Death penalty developments

Australia this week strengthened its opposition to the death penalty, the Senate passing the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill 2009, preventing any State from trying to reintroduce capital punishment.

Which is much better news than that from Taiwan, where a principled minister who refused to execute the inconsistently convicted prisoners on death row was forced to resign by her party. Apparently there’s a way for Taiwan to go before it joins the civilised world and abolishes this barbaric and unjust relic of the past.

One step forward, one step backwards.

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92 responses to “Death penalty developments

  1. Great news!

    Does anyone know how Abbott voted, given he expressed support for the death penalty in certain circumstances?

  2. He wasn’t serious – he was just having a bit each way.

  3. Northern Exposure

    yeah even 200-1 shots get up every now and then, so why not hedge your bets?

  4. Australia’s vocal and long-time and ongoing opposition to the death penalty is one of the few things these days that makes me proud to be an Australian. That and the quality of female singer-songwriters.

  5. More troll activity from a bored twit with no life.

    A tip: try finding your own life instead of trying to live it through others’. Moron.

  6. Trolling deleted. He was playing everybodys’ parts and chatting with himself. Seriously, whoever it is mentally ill.

  7. Yeah, funny how much the “Conviction Politician” likes equivocation and innuendo.

  8. Northern Exposure

    I never got to see him 😦

  9. “I never got to see him ”

    And there I was thinking that confessions had gone nuts, responding to posts that never existed.

  10. We are deluded if we believe that Australia (as opposed to Australians) are opposed to the death penalty.

    We consort with countries that enthusiastically and regularly carry out sub-justice death penalties; only complaining when t hey use our passports without permission.

    We even insist that they are our closest friends and proclaim that we share their values.

  11. And there I was thinking that confessions had gone nuts, responding to posts that never existed.

    Rob: running an experiment today. Will let you know tomorrow if it pans out the way I’m predicting.

  12. When all of you anti-death penalty campaigners get just as indignant about the extra judicial killing of the unborn then you might just have some moral consistency.
    As it stands you don’t

  13. That’s idiotic – we’re opposed to murder.

    A foetus is not a human being. Thus terminating it is not murder.

  14. Jeremy, you only get to that point by arbitrary definition of the term “human being”. It is no different to defining a slave as not being a human being.

  15. Jeremy
    when, in your opinion does someone become a “human being” entitled to the protection from arbitrary execution?

  16. “Jeremy, you only get to that point by arbitrary definition of the term “human being”. It is no different to defining a slave as not being a human being.”

    You only get to that point by arbitrary definition of the term “human being” – it’s not in any way “objective” to decide that a collection of cells is a “human being”. And if you’re putting the point at which a “human being” begins at conception, then that’s what you’re doing. If you’re putting it some time between conception and birth, that’s also arbitrary.

    Let’s be clear here – the abortion debate is about the definition of when something becomes a human being. Pro-choice advocates don’t support “murder”, they just don’t agree that abortion IS murder.

    Thus suggesting that supporting reproductive rights for women is somehow incompatible with opposing the death penalty, as Iain does above, is absurd – the real hypocrisy is those who oppose abortion, but support capital punishment. Because there’s no doubt that a prisoner is a human being. That requires no arbitrary definition.

  17. “when, in your opinion does someone become a “human being” entitled to the protection from arbitrary execution?”

    A human being begins when it is born, ie separate from its mother.

  18. So if someone is full term but as yet unborn they can legitimately be killed then?

  19. Yes, although it’s not “someone”, it’s not yet an independent human being.

    So, in your worldview, if a foetus is half a day after conception and is nothing more than a collection of cells, it is a “human being” whose right to live overrides that of the mother?

  20. So Jeremy, if the baby is capable of being born alive, do you think it should be allowed that option?

    Is the rule that the mother should not be forced to be an unwilling host, or that if she is a host she can kill the baby at any time, even if it is capable of being born alive?

  21. Jeremy as you well know my position on abortion is that it should be available , safe, affordable but most importantly RARE. My objection to abortion is NOT absolute, So my position on capital punishment is not at odds with my position on Abortion. I simply believe that for some crimes that are so heinous (like multiple or mass murder) If you can prove the guilt of the accused to a high enough standard then it is justified to execute them.
    You have claimed above that someone has to be born to be considered human and offered the protection of the law.
    My position on abortion is that it becomes progressively less justifiable the longer that gestation continues rather than it being acceptable or not dependant on some arbitrary cut off point.

  22. SB – If the foetus is capable of being born alive – it’s not a baby until it’s born – without forcing the mother to undergo surgery or childbirth, then perhaps. But there isn’t such a way. So no.

    And before I answer any more questions on this from you, what’s your position? That a mere collection of fertilised cells is a “baby” with a right to life? If not, when do YOU draw the line, SB?

  23. “My position on abortion is that it becomes progressively less justifiable the longer that gestation continues rather than it being acceptable or not dependant on some arbitrary cut off point.”

    Actually, you suggested that at some point it was a form of murder, and hence contradicted someone’s opposition to the death penalty.

    Where’s that line drawn? When’s it become “extra-judicial killing of the unborn”?

    We’re talking about what the law should be, after all. What change do you propose, to rule this horrible “extra-judicial killing of the unborn” out?

  24. Jeremy: “without forcing the mother to undergo surgery or childbirth”

    So where did you get this qualification from? The difference between a live birth and an abortion is that in the latter the baby emerges from the birth canal having been killed first. Your position prioritises the killing. That is not a balancing of rights, but legalised killing for no real reason.

    My position as regards the law is that if the baby can be born alive, it should be given that opportunity.

  25. How would that work, precisely? The woman would be taken to hospital by force and held down as they cut the foetus out of her?

  26. Northern Exposure

    Having been a party to a…thing, I am disgusted to see that a thing and the death penalty are even mentioned in the same fucking thread let alone the same sentence.

    For all of you amoral, merecenary, right wing, anti-choice, anti-life, anti-equal, sullivans cast wannabes, who think that an abortion is something people discuss over cosmo’s after work on a friday night, it isn’t, and how dare you.

  27. Holy sh!t, Iain has indeed successfully diverted this thread from the topic.

    I’ll give Iain and SB a pass from answering the obvious questions above (whew, eh guys?), and we can get back to discussing the death penalty.

  28. NE:

    For all of you amoral, merecenary, right wing, anti-choice, anti-life, anti-equal, sullivans cast wannabes, who think that an abortion is something people discuss over cosmo’s after work on a friday night, it isn’t, and how dare you.

    What exactly have your experiences got to do with the right of people to participate in a discussion? This isn’t Cosmo, it is a blog where issues like this get discussed. If you are so sensitive about this issue then just shut up and move on.

    Your ignorant arrogant spray is far more uncivilised than what you are complaining about. Overdosing on speed and laxatives will do that to you.

  29. He’s right that it’s off-topic. I also note that, whilst you insisted on reviving that subject, you utterly failed to answer my question. Funny, that.

  30. The death penalty has nothing to do with abortion. But where the issues do overlap is that anti abortion people often support the death penalty, and yet declare themselves to be pro-life. By definition you can’t be pro life *and* support State-sponsored executions of actual citizens.

  31. Jeremy I didn’t revive the topic, precisely because you called time on it. But if you do want a reply……

  32. Northern Exposure

    That was a side note to my “why arent we talking about the death penalty” SB, but ta for your insight.

    I am ignorant. About what, I’m sure you will inform me at a later date.

    You will also note, I didnt say “shutup” or “your comments are meaningless”, I just spoke to what I felt was a rather cavalier attitude towards an insurmountably sensitive topic, but if you think that you are an ignorant, amoral, merecenary, right wing sullivans cast wannabe, then you should read some self help books. You have some weirdo, dark ages views, but you (more or less) articulate them well. But if you think that someone disagreeing with your view of the world is insulting or whatever you thought I was, then it must be a cold world for you.

    I don’t get the speed and laxatives thing.

    Confessions, yeah you can. It’s the greatest form of hypocrisy known to man, but its do-able. After conception, it’s all potential, and after birth, if they do anything wrong what so ever, it’s squandered potential, with no hope of rehabilitation.

    Accused criminals who pose a risk to society ie the ones not caught and prosecuted, should be hunted and charged like animals. Once they are charged, they should be able to avail themselves of every legal resource possible to clear their names. If they are found guilty, they should serve their time as decided by a judge (although, these days, its legislators, because they’re cornerstones and aren’t fickle at all) behind bars, where they no longer pose a risk to society. If police find evidence later on that shows the accused was unjustly prosecuted and charged, they can exonerate him.

    You can overturn a conviction. You cannot undo an execution.

  33. “Jeremy I didn’t revive the topic, precisely because you called time on it. But if you do want a reply……”

    Since you’ve now given us two further off-topic comments, just answer the question – how would that work, precisely? The woman would be taken to hospital by force and held down as they cut the foetus out of her? – and then we’ll come back to the death penalty.

  34. “A foetus is not a human being. Thus terminating it is not murder.”
    I’m going to ask some questions. In the light of the above statement Jeremy would you please explain your position more clearly?

    Since the foetus, left un-molested, will in most cases continue to develope due to continued cell divisions, how is it NOT living?

    Since the DNA of the foetus can be examined and found to be human DNA, how can it not be human?

    Since the foetus has DNA that is distinct from its host (mother) then it is not like a tummor or a body part of the host, how is it NOT distinct from her and therfore not a being?

    My contention is that a foetus is a

    LIVING
    HUMAN
    BEING

    Please explain your difference on this Jeremy.

  35. Jeremy:

    Since you’ve now given us two further off-topic comments

    The first was a reply to an unjustified spray. The second was to address your point about my not answering a question you told me not to answer.

    how would that work, precisely? The woman would be taken to hospital by force and held down as they cut the foetus out of her?

    The medical staff explains that instead of slicing the baby up before it comes out you are going to induce the birth. The only step being omitted is the killing of the baby.

  36. Jeremy is all definitions of “human being” are arbitrary then all human rights are arbitrary.
    Even your definition of the prisoner as a human being is arbitrary, because one could simply re-define human as being pertaining to those currently not in prison.
    It’s been done before. Those currently not black and those currently not Jews are two arbitrary definitions of humans that spring to mind.
    By making those redefinitions, people were able to justify slavery and holocaust.

  37. NE, you marched into a conversation slinging insults, and screeching “how dare you” even have the conversation. I was having a civilised chat with Jeremy and you seemed to think that your experience with the issue at hand gave you the right to terminate that conversation. That is what I found offensive. I admit that the conversation had wandered OT, but I didn’t start that, and in the end it is a question of how broadly or narrowly you define the terms of discussion. As the great Dirk Gently noted, there is a fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

  38. Northern Exposure

    I don’t screech, nor did I cite you or anyone specifically. Your post hoc ergo propter hoc argument is just wrong.

  39. It seemed like you were screeching to me, NH:

    For all of you amoral, merecenary, right wing, anti-choice, anti-life, anti-equal, sullivans cast wannabes, who think that an abortion is something people discuss over cosmo’s after work on a friday night, it isn’t, and how dare you.

    The “how dare you” line is the give-away. It reeks of the faux outrage of a moralising maniac. It is the bluster of someone too ignorant to make a logical argument and so arrogant they think they can shut down a discussion they just joined.

    I can understand a logical argument, a sharp riposte or even a calculated insult. None of these are as truly objectionable are an attempt to use a self-pitying sense of being offended to shut down discussion.

  40. “Even your definition of the prisoner as a human being is arbitrary, because one could simply re-define human as being pertaining to those currently not in prison.”

    Is that what you’re doing with your support for the death penalty? Do you support the death penalty because you’re defining prisoners as not human beings?

    And when do YOU say human life begins? Is a just-conceived collection of cells a “human being” whose “right to life” trumps any concerns of the mother?

    I will say nothing else in response to your comments until you’ve answered these questions.

    SB –

    “The medical staff explains that instead of slicing the baby up before it comes out you are going to induce the birth. The only step being omitted is the killing of the baby.”

    So. Do you believe the law should prohibit abortions up until the very last minute when the baby is capable of being forcibly induced against the mother’s will?

  41. Jeremy
    You are pursuing a false dichotomy here:

    So. Do you believe the law should prohibit abortions up until the very last minute when the baby is capable of being forcibly induced against the mother’s will?

    If the pregnancy is well advanced, say more than twenty weeks then an abortion or delivering the child alive has only one difference and that the former requires the death of the child and the latter does not. Both require the “removal” of the child by some sort of medical procedure that would be essentially the same in both cases.

  42. No, Iain, you don’t get to comment any further on this thread you’ve worked so hard to derail until you answer my questions to you above:

    “Actually, you suggested that at some point it was a form of murder, and hence contradicted someone’s opposition to the death penalty.

    Where’s that line drawn? When’s it become “extra-judicial killing of the unborn”?

    We’re talking about what the law should be, after all. What change do you propose, to rule this horrible “extra-judicial killing of the unborn” out?”

    Answer those questions, and I’ll respond to yours.

  43. Jeremy
    I have not used the word “murder” on this thread at all and all I did was post one short comment,
    Alright, If answering your questions is the price of passage then I’ll pay the tariff:

    Where’s that line drawn? When’s it become “extra-judicial killing of the unborn”?

    As you know my position on abortion is that the longer the gestation the less easy it becomes to morally justify ending the pregnancy so obviously my conception of the morality of the extra judicial killing of that child id dependent upon How close that child is to term. So my position is that from Concepcion to term any abortion is “extra judicial killing” but like capital punishment it can sometimes be justified.

    We’re talking about what the law should be, after all. What change do you propose, to rule this horrible “extra-judicial killing of the unborn” out?”

    I would propose a set of moving goalposts on the legality of a non-medically indicated abortion that become progressively more restrictive the closer that an unborn child comes to term.

  44. “Is that what you’re doing with your support for the death penalty?”
    Have I expressed support for the death penalty Jeremy?

    “And when do YOU say human life begins? Is a just-conceived collection of cells a “human being” whose “right to life” trumps any concerns of the mother?”
    Ass opposed to you Jeremy I feel that there is a definate and non-arbitrary point at which human beings become human beings. It is the point at which cells begin to divide. I don’t see that there is any possible logic that contradicts that.
    That’s not to say that the right to life of the human being in question trumps any concerns for anything. I believe that there are time in life when the lesser of any two evils needs to be selected. The chosen “lesser” evil still remanining an evil and requiring avoidance unless it is indeed the lesser evil.

    I hope that answers your questions Jeremy.

  45. So, Iain, you agree with us that there should be no prevention of a woman’s access to abortion in, say, the first trimester? But you think that at a certain point a woman should be forced to give birth, taken to hospital against her will and forced to undergo a procedure where her safety and health are not the sole priority for doctors?

  46. Leo – you said this:

    “Even your definition of the prisoner as a human being is arbitrary, because one could simply re-define human as being pertaining to those currently not in prison.”

    If you’re not arguing that the death penalty is okay because the people being executed aren’t “human beings”, then who is and what’s the relevance of abortion, in which the issue is what is a “human being”?

    Does anybody seriously dispute that a prisoner is a human being?

    Because there’s plenty of dispute over at what point a collection of cells, an embryo, a foetus, or a baby becomes a “human being”.

    It is entirely consistent to oppose the death penalty and support abortion on the grounds that a human being begins at birth.

    The opposite position, the one held by many rightwingers, that killing human beings who have been born (capital punishment) is fine but aborting cells is “murder”, is the really bizarre side.

  47. Jeremy, I won’t demand an answer, but since I have complied with your demand for one would you do me the courtesy of answering these please.

    Since the foetus, left un-molested, will in most cases continue to develope due to continued cell divisions, how is it NOT living?

    Since the DNA of the foetus can be examined and found to be human DNA, how can it not be human?

    Since the foetus has DNA that is distinct from its host (mother) then it is not like a tummor or a body part of the host, how is it NOT distinct from her and therfore not a being?

  48. The foetus, left alone, will not continue to develop – it’ll die. It’s not independent of the mother.

    Can you at least recognise that your definition of a collection of dividing cells with human DNA as a “human being” is not a universally-accepted position?

  49. Jeremy
    I’m not (at this point) offering an opinion of the death penalty. I’m merely suggesting to you that your argument is flawed.
    Life is not an arbitrarily defined matter.
    The abortion, and the death penalty debates both have to come to terms with the deliberate killing of a human being. Pro death penalty debaters don’t, in serious company anyway, claim that death row prisoners are not human. Pro-choice debaters, on the other hand – do.

    “….there’s plenty of dispute over at what point a collection of cells, an embryo, a foetus, or a baby becomes a “human being”.”
    I don’t think that there is much dispute at all. There are claims, agreed, but not any dispute, because thos claims are pretty easily dealt with.

    “It is entirely consistent to oppose the death penalty and support abortion on the grounds that a human being begins at birth.”
    But if a human begins only at birth then it is not consistent to argue a number of other issues.

  50. Jeremy

    So you agree with us that there should be no prevention of a woman’s access to abortion in, say, the first trimester?

    I am relatively content with the existing legal framework that pertains to abortion and I am seeking no change in the law. I will continue to talk about the morality of the issue though

    But you think that at a certain point a woman should be forced to give birth, taken to hospital against her will and forced to undergo a procedure where her safety and health are not the sole priority for doctors?

    The further along any pregnancy goes the more that it becomes a case of a competition between the rights and desires of the woman and the child and the less you can just make an arbitrary claim that one ( the mother) has precedence over the other. As I said before once you get beyond a certain point the “procedure” is essentially the same and the only difference is the outcome for the child. Why is that so hard for you to understand?
    Oh and thanks for fixing my coding error in my previous comment BTW;)

  51. “The foetus, left alone, will not continue to develop – it’ll die. It’s not independent of the mother.”
    It won’t be until it’s several years old.

    And left alone it won’t die. It will develope and be born.

    “Can you at least recognise that your definition of a collection of dividing cells with human DNA as a “human being” is not a universally-accepted position?”

    I can.
    Neither you nor I have views that are universally accepted on this issue Jeremy.
    So what?

  52. “I’m not (at this point) offering an opinion of the death penalty.”

    Of course you’re not. What are you doing on this thread, then?

    “Life is not an arbitrarily defined matter.”

    Oh, really? We’re talking about when we become human beings, which is very controversial, but even the definition of “life” is complicated. Tell us – what’s your definition of “life”, Leo?

    “The abortion, and the death penalty debates both have to come to terms with the deliberate killing of a human being.”

    Um, no – the line that a foetus is a “human being” is a fundamental disagreement, not an accepted definition.

    “Pro death penalty debaters don’t, in serious company anyway, claim that death row prisoners are not human. Pro-choice debaters, on the other hand – do.”

    Which is why the debates are fundamentally different and Iain’s attempt to turn this thread into a discussion of abortion was ridiculous.

    “I don’t think that there is much dispute at all. There are claims, agreed, but not any dispute, because thos claims are pretty easily dealt with.”

    Ha! If you say so, Leo.

    What arrogance.

    “But if a human begins only at birth then it is not consistent to argue a number of other issues.”

    Really? What?

  53. Would you mind explaining why it is NOT human, NOT living or NOT a being please?

    ALL 3 would be nice.

  54. “…the line that a foetus is a “human being” is a fundamental disagreement, not an accepted definition.”
    That, like “is a slave a human being,” or “Juden sind ein Mensch?” is a matter of convenience.

    If I cause a woman who’s 40 weeks pregnant to deliver a dead baby have I done anything wrong Jeremy?

  55. “It won’t be until it’s several years old.

    And left alone it won’t die. It will develope and be born.”

    What are you talking about? If you leave it alone – stop forcing the mother to use her body to grow it – then it won’t grow at all.

    ““Can you at least recognise that your definition of a collection of dividing cells with human DNA as a “human being” is not a universally-accepted position?”

    I can.”

    Cheers. Stop pretending there’s “no dispute” as to your position. Of course there is.

    “Would you mind explaining why it is NOT human, NOT living or NOT a being please?

    ALL 3 would be nice.”

    It depends on how you define human, living or being. The fingernails on a dead person continue to grow, have human DNA, and exist. But they’re obviously not a “human being”.

    I don’t agree that any meaningful definition of a human being would include a collection of cells.

    “That, like “is a slave a human being,” or “Juden sind ein Mensch?” is a matter of convenience.”

    No, it isn’t. It’s idiotic. Who argues slaves aren’t human beings? Any definition of human being that includes you or I would also include slaves.

    “If I cause a woman who’s 40 weeks pregnant to deliver a dead baby have I done anything wrong Jeremy?”

    If you do it against her will, yes.

    Iain –

    As I said before once you get beyond a certain point the “procedure” is essentially the same and the only difference is the outcome for the child. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

    That’s not the only difference. Neither you nor I will ever go to hospital and have doctors prioritising something inside us over our own interests – that’s what you’re asking women to accept.

    In any case, very late term abortion is extremely rare. Almost all women who intend to abort do so within the first trimester, as you’d expect. Late term abortion is only in extreme situations.

    The pro-choice lobby demands abortion be banned and criminalised at all stages, including in the first few days. I take it that everyone here disagrees with them on that?

    And now, let’s get back to the topic of the death penalty.

  56. OK Jeremy, Just for you I’ll try to point the thread in your desired direction 😉
    😉
    A capital sanction is both warranted and justified if the offense is serious enough ( think Ivan Millat or Valmae Beck) and provided we have enough certainty of the accused person’s guilt it is even more humane to execute someone than to imprison them for the rest of their lives.

  57. Well, since almost everyone sentenced to death fights against it, I think your bland assertion that execution is “more humane” might be more than arguable.

    In any case, there’s a fundamental problem with what you’re suggesting. The law is supposed to punish equivalent crimes equally – it’s called parity of sentencing. We can’t set the level of proof required for conviction to 1 in 10,000 or some equally high number or almost all crimes would go unpunished. We set it lower than that – and accordingly we get our convictions.

    However, we need to recognise that a cost of that is the risk that we’re imprisoning innocent people. We should make sure that we have procedures that are proactive in recognising when a mistake’s been made, and remedying it (the compensation innocent people who’ve been imprisoned receive is miniscule to non-existent).

    And we should recognise that once we’ve executed someone, we can never undo that mistake.

    You might say, ah well, for death to be applied, it would need an extra high level of proof. But then what you’d have would be people punished differently not according to what they’ve done, but according to how much evidence they’ve left. That’s anathema to justice.

    In any case, we know that wherever the death penalty’s been enacted innocent people are killed. It does not reduce offending. It does not provide a disincentive. It is not even cheaper.

    Beyond all the moral arguments, the death penalty is simply impractical. If you care about justice, anyway.

  58. Jeremy

    Well, since almost everyone sentenced to death fights against it, I think your bland assertion that execution is “more humane” might be more than arguable.

    How humane a course of action is has nothing to do with the desires of a convicted killer, It has to do with the amount of suffering that each option produces. The same principle applies when it comes to keeping someone alive on a ventilator Vs turning it off that person may not want to die but we just lengthen the amount of their suffering by keeping the machine going.

    In any case, there’s a fundamental problem with what you’re suggesting. The law is supposed to punish equivalent crimes equally – it’s called parity of sentencing. We can’t set the level of proof required for conviction to 1 in 10,000 or some equally high number or almost all crimes would go unpunished. We set it lower than that – and accordingly we get our convictions.

    Why not? we accept the idea of a lesser standard of proof in civil cases so why can’t we expect a higher standard of proof in a capital case?

    However, we need to recognise that a cost of that is the risk that we’re imprisoning innocent people. We should make sure that we have procedures that are proactive in recognising when a mistake’s been made, and remedying it (the compensation innocent people who’ve been imprisoned receive is miniscule to non-existent).

    Is there any chance that Ivan Millat is innocent? Or that Barry Watts did not rape and murder 12 year old Sian Kingi? Lets draw on that recent case where two thugs set upon that Canadian chap in a wheel chair with Iron bars had he died with the video footage of the actual crime and positive ID of the perps how could there be any doubt of their guilt? I am advocating the rope only when we can be absolutely sure of a killers guilt.

    And we should recognise that once we’ve executed someone, we can never undo that mistake.

    If its no mistake because we can be sure of their guilt then its not a problem.

    You might say, ah well, for death to be applied, it would need an extra high level of proof. But then what you’d have would be people punished differently not according to what they’ve done, but according to how much evidence they’ve left. That’s anathema to justice.

    That is a spurious argument the charges someone may face is already dependent not on what they have done but what the prosecution can prove that they have done.

    In any case, we know that wherever the death penalty’s been enacted innocent people are killed. It does not reduce offending. It does not provide a disincentive. It is not even cheaper.

    Dead Killers do not re-offend Jeremy

    Beyond all the moral arguments, the death penalty is simply impractical. If you care about justice, anyway.

    Tell that to the mother of James Bolger or the familiy of Sian KIngi and see how convincing you are.

  59. “Why not? we accept the idea of a lesser standard of proof in civil cases so why can’t we expect a higher standard of proof in a capital case?”

    Hang on – civil cases all have the same burden of proof. Criminal cases all have the same burden of proof. There’s no parity between civil and criminal – they’re completely different. But what you’re asking is for people to receive fundamentally different punishes for the same offence, simply on the grounds of the level of evidence available.

    “I am advocating the rope only when we can be absolutely sure of a killers guilt.”

    I think you’re missing my point. You’re saying we punish murderer A differently from murderer B not because of the brutality of the crime or the mental capability of the murderer, but because of whether or not there’s enough evidence to meet this super high capital punishment test. It’s just unworkable.

    “That is a spurious argument the charges someone may face is already dependent not on what they have done but what the prosecution can prove that they have done.”

    Yeah, but not how well the prosecution can prove it. The court decides what they’ve done, and then punishes equally – you’re asking for it to mete out different punishments depending on the level of proof, not the offending.

    “Tell that to the mother of James Bolger or the familiy of Sian KIngi and see how convincing you are.”

    Perhaps those families want revenge, not justice. Your point?

  60. I don’t ever want the state murdering someone in my name.

    Even war is a questionable thing, tho self defense is always ok, and killing in self defense is probably acceptable if there isn’t an option. And for that matter revolution is probably ok in some circumstances – especially so if things get bad enough.

    But if I ever feel strongly enough about wanting someone specific dead I’ll do it myself. I would never ask the state to do that in my name.

    How many victims of crime do you pro death penalty people know? Every one I have ever spoken to about it seriously, so about 3 or 4 people, have all said that killing the perpetrator isn’t the answer. Child abuse victims say that their molester’s death won’t make up for the suffering – if anything prisons a better punishment. (OK its anecdotal but still I’ll stand by that any time.)

    I have never spoken to a murder victim about it.

    I dunno how comfortable I am with the thought of victims of crime and the families of murder victims having the same say either, but I know there is no on else to speak for a murder victim.

    We are talking about taking a life here – whats the difference? Killing someone takes away everything they could ever be. Thats why its the most abhorrent crime – and it makes no sense to react to one killing with another, or ten

    Ultimately I think people who advocate the death penalty are bloodthirsty but don’t want to face it.

    So thanks to the senate for that. Good to see them representing me effectively on something this important.

  61. “The fingernails on a dead person continue to grow, ……..”
    That’s an old wive’s tale. A load of shit. I see there’s not a lot of point arguing this with you.

  62. “If you leave it alone – stop forcing the mother to use her body to grow it – then it won’t grow at all.”
    The mother’s not forced to use her body. The only force being used in an abortion is the removal of the baby. Inless someone intervenes, the unmolested foetus will develope to the point where the mother’s body will expell it. At which point it is still not the slightest bit independant, but at which point you magically humanise it and it has a metamorphasis into a person.

    I never said there was no dispute about the humaity of the foetus Jeremy. I said there’s no logical to the view that it isn’t human. Your wive’s tale myth about dead people’s nails proves that.

    “It depends on how you define human, living or being. ”
    Here goes. Feel free to point out any error you find in this. Please avoid reference to zombie movies or vampires.
    Human needs no definition. DNA study will take care of that. Any aborted foetus will have only human DNA. There should be no dispute of this from any reasonable corner of the argument.

    Living is also pretty clear. At the very earliest point cell division begins. Only living organisms are able to divide cells. Organisms with cells that are unable to divide are not dead, but in decline. If there are instances of cell division in non living organisms please let me know.

    A distinct being is also a matter of scientific certainty Jeremy. Again we go to DNA on this issue. A tumor or tissue from the mother would have DNA unique to the mother. However examination of the foetus would reveal that it had DNA distinct from that of the mother. It is therefore not a part of her body, but a seperate being from her.

    “Who argues slaves aren’t human beings?”
    Nobody now. Except slave owners I suppose. Certainly in the 1860s in southern states of the US it was argued that slaves were either not human or humans of a different, lesser distinction. Nazis used the same arguments when exterminating Jews in the 1930s and 40s.
    Pro choice proponants use exactly the same argument.

    I have no issue with those opposed to the death penalty and abortion. That is, to me, a completely consistent position. Those in favour of both sit similarly, though do have issue with there being a distinction between an innocent embrio and a guilty murderer.
    To be in favour of abortion and against caital punishment seems to me to have the cart before the horse. Acceptance that we can kill people under certain conditions and that those conditions mean exterminating the innocent unborn and protecting the giulty. There’s a double srandard there.

  63. Leo. An embryo has human DNA. It is nonetheless not a human being. I really don’t feel like arguing the definition of human being on this DEATH PENALTY THREAD but the fact of the matter is that there is no debate that human beings exist after birth. There is no meaningful argument for denying a Jew, or a slave, or any other person their human rights, and your repulsive suggestion that pro-choice advocates are somehow like Nazis or slave-owners is beneath contempt.

    Pre-birth a foetus is NOT an independent human being. It does NOT have independent human rights, because it exists – and ONLY EXISTS – inside another human being. It has not been separated from its mother, and is effectively still a parasite. A parasite with human DNA, perhaps, but not an independent human being.

    If you seriously believed that a collection of cells was a human being then you couldn’t support even very early abortion, although you’ve indicated that you do above. Clearly you do not believe your definition of human being either.

    In any case, there’s no double standard in the position of opposition to capital punishment but support for women’s rights. I am strongly opposed to the deliberate killing of any human being. This is not in any way contradicted by my support for abortion rights because they do not involve the killing of human beings.

    The upshot of support for the death penalty, in contrast, is that you are ensuring that in practice the state WILL execute INNOCENT human beings. Do you seriously deny this? The death penalty always results in the execution of the innocent, because humans are fallible and the legal system imperfect.

  64. there is no debate that human beings exist after birth.

    Yes, and where are the so-called *Pro Life* advocates when it comes to standing up for actual human life? On this thread it’s only leftists who can legitimately claim that mantle.

  65. “Pre-birth a foetus is NOT an independent human being. It does NOT have independent human rights, because it exists – and ONLY EXISTS – inside another human being. It has not been separated from its mother, and is effectively still a parasite. A parasite with human DNA, perhaps, but not an independent human being.”
    It does not change that after its birth though Jeremy. Yet you magically defend its rights.

    “If you seriously believed that a collection of cells was a human being then you couldn’t support even very early abortion, although you’ve indicated that you do above. Clearly you do not believe your definition of human being either.”
    Why? I don’t defend the right of every human being to life without exeption. There are times when a human life can be taken in the interests of another human life. I don’t see where my position is inconsistant there.

    “I am strongly opposed to the deliberate killing of any human being. ”
    But you reserve the right to decide what a human being is. Like a Nazi decides. Then it’s ok to kill it.

    “The death penalty always results in the execution of the innocent, because humans are fallible and the legal system imperfect.”
    So why put anyone in prison?
    What you are arguing here is that we deliberately deprive innocent people of their freedom.
    I’m not advocating that we execute innocent people. I’m pointing to the flaws of your own view on this. And you are pointing out that they are based on myths in any case.

  66. Northern Exposure

    I think Iain’s point is that revenge and justice are one in the same.

    How someone could come to this conclusion eludes me, but I don’t think there’s something wrong with people who advocate the death penalty, I just think they are wrong.

    Criminals hate the idea of being locked away til they are old, but they aren’t afraid of being picked off by their competition, and their executions are a lot less dainty. The death penalty isn’t a deterrent, if it were, dont you think by now there wouldn’t be a single criminal left in the USA, Saudi Arabia, China etc?

  67. Leo. This is the absolute last thing being said on abortion on this thread.

    Birth IS a meaningful point at which to declare that a human being begins. The law has to pick a point – in the same way as it has to pick a point at which a person is capable of being tried for a crime, or a point at which a person is capable of consenting to sex, or a point at which a person is able to vote. These are all much more arbitrary than the view that we begin at birth.

    You believe a human being begins at conception. You believe that a collection of cells is a “human being”. You are entitled to that view, but stop pretending that it’s the only reasonable one.

    “But you reserve the right to decide what a human being is. Like a Nazi decides. Then it’s ok to kill it.”

    YOU reserve the right to decide what a human being is, too. You just come to a different conclusion to many of us.

    And fuck off with your stupid Nazi analogy. Godwin – you lose.

    “So why put anyone in prison?
    What you are arguing here is that we deliberately deprive innocent people of their freedom.”

    No, but we should recognise that our justice system is fallible. It has to be, in order to work – if we made the standard of proof “beyond ANY doubt” then no-one would be found guilty of anything and it would effectively be anarchy. Practically we should do everything in our power to reduce the number of innocent people in prison – and we should provide proper compensation to innocent people we then free – but at least if they’re in prison we can correct our mistakes. If we’ve executed them, we can’t.

    Human justice is not perfect. The death penalty makes those flaws much, much worse.

  68. “YOU reserve the right to decide what a human being is, too.”
    No I don’t Jeremy. There cannot be any doubt that from the moment of conception there exists a human being. You’ve offered no argument to the points of evidence supporting that view that I have stated above and I suggest that you agree with me.
    The argument is, and it is relevent to capital punishment, that you and I have a fundamental dispute as to the ethics of the deliberate extinguishment of that life at some point.
    I don’t seek to redefine, or use semantics to wiggle my way into a strong ethical position over the definition of what a human is.
    A prisoner, condemned to death is a fullly fledged human being. No argument.
    As a general rule, its not in the best interests of anyone to allow for the execution of fully fledged human beings. Even when those human beings have committed murder.
    However.
    I have read the coronial report of the Anita Cobby. I have followed the “career” of Julian Knight with some interest and I had a brief assosiation with Walter Mikac. That’s my personal contact with the victims and the perpetrators of some crime. There is no doubt about the guilt or innocence of Travers, Murdoch and the Murphys, none as to the guilt of Knight and none about Bryant.
    I have some real difficulty with accepting that you find yourself in the position of arguing that these men deserve to be allowed to continue to live.
    You might like to enlighten us as to why you allow these filthy, animalistic people should be spared while arguing that the most innocent, unprotected and vulnerable human beings possible should continue to be “terminated” for the convenience of their irresponsible parents.

  69. Jeremy

    Hang on – civil cases all have the same burden of proof. Criminal cases all have the same burden of proof. There’s no parity between civil and criminal – they’re completely different. But what you’re asking is for people to receive fundamentally different punishes for the same offence, simply on the grounds of the level of evidence available.

    I think you’re missing my point. You’re saying we punish murderer A differently from murderer B not because of the brutality of the crime or the mental capability of the murderer, but because of whether or not there’s enough evidence to meet this super high capital punishment test. It’s just unworkable.

    Correct me if I am wrong here but isn’t it the case that in Australian courts that a jury decides the guilt or innocence of the accused and then the presiding judge decides the punishment? The actual sentence is an entirely separate consideration to the issue of guilt, thus your argument just falls apart because you wrongly conflate the two aspects of a trial into one.

    Perhaps those families want revenge, not justice. Your point?

    I agree with you that revenge is not justice but nor is a sentencing regime that so undervalues the magnitude of a crime that a murderer receives an inadequate sentence.

  70. ““YOU reserve the right to decide what a human being is, too.”
    No I don’t Jeremy. There cannot be any doubt that from the moment of conception there exists a human being. “

    Um, yes, there is. A collection of cells with human DNA is not a “human being” in the sense of a “person” with rights.

    There is a HUGE amount of doubt as to your position. Whatever you call an embryo at conception, it is not an independent human being.

    Can you stop wasting everyone’s time by pretending that your position, your self-satisfied definition, is somehow objective? It’s at least as arbitrary as anything you criticise.

    There’s no point debating this with you if you’re so arrogant that you have to try to bolster your position by claiming – ridiculously, on this subject – that there “cannot be any doubt” about your controversial views.

    “You’ve offered no argument to the points of evidence supporting that view that I have stated above and I suggest that you agree with me.”

    No, I don’t. Can’t you read? Your “arguments” amount to nothing more than sophistry. If you genuinely believed an embryo is a human being then how could you support abortion at any stage? And yet you support it at this early stage.

    “The argument is, and it is relevent to capital punishment, that you and I have a fundamental dispute as to the ethics of the deliberate extinguishment of that life at some point.”

    Yeah – you think it’s okay, and I don’t.

    “I don’t seek to redefine, or use semantics to wiggle my way into a strong ethical position over the definition of what a human is.”

    Yes, you do. Your entire position as to what a human is is based on semantics and redefinition.

    “I have some real difficulty with accepting that you find yourself in the position of arguing that these men deserve to be allowed to continue to live.”

    What’s “deserve” got to do with it? They’ll never get all that they “deserve” – it’s impossible.

    My problem with the death penalty is that it is impossible to implement it without either executing innocent people or abandoning the fundamental principle of justice of parity of sentencing.

    “You might like to enlighten us as to why you allow these filthy, animalistic people should be spared while arguing that the most innocent, unprotected and vulnerable human beings possible should continue to be “terminated” for the convenience of their irresponsible parents.”

    I am opposed to all killing of human beings. I don’t believe we should ever accept the killing of “the most innocent, unprotected and vulnerable human beings possible” by their parents. I condemn infanticide. And I support abortion rights, because that doesn’t involve killing human beings.

    Abortion is not infanticide. The anti-choice lobby doesn’t win the argument by asserting that its definition of “baby” and “human being” are somehow indisputable.

    As I see it, this argument boils down to the following –
    * You think a collection of cells after conception is a “human being”
    * I think a “human being” is a living being with human DNA that has been born and is independent of its mother.

    * We both oppose the murder of innocent human beings (although you seem to think that abortion’s okay early on, which if you genuinely believed your definition would seem to be murder of the innocent)

    * I object to all killing, even by the state, even of the “guilty”.
    * You don’t object to the state killing prisoners if satisfied that they’re definitely guilty.

    Is that correct?

  71. The anti-abortion, pro-death penalty position is illogical. The believers in this stance, their emotive arguments and primitive religious views are best ignored. Religious people wish to impose their ridiculous beliefs on others, for some reason. Euthanasia is another favourite hobby horse. Nobody in Australia is forcing women to have abortions, so what gives religious people the right to preach to others, you don’t want it, don’t have it, just don’t try to take away the choice of others. All these arguments about when is a life a life bullshit, are bullshit. Surely life=consciousness.

    A family member of mine had a brain aneurysm some years ago. This resulted in a condition from which there is no recovery of consciousness possible(brain death). It was my decision to turn off the machine artificially keeping them alive. Do anti-abortion people believe that to be murder? You must, that person had human traits, DNA, etc. Idiots. Feel free to follow your religion, just don’t force to follow its archaic doctrine.

    Of course the loathsome creatures who advocate extra judicial killing have no answer for how killing criminals helps improve society, over say life imprisonment. The death penalty is clearly not a deterrent to crime, only the mark of a vengeful, uncivilised society. How do so called ‘conservatives’ justify giving the State the power to enact the death penalty, when they’re usually the ones jumping up and down about how the State has to much power, regulation, is too big, and so on.

  72. Returned Man

    Damn – Jeremy just got in before me on calling Godwin’s.

    All murder is unacceptable to society.

    Death penalty in a nutshell: Public murder.
    Homicide in a nutshell: Private murder.

    Private murder is currently a crime – which it should be.

    Public murder should be treated the same way.

  73. Iain. Once a person’s found guilty, and a judge decides the sentence, the principles of sentencing are about the offence, the level of seriousness of this specific instance of the offence, the mitigating (or aggravating) factors relating to the offender’s conduct etc.

    You are asking for a separate factor to be added – how “beyond ANY doubt” the evidence. Juries would need to distinguish between “beyond reasonable doubt” and “beyond any doubt whatsoever”, and find people guilty on the first but not on the second, and then the judge would have to apply a different punishment not on the facts, but on the standard of evidence.

    But the standard of evidence should have no bearing on the appropriate punishment. The crime is not worse because there’s better evidence. The offender is not more culpable because there’s better evidence. Or, to put it in terms that won’t freak you out so much – offenders who manage to get rid of evidence don’t deserve a lesser sentence than someone committing the same crime in the same circumstances.

    The way that you propose getting around this problem of executing the innocent is in itself profoundly unjust.

  74. Jeremy:

    Do you believe the law should prohibit abortions up until the very last minute when the baby is capable of being forcibly induced against the mother’s will?

    No.

    And the ‘forcibly induced against the mother’s will’ is emotive rather than accurate. The difference between a live birth and late term abortion is not the induction. That happens either way. The difference is whether you kill the baby first.

  75. “And the ‘forcibly induced against the mother’s will’ is emotive rather than accurate.”

    If you’re taking her choice away, it’s entirely accurate.

    Anyway, enough with abortion. Any further comments that mention abortion will not be approved. This thread is about the death penalty.

  76. Jeremy

    . Once a person’s found guilty, and a judge decides the sentence, the principles of sentencing are about the offence, the level of seriousness of this specific instance of the offence, the mitigating (or aggravating) factors relating to the offender’s conduct etc.

    Sure but all of that has nothing to do with the determination of an accused person’s guilt now does it? That is what we have juries for.

    You are asking for a separate factor to be added – how “beyond ANY doubt” the evidence. Juries would need to distinguish between “beyond reasonable doubt” and “beyond any doubt whatsoever”, and find people guilty on the first but not on the second, and then the judge would have to apply a different punishment not on the facts, but on the standard of evidence.

    How is it essentially different to ask a jury to decide between a case being manslaughter and murder? This already happens in our courts so why do you think that Juries are incapable of deciding if the evidence is substantial enough to overcome any doubt?

    But the standard of evidence should have no bearing on the appropriate punishment. The crime is not worse because there’s better evidence. The offender is not more culpable because there’s better evidence. Or, to put it in terms that won’t freak you out so much – offenders who manage to get rid of evidence don’t deserve a lesser sentence than someone committing the same crime in the same circumstances.

    Which is why we separate the decision about the guilt of an accused person from the decision about the consequences in the first place. You objection is a total non point.

    The way that you propose getting around this problem of executing the innocent is in itself profoundly unjust.

    No it isn’t It is however a problem for you because you have so often claimed that the risk of executing an innocent person is a valid reason to rule out capital punishment and what I am suggesting is that if we make any capital sanction contingent on a higher standard of proof than the usual “beyond reasonable doubt” then this objection is largely nullified.

  77. Iain, you just don’t get it. You are asking for the punishment for a crime to be different depending on what kind of evidence is available. Two different criminals commit the same crime in the same circumstances, but the evidence is better for one than the other. In your plan, they receive very different punishments. This is unjust.

    It’s very straightforward, and you just don’t seem to get the point.

  78. “Two different criminals commit the same crime in the same circumstances…”

    That’s as good as dead people’s fingernails continue to grow.

    When in the history of justice have two different criminals commit the same crime in the same circumstances?

    I think what Iain’s on about is that there is a difference between a case like Lyndy Chamberlain or Ruben Carter and a case like John Travers or Ivan Milat.

    Where there is no doubt of guilt and the crime is particularly heinous, the judge will currently impose a different penalty to one where the crime is less brutal, the accused is sorry or specially disadvantaged. Not all murderers get life with no parole do they?

  79. Jeremy
    even if those tow cases were committed by identical twins and the victims were likewise identical twins, the weapon was the same in both cases heck the motivation was the same as well each case would be unique and the outcome and sentence would be unique You are arguing that “one size fits all” when it comes to sentences for similar crimes and that sounds an awful lot like an argument for mandatory sentencing to me and I kind of recall you arguing against that in the past.

  80. Oh, for pete sake.

    I’m saying that relevant factors which distinguish between offending for the same charge are things like
    – factors relating to the seriousness – eg brutality – of this particular instance of that charge;
    – factors relating to the moral culpability of the offender, eg mental illness, remorse, etc.

    These factors are relevant, and push the sentence up or down.

    But there is no way in which the level of evidence makes the slightest difference to the level of punishment that’s appropriate. It doesn’t make the offender’s conduct worse or better; it doesn’t make them more or less culpable; it doesn’t make the crime more or less serious. It’s IRRELEVANT to sentencing.

    In any system where justice is the aim, anyway.

  81. Returned Man

    This hair-splitting discussion is really getting on my nerves. It reminds me of the South African apartheid regime sitting around, prevaricating over a citizen’s classification of “coloured” and “black”, pacing around them back and forth, measuring their noses and what not.

    It’s obscenely farcical and amounts to nothing. Race classification? Irrelevant. Death penalty? Wrong in all circumstances.

  82. It is better to lop heads than to split hairs, RM.

  83. This hair-splitting discussion is really getting on my nerves.

    Me too. But it happens because there is no logical argument in favour of the death penalty, so death penatly advocates are reduced to making silly analogies about irrelevencies (abortion FFS) in order to justify their position.

  84. RM
    Sorry but you can’t claim that the death penalty is just “wrong in all circumstances” without saying why you think that is so
    Jeremy
    You just can’t seem to get your head around the separation of deciding guilt and deciding punishment now can you?
    Confessions
    You are wrong, of course there are logical arguments for the death penalty , you may disagree with them but they certainly do exist.

  85. you may disagree with them but they certainly do exist.

    Well I wish you’d trot them out instead of the usual illogical fluff you’ve left all over this thread.

  86. “You just can’t seem to get your head around the separation of deciding guilt and deciding punishment now can you?”

    Jesus. Look, I can’t get into Iain’s head. Anyone else got any ideas on how to help him grasp the point?

    Iain, I understand that the finding of guilt is separate from the sentencing process.

    The point is that you are trying to combine them again. You have a finding of guilt, and THEN you apply different punishments depending on the level of evidence.

    I think we’ll just have to agree that you’re incapable of grasping this point.

  87. Jeremy

    The point is that you are trying to combine them again. You have a finding of guilt, and THEN you apply different punishments depending on the level of evidence.

    I don’t know where you get that from because what I am saying is that just as we can allow jury to decide if a case is manslaughter or murder in some cases we can allow them to decide if there is sufficient evidence to find a defendant guilty of a capital crime and that if they do a judge then decides if he will impose such a sentence.

  88. Ugh. Iain, what do you mean by “capital crime”? Murder is murder, regardless of the evidence used to find a conviction. It’s the one offence. You’re asking for the punishment to alter depending on the level of evidence, though.

    We don’t have crimes where it’s a different punishment depending on the certainty of the evidence. And we couldn’t, without abandoning the principle of parity of sentencing that is essential for justice.

  89. Returned Man

    Iain the onus is actually on you to say – and PROVE (which you haven’t done) – why the death penalty is RIGHT in SOME circumstances, not for me or anyone here to prove the opposite.

    Retribution (bzzt!), deterrence (bzzzt! bzzzzzt!) and any other bzztwords that you trot out have been shown to be false, time and time again. I don’t care if the guy was caught with the bloody knife over the still-warm bleeding corpse declaring “I’m glad I killed the bastard!!”*, public murder, as with private murder, is an invasion of human rights and IS WRONG.

    *with apologies to Blackadder.

  90. Jeremy lots of jurisdiction draw distinctions between different killings under the broad definition of murder why is it so hard for you to appreciate that when even here we draw a distillation between various sorts of unlawful killings calling some infanticide , others manslaughter and yet others murder?

    RM
    I have already suggested that capital punishment can be more “humane” than banging someone up with out the possibility of release for the rest of their lives . More importantly when we are talking about the likes of Ivan Millat or Barry Watts the world would simply be a better place without them drawing breath.

  91. distinction on line three instead of distillation

  92. This is becoming a waste of time. Iain, we certainly do draw a distinction between crimes based on the different factors in the offending itself. We do NOT draw a distinction between crimes on the basis of the evidence required to find a conviction. The standard of evidence required for a conviction of murder or manslaughter is THE SAME – “beyond reasonable doubt”. They differ in terms of what the offence describes, not the evidence required to convict. (We do have what are called “strict liability offences” where the standard of evidence required is lower than for ordinary criminal matters – but we don’t have multiple versions of those offences depending on the evidence available.)

    The only factors that should alter the punishment are those connected with the offence, the victim, or the offender, which make the offending either worse than the average or not as bad. The level of evidence available has no effect on the level of moral culpability, and should not make any difference to the sentence.

    Seriously, how much more plain do I need to make it for you to grasp this point?

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