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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Death Penalty: A Winning Issue for Harper

If Stephen Harper wants to win a majority government, he should promise to bring back the death penalty.

Read the reactions to the brutal murder committed by a Chinese migrant in Manitoba last week. Pushing for the death penalty – in limited circumstances – in response to this would be a popular move that would spur discussion well outside of political circles.

I mean, let’s get real – this is a debate that we want to have. The death penalty for head hackers? Yes, or no. Frame it that way, and it’s a winning issue. Let the Liberals, the NDP, the Greens, and the Bloc explain the inherent human worth of something that cuts people’s heads off and starts eating them.

Yes, I know that some people here are against the death penalty on basic principle. Either because they believe that killing is wrong or, alternatively, because they believe that the state shouldn’t have the power to kill.


But, come on – when you stab an innocent man on a bus, hack off his head, and then begin to eat parts of him in front of the police, you deserve to die. Even if you, unlike me, subscribe to some theory that holds that all human lives have intrinsic value, I submit to you that the continued existence of a creature such as Weiguang Li deprives the human race of some measure of dignity. Monsters such as this should be written out of the human race as a collective means of reaffirming our own humanity. When applied to someone like that thing, or to Robert Pickton, or to Paul Bernardo, or to Clifford Olsen (or to whoever is setting loose all of these human feet that keep washing up), the death penalty is a wonderful and life-affirming thing. It is a way of expressing a collective judgement that some things are unworthy of being deemed human.


The power of death – in limited circumstances – over beasts is a power that the state, as the force collectively empowered to exercise certain rights on our behalf – absolutely ought to and must have. I submit to you that, if we were acting by the laws of nature, the natural and just thing to do would have been for the other passengers on the bus to arm themselves (or, ideally, already be armed) and to kill Li right there on the spot. That they did not do so is a reflection of the social contract – we have signed away our individual rights to use force for the purposes of extracting justice and invested them in the state. The state, as a matter of natural law, has not only the right – but also the duty – to kill people who in the state of nature would be justly killed.


This is a power – and a right – more fundamental than others. The basic reason for the existence of the state is the regulation of violence. In the state of nature, man will justly kill man for many causes – and other men will recognize the justice of those causes.

 

In a basic moral sense – whether one subscribes to a utilitarian, Kantian, or whatever view of the world – killing for cause can absolutely be justified. Indeed, while – obviously – it is easy to justify killing someone like Li or Olsen from a utilitarian point of view (they have no further use to anyone, they cost money to maintain, killing them prevents them from potentially harming others), it’s also easy to justify it from other moral points of view. I have no objection to a universal agreement that people who hack other people’s heads off on buses be killed.


Yes, I realize that I’ve wandered wildly off-track from where I began. If you’re one of my four regular readers, you’re probably used to that by now, though.


I continue to fail to understand why conservative politicians in Canada have failed to run on the crime issue. Almost everyone in this country agrees that our justice system is grotesquely lenient. The most recent poll I can find on the issue suggests that 44% of Canadians support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, with 52% opposing.


That, by itself, I should add is enough to form a majority if an election was held along those lines. But, I think, we need to look even deeper than that – given what we all know about polling. The question asked here was, “Do you favour or oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder?”


Suppose if, instead, you asked the following question, “Do you favour or oppose the death penalty for those convicted of multiple murders, the murder of children, or particularly heinous murders where the guilt of the murderer has been established through either DNA evidence or the testimony of multiple witnesses?”  Frame the question that way and, I expect, you’d get a shift of at least ten points in support.


Remember, Harper doesn’t need to win a majority of votes to win a majority. Somewhere in the range of 40% is the magic number. Given that – and given the division of the other parties – the optimal strategy for Harper in an election isn’t to run on issues where there are relatively minor differences and people argue over which particular plan in the best. The best way for Harper to win a majority is to come up with a connected collection of issues where an interlocking 40% of Canadians feel basically the same way and to hammer away on those issues – thus throwing up a Berlin Wall between that part of the country and the powerless majority, who can squabble forever about how to divide up that 60% of the vote.

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on August 3, 2008 in Crime | Permalink

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Comments

I certainly hope they do as well for that Edmonton case where they lured that 13 year old girl to the golf course and hit her with a wrench,raped her and killed her for a thrill.
Courtapatte was her last name. I met her Mom when we called for the reinstatemnt of the CP outside the Edmonton court house.

Posted by: Merle | 2008-08-03 7:47:38 PM


Does this mean that Mayor Miller of Tronna can face the death penalty for his continual failure to resolve the mass murder of kids in his city? Oh that's right - the people of Toronto re-elected him, so they have absolved him of any wrong-doing. What a pity we can't make the Toronto people pay for their genocide. Or can we?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-08-03 8:11:30 PM


"If Stephen Harper wants to win a majority government, he should promise to bring back the death penalty."

Sure...
and I truly wish he does if he survive till the next election.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-08-03 8:47:28 PM


If there ever is an opening for an executioner in the future. The line of applicants will be a mile long. I will get a lawn chair and sit up all night to be first in line. There are so many scum bags that need to be offed.

Even though most Canadians are in favor of killing off the worst of the worst. I don't thing we will ever get a chance to vote on it.

But then, that's why they invented vigilantism, revolution and war. There is no doubt that an occasional public execution of pigs like Bernardo or Olson would only make Canadian feel better about themselves.

Posted by: John V | 2008-08-03 8:49:37 PM


The best thing that could have happened in the case of Weiguang Li, is that someone killed him right there on the spot. That is a lot different than the state having the power of life and death over people. Free citizens should be free to arm themselves and defend themsleves.

If there ever was a case that could change my mind about capital punishment though it is the case if Li, because of the nature of the crime and the number of eye witnesses, and no other possible suspects.

Posted by: TM | 2008-08-03 9:43:37 PM


Not this subject again..... Any of you true conservatives think that the judiciary in this country has earned the right to rule on ultimate punishment (life and death) haven't been reading the court decisions of the past 30 years. These bozos can't be trusted to walk my dog let alone decide on life and death. Suggested reading: Contempt of Court by Carston Stroud.

Posted by: bucko | 2008-08-03 9:50:39 PM


Not this subject again..... Any of you true conservatives think that the judiciary in this country has earned the right to rule on ultimate punishment (life and death) haven't been reading the court decisions of the past 30 years. These bozos can't be trusted to walk my dog let alone decide on life and death. Suggested reading: Contempt of Court by Carston Stroud.

Posted by: bucko | 2008-08-03 9:53:03 PM


Apologies for the double post, no idea how that happened. Echo in here?

Posted by: bucko | 2008-08-03 9:55:34 PM


I think that Canada should reinstate the death penalty. We have the death penalty in the United States and my only complaint is that we don't use it enough. When Trudeau did away with Canada's death penalty what did he replace it with? There is really no such thing as a life sentence in Canada because every murderer is eventually subject to a parole hearing isn't he? Aren't there things like the young offenders act and faint hope clause that limit sentencing guidelines? In reality, murderers are carrying out over 500 death sentences on Canadian citizens. I think that a study of Canadian murder and rape rates between 1962(when Canada's last hanging was carried out) and today would show that the rate has increased. Many Canadian death penalty opponents base their argument on the idea that the death penalty was higher in 1975 than today. However, they fail to understand that the death penalty(like any law) is only effective if applied. A study came out within the past two years that claims that each execution in the U.S. results in the prevention of five murders. The United States murder rate( and all other crime categories) have been steadily dropping since the early 1990's. The question is what steady anti-crime policies have been employed since this time. One, the number of yearly executions is still greater than it was before 1995. Two, 33 states have now adopted a castle doctrine law which allows homeowners to defend their property without being forced to retreat. Three, 40 states have implemented laws allowing licensed gun owners(with background checks) to carry concealed weapons. Four, longer sentences for illegal gun use. I grant you that the violent crime rate in America is still too high. However, these four policies have helped to reduce the violent crime rate by 45%. They are popular with the public. About 70% of Americans support the death penalty. Why else do you think that Obama now claims to support the death penalty?

Posted by: jacob | 2008-08-03 10:04:09 PM


bucko does have a point concerning what passes for most judges these days, however my preference would be for government to be forced to go to a referendum on this, SSM, multiculturalism, official bilingualism, immigration, foreign aid, and any major issue having a major affect on Canadian society. I am sick and tired of the destruction of traditional Canada and the social engineering by government and its bureaucrats. In order words I am sick and tired of this elitist top-down decision making.

While no system is totally perfect I much admire the Swiss system where the people can veto their members of government voting themselves a pay raise, exceeding their budget, raising taxes and any major decision.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-03 10:43:13 PM


I think that a study of Canadian murder and rape rates between 1962(when Canada's last hanging was carried out) and today would show that the rate has increased. Many Canadian death penalty opponents base their argument on the idea that the death penalty was higher in 1975 than today. However, they fail to understand that the death penalty(like any law) is only effective if applied. A study came out within the past two years that claims that each execution in the U.S. results in the prevention of five murders.

Posted by: jacob | 3-Aug-08 10:04:09 PM

Here are the Statscan numbers from 1962 until 2007:

http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080717/d080717b.htm

Interestingly enough the majority of crime seems to happen "further west", while socalist Quebec and somewhat socialist Ontario have some of the lowest crime rates in the country.

Some highlights, overall Violent Crime in Canada declined between 1998 and 2007 by 5.3, with homicide making up almost half of that drop at 2.6.

The most crime ridden cities last year were (in decending order):

Winnipeg
Edmonton
Vancouver
Calgary

ZPs hated Toronto came in third to last in the overall crime stats only beaten by Ottawa and Quebec City.

When it comes to murder the top four are (in decending order):

Winnipeg
Edmonton
Calgary
Vancouver

Toronto is fifth in that list.

Crime in general in Canada seems to have peaked in 1991 and been on the decline since then, without having people being put on death row.

As for the Study: You have a link? I am curious. The majority of violent crimes aren't premeditated, meaning, when the violence happens the perpetrator doesn't think about the consequences at that moment. The few that ARE premeditated will still happen, because whoever plans it expects not to get caught.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-08-03 10:47:12 PM


Snow runner, There are a hell of lot more Indians in the West and they tend to have higher homicide rates.

Also a lot of the scum from the East has migrated out west for the job market. They tend to get out of hand a lot too.

Any stats on where the murders come from?

Posted by: John V | 2008-08-03 10:57:48 PM


I have a hard time seeing what the death penalty accomplishes that life in prison does not, other than the occasional murder by the justice system of an innocent person.

I also have a hard time seeing what advocating the return of capital punishment in Canada will accomplish - other than getting the angry old white guys that are already voting for Harper to... uh... continue voting for Harper... while poisoning the Conservatives' relationship with many accessible young people further.

I certainly don't want anyone as obviously bigoted as John V *ever* making the decisions on who gets to live or die in Canada. One easy way to assure that doesn't happen - don't give that power to the government.

Posted by: Janet | 2008-08-03 11:11:55 PM


Alain,

I agree with your post for the most part but you seem to have strayed from the main topic. Judges are lawyers and as such are part of the problem, not the solution. For the most part, we don't have a justice system in this country, we have a legal industry. I don't trust lawyers/judges or for that matter cops. The ultimate punishment should be the domain of the afterlife.

Posted by: bucko | 2008-08-03 11:14:18 PM


The argument for capital punishment would diminish if life sentences were in fact life sentences.

Posted by: Wil S | 2008-08-03 11:33:18 PM


The argument for the death penalty is a moral one. The death penalty, by declaring that some people deserve to be blotted out from the human race, is an exercise in moral judgement.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-08-04 12:07:26 AM


What's up with the Chinese and cannibalism?

"In the tape of radio transmissions, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer refers to the attacker as "Badger" and says he is armed with a knife and scissors and is "defiling the body at the front of the bus as we speak."

On the tape, which lasts about 80 seconds, officers continue to detail the attacker's movements until one reports, "Badger's at the back of the bus, hacking off pieces and eating it."

"Cannibalism in China

Key Ray Chong, Cannibalism in China, Longwood Academic: Wakefield, NH. (1990)

"We need to remind ourselves that the Chinese people are not particularly different from the other races of the world as far as the practice of survival cannibalism is concerned. When it comes to learned cannibalism, however, its practice is quite different. Worthy of note here is the fact that some types of learned cannibalism are found only in China. This study will attempt to examine this unique phenomenon."

"As late as the 19th century, it was not unusual for Chinese executioners to eat the heart and brains of the criminals they disaptch. They also ate a portion of the human meat for health reasons, but when some extra meat was left, they sold it for profit."

"Li Shih-chen [DP: 1578] detailed the use of humans many times for medicinal purposes. He noted, for example, that human meat was a good cure for tuberculosis. For the same or similar purposes, he discussed in an equally detailed manner the use of human sweat, urine, sperm, breast milk, tears, dirt, nails and teeth. Even today, in the People's Republic of China, the use of human fingers, toes, nails, dried urine, feces and breast milk are strongly recommended by the government to cure certain diseases."

"Apart from this, the Chinese often ate their enemies out of hatred or revenge during wartime."

"During World War II, hate-cannibalism is reported to have occurred in China. Later, as the civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists went on for control of China, some Communist soldiers were executed routinely in a far-interior district; and their flesh and bones were eaten out of a spirit of revenge. One American priest told of seeing a Chinese Nationalist officer cut out and eat the heart of a Chinese Communist."

Posted by: DJ | 2008-08-04 12:07:34 AM


Any stats on where the murders come from?

Posted by: John V | 3-Aug-08 10:57:48 PM

Not in that summary, feel free to dig around on the Statscan website. They tend to be a treasure chest of that kind of information. If it can be collected, numberized and put in a pie chart, they're you're guys.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-08-04 12:29:29 AM


Oh, and John,

mind to post that link to that study you mentioned?

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-08-04 12:31:52 AM


The Associated Press article about the studies can be found at the website www.dpinfo.com. The article appeared on June 11, 2007. One of the studies co-authors was a Naci Mocan(Economics Professor) at University of Colorado at Denver. The original study was done in 2003 and updated in 2006.

Posted by: jacob | 2008-08-04 5:05:38 AM


The death penalty will not be debated. Dion and the Liberals and NDP will not discuss it either.

This unprovoked, horrific, beyond humanity murder by something called "Vince Li", certainly makes a lot of people worry about justice being done. Justice cannot be done in this case. The murderer will be declared insane and put on medication. If he shows good behaviour then some wacky psychs will recommend he be released on meds. That's the insanity in our system of Justice, life sentences do not mean the rest of the person's life behind bars. We are a coddling country.

Perhaps he could be deported back to China, let them deal with him, they'd soon find a bullet.

It's hard for us in this country to get our heads around the horrors of this case. It leads us to question who we allow into this country and how they will adapt to our lifestyle or how it will affect them. This murderer had to have had latent problems long before he ever came here to snap to such a sub-human act.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-08-04 6:00:14 AM


The death penalty would end up costing us tax payers more in the long run. http://www.deathpenalty.org/article.php?id=42
Obviously when we hear about incidents such as the beheading on a bus or the infamous pig farmer thats the first thing we think of is vengence, but I think life in a cage is worse than putting these people out of their own misery.

Posted by: maija | 2008-08-04 6:18:14 AM


August 4, 2008

We can certainly justify the death penalty. Society and families of victims deserve a sense of justice and retribution for hideous crimes.

The death penalty may slow down whereas prison sentences incur enornous expense and risks upon society. All too often the murderer is released from prison and "forgiven".

It is not the right of any world organizations to interfere with or to intimidate Canada's sovereign right to apply the death penalty.

JY

Posted by: JY | 2008-08-04 7:10:02 AM


Here's the deal. No death penalty. Only life, meaning until death. Government to put aside one million dollars every year for each person serving life. If any lawyer succeeds in finding the person "innocent", the prize will be a part of the millions put aside to pay off the now free convict. What could be more fair than that?

Posted by: dewp | 2008-08-04 7:37:30 AM


The death penalty might be seen as the removal of the ultimate property right, the right to life, for the crime of taking the ultimate property right. For once in a very blue moon, I agree with Yoshida, it is a moral question. And from a moral standpoint I think that a criminal provably guilty of the ultimate property violation does in fact forfeit his own right to that same property.
Not only might it be a stronger deterrent, it might also put property rights and the right to self defense back on the table. A return to moral law?

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-04 7:40:08 AM


Snow,

The link you requested is right here. I think it makes my point nicely. Don't forget to scroll down the page to see the charts and read what's there.


http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/060606/d060606b.htm

Here's the link again in a tiny url.
http://tinyurl.com/6fcda2

And Janet,

When does quoting factual information make one a bigot? And FYI I am not likely to become a judge so it is also unlikely that I will get to decided anyone's fate. You are a twit.

Posted by: John V | 2008-08-04 8:59:31 AM


I agree dewp, life should mean life with no possibility of parole (for the execptionally heinous). Also put them to work, why should these crimials sit around all day while they are fed, housed and clothed. The rest of us work for those privilages.

Posted by: maija | 2008-08-04 9:03:52 AM


This too is an interesting read:

The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary. (Pope John Paul II, St. Louis, MO, January 1999) Punishment cannot be reduced to mere retribution, much less take the form of social retaliation or a sort of institutional vengeance. Punishment and imprisonment have meaning if they serve the rehabilitation of the individual by offering those who have made a mistake an opportunity to reflect and to change their lives in order to be fully reintegrated into society. (Pope John Paul II, Jubilee Homily to Prisoners, Rome, July 2002)

The Holy Father calls recourse to the death penalty “unnecessary” and painfully reminds us that our “model of society bears the stamp of the culture of death, and is therefore in opposition to the Gospel message.” (Pope John Paul II, World Day of the Sick, Washington, DC, February 2003)

May the proclamation of Christmas be a source of encouragement to all those who work to bring relief to the tormented situation in the Middle East by respecting international commitments. May Christmas help to strengthen and renew, throughout the world, the consensus concerning the need for urgent and adequate measures to halt the production and sale of arms, to defend human life, to end the death penalty, to free children and adolescents from all forms of exploitation, to restrain the bloodied hand of those responsible for genocide and crimes of war, to give environmental issues, especially after the recent natural catastrophes, the indispensable attention which they deserve for the protection of creation and of human dignity! (Pope John Paul II, Christmas Day Message, 1998)

Nowadays, in America as elsewhere in the world, a model of society appears to be emerging in which the powerful predominate, setting aside and even eliminating the powerless: I am thinking here of unborn children, helpless victims of abortion; the elderly and incurably ill, subjected at times to euthanasia; and the many other people relegated to the margins of society by consumerism and materialism. Nor can I fail to mention the unnecessary recourse to the death penalty when other "bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons. Today, given the means at the State's disposal to deal with crime and control those who commit it, without abandoning all hope of their redemption, the cases where it is absolutely necessary to do away with an offender 'are now very rare, even non-existent practically'". (Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in America January 1999)

The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is "to redress the disorder caused by the offense." Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfills the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behavior and be rehabilitated.

It is clear that for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: In other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare if not practically nonexistent. (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995)

Posted by: MFL | 2008-08-04 9:21:16 AM


I stated awhile back that it is better to have the likes of Paul Bernardo "locked up in a broom closet jail cell, then put to sleep by a needle". Thinking of the massive cost of that, I have changed my mind to support the death penalty, and maybe using the money saved to help the victims families, or many other badly needed social programs. Besides we don't need this kind of "scum" on this earth anyways.

Posted by: glen | 2008-08-04 9:30:31 AM


The greatest downside to CP is the risk of convicting and sentencing the wrong person and it must therefore be reserved for only those cases where evidence ensures certainty. The idea of incarceration for non-violent criminals is wasteful and inefficient. A form of compulsory and supervised servitude to victims would be far more efficient and productive. As to the cost of incarceration of violent criminals, we should look into contracting out our prison services to Mexico. This might also have some deterrence value.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-08-04 10:18:00 AM


John: That is a serious downside, but it isn't the "Greatest downside."


The greatest downside is that you'd give the power to kill to a pack of morons who don't even understand economics. It would be like giving a chicken farmer the power to kill. And kill he did.

Posted by: Opinion | 2008-08-04 10:38:03 AM


Opinion

In the grand scheme of downsides, while the justice system likely has those attributes you described, your phrase "power to kill" could more frequently describe Cop's Taser killings and "a pack of morons who don't even understand economics" could also and more importantly, accurately describe the public education system. Without far more extensive reform we are trying to work with what we've got related to this post.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-08-04 11:08:39 AM


I see here those for and opposed to the death penalty, which is a good thing. By a good thing I mean that such an important issue should be debated and voted on by the people, not imposed by government. No politician, no government was ever given the mandate for all the social engineering that takes place.

Personally I support the death penalty. However the justice system would have to be changed removing plea bargaining, allowing one to go free due to a technicality, etc. Furthermore, the conviction could not be based on circumstantial evidence. Under such a system it would not often happen, but there are cases where it is morally required. Still it is the people who should decide not the government without a mandate to do so.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-04 11:35:23 AM


John/Alain: In any given circumstance - You don't want government powerful. You want it small and weak. CP Is government empowerment at its worst. I fear the idiots in parliament with the power to kill, far more than I fear a knife wielder on a Greyhound.

Posted by: Opinion | 2008-08-04 12:02:02 PM


I like the idea of some criminals being killed, but accepting the tyranny of the majority (the majority of voters but probably still a minority of people) on any matter is one of the problems with democracy. On an issue like this it is more of a concern since the state might end up with the power of life and death over its citzens.

If we had the right to bear arms, would that not do more to protect us than executing a few bad guys? Especially considering that some of those bad guys would be killed by armed citzens.

Posted by: TM | 2008-08-04 12:03:09 PM


Opinion - you get no disagreement from me about not wanting a big and powerful government.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-04 12:17:21 PM


Right TM!!!

The right to self-defence should not be replaced by "We'll protect you with more cops and more severe punishment." That would be replacing reality with a fantasy AND giving a bunch of buffoons excessive power.

Posted by: Opinion | 2008-08-04 12:17:30 PM


This Li guy should be fried. He's insane and rehabilitation is out of the question. If he isn't
put to death you would have to have him in solitary, not for his own protection, but for the protection of the other prisoners.

Bernardo, Olsen and any other serial killers should suffer the same fate as well. It costs us a fortune to keep them in there. With multiple crime scenes, there is no doubt that they are guilty. Cut off their appeals too. Or, you could just let them out into the general population..that should take care of it just like Dalmer was.

The only problem I have with CP in other situations is that some people are wrongfully convicted and on mainly circumstantial evidence. Eye witness testimony is also usually shaky ground. Most of these people can't afford a good lawyer.

OJ got off because he had the best team money could buy..and he was guilty as hell. There was more forensic evidence against him than in most murder trials. Not so for some poor stiff.
They usually end up convicted because their lawyers are idiots.

Posted by: trawna | 2008-08-04 12:43:12 PM


trawna, "OJ got off because he had the best team money could buy." He had good lawyers, but don't forget the prosecutors who ar making names for themselves. Lord Black surely had the best lawyers in Greenspan, but the prosecution wants success. They no doubt put the best team up against them with all the resources of the state.

When the rich and famous are on trial people sometimes forget that the road to fame and fortune for the prosecution is the conviction of a big fish.

So when the poor cant get a good lawyer, I am guessing there is an equal chance the prosecution isn't much better.

Posted by: TD | 2008-08-04 3:00:46 PM


Opinion

I'm with you so long as citizens can pack. That's the case here but not in Canada.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-08-04 5:13:02 PM


This particular murderer would likely never get the death penalty anyway. He's obviously demented, and even the US doesn't kill insane people. I have to wonder how a 40 year old man arrived at this level of insanity without any warning signs. And why was he even there? I think they need to take a long look for more bodies. This guy probably disposed of some family members before he got onto that bus.

I had dim sum in Calgay today. Sure seemed like a lot of Asian guys were walking a little taller than usual. Must be sort of like the sense of pride we white guys got during the Jeffrey Dahmer trial.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-04 7:25:59 PM


I do not believe that anyone has the right to kill unless it's necessary to save life without them re-offending. We are perfectly capable of locking up prisoners for life. As far as I know, Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olson have not committed any new murders.

I agree with other posters that life sentences should be for life. I think we should have much harsher penalties for prisoners. We should try being a bit more creative. I'm all for rehabilitation, but if it doesn't hurt, it's not punishment!

Posted by: SUZANNE | 2008-08-04 8:26:07 PM


OJ got off because he had the best team money could buy.
Posted by: trawna | 4-Aug-08 12:43:12 PM

OJ got off because the jury was primarily black.

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-08-04 8:35:58 PM


Several writers seem to consider the death penalty a case of government on steroids. They feel that it gives the government too much power. I feel that one of the few objectives(of a very limited government) is protection of the public. This is done by both the use of a military to counter foreign aggressors and a well-trained and equipped justice system that can arrest and effectively prosecute criminals. This second part is achieved through well trained police, tough sentencing(including the death penalty and mandatory minimums), and citizens(without criminal records) being allowed to both arm and defend themselves. These armed citizens can also serve as a check on a future government's attempts to restrict liberties.If a government won't play a role in its citizens protection then what good is it?
Also, I would like to address the writer who used Pope John Paul's statements in their anti-death penalty argument. I am catholic, pro-life, and pro-death penalty. There is no contradiction in this. I believe that the unborn child is an innocent life. Also, I believe that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment in extreme cases(murder, rape, terrorism, and treason). In 1980, the U.S. Conference of Bishops(while personally opposing the death penalty since 1974) stated that " the state has the right to take the life of a person guilty of a serious crime.Catholics are free to condemn the death penalty in particular situations, but Catholics are not free to condemn it in the name of the church as always morally wrong." In 2004, Ratzinger(now Pope Benedict) wrote in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. While the church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may be permissable to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion among Catholics about waging war, and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia." Funny, I haven't heard the media say much about this.

Posted by: jacob | 2008-08-04 9:07:02 PM


The death penalty is a human right. If you accept that, in the state of nature, we have the right to indivdually kill for the sake of justice, then that's a right that we now have the absolute duty to exercise through the state.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-08-04 10:00:24 PM


OJ got off because the jury was primarily black.

Posted by: The Stig | 4-Aug-08 8:35:58 PM

This statement is correct, but we should look a little deeper. The black people on the jury were looking at this from a point of view most of us have trouble understanding. They know first hand that just because the police say something doesn't mean it's the truth. We, on the other hand, tend to believe them automatically. Sometimes I think we should be a little more skeptical when we hear a cop giving a news conference.

That being said, OJ was guilty as sin.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-04 10:08:49 PM


When you live in a society where you are presumed innocent, and where the burdon of proof is on the state, then you live in a more free society than would otherwise be the case. Every person in such as society can be more confident that their liberty is protected, especially from the state.

Many believe OJ is guilty, but we should celebrate the ruling from the perspective of personal liberty.

In my opinion, it is the cops and prosecutors that should be demonized on TV, not the defence. The defence ALWAYS represents the innocent, since we are innocent UNTIL proven guilty.

I want to see bad things happen to bad people as much as anyone. But I consider people who are not convicted, as innocent. We should all stand behind this as it is in our own best interest.

Posted by: TM | 2008-08-05 2:39:43 PM


I meant Burden.

Posted by: TM | 2008-08-05 2:45:20 PM


TM

We are very close to becoming a police state. We hear no end of complaining from cops that the justice system is undermining their attempts to maintain law and order. I'm pretty sure that judges, and prosecutors are simply trying to send the police a message, that is, start doing your job with a little more integrity.

The RCMP have bungled a very large number of cases recently. Their antics on Indian reserves are unacceptable. They've been caught red handed faking evidence.

There's a case in Nova Scotia right now involving two black teenagers who got into a fight with a bunch of drunk, off duty cops. The whole thing was caught on video, and showed the cops jumping out of their car, and going after the two. The unfortunate thing for the cops was the two kids kicked their asses.

The RCMP somehow managed to erase the audio portion, which allegedly included the cops making racial slurs, as the kids walked by the car. One of the boys was later tasered, and the RCMP claimed he had a female officer on the ground, assaulting her. OH OH, a black guy touching a white woman. They know which buttons to push, I'll give them that.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-05 3:02:43 PM


Police and prosecutors are people too. And as long as that is the case, I assume they are tempted, like the rest of us, to lie or cheat or steal, to cover their ass, or further their career. Since they have a monopoly on the use of force, the burden of proof must be on them. That makes us all safer because it makes us all innocent until proven guilty.

Posted by: TM | 2008-08-05 3:17:43 PM



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