Saturday, December 15, 2007

Blood on our hands

"summa awilum in mar awilim uhtappid insu uhappadu"

If a man destroy another's eye, his eye shall be destroyed.

-Code of Hammurabi, 1795-1750 BC-


It's funny in a grisly sort of way, to listen to the moral absolutists try to avoid the fact that if you kill a man for a crime he didn't commit, you are a murderer; A murderer with an excuse perhaps, but a murderer none the less. Of course some versions of morality insist that if you kill anyone you were not forced to kill, it's murder. Morality is no more absolute than any other opinion.

In my opinion, arguing for the Death penalty by saying that most of the people you kill are guilty, aren't worth the rebuttal; it only takes one to make it murder and one to make us all accessories, and the fact seems to be that it's been quite a bit more than one. Arguments that justify the probability of killing at least a few innocents, or indeed for killing anyone because doctrine says it's a deterrent are simply arguments for expedience and from fear, not from reason. Arguments that depend on some cosmic system of double entry book keeping are arguments from an ancient religious tradition with no basis in the actual cosmos. I'm fed up with all these attempts to justify hate crimes and so apparently are others.

It's New Jersey however, and not some Bible Belt state that has taken the lead by stepping away from blood sacrifice and away from the totalitarian notion that a life can be taken in cold blood by some committee of citizens made sufficiently angry by paid professionals. To this writer, it provides a glimmer of hope that the United States might some day follow the path of enlightenment, but just a glimmer.


Anonymous said...

This subject is so huge and controversial and multi layered that I think I should just post on it. Too long to get into here but I'm glad you brought it up. I will probably end up disagreeing with you on this one. Goes to my vengeful nature.
Oh, and thanks for changing your comment login.

Capt. Fogg said...

I haven't made any changes actually - it's blogger that sometimes forgets what it's supposed to do!

It's not that there aren't people I would like to put up against a wall, it's that justice based on anger isn't justice but the law of the jungle - and then there's the demonstrable bias and ineptitude of the legal system. I've been a juror and the basic cognitive disability of juries and the basic inability of public defenders to understand evidence still gives me nightmares.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Most public defenders are people who graduated from correspondence, earn-your-degree for just $19.95, law school. They are unfit to practice and prove their incompetence daily in the horrid advice they give to their clients.

Capt. Fogg said...

As I said, I've seen it with my own eyes. I was once an alternate juror who couldn't sit in on the deliberations and I could absolutely prove that the three key statements made by the accusers were lies, but neither the public defender nor the idiots on the jury realized that a 300 pound woman does not run a mile in under two minutes, that a 22 caliber pistol does not make clouds of smoke that can be seen for a mile and that a person driving a VW Rabbit cannot see what is on the lap of someone driving a full sized van.

An innocent, though perhaps not very nice man was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon on false charges made by his ex-wife so that she could regain custody of their children.

Later it was found that the bailiff had told the jury that he thought the guy was guilty and the verdict was thrown out, but does anyone really want to trust their life to such a system?