December 9, 2005

"Why not let the citizens of Wisconsin have a voice as to whether or not they think this would be appropriate here?"

No, the topic is not gay marriage. (See yesterday's discussion of a proposal to put gay marriage to a statewide vote.) Now we're talking about a referendum to adopt the death penalty here in Wisconsin, where we haven't had the death penalty in 152 years.

18 comments:

Simon said...

I think that it's entirely appropriate that a decision of such momentous import ought to be taken by the people as a whole. Doing so will mitigate the inevitable flood of criticism from the losing side and effectively cut off legislative attempts to use it as a ping pong issue.

faster said...

The Senator is using the Bible as a rationale for this vote - "an eye for an eye." It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Jacques Cuze said...

Yes, I think citizens should be able to vote down "an eye for an eye." If we can't vote down "an eye for an eye", how will we ever be able to put into place laws enabling torture of citizens that protest the war?

"An Eye for an Eye"
Get-Tough Laws Under Biblical Scrutiny
by Paul M. Bischke

"An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." Sounds very hard-nose doesn't it? It seems like an ancient recipe for harshness that modern society has long ago outgrown. Not so. Few passages in the Bible are as badly misunderstood as this one. The "eye for an eye" maxim is not about harshness; it's about proportional retribution. And our society has certainly not outgrown it. In fact, over the past 20 years, America has enacted a vast body of harsh laws to "get tough on crime" and they have enjoyed widespread political support.

Do these sentiments flow from Christian teachings or are they merely artifacts of America's popular culture? The neglected Biblical principle of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" answers this question with an unexpected challenge.

...
The lawmaker who devises laws of excessive severity commits a sin of tremendous gravity: as Isaiah 10:1 declares, "Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who constantly record unjust decisions." Abused power breeds bitterness. Vengeance begets vengeance. But no good-willed person needs to fear or despise the law if the simple expedient of "an eye for an eye" is followed.

Patrick said...

I find it odd that people believe that the laws of a wandering people trying to survive in a dessert 3000 years ago should affect our policy choices.

Patrick said...

Sorry, that was supposed to be "desert".

Hmmm...dessert.

nunzio said...

Not having the death penalty didn't stop Jeffrey Dahmer from getting shanked in prison.

37921 said...

What opponents of such a referendum are afraid of (and know damn well) is that the citizens of Wisconsin would probably vote in favor of the death penalty.

So the question is, should a group of elites -- who believe they possess a the moral high ground -- be able to thwart the will of the majority? Under what circumstances?

Jacques Cuze said...

So the question is, should a group of elites -- who believe they possess a the moral high ground -- be able to thwart the will of the majority? Under what circumstances?

10 Points, Cite one amongst the obvious answers that either addresses 8675309's points, or points out the flaws in Jenny's question itself.

XWL?

Simon?

Palladian?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Troy said...

I find it odd that the ideas of a small city-state trying to fend for itself in a rocky place would affect our policy choices.

I also find it odd that the laws of a bass-ackward island that was barely out of blood eagles and Viking raids would affect our policy choices, but there you have it.

The death penalty in the OT was rarely (relatively speaking) used and the Due Process (2 or 3 eyewitness and death penalty for perjurers) given the accused was in many cases more stringent than our own.

Jacques Cuze said...

ARTHUR: I am your king!
WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.
ARTHUR: You don't vote for kings.
WOMAN: Well, 'ow did you become king then?
ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake, [angels sing] her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. [singing stops] That is why I am your king!
DENNIS: Listen -- strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: Well you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!
ARTHUR: Shut up! Will you shut up!
DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed!
ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!
DENNIS: Oh, what a give away. Did you hear that, did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about -- did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn't you?

Simon said...

"So the question is, should a group of elites -- who believe they possess a the moral high ground -- be able to thwart the will of the majority? Under what circumstances?"

Well, for example, under the circumstances that the society has bound itself under supermajoritarian agreements; for example, if the Wisconsin Constitution forbade the death penalty (which it might do, I have no idea), and required a two-thirds majority in a referendum to alter it, then the will of a bare majority of Wisconsinites to re-introduce the death penalty would and should be thwarted.

I'm not sure what Quxxo is looking for as a response here, but that's the first thing that jumps to mind.

Simon said...

LMAO at the Monty Python quote. One of the funniest movies ever made, IMHO.

Jacques Cuze said...

Yeah, I used Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed! in court once, it honestly didn't help.

Simon said...

"Yeah, I used Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed! in court once, it honestly didn't help."

It's got to be a pretty sour Judge that doesn't vote for an ex python motion.

chuck b. said...

How would Ann vote? :)

Jacques Cuze said...

Okay, so I am not a lawyer, so I don't get that. I feel I should, but sorry, I don't. Can you explain?

brylin said...

"I find it odd that people believe that the laws of a wandering people trying to survive in a dessert [sic] 3000 years ago should affect our policy choices."

Aren't we all the descendants of those who survived in the harsh and brutal world of 3000 years ago?

And weren't those who did survive substantially aided in their survival by the religious rules at that time?

Ann Althouse said...

Chuck b.: I would vote against the death penalty. I think it's especially bad to adopt it in a state with a very long tradition against it. But I am also opposed to it on moral grounds. I don't think the government should kill people who are not a present threat. But I do think prison should be a stark experience of penitence.