy said if we liked reading memos we'd get jobs that allow us to do so.

Posted by: lujlp at August 14, 2007 2:55 PM

> Not a sufficient deterrent
> even afterwards!

Sister Jody, sister Jody.

Memoranda format communiques remind us that a man's work was not about courage, or daring, or ceremony, or honor, and certainly not subtlety.

He pushed paper. Maybe not well, but apparently he pushed a lot of it, otherwise the reflex would have faded....

Posted by: Crid at August 14, 2007 4:19 PM

Well, I don't mind being the lone admirer of Chuck(le), especially because I'm sure I'm not the only one. Complainers complain, and the good is oft interred with their bones.

I especially like his memo format because I do know who he's addressing, and I like how specific his points are, quoting someone. Plus, he has a sense. of. humor. In fact, he's my favorite commenter here at the moment!

Love ya, Chuck!

Posted by: Donna B. at August 14, 2007 4:43 PM

> Well, I don't mind being the lone
> admirer of Chuck(le), especially
> because I'm sure I'm not the
> only one.

Umm....

Nevermind. Whatever. Carry on.

Posted by: Crid at August 14, 2007 4:45 PM

Donna, something tells me you listen to a lot of John Cage.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 5:00 PM

Okay, so...capital punishment... how do we all feel about it? That IS what we were discussing earlier, yes?

;-}

But I do love segues and all of you have managed to get a good one going. The memo format isn't what annoys me most, it's the air of "I know everything," and the judgmental mentality if you disagree w/ Chuckles. Don't misunderstand me - people "judge" all the time. "I don't like her shoes," is judging. Any reaction is a judgment. But "I don't like her shoes, they're red and pointy she must be easy," is judgmental.

Calling someone selfish b/c having children isn't a life goal is judgmental. Just ignorant of any other possible point of view and refusal to understand that "your way" isn't "the only way." That shit ruins the conversation every. single. time. reh. It's like arguing with my father (self-proclaimed "God of the house"), even if he's claiming the sky is brown he's right.

Posted by: Gretchen at August 14, 2007 6:17 PM

Also-

> People who don't care to
> read my comments can breeze
> right over them.

This is true! Of all the people whose comments might have annoyed you here, he's made himself easiest to avoid. Hats off!

Posted by: Crid at August 14, 2007 6:21 PM

Gretchen (and I always loved that name, that one and Gertrude), I think you're lost in wordplay. I think 'judgmental' means exercising judgment, and the best people do that at all times. There's no way and no reason to diminish the power of the word to make people not be mean.

I want to have perfect judgment in all contexts, so I practice every waking moment. And when it's not possible to make a better judgment, then I try to do it faster: It saves time, and that alone is often helpful. Even religious people understand that God expects them to know who's who and what's what.

> it's the air of "I
> know everything,"

Other military types on the blogs have shown this same characteristic. The anecdotes always end with "and you had to be there!" And 'there' means the service, and the rest of us weren't, and that's that.

Posted by: Crid at August 14, 2007 6:36 PM

Well, how ad hominem are we!

Crid, you're about the only one here who could hurt my feelings. And you did! I guess I wasn't very clear that (so far) I was the lone person who spoke up admiring Chuck(le)'s work...but who knows what lurks in the heart of other readers? I suspect good things.

Amy, had to Google John Cage. Hmm. I don't listen to any music, actually. But I don't think of Chuck as atonal and minimal. (although I admire art that is extremely minimal.) If I HAD to compare him to music, it would be something that complements his charming OC, and interest in details, perhaps a classical, like Bach or someone.

Posted by: Donna B. at August 14, 2007 7:06 PM

It's just that listening to John Cage makes me want to lie down in traffic. As does reading Chuck.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2007 7:07 PM

Apologies, Donna. Amy pays me to be snotty. That's why I hang here so much. Didn't everyone know that? It's absolutly true! It's not like I have a natural affinity for hurtful sniping and petty bickering and willful nitpicking or anything! No-sir-ee!

Posted by: Crid at August 14, 2007 7:27 PM

Crid,

I did get lost in word play - but it was intentional. Thank you for trying showing me the way.

...I can gather that "judgmental" means exercising judgment. But when a person is "too judgmental" does that mean something specific to you? The phrase "too judgmental" probably bothers you since it doesn't really "mean" anything according to the definitions. To me, "too judgmental" would be a person who diagnoses a situation (or whatever) too quickly, w/o enough facts and usually unfairly and inaccurately. So, a person who is too judgmental doesn't necessarily have good judgment.

Yes, I wanted to screw with you, Crid, but only because I think it's fun.

No Gertrudes in my family, but we have a Heinz, Hedwig, Inge, Birgitt, Hans Werner, Monika, Helmuth...lotsa good ones that most people hear and go "ew." But they're family and I like 'em.

Night.

Posted by: Gretchen at August 14, 2007 7:42 PM

> does that mean something
> specific to you?

Calling someone "Full of shit" or "A simpering fucktard" is probably the better way to go, that's all. Listen, nobody really takes "being judgmental" that seriously, it's just kind of an Oprah Winfrey way of saying you're going to cut someone a little slack.

Oprah comes to mind because years ago I saw ten seconds of the show with a dewy-eyed Drew Barrymore talking about how grateful she was that people hadn't "judged" her when she was a very young woman with problems, and now her life had turned out great. The studio audience was absolutely awash in estrogen, just drunk on the girly vibes. And then there was another interview with her years later and she seemed like one the most astute businesswomen who ever lived.

Of course people were judging her when she was young and goofy. Now we judge her as being brilliant and successful. She just knows what people want to hear on talk shows.

It's just a contemporary tic ("Don't be judgmental!") that annoys me because it's so obviously at odds with the real world. It's a minor little hypocracy... Y'know, did we struggle so hard to escape the clutches of irational religious dogma for this?

Also, for the record, no one here has ever claimed to see Chuck hit a puppy with a stick.

Posted by: Crid at August 14, 2007 8:04 PM

~~~ and just a few short years ago, Crid and I were at each other's throats... there were more than a few dozen episodes if we had been in a bar we would be in a back alley bloodied...

Posted by: eric at August 14, 2007 9:02 PM

and now I m off to read my little boy the story of Ben Franklin and Amos, his mouse.... wondering if I should buyhim a rat.

~~Ladies and Gentleman, to you I confess, having a child is a pain in the ass, but aspects of it are the best.

Posted by: eric at August 14, 2007 9:07 PM

Crid spend a month with my step mother and you'll hone those skills your lacking to perfection

Posted by: lujlp at August 14, 2007 9:15 PM

"so obviously at odds with the real world. It's a minor little hypocracy... Y'know, did we struggle so hard to escape the clutches of irational religious dogma for this?"

I agree - I think I was just explaining myself REALLY badly...judgments are here to stay and I don't think it's a bad thing. People have their own standards and perspectives and you can't prevent yourself from having a reaction to things based on those standards/perspectives.

I guess I'll just stick to "simpering fucktard" (touche!) to describe someone who looks down his/her nose at the world and disagrees w/ everyone else's way of life b/c it isn't his/her way and doesn't listen to rational argument.

I'll avoid lame socially-driven, inaccurate language traps from now on!

Posted by: Gretchen at August 15, 2007 5:27 AM

Morally speaking, I have no issue with the death penalty. Practically speaking, I have some issue with the system that applies it, where there is apparently no little amount of shoddy work involved in the basic convictions and then interminable delays from there on out. People complain about the endless filings that the clearly guilty and their representation engage in in order to slow down the execution process, but I think something like that is necessary given the number of people sentenced to death on shaky grounds. Those in law enforcement who sincerely support the death penalty need to put their money where their mouths are and ensure that it's being applied to the actual criminals.

As for making it more public, I understand and appreciate Amy's argument. However, I just can't help but think that turning execution into an earthy public process makes it seem more romantic for the bad guys. Think about a public execution with a firing squad - it's a one-time performance of a play with sound and fury, with an iconoclastic figure who couldn't be contained by society being taken down by The Man in a dramatic way. Show that to enough kids who have lived every day soaked in violence, and it could easily seem like an extension of the live-fast-die-young philosophy that sucks a lot of kids on the street into criminal violence in the first place. As for the older sociopaths who commit crimes, I think they'd be energized, rather than deterred, seeing one of their ilk violently executed on TV. A quiet, antiseptic, bloodless, un-televised execution in a back room, the last faces you see being the loved ones of the poor sap you killed, isn't dramatic or cool or romantic. I don't think anyone who gets off on violence particularly finds that an appealing end.

Also, I think graphic televised executions would amplify what I see as one of the main problems with judging/viewing murderers...the fact that the living typically seem more vivid and real than the dead. Take the two guys in Connecticut. Look at them in their orange jumpsuits in court. Yes, yes, you know that they did horrible things for which they should be ground into dust, but if you didn't know that, would you see them as anything but pathetic schlubs? Humans tend to be visual creatures, and that tendency is amplified by our hyper-media age. Accused murderers can argue on their own behalf. They can talk about their terrible childhoods. Restrained in orange jumpsuits, fed on institutional foods, most of them start looking relatively...harmless. Remember Benetton's ad campaign spotlighting some guys on death row? I'm sure they did seem figures of sympathy. Throw anyone but the worst, most visible sociopath into the giant maw of the state, and he/she will start looking overwhelmingly overmatched. And that person's victim, or victims, aren't around to say, "Yeah, he looks like a sad figure now, but lemme tell ya, when he was sawing my head from my body, he looked very different." Sociopaths with charisma tend to be more popular than law-abiding citizens without. Twenty years from now, if the guys in Connecticut are left alive in the system and come up for parole after two decades of rule-following in jail, can anyone say with certainty that they won't get it? Really? Read some Ann Rule stories of vicious criminals being released after relatively short sentences in the Northwest in the 1970s - you might have a different viewpoint. (Sentenced to life with no parole? These things have a way of changing.) Twenty years from now, those women killed in Connecticut will be shades barely present in most people's memories; their murderers would have the advantage of being alive and able to argue their case. I'd also use this as an argument against public executions - again, you have a visual of one man up against The Man.

Posted by: marion at August 15, 2007 6:33 AM

Everybody - Joe's 12:39 comment. What he said.

Posted by: justin case at August 15, 2007 6:42 AM

I just can't help but think that turning execution into an earthy public process makes it seem more romantic for the bad guys.

Hmmm, good point, Marion.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 15, 2007 6:46 AM

> an earthy public process

Yeah. The abyss looks into you, etc.

An nuanced observer's appreciation for the violent taking of human life is not something we want to nourish in the popular eye. I'd rather have them distracted by Britney and Spongebob.

Consider the nations where executions do happen with sportslike showmanship. What's to admire about them?

> inaccurate language traps

See also, "turn the other cheek"

Posted by: Crid at August 15, 2007 8:07 AM

Typos.... cofeee... tipoz... cawfee... typ

Posted by: Crid at August 15, 2007 8:17 AM

TO: [Kid] Crid
RE: The Big Push

"He pushed paper." -- [Kid] Crid

Been there. Done that. Have several decorations for doing it well. And that includes pushing $49M in 'green' paper, as the P2 Mission Program Budge Officer for Fort Carson, CO, better than anyone had 'pushed' and 'accounted' for it for some years before-hand.

That was besides pushing the 'stick' in planeloads of paratroopers, youngster. Let alone pushing a mechanized infantry company.

Your point here is....what?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[If you had a life in the first place, you'll never have a mid-life crisis. -- CBPelto]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 10:42 AM

TO: Gretchen
RE: Capital Idea

"Okay, so...capital punishment... how do we all feel about it? That IS what we were discussing earlier, yes?" -- Gretchen

Personally, I'm opposed to it.

However, I'm also concerned about how mere imprisonment doesn't seem to work very well. Especially in light of our current problems with recidivism.

This is compounded by what the distaff calls 'over-criminalization'; the government is continually passing laws that make things we used to do all the time, 'criminal'. For example, campaign finance laws. Used to be you could give howmuchever of your money to whomever you supported. NOW, if you give too much, it's likely to be a felony offense. And that's just ONE example. There are scads of others.

If we do not have capital punishment. And we keep making more and more actions felony offenses, we've got a huge problem looming ahead of us.

So what do we do?

My suggestion is that we stop treating all prisons as some form of tax-payer funded monastic retreats. Maybe we should adopt the French attitude on some prisons. And, furthermore, make them economically viable. You know, they pay for themselves WHILE actually punishing the miscreants.

For example, one of MY favorite ideas is how to deal with the ilk of Gitmo.

Once convicted of being an illegal enemy combatant, i.e., terrorist, they are incarcerated for the rest of their natural life.

The prison would be a farm.

The farm raises pigs.

They tend the pigs.

When they die, their carcase is fed to the same pigs they fed.

Just an idea; a variation on the Pershing Technique, which succeeded in (1) squashing an Islamist revolt in the Philipines and (2) getting him promoted DIRECTLY from captain to general.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Nothing succeeds like success.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 10:56 AM

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: Road Kill on the Information Super Highway, Anyone?

"It's just that listening to John Cage makes me want to lie down in traffic. As does reading Chuck." -- Amy Alkon

Film at eleven?

All channels? All nets?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Why don't you go out in the traffic and plaaaay? -- W.C. Fields]

P.S. Please don't do anything rash on MY account.

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 10:59 AM

TO: Donna B
RE: [OT] Indeed

"Complainers complain, and the good is oft interred with their bones." -- Donna B

As I've commented before, I think they can't win in these discussions by (1) 'law' or (2) fact, so they attempt to win by petty whining about, of all thinks, 'format'. It's their application of the third option of the Lawyers' Rule, as espoused in The Official Rules: A Compendium of Laws and Rules of Life.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Wit makes its own welcome, and levels all distinctions. No dignity, no learning, no force of character, can make any stand against good wit. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 11:20 AM

Hang the scum that murder in cold blood. They will never contribute anything more than pain to society and make us pay for their college degrees, legal b.s in prison and marriages to the freeks outside that think it's kinky to marry one of them.

Posted by: Brian at August 15, 2007 12:33 PM

> Have several decorations
> for doing it well

We can imagine.
Knowing that other clerks on the federal teat adored you does not endear you to us.

Posted by: Crid at August 15, 2007 12:49 PM

Go home and re-read your French existentialists! Albert Camus made this argument approximately 50 years ago, in his collection of essays titled "The Rebel." He describes how he attended a public execution in France as a typical, blood-and-guts-loving little boy. Immediately afterward, he went home and violently vomited up his lunch -- and his support of capital punishment.

Not to get conspiratorial on y'all, but I think public access to executions is limited primarily because no one would support it if they could see it up close and personal.

Posted by: Lena at August 15, 2007 2:27 PM

I agree. But, maybe, as with the rumor of Mata Hari going to her death blowing kisses to the firing squad, there would be glory, for some, in the execution.

Book on Mata Hari - Femme Fatale, by Pat Shipman -- got reviews as being sort of clunkily written, but "The Week" quotes one that says it's worth it just for the pictures.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060817283?ie=UTF8&tag=advicegoddess-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0060817283

P.S. Apparently, Mata Hari had a sort of "matronly" figure - but a lot of sexy is in the attitude, of course.

Can't wait to see you, Lean!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 15, 2007 2:37 PM

TO: Lena
RE: Getting 'Up Close & Personal' Like

"Not to get conspiratorial on y'all, but I think public access to executions is limited primarily because no one would support it if they could see it up close and personal." -- Lena

Perhaps. However, I point out that hangings, in the 19th Century, were public events. One would think that if your premise was correct, we'd have done away with the death penalty back then.

As for Camus and his troubled tummy....some people are more sensitive than others. But then again...what is the preferred form of execution in France? Something to do with severing the head and letting all that blood spurt out of the stump of a neck? Somewhat more gory than your usual firing squad, lethal injection or hanging.

But maybe if we brought back burning at the stake or boiling in oil or all the hilarious antics they practiced on the highly disfavored in 'Merry Old England', e.g., William Wallace (see Mel Gibson's Braveheart). Then we might find people becoming more vocal in their objections. And therein lies the reason we keep trying to find more 'humane' ways of killing each other....in THIS country.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution. - Ulysses Grant]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 3:39 PM

TO: [Kid] Crid
RE: [OT] Call Me Again...

....when you've lead a platoon of paratroopers.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Jesus had a 12 man A-Team. You'll have one too, oh Lordie! -- Special Fecees 'Spiritual']

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 3:43 PM

P.S. Forget the platoon....

...my 'curiosity' will be 'satisfied' if you get to the point of leading a fire-team (4) of them; i.e., a buck sergeant.

Been there.... Done that..... And I still have a t-shirt.

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 3:47 PM

Yep... As noted above, it always boiled down to "You had to be there!" That's all you want to say to people. By jumping out of an airplane with a bunch of other high school dropouts, a Blog Commenting Soldier learned everything he needed to know about economics, medicine, science, history, leadership, conversation, sex, music, food, cinema, urban renewal, advice columns and piano tuning.

Chuck, it's beginning to seem like a pathetic cry for help. We know you miss the days of yore when you had a plainly marked footlocker and where everyone's rank was delineated by universally-recognized ribbons and so forth. We know you miss bullshitting with your buddies in the cafeteria, and lighting each other's farts with a Zippo after a night of drinking and whoring in some foreign port... But this is not that place.

It's not that you're an asshole... Most of the rest of us don't like each other, either. The problem is that the military is boring. Making your living there seems to have cost you the ability to share meaning with other people.

Just say something interesting, and all will be forgiven.

Posted by: Crid at August 15, 2007 5:06 PM

TO: [Kid] Crid
RE: Projection, Anyone?

"....it's beginning to seem like a pathetic cry for help." -- [Kid] Crid

You lead a fire-team of paras yet?

Please refer to the previous missive.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[For additional information please re-read this message.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 5:25 PM

P.S. I'd like to stick around and give you further 'education', but, I've got a BoD for the neighborhood association in 30 minutes and I need to set out the desserts, iced coffee, tea, bourbon, brandy, whathaveyou.

P.P.S. When you DO 'get a Life', I mean other than trying to demean other people, you'll probably, finally, grow up.

One can only 'hope'.

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 15, 2007 5:28 PM

BoD?

Posted by: eric at August 15, 2007 8:20 PM

TO: eric
RE: Acronym Control

"BoD?" -- eric

Board of Directors; as in 'meeting'.

We've got an annual bash at the neighborhood mansion/museum to plan. The place, built by the guy who opened the first store and then the first bank in this burg, occupies a city block. It's got a 3000 gallon water tank in the attic, as they didn't have regular plumbing back then. Each room is done in a different and exotic wood.

It's quite THE 'place'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[A king's castle is his home.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at August 16, 2007 10:12 AM

(Board of directors. It's a condo thing)

Posted by: Crid at August 16, 2007 12:35 PM

P.P.S. When you DO 'get a Life', I mean other than trying to demean other people, you'll probably, finally, grow up.

Ahem, Pot calling the Kettle black, maybe?

This isn't a pissing contest, you know. o_O


PS Cird, today's earworm: ...You got that yellowjacket touch, and the stings that hurt so much...

Posted by: Flynne at August 17, 2007 12:45 PM

Sorry, I meant CRid!

Posted by: Flynne at August 17, 2007 12:46 PM

> This isn't a pissing contest,
> you know.

WHAT??!

Shit! It isn't? Who knew? Justin? Amy? Boy, I am soooooo embarassed!

Oh well.

(Don't recgonize the lyric. It isn't a girly singer is it? I only liked Carly Simon for that first album, where's she's in that sheer dress all lit up from behind playing all those minor chords with weird modulations.)

Posted by: Crid at August 17, 2007 7:49 PM

"Not to get conspiratorial on y'all, but I think public access to executions is limited primarily because no one would support it if they could see it up close and personal."

Perhaps. On the other hand, if newspapers and other media outlets typically showed such things as the recent Connecticut murders in their full, gory detail - bodies in situ like a real-life version of CSI - that might counteract the effect. If you feel that executions must be vivid and in-your-face, I'll certainly grant that you have a point, but I am going to argue against doing that while keeping the other horror involved - i.e. the vicious murder/rape/arson/mutilation that got a person sentenced to death in the first place - still hidden away, described only with words and the occasional muted photo. I wonder what Camus's reaction would have been had he seen the aftermath of the murder that prompted the execution he attended.

There's another argument. Amy, you (and many other capital punishment opponents) certainly aren't arguing that we join hands and sing Kum-Ba-Ya with murdering thugs. You're advocating that we lock them up for life. Which does seem like a solution - put 'em away forever, and they can't hurt anyone else, which is what execution is supposedly designed to do. So, the sociopaths in Connecticut who were caught literally fleeing the scene of the crime get thrown away for life. No parole. The Ted Bundys and Eileen Wuornoses of the world get life. No parole. The guys who kidnap, rape and murder children get life. No parole.

What do you do with the people who commit murders not quite as awful as those?

Sentence them to life too? Erm...maybe. I could well be wrong, but I really question whether that will happen. For better or for worse, we do tend to rank crimes. A three-year-old who swipes a stick of gum gets a literal slap on the wrist. An expert bank robber who pulls off a 20-bank heist gets 40-50 years. For the worst crimes, the worst punishments. I can't help but think that, once you've said that the worst possible punishment is life without parole, what you'll do is move the really awful sociopaths down to life without parole...and the people the next level down will then move down sentencing-wise. Because, after all, it's terrible if you come into the country illegally, molest a child and then kill several people while driving drunk on a freeway...but it's not AS terrible as raping a mother and her two daughters, stealing money from them, and setting a fire to cover your tracks that kills them within minutes, is it?

I really hope I'm wrong about this. But one thing I noticed during the time I was living in Europe (granted, a decade ago) was that sentences for violent crimes just weren't at the level I expected in the U.S. Multiple rapist? Six years. Murder? 10 years. Etc. I certainly didn't conduct an exhaustive analysis of the matter, so it's possible that I'm totally blowing smoke. Just wanted to throw the matter out there.

As for the various studies on capital punishment and what it costs...does anyone ever attempt to measure how much money is theoretically saved when someone pleads out sans trial to life in prison without parole rather than going on trial and risking the death penalty? That's what one of the guys involved in the Jasper Byrd racist dragging murder did. Others have done it too. I readily admit that my preferred model for use of the death penalty is the Jack McCoy application - use the threat of it as a cudgel to get people to talk and/or plead out, but save the actual application for the worst cases.

Speaking of which, on a slightly different note, I'm wondering exactly what the lawyers for those two guys who took the family hostage et al in Connecticut are planning on using in their clients' defense. I mean, they did it. They were caught immediately after they did it, in a situation they could only have been in if they did it. Physical evidence is overwhelming. The survivor can identify them. There IS no doubt here, and I'm guessing that the state's attorneys have a single, unifying vision of the two guys strapped down to tables with lethal injections approaching. If you're defending them, how do you stop that, especially if you try to plead out to life in prison without parole and get "talk to the hand" in response? Claim that they were abused as children? That they ate too much sugar? That they snapped upon hearing that Lindsey Lohan couldn't stay clean? What? Guess this is why people go to law school...

Posted by: marion at August 17, 2007 10:10 PM

Marion, have to go to sleep now, but I love the questions you ask...will be back in the morning.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 18, 2007 12:56 AM

(Don't recgonize the lyric. It isn't a girly singer is it? I only liked Carly Simon for that first album, where's she's in that sheer dress all lit up from behind playing all those minor chords with weird modulations.)

Nope, it's from Ian Hunter's 'Bastard'. I just happened to be listening to it when I wrote that, thought it was "apropo" doncha know...most girly singers don't really appeal to me, I like the Wilson (Ann & Nancy) sisters, Bonnie Raitt, Amy Lee, Lita Ford, Shemika Copeland, but Joan Jett, not so much...

Speaking of which, on a slightly different note, I'm wondering exactly what the lawyers for those two guys who took the family hostage et al in Connecticut are planning on using in their clients' defense. I mean, they did it. They were caught immediately after they did it, in a situation they could only have been in if they did it. Physical evidence is overwhelming.

Marion, I think all of us here in CT are wondering the same thing. Right now, the focus has been on how the hell they managed to get out, what were the loopholes in the probation/parole system that let them walk, how can they be tightened in the future. As always, a little too late. I can't even begin to imagine how the father/husband feels. And of course, he would be the star witness for the state. No matter what the defense could possibly come up with, I think it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. Where could they possibly hold a "fair" trial? Too many people here want to see those guys swing from the neck, or, at the very least, end up back inside for life. Lethal injection would be too damn easy.

Posted by: Flynne at August 20, 2007 2:46 PM

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