There is no reprieve from the grave: rejecting the DUP’s death penalty call

In the midst of a global / European economic meltdown, there are many pressing issues deserving of time for Commons debate.

In the week of Remembrance Day, as ex-Serviceman Mark Mullins and his wife Helen commited suicide – apparently out of despair at their poverty and lack of adequate support from the State – perhaps it might be useful to debate why so many old soldiers are left to end up on the scrapheap, with inadequate benefits and inadequate mental health services.

But no, it’s the reintroduction of the death penalty to the UK to which DUP MPs have turned their attention. David Simpson MP has sponsored the early day motion to that end, which so far has attracted the support of six other MPs, all from the DUP.

Of course, they’ll have their supporters, such as Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes blogging fame, who is running a ‘Bring back the UK death penalty’ campaign. His e-petition has attracted some 23,856 names. The opposing e-petition currently has 31,038 supporters.

I debated the issue with him yesterday on BBC Evening Extra (40 minutes in), pointing out that, just for starters, with the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, we’d have had ten innocent people killed by the State if the UK had retained the death penalty. There is no reprieve from the grave, no correcting miscarriages of justice

Of course, the UK will not be bringing back the death penalty. The government – unlike the DUP – has no interest in joining a club whose members include China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Belarus, the only country in Europe still to judicially execute its own citizens.

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  • Carsons Cat

    What moronic nonsense – the idea that an MP can only focus on *one* issue at any particular time.

    Apparently an MP can only support *one* proposal for a debate.

    I’m not pro-death penalty, but I don’t mind a debate. I also happen to believe that its also entirely possible to support a debate on that issue, and for example, to want to see a debate on better support for our armed forces.

    By your own fairly rubbish logic, it would seem that you’re not bothered by any other issue at the moment then save the death penalty, after all you’ve been on pontificating on Radio Ulster and now giving your views on Slugger within 24 hours. I just don’t know how you have another moment to spare for any other issue during these tough economic times.

    Here’s a thought – David Simpson (after a quick google) it would appear has also sponsored an Early Day Motion on fuel prices (something important in these economic times), and I see Jeffrey Donaldson has actually sponsored one about support for the armed forces – but maybe our wonderful “meeja” aren’t quite as keen to pick up on those because they can’t pontificate their liberal-sensibility motivated outrage against them.

    The death penalty in my opinion is a bit of a nonsense idea, but frankly the only people who could force me to support it are some of the people who come out to support the view I currently hold!

  • Cynic2

    Whither democracy? If a majority of the public want the death penalty, why should it not be brought back?

  • Mac

    How many of the 6 supported the UDR 4 campaign?

  • Drumlins Rock

    I find it difficult to understand how you can argue strongly for the sanctity of life regarding euthanasia and abortion but then promote the death penalty, dosn’t seem right from my Christian persepective, espically when you consider Moses David and St Paul would have been executed under this law.
    Surely from a theological point of view those strongly evangelical MPs are bound to have heard enough “reformed killers” testify to know change is possible.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Wholeheartedly agree with you Patrick

  • I wont air a view on the merits of bringing back the death penalty, except to say that it wont happen.

    I would take issue on the MP’s right of debate. There is always more than one debate on the same day in the commons on any range of matters. To pick on an MP just because a debate happens to co-incide with something else, whatever that may be, is utterly ridiculous.

  • Catherine Couvert

    Cynic 2 says: ‘If a majority of the public want the death penalty, why should it not be brought back?’
    Because, as Patrick says, there’s no reprieve from the grave? That’s what finally decided France (where I come from) to finally abandon it. A man was executed who it turned out was probably innocent.
    Yes indeed an MP can have views on more than one topic. But why pick that one to bring to the Commons? It does make you think about where the DUP’s heads are at, frankly.

  • Catherine Couvert

    ‘The opposing e-petition’ now has my signature.

  • There is a simple solution. If there is a miscarriage of justice that leads to an execution, then the person who signed the death warrant should be executed. It is part of the general picture of making decision-makers share in the suffering their decisions cause.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    Taking DR’s point further,

    How does abortion / assisted suicide get pushed into the liberal and leftist end of the spectrum and death penalty get branded as a core conservative opinion.

    I understand that the hardline, right-wing law & order lobby drive the death penalty campaign, but it surely doesn’t fit in with the rest of the christian fundamentalist ethos.

    It makes you wonder about the mob mentality of politics sometimes. In the US you have democrats and republicans who consist of massive coalitions of fiscal, social and cultural opinion sold the idea that they are a conservative or a liberal and must buy into the whole package. Just highlights the 2 party system in my opinion.

    If any of you have never heard of the HBO comedian Bill Maher I suggest you search for him. He’s very funny and brought out a terrific film a few years ago called religulous. He is pro- choice, pro-euthanasia and pro- death penalty so he humorously refers to himself as strongly “pro-death” lol

    Coming back to here, this seems pretty typical of the DUP to be honest. I’m curious if the average unionist really buys into the DUP point of view on issues like these considering as all their fellow UK nationals have largely finished these debates and moved on.

    I think any UUP revivial will be based on showing the DUP as out of touch with the average punter and that they represent mainstream unionist opinion. Then again, maybe they don’t.

    I always wonder why more isn’t made of the DUP’s views. They seem fairly right of everyone, and as far as economic policy goes, way to the right of the BNP. ASt least the political compass has always thought so anyway..
    http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

    This is also quite topical as Rcik Perry (Texas governor who recently forgot one of his policy planks) got rundly applauded at another debate for putting 234 people to death in Texas. Which is like pro-choice people applauding every foetus that aborted. Its nothing short of revengeful blood-lust lynchmob mentality that drives this and should be called out for what it is…

  • Cynic2,

    Whither democracy? If a majority of the public want the death penalty, why should it not be brought back?

    If a majority of the public want to publicly hang all the Jews, why not let them? Some things are more fundamental than democracy.

    David,

    Are you having fun trolling today’s threads?

  • DC

    Dave – brilliant form today. Good suggestion.

  • Barry the Blender

    Some things are more fundamental than democracy.

    Who gets to decide what those things are?

  • Jimmy Sands

    You do realise an EDM isn’t actually debated, it’s simply a glorified press release.

  • Barry,

    Good question. Of course, then you have to ask who gets to decide we live in a democracy…

  • Barry the Blender

    Good question. Of course, then you have to ask who gets to decide we live in a democracy…

    That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Do you just not have an answer?

  • lamhdearg

    Patrick, you sould have run this thread a couple of weeks back, when robert black was making the headlines. you know robert black, the man who takes his pleasure torturing and killing little girls, and is punished by, not being allowed to do that, for a period of time.

  • Cynic2

    Andrew

    I don’t troll. Its a genuine question. If some things transcend public opinion or are more fundamental, who decides that they do / are? And who agreed that they could make that decision and over-ride majority wishes

  • Dec

    lamhdearg

    It’s a pity Patrick and Slugger didn’t exist in 1975 when Stefan Kiszko was making the headlines. you know Stefan Kiszko, the man who took his pleasure torturing and killing little girls, and was punished by, not being allowed to do that, for a period of time.

  • lamhdearg

    Dec, girls is plural, under MY system, the death penalty, would hang (no pun) over the sentenced, for a number of years before execution, this would give the innocent time to prove their innocence, and the guilty would have time to squirm. in the mean time none of them would have a better standard of life than quite a few folk have on the outside.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Some things are more fundamental than democracy.

    Who gets to decide what those things are?

    Ensuring there is a democracy is primal, you can’t have a democracy that is capable of legalising a civil war and genocide by the majority against minority views.

    Why vote at all if you can wipe out all the naysayers?

  • Excellent point, Drumlins. Interesting that these alleged Christians have so much fath in the almighty that they appaerently don’t believe the convicted will get punished on the other side, or does the DUP think God is too much of a wishy washy lefty?

  • Wonder if there can ever be a swing of the pendulum in public attitues, a new morality such as say practised by the the Puritans or say the Victorians.

    When so much social liberalism has been enshrined in legislation probably not.

    I don’t want to get into the cap punishment debate but surely there’s an argument for revisiting the big decisions such as the death penalty or Europe every three or four generations.

  • Dec

    ‘Dec, girls is plural, under MY system, the death penalty, would hang (no pun) over the sentenced, for a number of years before execution, this would give the innocent time to prove their innocence, and the guilty would have time to squirm. ‘

    How long? It took Stefan Kiszko 16 years to be exonerated. Still, your vision of justice, whereby the innocent and guilty can ‘squirm’ for years is one I’m sure sick fuckers everywhere could gladly sign up for.

  • ThomasMourne

    This is a good opportunity for the DUP to become an international force by joining up with Moslem fundamentalists and going for Sharia Law in NI / UK.

    Or go the other way and come to an agreement with Obama to use some of his drones which he does not hesitate to use against Pakistanis, Afghans and others who annoy him.

  • galloglaigh

    The Birmingham six and the Guildford four, would all be in graves now had the death penalty been in place. No one has the right to take the life of another. It’s up to any state to protect lives, not take them away.

    The DUP are hypocrites when it comes to this issue. I wonder would they advocate the death penalty for Soldier F, who did most of the killing on Bloody Sunday? That is after a conviction mind you. But of course he’s a former British soldier, and we know that they don’t do justice; they do impunity!

  • Cynic2

    “No one has the right to take the life of another.”

    Fair enough. That’s your opinion. But what’s your justification for it? And what if the majority in the state disagree?

  • lamhdearg

    Dec, so people (like me) who would like to see people like robert black and ian huntley squirm, are sick fuckers. i say its the people that give these beast’s the life they get under todays system, that are sick.

  • Comrade Stalin

    i say its the people that give these beast’s the life they get under todays system, that are sick.

    Ah yes, the old “jail these days is like staying in a hotel” thing.

  • JoeSmith

    “Thou shalt not kill” What does it mean? If i allow the State to kill in the name of justice then its not killing ….

  • Alan N/Ards

    I wonder how many of these mp’s would be willing to put the noose around convicted killers necks and pull the switch.

    I wouldn’t be able to do it, so for that reason I am against the death penalty. Life should mean life for muder. Child killers like Robert Black and indeed Sean kelly should spend the rest of their days in prison.

  • lamhdearg

    “Ah yes, the old “jail these days is like staying in a hotel” thing.”
    so comrade, do you think robert black will have to chose between eating or heating, this winter.

  • galloglaigh

    And what if the majority in the state disagree?

    Well that’s a bridge to be crossed, but I don’t think it’s the case in the UK. As of now – around 23,000 people have signed a government e-petition, urging the return of capital punishment. More than 30,000 have signed a counter-motion rejecting the idea.

    In any case, according to the EU: ‘The European Union holds a strong and principled position against the death penalty; its abolition is a key objective for the Union’s human rights policy. Abolition is, of course, also a pre-condition for entry into the Union’.

    So it’s a non-starter. Capital punishment in – EU out!

  • FuturePhysicist

    Do the deaths of Jean Charles de Menezes, Harry Stanley, Ian Tomlinson, Steven Lawrence, Mark Duggan and Azelle Rodney be attributed to capital punishment?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Surely popular opinion, if pro-death penalty would say their blood was spilt for the good of all.

  • People only know life, not death. How can death be possible consent? Ian Paisley jnr. tried to justisfy some “shoot to kil” theory only a few years ago. This was met with accusations of psychopathic and backward behaviour. In the real world, all or any neo-republican movement identified a new mandate, galvanized out of such language meaning, what else..?

  • The Raven

    As I recently wrote on another post on this topic, I had the opportunity to sit with some one who was witness to an execution in the 1980s.

    I would suggest that the DUPers who are putting this motion forward are sent – at our expense, because it would be well worth it to see their reaction and hear their story – to an execution. I don’t really care if it’s firing squad, injection or the chair.

    It’s very easy to sit behind a keyboard, or on a well cushioned parliamentary chair and pronounce the death penalty to be a “good thing”. I doubt – based on the story I was told – that anyone who has that level of comfort removed would be quite so keen.

  • andnowwhat

    As galloglah said, the death penalty is not allowed within the EU this these DUP men are going what they do best, wasting time

  • lamhdearg

    Tory Eurosceptics prepare a ‘retrieval of powers’ plan if Greece leaves Euro.

  • Barnshee

    “I wonder how many of these mp’s would be willing to put the noose around convicted killers necks and pull the switch. ”

    Speaking purely personally if they had murdered any of mine I would have no difficulty in putting the noose pulling the switch etc –that may be the answer -the injured parties if they so wish approve it— not the state.

    Incidentially it is ironic to see so many Provo cheerleaders howling at the prospect of a sanction they themselves were so keen to impose on wholly innocent citizens

  • UlsterScotty

    I think people are missing the point. This is a domestic dispute between a couple stuck in a loveless relationship who are only staying together because they can’t sell the marital home.
    Of course murderous thoughts are bound to creep in.
    Bless!

  • galloglaigh

    Barnshee

    Say for example, a close family member of yours was killed. Your next door neighbour was convicted. You take the option of taking the life of your neighbour. Two years later, the neighbour on the other side of you is found to be the real killer. Should the relatives of the first neighbour killed have the right to kill you?

    You are not taking into account miscarriages of justice. I revert back again to the case of the Guildford Four, and the Birmingham Six, who would all have been murdered by the state, had the death penalty been in place.

  • lamhdearg

    can we have some more up to date miscarriages, so far only 1970s,

  • galloglaigh

    Sean Hodgson’s conviction for the rape and strangling of barmaid Teresa de Simone in 1979, was overturned in 2009. He’d have been murdered by the state had the death penalty been in place.

    Here’s more details of other miscarriages of justice.

  • galloglaigh
  • lamhdearg

    As i have said, those found guilty and sentenced to death, should have time to clear themselves, if after a time there is some doubt, then the sentenced sould be put back untill there is no doubt, in this case Mr George, and the other more recent case’s would not have been killed. robert black would be trying to clear his name right now, and if he failed, he would be put to death, and i would feel better letting my little girls out to play.

  • slappymcgroundout

    Patrick, aside from the merit or not of the death penalty, you started your argument with an initial flaw. We cannot assume that the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six would have obtained the same trial results in a death penalty case. Simply recall in the case of the Guildford Four the subsequent discovery of the witness statement that would have cleared Conlan and the other fellow, which had attached to it a note reading, not to be shown to the defense. Do you think that note would be there in a death penalty case?

    Lastly, to somewhat address the matter on the merits, you need to think of a reason apart from innocent versus guilty, or if you prefer, the case of mistake. I believe that Mick posted on that. You see, we could devise a system that would inflict death on only those we knew to a certainty to be guilty, say, in all cases where he smiled and waved at the CCTV as he was committing the murder. Or some such scheme. You could have, for another example, murder and rape, where her blood is all over his clothing, his semen is in her vagina, and his skin is under her fingernails, and he was apprehended holding a knife dripping with her blood. Can we kill in that instance?

    Almost forgot, but for the one soul above, the Hebrew does not read “kill”. It reads “murder”. So you get the point, if it read “kill”, then we also could not kill in a purely defensive war, or if we were inmates at Chelmno, we couldn’t kill to make good our escape for that extermination camp. By the way, the law of defense of self and defense of others would indeed indicate that not all killing is wrong. So the question is, where are we going to draw the line? Oh, and by the way, for the soul who remarked that the other soul was trolling, not at all. Since absent the claim of immunity from prosecution, one signing the death warrant for an innocent could be said to be guilty of an unjustifiable homicide. Again, consider the law of defense of self and others. What happens if you are wrong in your defense of others? Here:

    Generally speaking, a person is justified in using force to protect a third party from unlawful use of force by an aggressor to the extent that the third party is justified in acting in self-defense. This so-called “alter ego” rule, as applied in early common law, required that the third party had to in fact have been justified in self-defense, irrespective of how the situation would have appeared to a reasonable person. Today, however, the majority view is that the use force may be justified if it reasonably appears necessary for the protection of the third party.

    So, again, what if not reasonably necessary, and the third-party is killed as a result? And don’t get me wrong, since in the more usual circumstance, you come upon the scene and find some already happening event and you decide to act in defense of another. So the argument for why manslaughter and not murder conviction is “heat of the moment” and not so much “malice aforethought.” How much “heat of the moment” and “malice aforethought” is there in singing the death warrant? Seems pretty cold and deliberate to me.

    For a bonus freebie, one of the “joys” of living in a nation with death penalty states is seeing how courts treat homicide. I won’t give the case names, but in California the law school textbook case has a finding of no premeditation even though he chased the little one throughout the house and blood was found in every room, with more than a score of stab wounds. That was the California Supreme Court not wishing to uphold California law, which has the death penalty (so a second degree murder). For the “hilarity”, the California Supreme Court opined that the large number of stab wounds indicated a lack of intent to kill, since if he had wanted to kill the child he presumably would have been more efficient. In contrast, in Pennsylvania, which doesn’t have the death penalty, he simply had an argument with the wife, while the two were in bed, trying to go to sleep, he reaches for the gun in the drawer of the stand next to the bed…and that’s first degree murder, since there was sufficient time for him to have formed the necessary intent, again, malice aforethought, and he could have hardly thought that shooting her in the head would not kill her. One of the “joys” of being a lawyer, getting up and close and personal with the dark side (one of the reasons why being an ambulance chaser is actually preferable to a contract drafter, since as a contract drafter you not only confront the single instance of bad, you also have to think of every possible thing that could wrong and deal with it in the contract and who wants to spend their life doing that?)(those are the real reasons why lawyers get paid the big bucks).

  • Cynic2,

    My trolling jibe was directed at Dave Newman, not you.

    All,

    This “what if a majority vote to execute XYZ” argument is built on sand – majority rule is not a fundamental principle of government. Rule of law, limited government and the principle of consent are all more fundamental political concepts, and none of which automatically imply majority rule, or even democracy.

    The rule of law is more fundamental than democracy. Democracy is a system for making laws, and assumes the existence and moral validity of the legal system. Majority rule without the rule of law is not democracy, but mob rule.

    The principle of consent holds that government may only exercise power with the consent of the governed. This means that in order for any system of government to be morally valid, everyone must agree on it. In practice there will always be dissenters from any system, but it is the moral duty of the system to ensure that its existence is acceptable to the greatest possible number. Whatever method the state uses to make decisions on a day-to-day basis is a secondary principle that may or may not be majority rule. In particular, Northern Ireland does not currently operate on majority rule, precisely because a consensus on majority rule could not be found.

    Finally, the principle of limited government holds that the government may only exercise those powers explicitly granted to it. You can have majority rule without the principle of limited government, but this allows for a ratchet effect where the state uses majority votes to accrue itself extra powers, e.g. voting to install a dictatorship.

    When taken in combination, these principles imply that the state may only claim the power to execute criminals if there is public consensus that it should be given that power. No such consensus exists.

  • Jimmy Sands

    those found guilty and sentenced to death, should have time to clear themselves,

    How long? Obviously a lifetime would be safest, but presumably you would regard that as defeating the object.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Sure, bring it back. Not hanging, though. Shooting. A single bullet through the brain.

    But it would have to be accompanied by a lottery system, whereby with each execution, some citizen is randomly selected to pull the trigger. No exceptions, no conscientious objections. Open to all who are old enough to hold a gun – say, everyone over the age of seven.

    Who wants to be first? Is everyone who supports the death penalty happy to do it themselves? Are they happy to see, say, their mother, do the deed? Or their child?

    Because make no mistake: a society which has the death penalty is a society in which every man, woman and child, whether they like it or not, is a murderer.

    If we’re going to retreat to barbarism, I say let’s do it properly.

  • DT123

    “Because make no mistake: a society which has the death penalty is a society in which every man, woman and child, whether they like it or not, is a murderer.”

    Phylosophy GCSE coursework I take it?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Lol!

    The hangers and floggers don’t like it up ’em.

  • Turgon

    DT123,
    Well it would hardly qualift for a grade C would it?

    So the logic of Billy Pilgrim’s position is that everyone in any state which has the Death Penalty is a murderer. Indeed even those opposed to the death penalty are murderers. So Clive Stafford Smith who tirelessly campaigns against the death penalty in the US is a murderer? Logically it would seem so (in Billy Pilgrims rather odd logic). What about children: does one bcome a murderer at conception or at birth or at the legal age of criminal responsibility or only on reaching the age for voting?

    Then we have states in the US which have no death penalty: are their citizens murderers? Or how about if a British person emigrates to the US. Do they become a murderer on arrival or only after getting a green card or only if they become a citizen? Maybe a green card holder but non citizen has honorary murderer status?

    There are further problems: since all Americans are murderers and they have the death penalty should they all be executed? same for the Chinese etc.

    So maybe Billy Pigrim has made a mistake: or several actually.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Turgon

    For the moment, I’ll separate out the position of citizens in a democracy, with those who have little or no say in what their state does. In a democracy, state executions are carried out on behalf of the people, and with the legal sanction of the people. So yes, the citizens of a democracy that has the death penalty are all responsible for the murders carried out by the state, of which they are the sovereigns.

    So let me take your points, one by one.

    ‘everyone in any state which has the Death Penalty is a murderer…’

    For now, let’s confine ourselves to the democracies.

    ‘Indeed even those opposed to the death penalty are murderers.’

    Correct. It seems to me a very good reason for people to oppose the death penalty. Who wants to be a murderer?

    ‘So Clive Stafford Smith who tirelessly campaigns against the death penalty in the US is a murderer?’

    Yes. And I daresay Mr Smith would agree with me. Many anti-death-penalty activists do. In many cases, that’s WHY they are anti-death-penalty activists. They wish to be freed from the terrible moral implication of living in a state that murders its citizens. Again, who wants to be a murderer?

    ‘What about children: does one bcome a murderer at conception or at birth or at the legal age of criminal responsibility or only on reaching the age for voting?’

    At birth.

    ‘Then we have states in the US which have no death penalty: are their citizens murderers?’

    No, only those that have the death penalty.

    ‘Or how about if a British person emigrates to the US. Do they become a murderer on arrival or only after getting a green card or only if they become a citizen?’

    On arrival.

    ‘Maybe a green card holder but non citizen has honorary murderer status?’

    No. It applies equally to all-residents, whether citizens or would-be residents.

    ‘There are further problems: since all Americans are murderers and they have the death penalty should they all be executed?’

    I don’t think any of them should be executed. I’m against the death penalty.

    ‘same for the Chinese etc.’

    Citizens of a democracy bear a much greater responsibility for the actions of their state than subjects of a tyranny. But even subjects of a tyranny have SOME responsibility.

    ‘So maybe Billy Pigrim has made a mistake: or several actually.’

    Please identify these ‘mistakes.’

  • Turgon

    The mistakes? The whole thing is utter nonsense.

    You claim children become murderers at birth. However, they are below the age of criminal responsibility and as such cannot be found guilty of anything: however, you have found them guilty of murder. What then of children who are born prematurely? Do they get to be murderers early?

    I have travelled to the USA with work. I have been a temporary resident. Did that make me a temporary murderer? Did I cease to be a murderer as the plane home left the runway or when we left US airspace? When I am on an American plane do I remain a murderer until the plane reaches British airspace or indeed until it lands at Heathrow or Gatwick (I guess I am a murderer for a bit longer if the plane is for Gatwick or if we get stacked at Heathrow).

    If on the other hand someone who does not intend staying is not a murderer what about people who go intending to stay temporarily and end up staying longer? Then whatabout illegal immigrants. Do they not get murderer status as they are illegal immigrants? That said they wish to be in the country so maybe that makes them murderers.

    Then we have people in this country who support the death penalty: are they attempted murderers or are they committing conspiracy to murder?

    The mistake was your childish and stupid assertion that all people in a country with the death penalty are murderers. It might sound like a good soundbite but is in actual fact nonsense. For you then to continue to try to justify your idiotic remark is simply demonstrating its foolishness. So go on keep going. It is vaguely amusing.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Turgon

    I’ll go through your questions, one by one.

    ‘The mistakes? The whole thing is utter nonsense.’

    So no actual mistakes, then? It’s just that you happen to disagree with me. That’s fine. I accept your tacit retraction.

    ‘You claim children become murderers at birth. However, they are below the age of criminal responsibility and as such cannot be found guilty of anything:’

    In a court of law, yes. But citizens of a democracy have a moral responsibility for what happens in their state, in their name. Children have diminished responsibility, but yes, they too share the responsibility. I don’t like it any more than you do, but this is the moral responsibility that is placed upon them by the existence of the death penalty in their state. I don’t think we should place that responsibility on anyone, particularly children.
    But let’s be clear: it’s not me that is placing this responsibility on them. I’m just pointing out that this is the clear moral and ethical implication of what the hangers and floggers impose, or would wish to impose, on their fellow citizens.

    ‘however, you have found them guilty of murder.’

    I haven’t found anyone guilty of anything. I am not a court of law. I have simply pointed out the blindingly obvious implication of having the death penalty in a democracy.

    ‘What then of children who are born prematurely? Do they get to be murderers early?’

    I have already made clear: it’s from birth. So it’s not early. It’s the same as everyone else.

    ‘I have travelled to the USA with work. I have been a temporary resident. Did that make me a temporary murderer?’

    That depends on a number of factors. For example, did you have a vote? Obviously, tourists, and people on short-term visits do not bear moral responsibility for states in which they are mere visitors.

    ‘Did I cease to be a murderer as the plane home left the runway or when we left US airspace?’

    I don’t know your circumstances, so I don’t know whether you were moral culpable for murder in the first place.

    ‘When I am on an American plane do I remain a murderer until the plane reaches British airspace or indeed until it lands at Heathrow or Gatwick.’

    No. Being on an American plane has nothing to do with anything.

    ‘Then whatabout illegal immigrants. Do they not get murderer status as they are illegal immigrants?’

    Yes, but not because they are illegal immigrants. They bear the moral responsibility that goes with being a citizen, or would-be citizen, of the state to which they have chosen to come.

    ‘That said they wish to be in the country so maybe that makes them murderers.’

    If it has the death penalty, then yes, that’s the logical implication.

    ‘Then we have people in this country who support the death penalty: are they attempted murderers or are they committing conspiracy to murder?’

    No, they are not attempted murderers, because they are not involved in any specific act of attempted murder. Nor are they committing conspiracy, as they are doing nothing in secret. They are simply trying to change the law, to allow the state to murder on behalf of all of us. And the implication is that they are trying to make murderers of all of us.

    You may not agree with my opinion on the logical moral implications of the death penalty, but you have not so far made an argument that challenges that logic – though, in fairness, you have tried. I have answered your questions, even the silly ones.

    Your responses just keep proving my earlier observation that the hangers and floggers don’t like it up ’em…

  • Turgon

    Billy Pilgrim,
    “Your responses just keep proving my earlier observation that the hangers and floggers don’t like it up ‘em…”

    And yet again you demonstrate that you are not only talking nonsense but that your are a liar.

    Repeatedly on this website I have voiced my opposition to the death penalty. Nowhere in my posts above did I advocate the death penalty. I merely pointed out the nonsenese of your arguments. Stop trying to put words into my mouth to justify your nonsesne.

    Now you have added lying to the nonsense: same as usual from you.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I have already made clear: it’s from birth.

    Why not conception?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Turgon

    Calm down, my delicate little flower.

    Congratulations on not supporting the death penalty. I’m pleased that you take this position. Well done.

    If I was mistaken about your position, I admit it. But where have I lied?

    You have called me a liar. I am not. That doesn’t mean I’m accusing you of being a liar. You are merely mistaken.

    ‘I merely pointed out the nonsense of your arguments.’

    Actually, you have done nothing of the sort. You have called names and lost your temper, re. my arguments, but you haven’t managed to land a glove, so to speak, on the logic of what I’ve said. And you have become really rather emotional about it all.

    ‘Now you have added lying to the nonsense: same as usual from you.’

    No, I haven’t. You owe me either an explanation or an apology. I don’t expect either, but that’s up to you.

    Jimmy

    ‘Why not conception?’

    Citizenship begins at birth.

  • That depends on a number of factors. For example, did you have a vote? Obviously, tourists, and people on short-term visits do not bear moral responsibility for states in which they are mere visitors.

    But they went of their own free will, unlike newborn children who had no choice in the matter. Actions are available to the tourist, such as protest and boycott, that are not available to a child, if the child even has an opinion. If your moral framework attaches more responsibility to a helpless newborn than to an informed and capable adult, then it is seriously flawed. The doctrine of original sin comes to mind, but even there we are all regarded as equal.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew

    ‘But they went of their own free will, unlike newborn children who had no choice in the matter.’

    They are mere visitors. They, presumably, have a country or a state of their own, for which they have responsibility.

    ‘Actions are available to the tourist, such as protest and boycott, that are not available to a child, if the child even has an opinion.’

    Indeed, and I applaud visitors who do so. But it would be unfair to require it of visitors. As previously stated, those visitors, presumably, have states of their own, for which they bear responsibility. There is always a moral imperative to take responsibility for that for which you are responsible. Stressing about what others are doing is of little moral value, and may be mere dilettantism.

    ‘If your moral framework attaches more responsibility to a helpless newborn than to an informed and capable adult, then it is seriously flawed.’

    Firstly, I acknowledged that children have dimished responsibility. Secondly, it is not MY moral framework, it’s just logic. And it’s not ME that is attaching responsibility. That responsibility IS attached; I’m simply pointing out the obvious.

    Personally, I think it’s disgraceful and barbaric and disgusting, that anyone would impose such a dreadful moral burden on their fellow citizens. That’s why I’m against the death penalty. But that IS the burden that comes with the death penalty. I don’t like it, but I won’t pretend it’s otherwise.

    ‘The doctrine of original sin comes to mind, but even there we are all regarded as equal.’

    Actually, it is nothing remotely like that. The dreadful moral burden I describe can be removed by a simple act of abolition. And it’s absent, in states where they don’t have the death penalty. So there’s nothing quasi-religious about it. It’s simply the moral implication of being a citizen in a democracy that murders people.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Citizenship begins at birth.

    So what? You said citizenship was unnecessary.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jimmy

    ‘So what? You said citizenship was unnecessary.’

    No, I didn’t.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Care to quote what I said, that led you to that woeful misrepresentation?

    Honestly, your comprehension is pathetic.

  • Turgon

    “Honestly, your comprehension is pathetic.”

    No the pathetic thing here is your idiotic argument about all Americans (as an example) being murderers. They are not: simple as that. Just as all British people before the abolition of the deeath penalty were not murderers; nor Irish citizens prior to the abolishion of the death penalty in the RoI.

    You have simply asserted your idiotic belief repeatedly: I suspect it is not actually your belief but having created this idiotic idea you will not back down from it. That you continue to support it does not make it correct; nor do your repeated statements represent an argument.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Billy,

    Yes you did, you included green card holders as murderers.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jimmy

    Indeed. I said that citizens and would-be citizens share the responsibility. Of course it’s obvious that a ‘would-be citizen,’ such as a green card holder, accepts the moral responsibility that goes with the citizenship to which they aspire.

    To paraphrase that as ‘citizenship is unnecessary’ is a woeful misrepresentation.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Turgon

    That remark was directed at Jimmy. No need for you to wet yourself about it.

    ‘…They are not: simple as that…’ (etc)

    But do you have an actual argument? Because for all the man-playing and emotional ejaculations with which you have littered this thread, I’m still awaiting something of substance. Why, in your opinion, do citizens in a democracy that has the death penalty NOT bear responsibility for the killings carried out by the state on their behalf?

    ‘You have simply asserted your idiotic belief repeatedly’

    Actually, it was not an assertion. Way back at the start, I made the following argument:

    ‘In a democracy, state executions are carried out on behalf of the people, and with the legal sanction of the people. So yes, the citizens of a democracy that has the death penalty are all responsible for the murders carried out by the state, of which they are the sovereigns.’

    Now, you may not like or agree with that argument, but clearly it IS an argument. And it can’t be as idiotic as you claim, since you haven’t managed to put up a half-decent argument rebutting it.

    ‘I suspect it is not actually your belief but having created this idiotic idea you will not back down from it.’

    No, it really is. Why would you doubt that I am completely sincere?

    ‘That you continue to support it does not make it correct;’

    Nope. Simple logic makes it correct. We all have moral responsibility for that which is done in our name, on our behalf, and by institutions of which we share ownership. When that’s murder, then we’re all rendered murderers. That’s why I’m against the death penalty.

    ‘…nor do your repeated statements represent an argument.’

    No, but my argument does.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Surely a foetus is a would-be citizen?

  • Turgon

    Billy Pilgrim,
    This is by you trolling pure and simple. You have advanced no coherent argument and have answered no objections.

    Furthermore since neither the RoI nor UK actually removed the death pnealty from the statute books until the 1990s or later in actual fact you too are a murderer by your “logic”.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Lol!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Turgon

    Absolutely not guilty, sir. Everything I have written is completely in earnest.

    And I believe I HAVE put forward an argument that is coherent, to the point where it has not, so far, been rebutted, for all the dummy-spitting it has caused.

    I hope I haven’t caused you to burst into tears over your keyboard. You seem awfully upset, my poor, poor Turgon.

    As to the UK / RoI point, I would say this: that no executions have taken place in either state in my lifetime; and that the act of abolition removed the moral responsibility that citizens had previously carried.

    So no, I’m not a murderer, but that’s just a lucky accident of birth. Others are not so lucky in their accidents of birth.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    The LOL was for Jimmy, btw. Slugger’s resident comedian. Turgon has accused me of trolling: ladies and gentlemen, I give you the master!

  • Turgon

    Billy Pilgrim,
    No I am not in tears. That said you seemed in the past to be in tears when it was pointed out that you regarded the RUC as Nazis. Indeed on one occassion you likened me to Anders Breivik: that earned you a two week ban but I have yet to have an apology.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Keep waiting, douchebag.

  • Turgon

    Back to man playing and insults: unsurprising.

  • Billy,

    Firstly, I acknowledged that children have dimished responsibility. Secondly, it is not MY moral framework, it’s just logic. And it’s not ME that is attaching responsibility. That responsibility IS attached; I’m simply pointing out the obvious.

    Children have diminished individual responsibility. You cannot however assign them any share in the collective responsibility of a political system they have no power to either understand or change.

    Logic can only derive propositions from other propositions – it cannot conjure up a moral system from nothing. You must first choose your axioms. Logic cannot tell you what choice of axioms to make, only what consequences will flow from that choice. You have made a choice of moral axioms, and when faced with the inhuman consequences of that choice, you not only deny that you had any choice, but relish in your zealotry. I find that quite disturbing.

    We all have moral responsibility for that which is done in our name, on our behalf, and by institutions of which we share ownership.

    Up to a point. What if one campaigns tirelessly against a moral wrong to no avail? What if one is unaware of the commitment of a wrong? What if one is mentally handicapped? Or a child? Yes, there is a collective responsibility to oversee and direct the actions of the state, but that does not translate into a personal direct responsibility for every single action of the state. Just because the state commits murder does not mean that all its citizens have committed murder. You have conflated these distinct concepts without justification.

    ‘The doctrine of original sin comes to mind, but even there we are all regarded as equal.’

    Actually, it is nothing remotely like that.The dreadful moral burden I describe can be removed by a simple act of abolition.

    An act of abolition that is dependent on the agreement of others? So another person has the power to decide whether I am absolved of my moral burden? Sounds exactly like Catholicism to me.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew

    Terrific post. Many thanks for it.

    ‘You have made a choice of moral axioms, and when faced with the inhuman consequences of that choice, you not only deny that you had any choice, but relish in your zealotry. I find that quite disturbing.’

    There are no ‘appalling consequences’ that flow from what you call my choices. I am simply pointing out the genuinely appalling consequence that flows from the choice of those who support the death penalty, which is to make all citizens complicit in murder. I believe the murder itself to be inhuman; I don’t think my pointing out the moral implication of it is an ‘inhuman consequence.’ Nor do I accept that the moral implication is something that I, personally, am placing on anyone. I’m simply pointing out that it IS the moral implication of having the death penalty in a democracy. I have explained why I think that.

    It’s natural that one who shrinks from this implication would note that there are hard cases, such as that of children, the mentally handicapped and so on. But these cases are only really arguments as to why the implications are just too difficult to be acknowledged, rather than arguments as to why they are wrong. Any serious dispute of the correctness of my argument would not rely on the hard cases, which are appalling to contemplate. (And I absolutely do not relish in any of this. I utterly deplore it.) You would deal with ordinary, adult citizens, and explain why you believe they are NOT responsible, as I have claimed they are.

    (Which, in fairness, you go on to do.)

    ‘What if one campaigns tirelessly against a moral wrong to no avail?’

    Then one has failed. Now, one may feel better about oneself, justifiably, and St Peter at the Pearly Gates may prove sympathetic, but the moral wrong goes on. That’s the painful truth, and it’s one that’s understood by a great many anti-death-penalty activists, for whom the abolition of the death penalty is not a game, not a pastime. They don’t go in for the lazy, ‘not in my name’ platitudes. They know it IS in their name, whether they like it or not, which is why it’s so important to make sure that what’s being done in their name is not barbaric and morally repugnant.

    ‘What if one is unaware of the commitment of a wrong?’

    If you mean people who don’t believe that executions are wrong, then I believe they have made their moral choice, and can have no complaint about the moral implications that go with it.

    ‘What if one is mentally handicapped? Or a child?’

    As previously stated, their responsibility is diminished. But they have been served badly by their fellow citizens, who have chosen to practise barbarism on their behalf.

    ‘Yes, there is a collective responsibility to oversee and direct the actions of the state, but that does not translate into a personal direct responsibility for every single action of the state.

    Every single action of the state? No. But I’m not talking about ‘every single action of the state.’ I’m talking about the laws of the state, and the functioning of its institutions. If that’s not the responsibility of citizens in a democracy, what is? If the laws are barbaric, whose responsibility is that? I say it’s the responsibility of the citizenry. Why is that an axiom with which you have difficulty?

    ‘Just because the state commits murder does not mean that all its citizens have committed murder. You have conflated these distinct concepts without justification.’

    I HAVE provided a justification. I have argued that, in a democracy, citizens are owners of the institutions that carry out these murders, and do so on behalf of, and in the name of, the citizenry as a whole. You may disagree with that justification – and you are more than capable of addressing it, and no doubt finding holes in it – but please don’t say I haven’t provided one.

    ‘An act of abolition that is dependent on the agreement of others? So another person has the power to decide whether I am absolved of my moral burden?’

    No, it’s simpler than that. With the abolition of the death penalty, there are no more executions. You can’t be responsible for murder if there is no murder for which to be responsible. It’s really simple, and has nothing to do with religious dogma.

    ‘Sounds exactly like Catholicism to me.’

    Och, now, don’t be disappearing up that blind alley!

  • slappymcgroundout

    Pilgrim:

    You might wish to start by defining your terms. California Penal Code, section 187, in pertinent part:

    187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a
    fetus, with malice aforethought.

    See the word, “unlawful”? Now to continue with:

    189.5. (a) Upon a trial for murder, the commission of the homicide by the defendant being proved, the burden of proving circumstances of mitigation, or that justify or excuse it, devolves upon the defendant, unless the proof on the part of the prosecution tends to show that the crime committed only amounts to manslaughter, or that the defendant was justifiable or excusable.

    See the word, “homicide”? Homicide is each and every instance wherein one kills another human. Murder is, as related, only those homicides wherein the killing is unlawful.

    And murder is a graded offense, as it were:

    189. All murder which is perpetrated by means of a destructive
    device or explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, knowing use of ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor, poison, lying in wait, torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or which is committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, rape, carjacking, robbery, burglary, mayhem, kidnapping, train wrecking, or any act punishable under Section 206, 286, 288, 288a, or 289, or any murder which is perpetrated by means of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle, intentionally at another person outside of the vehicle with the intent to inflict death, is murder of the first degree. All other kinds of murders are of the second degree. … To prove the killing was “deliberate and premeditated,” it shall not be necessary to prove the defendant maturely and meaningfully reflected upon the gravity of his or her act.

    Lastly, going back to our man who stabbed the child more than twenty (20) times, with the child’s blood being found in every room in the house, the reason why the California Supreme Court rejected a finding of first degree murder is explained by consideration of subsection (14) here:

    http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/190.2.html

  • separatesix

    This e-petition call for the reintroduction of the death penalty in the UK is a futile exercise. Europe would never allow it. I’m in favour of capital punishment , and I feel that all of the DUP’s eight MP’s should have been calling for it’s return not just five of them. I dare say that suspects would abscond across the border though.

  • There are no ‘appalling consequences’ that flow from what you call my choices. I am simply pointing out the genuinely appalling consequence that flows from the choice of those who support the death penalty, which is to make all citizens complicit in murder.

    But complicity requires conscious inaction. If I witness two people planning a murder and do nothing, then I am complicit. If I go immediately to the police and divulge everything I know, I am no longer complicit. My moral failings do not depend on the actions of others, but on my own actions. The actions of others may change the choices available to me, but I still have a choice and my morality (or lack of it) is dependent entirely on how I choose to react to the situations presented to me. Your moral framework implies that I may be railroaded into moral turpitude even though I have not only done nothing wrong, but fought kicking and screaming. It implies that newborn children are personally morally culpable for the actions of their parents (don’t give me diminished responsibility again – diminished responsibility is still some responsibility). It implies a form of moral slavery, where individual morality is entirely dependent on the actions of the majority. It is inhuman.

    ‘What if one campaigns tirelessly against a moral wrong to no avail?’

    Then one has failed. Now, one may feel better about oneself, justifiably, and St Peter at the Pearly Gates may prove sympathetic, but the moral wrong goes on.

    One has failed, yes. But not all failure is moral failure. The moral wrong goes on, but it is not my personal moral wrong.

    I HAVE provided a justification. I have argued that, in a democracy, citizens are owners of the institutions that carry out these murders, and do so on behalf of, and in the name of, the citizenry as a whole.

    But that does not imply that collective responsibility and individual responsibility are the same thing. If the majority take a decision that is morally wrong, I must choose how to react. Your argument is that in such a case there is no choice available to me that is morally correct; that I am helpless in the face of the stubbornness of others; that lacking sufficient power to change the will of others is a moral failing. You would condemn the weak and powerless for their weakness? You would condemn children for failing to overthrow the state?

    (And I absolutely do not relish in any of this. I utterly deplore it.)

    Oh, of course you do. You relish it because it allows you to paint your enemies in the worst light possible. The evil death penalty advocates are turning our newborn babes into murderers! But they can only do so because you, through your twisted interpretation of morality, have chosen to let them. In the course of this you have created an immense amount of philosophical collateral damage, because you have refuted the fundamental moral principle that people are responsible for their own choices, and replaced it with a principle that says they are responsible for choices imposed upon them against their will. When faced with this absurdity you cry that it is simply the logical outworking of moral axioms, without comprehending that your stated moral axioms are fundamentally different from everyone else’s.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Of course Billy’s argument does have the happy consequence for his opponents of rendering the execution of an innocent conceptually impossible.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Slappy

    Of course it’s true that, in states where executions are legal, they cannot also be legally defined as murder. I don’t think anyone could seriously confuse the arguments I have made here for legalese.

    Nor do I think that anyone has any difficulty in understanding that murder is a moral charge, as well as a legal one. So no, of course I don’t think that, say, Rick Perry, broke the laws of Texas by signing all those death warrants. Of course I don’t think he is in danger of being arrested for murder. Or take, say, the men who killed Garda Jerry McCabe. They were convicted of manslaughter, but would any reasonable person say it was incorrect to call them murderers, or to say that Garda McCabe was murdered?

    Your point is completely correct, and completely irrelevant.

    Jimmy,

    ‘Of course Billy’s argument does have the happy consequence for his opponents of rendering the execution of an innocent conceptually impossible.’

    Yes, but if a person accepted my argument, and still supported the death penalty, then we can conclude that all hope is lost for that person anyway.

    Andrew

    Another superb post. I am grateful for the time and consideration you have shown for my arguments. I’ll do you the courtesy of giving your arguments some thought before I reply, in a little while. Thanks again.

  • grandimarkey

    @Turgon

    I wondered how long it would take before you linked to that comment. You fairly seem to hound Billy Pilgrim with it…

  • Bring back big ian, the party is behaving like headless chickens since he resigned.

    forget about this issue, its a diversion, what is really going on?