May 23, 2007

The death penalty for the rape of a child: "Short of a first-degree murderer, we can think of no other non-homicide crime more deserving."

Yesterday, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an opinion upholding the death penalty for the rape of a child under the age of 12.
The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling on a case from Georgia in 1977, held that the death penalty for rape violated the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. But the high court said repeatedly that its ruling applied only to adult victims....

In Tuesday's 62-page opinion, Justice Jeffrey Victory ... wrote that the Louisiana law meets the U.S. Supreme Court test requiring an aggravating circumstance — in this case the age of the victim — to justify the death penalty.

As early as 1996 the court had said that the law was constitutional, ruling in pretrial matters in other cases. Tuesday's ruling was the first time it upheld an actual death sentence for someone convicted under the law.
Patrick Kennedy is the only person in the United States on death row for rape.

83 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

Patrick Kennedy is the only person in the United States on death row for rape.

And it's a darn shame he's the only one too.

Child predators have to be the lowest form of the human species imaginable.

The Drill SGT said...

Doesn't bother me in the least.

jimbino said...

This country will remain barbaric until we realize that rape is nothing more than a physical battery and is deserving of the same degree of punishment accorded to battery.

Unfortunately, the "thin-skull" doctrine is what allows the State to treat rape as something special, under the theory promoted by our religionists that a woman is somehow "ruined" by being raped in a way that a person suffering the same degree of injury to a body part that is not a twat would not be injured.

Religion poisons everything.

dbp said...

I have no problem with the death penalty--especially for child rapists. But there is a problem: If there is no difference in the penalty for rape and murder then what incentive would the criminal have to spare the life of the main witness?

In game theory terms: Killing the rape victim greatly reduces the chances of being caught, but does not increase the penalty.

dbp

Oligonicella said...

jimbino -- Perhaps you're overlooking the victim was an 8yr old child, not a woman.

Fry the bastard.

tjl said...

Public safety of course demands that child predators receive exemplary punishments. However, if the death penalty applies equally to child murder and child sexual assault, it creates an incentive for pedophiles to kill their victims. If they risk execution either way, won't they be more likely to make sure there's no surviving witness?

Similarly misguided legislation is about to become law in Texas. It's odd that nobody seems to question what impact the law might have on child victims' chances of survival.

Zeb Quinn said...

Why am I thinking that jimbino has no kids?

jimbino said...

I don't think my argument that rape is no more than physical battery depends on the age of the person attacked. Nor does it depend on whether or not I have kids.

The major problem with religionists is that they don't think, of course.

jimbino said...

Game theory also dictates that the rape victim, in addition to being killed, should be immolated, so as to destroy any DNA evidence.

And I remember the evil days when the death penalty for rape was in full force. In those days we learned that a black twat was worth much less than a white one and that mostly black men were killed by the State, while white men were found not guilty once the jury got around to considering the harshness of the penalty.

bearbee said...

..to treat rape as something special, under the theory promoted by our religionists...

I thought it was the feminists that pushed rape as something special.

jimbino said...

Women were "ruined for life" long before feminists came on the scene. And it's clearly religion, not feminism, that has led Pakistan to imprison its ruined women and require 5 male eye witnesses to establish that a rape occurred.

Methadras said...

Child predators and child rapists are sub-human filth that deserve nothing better than to have their wretched and miserable existences extinguished and thusly removed from a living society. A society cannot tolerate predators that silently and deceptively co-mingle amongst our most vulnerable treasure, our children. Some people may think rape is just a physical assault, but now perpetrate that physical assault on a child that is unable and in most cases, incapable of defending him/herself against such an assault physically or verbally. The emotional and mental anguish created by such an assault, if you still believe that child rape is only a physical manifestation, is unfathomable to a child on the level of life-altering effects with devastating life-long consequences. Only to have to grow older and come to a full realization of what was done to them.

I find it disquieting that someone like Jimbino or anyone else that thinks like him that would try to categorize child rape as a simple physical assault instead of a heinous crime unbecoming of the death penalty. Let's not forget those priests who assaulted and raped children under the auspices of the Catholic Church and had nothing but vitriol and hatge against such crimes against our children.

amy said...

I'm thinking jimbino is a troll. either way, I think he'd be singing a different tune if he or she had ever been raped. some rapes could cause less physical harm than a punch on the jaw, but very few victims would rather be raped then punched. From the tone of this it seem like most posters never could imagine themselves being raped . . .

Methadras said...

jimbino said...

Women were "ruined for life" long before feminists came on the scene. And it's clearly religion, not feminism, that has led Pakistan to imprison its ruined women and require 5 male eye witnesses to establish that a rape occurred.


Aside from you obvious distaste for religion as misguided as it may be. You do understand that rape isn't a religious construct, don't you? If you don't then what is your basis that rape is a religious construct?

Hey said...

rape isn't special... oy. The bad old days of the 70s theoreticians rises again!

That's why we have "sexual assault" laws and very few rape laws, and why people get out of jail so early for horrible crimes. One more thing to hate hippies for.

Murder rates on child rapes are very high as is, and the existing death penalty does little to discourage this. Most abductions in the US are by pedophiles, and they almost always kill the victim. Ensuring that a child rapist will never reoffend should be of the utmost importance, and the death penalty is the only effective method of eliminating recidivism.

Given the predilections of liberal radicals in our system, I'm sorely tempted to advocate bringing back the bloody code of the 1700s - death penalty for all felonies.

amy said...

edit: should be SOME posters, not MOST posters in the last sentence

Hoosier Daddy said...

This country will remain barbaric until we realize that rape is nothing more than a physical battery and is deserving of the same degree of punishment accorded to battery.

Wow. Just effing wow.

And it's clearly religion, not feminism, that has led Pakistan to imprison its ruined women and require 5 male eye witnesses to establish that a rape occurred.

And I wonder what religion that would be.

Actually jimbo, I would think the country would become more barbaric if rape was dumbed down to the level of getting punched in the nose by a total stranger.

Hoosier Daddy said...

the theory promoted by our religionists that a woman is somehow "ruined" by being raped in a way that a person suffering the same degree of injury to a body part that is not a twat would not be injured

In addition, I wonder if you ever talked to a rape victim. I'm betting the farm you haven't based upon the above tripe.

Beth said...

I recall this case all too clearly. Kennedy is a 300-lb. rat bastard, who after waking the girl early in the morning and raping her -- causing internal damage and extreme blood loss -- called into work to say he wouldn't be in as his little girl "became a lady" that day, called a carpet cleaning company to remove the evidence of blood from his floor, and only after they had come and removed the carpet, called 9/11 to report a rape, which he coached the girl to blame on intruders.

That leads to the other problem with having a death penalty for child rape. In stranger rapes, we see that the game stakes for a child rapist encourage him to kill his victim. In family rapes, it encourages family members to lie about the rape and protect the rapist, because he might face not just jail but execution. This girl stuck to the intruder story for 18 months until finally she was removed from the home, and was able to tell the truth without family pressure.

Because of those drawbacks, I'm against this penalty, and not surprised that in the years it's been in force, there's been little use of it. But I'm also not surprised that a jury went with it in this case.

Theo Boehm said...

Another high-level Althouse commenter comes on board. I love the game-theory remark.

The death penalty in this case would be a bad idea for the same reasons given by others upthread: It's not proportional to the crime, and it gives an assailant no motivation to spare the life of the child.

In addition, as a Catholic, I have been reexamining my conscience about the death penalty. In the past, my position was similar to that of C.S. Lewis: He could find no convincing argument, either in Scripture or from his own inner light, against the death penalty. For my part, however, I have been rethinking this issue, and the weight of argument has convinced me that the death penalty is an evil in itself and should be abolished.

This might be a good opportunity to debate the merits of the death penalty in general. My conscience tells me what my position should be, but it is a subject about which reasonable people disagree, and it might be interesting to have a reasonable debate. (Since I wrote this, it looks like that discussion is beginning to break out.)

And, yes, jimbino, us Catholics oppose the death penalty. Religion poisons everything.

The Drill SGT said...

Beth,

Too dumb (and in this case too mean) to breed comes to mind.

I'm not surprised that a LA jury of any race (and I have no idea what his race is) didn't vote to hang the SOB

Theo Boehm said...

Beth: It's these horrible cases that test people's consciences. Remember the one in the L.A. area a few years ago about the 5-year-old swiped off the lawn of her condo in a drive-by abduction right in front of her mom? (I don't have time just now to provide a link.) They found her mutilated body a few days later, and quickly caught the monster who apparently did it. Last I heard, he's still enjoying the hospitality of the State of California. That was one that really set back my opposition to the death penalty.

You just want to hang that human piece of shit.

But, gulping hard, it's perhaps worthwhile to really think through the meaning these horrible things. It's hard. Very hard. I have no answer except perhaps to say we should not give the wheel of evil cause and effect another push if we can help it.

Sigivald said...

I'm an atheist, and I think rape is worse than mere battery.

Based on the more severe psychological consequences, for one, and on the far greater probability of certain side-effects (pregnancy, venereal disease) that mere battery does not possess.

So, please to explain why "religionist" theories are required, or that "ruining" is required, for rape to be punished more harshly than mere battery?

(Note further that men can be raped, as well, and that the crime's statutory definition does not, to my knowledge, specify a gender of the victim or perpetrator.)

jimbino said...

Y'all who advocate the death penalty for rape are limiting it to forcible rape, aren't you? Or do you wish to include the 20 year-old who has sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend?

Commenter "Hey" should understand that most of the child abductions in Amerika are not perpetrated by pedophiles, but by someone they know and trust in a child-custody dispute.

And it amazes me that some posters here can't imagine choosing being raped in lieu of enduring a serious physical injury, if given the choice. When was the last time someone was given the death penalty for a beating that did not result in death?

Thorley Winston said...

I have no problem with the death penalty--especially for child rapists. But there is a problem: If there is no difference in the penalty for rape and murder then what incentive would the criminal have to spare the life of the main witness?


Answer 1: plea bargains. Someone commits rape but is allowed to plead down to a lesser offense provided that they accept the statutory maximum sentence. It happens all the time and having the death penalty as a chip on the bargaining table probably makes it easier to get defendants to agree to save the State the costs of a trial (and the risk of losing).


Answer 2: jury or judicial discretion on the penalty phase. There are very few* crimes on the books (including murder) where there is an automatic death sentence upon conviction. Usually after guilt is determined during the penalty phase, the judge or jury gets to decide what the appropriate penalty is within the statutory guidelines. So there is always a chance that someone who committed a crime that may be a capital crime gets a lengthy prison sentence instead depending on any mitigating circumstances. E.g. many people who are convicted of murder get life imprisonment (or less) instead in jurisdictions that allow for capital punishment.


Answer 3: someone who commits two capital offenses (murder and rape) rather than one (rape) is probably more likely to get executed if they get caught. That has to be weighed against the likelihood that victim identification really decreases their chances that much of getting caught.


* I’m not sure that there are any.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The death penalty in this case would be a bad idea for the same reasons given by others upthread: It's not proportional to the crime...

I've known two women who were raped as children. You are correct, the death penalty is not proportional, it is woefully inadequate. Unfortunately torture is off the table, so the death penalty is the next best option.

Thorley Winston said...

Unfortunately, the "thin-skull" doctrine is what allows the State to treat rape as something special, under the theory promoted by our religionists that a woman is somehow "ruined" by being raped in a way that a person suffering the same degree of injury to a body part that is not a twat would not be injured.


That’s not what the thin-skull rule is at all.

jimbino said...

Siegevald, as Hitchins might say, we expect good folks to institute good laws and evil folks to institute evil laws, but for good folks to institute evil laws, it takes religion.

There are lots of very religious atheists, including Buddhists, Wiccans, and animists. Atheism, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with religionism and the superstition involved in irrational reverence for the twat.

Sure, men can be raped, and I would like to know when was the last time someone was sentenced to death for raping a man. Assholes, even a white guy's asshole, isn't nearly as sacred as your average twat.

bearbee said...

That was one that really set back my opposition to the death penalty.

You just want to hang that human piece of shit.


Intellectually I oppose the death penalty but emotionally there are cases that if I had the means and the weapon, I could envision myself doing the worst.

dbp said...

Excellent points Thorley,

I agree and should qualify my remarks from before. The game theory ideas would only take effect if child rapists were routinely sentenced to death. If a death sentence was only a rare event, then I doubt it would have much impact on criminal behavior.

dbp

Pogo said...

Theo,
I am Catholic and used to be against the death penalty. After 'Dead Man Walking' I began to change my mind. I think some criminals deserve it, in very narrow circumstances, and with DNA or video proof.

I no longer believe that people capable of certain heinous acts would change their decision to kill someone based on some sick calculus about the death penalty.

I believe some people are evil, and probably lack any sort of soul at all. They do whatever they want and can get away with, while others do whatever pops into their stupid little brains at the moment, having no concern about consequences.

We have no effect on their actions whatsoever, not by our laws or institutions. Such deviants can only be managed by permanent enforced segregation, or death. The former is not guaranteed, and often subverted by faint-hearted types a decade or so down the road, when the parent s are dead and no one remembers the crime much anymore. There is little evidence that someone who would so grievously rape a small girl gives a flying f*** about morals, laws, statutes, or punishment.

If we could craft a real throw-away-the-key law, I would prefer that to the death penalty. But folks aren't willing to do even that, so the threat of release, and thus re-occurence, is too large.

And no, I don't think killing an evil man is itself an evil. Shooting Stalin or Mao Ted Bundy or Osama is not evil.

Pogo said...

P.S. I vote for the blogger death penalty for jimbino.

jimbino said...

Here's the argument, Thorley:

Let's assume that "the eggshell skull rule (or thin-skull rule) is a legal doctrine used in both tort law and criminal law that holds an individual liable for all consequences resulting from their [sic] activities leading to an injury to another person, even if the victim suffers unusual damages due to a pre-existing vulnerability or medical condition."

Hypothetically, the rapist forcibly penetrates a woman who is no virgin, causing no physical trauma. She feels traumatized, however, and suffers lifelong feelings of low self-esteem.

Her traumatization, which is all out of proportion to the physical injury inflicted, is attributable to the fact that she was raised in a society of religionists and has had her mind polluted by parents whose message to their daughter, directly or indirectly, that the only thing of value she brings to the table of life is her virgin twat. If she loses that, in ways the Bible or the Koran doesn't allow, she will be ruined for life. Modern muslims have honed this perverted thinking into fine art.

Regardless of all logic, the penetrating perpetrator, under the "thin-skull" doctrine, is held liable for the entirety of the traumatization, most of which is rationally attributable to the religious perversions of the society that has set the innocent woman up for ruination.

Of course the law is an ass and religion poisons everything.

Sydney Carton said...

"us Catholics oppose the death penalty..."

Speak for yourself. I'm a Catholic and I don't oppose it, but I recognize it has limited applicability. Child rape seems like a rare instance where it would be imposed.

While the Church cautions that the D.P. should be rarely used, it has no theological prohibition against it and in fact has sanctioned it many times.

Seven Machos said...

If the penalty for rape were the equivalent of a simple battery, there would be a hell of a lot more rape.

Pogo said...

Re: "Her traumatization, which is all out of proportion to the physical injury inflicted..."

That is a statement so ugly and egregiously stupid that rebuttal is unwarranted and, likely, fruitless.

Why do atheists turn out more hideous than the fundamentalists they abhor? I think they admire the power, frankly, and represent two sides of the same hateful coin.

Seven Machos said...

Jim -- There is a substantive difference between rape and statutory rape. Possibly you are the only person who doesn't see it.

LutherM said...

I have not seen the complete opinion of the Louisiana Court.
I doubt that the sentence is upheld on appeal, but it should be.
By giving the death penalty for raping a child under the age of 12, I not only concur in the result, I applaud the judges.

tjl said...

"people capable of certain heinous acts [won't] change their decision to kill someone based on some sick calculus about the death penalty."

Sad but true. If years of criminal defense practice has taught me anything, it's that people who commit atrocious crimes like this are people with supremely short attention spans. If they were capable of doing a risk/benefit analysis, they wouldn't be abducting and raping children. Before yielding to impulse, they might be swayed by some dim awareness that some crimes, but not others, are punishable by death. But the subtle calculations about plea bargaining, as proposed by Thorley, simply don't occur to pedophiles until after they've been arrested, and usually not even then.

Pogo said...

There's also something just repulsive to suggest that, "Gee, I might have let her go if only you hadn't threatened to kill me for raping her. See? it's your fault I killed her. Yup. I would have let her go, if you hadn't been just as evil as me."

It blames society for his crimes and suggests we ought to consult criminals on what sort of incentives they might prefer.

Hoosier Daddy said...

us Catholics oppose the death penalty..."

I'm a practicing Catholic and I don't. I simply don't subscribe to the moral equivalancy of murdering an innocent person and killing the person who did the act. There is a difference. I am reminded of an exchange in the movie The Big Red One where a private is pondering the morality of killing in war and he states that he can't murder anyone and his sergeant says, we don't muder we kill. The private says its the same thing. Sarge says, the hell it is. You don't murder animals you kill them.

I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about murderers and child molesters, although comparing them to animals is rather disparaging to the animal.

lurker2209 said...

Jim-

You appear to be conflating all people who value sexuality with those who value virginity. Classic Straw Man. It may be possible to argue that valuing virginity is patriarchal and shouldn't be a basis for abhoring rape, but one can arrive at the same position on rape by placing the focus on sexuality and sexual autonomy.

A college student who is date-raped may have lost her virginity years ago and have had a number of sexual partners in the meantime. She still feels deeply traumatized by the lost of sexual autonomy. A prostitute who is raped is going to be much more traumatized than a shopkeeper who is robbed for reasons that have nothing to do with religious scrupples. Battery and theft don't violate a person like rape, because they don't take away a person's ability to make free autonomous sexual choices.

Beth said...

Pogo, I don't care much about the whining rationalizations of a rapist. I care about how he strategizes in a situation when he's already committed to a bad decision. If the death penalty increases his inclination to do away with a possible witness, then it's in our favor to take away that incentive. He can mewl about society's hypocrisy his whole life in prison.

Pogo said...

Re: "He can mewl about society's hypocrisy his whole life in prison."

Beth,
I quite agree about the life term. My concern over the years is watching parole boards let these guys off 20 years later. If we could forbid that, I wouldn't prefer the death penalty.

I am not so sure that these guys actually do the mental math you suggest. I think they kill to do away with a witness more than any concern about a court case. Hell, I don't believe their frame of reference extends more than one day in front of them most of the time, so their strategies are fixed to the next few hours or so at most.

I hope I am wrong, and that someone has studied this, showing that criminals of this type do in fact use potential punishment when choosing the fate of their victims. It doesn't seem to make them avoid the primary act much at all, so I don't know why it should affect the secondary one.

jimbino said...

Lurker says, "It may be possible to argue that valuing virginity is patriarchal and shouldn't be a basis for abhoring rape, but one can arrive at the same position on rape by placing the focus on sexuality and sexual autonomy."

Attributing special importance to "sexuality" or to "sexual autonomy" is exactly the problem. We could likewise invent a "nasality" and a "nasal autonomy" to justify killing someone who hits another in the nose, or a "religiosity" to justify killing someone who insulted a Baptist.

I can imagine an alternate legal universe, along the lines of what they have over in Holland and Denmark, in which the constitution prohibits any criminal laws that use the concepts of sex of a person or sexuality, per se. Laws, in other words, that do not take sex of the person or so-called "sexuality" into account, just as our laws, as far as I know, are prohibited from taking the "religiosity" of a person into account.

Beth said...

Pogo, I'm absolutely incoherent in my position on the death penalty. I freely admit this. The room for error, and a Christian sentiment against killing coldly, make me lean against it. But personal experience with violence lends a strong emotional edge to favoring it in cases where the guilt is unquestionable, and the crime despicable. But that's an emotional argument, purely emotional, and I don't like myself for feeling that way.

You mentioned "Dead Man Walking" as a catalyst for your position. That's ironic, as I'm sure Sister Prejean is hoping for a very different response.

Sean Penn's character in that movie is a composite based on two men Prejean counseled at Angola. I have some personal experience with one of them, Robert Lee Willie, and I've never been able to feel anything other than relief that he is dead, and I am not.

Seven Machos said...

Everything in Europe is better.

Pogo said...

Re; "That's ironic, as I'm sure Sister Prejean is hoping for a very different response."

It is ironic. It was because of that film that I began to awaken to the idea that there are some people who simply cannot live among us. If we could only agree to put them away for life, and it was reliably true, I could live without the death penalty. But I don't trust it.

I also don't see the reponse as emotional. I think it's intuituve. Cold rational logic tells you to disbelieve your gut instinct. I believe your gut is right here.

Gavin De Becker spoke of a similar distrust of our feeling of fear. Fear is not a mere emotion, unreliable and foolish. It is an essential tool for survival that rational thought teaches you to ignore, with horrible consequences. Perhaps we are doing the same when we reject the death penalty for the worst of the worst.

I cannot think of anything good that would have come from Robert Lee Willie being released at age 60, "no longer being a threat." Would it have happened? Would people have forgotten his crime? Yes to both.

Both WF Buckley and Norman Mailer got burned by similar logic.

Theo Boehm said...

Pogo and Beth,

Extremely good discussion.  For my part, it may be my past flirtation with Buddhism, but I come down on the side of not doing any more violence.  And that is a position to which the Church has substantially moved.  But I fully understand your concerns about a monster getting loose.  I hope I'm not wimping out in confronting evil, but I just don't think more killing is the answer.

I raised a bit of a controversy when I said that Catholics opposed the death penalty.  It may be just the liberal Catholic circles I move in, but I know no one, either clergy or laity, who is anything but firmly opposed to the death penalty.

So, what's the story with the Catholic Church?  It's true that the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not call the death penalty a peccatam, a mortal sin, as it does abortion, and does indeed recognize that the death penalty might just possibly be justified.  But it also teaches that there are almost no circumstances in the modern world where it would be justified.  I realize there are many Catholics who do not agree with this teaching, but the fact is that John Paul II was adamantly opposed to the death penalty and did everything he could to eliminate it.

Difficult as it is sometimes, I agree.

Pogo said...

Theo, I think your assessment of the current Catholic view is correct.

My main objection is this: if we cannot agree that some men should never ever be set free, even when they seem no longer a threat, the death penalty is still necessary.

My fear is that we permit evil to happen by trying to avoid an act we think might be evil. Is that moral shirking, not doing what is hard to avoid soiling your hands, and letting someone else suffer? Jimbino may not believe in PTSD, but I do. And it is worse than death for some people. Worse than death, and cannot be repaid..

John If you could go back in time to Germany, before Hitler came to power, knowing what you know now, would you kill him?

Dr. Sam Weizak All right. I'll give you an answer. I'm a man of medicine. I'm expected to save lives and ease suffering. I love people. Therefore, I would have no choice but to kill the son of a bitch.
You'd never get away alive.
It doesn't matter. I would kill him. Nasdro via. Skol.

Beth said...

I also don't see the reponse as emotional. I think it's intuituve. Cold rational logic tells you to disbelieve your gut instinct. I believe your gut is right here.

I'm inclined to agree, Pogo, but my gut instinct also tells me how easy it is for something to go wrong in a death penalty trial, and that ultimately, the chance of killing an innocent man isn't worth the cost. But you're main point goes to my problem: life in prison should mean exactly that. Then the chance of fixing an unjust conviction is present, while the Robert Lee Willie's of the world never share our streets again.

So I deal with my own contradictions. I was happy to see him die--I celebrated--but the gut level truth is that I knew he was guilty. I can't know that about anyone else, so I'd much prefer to see reliable life sentences.

zzRon said...

Jimbino said....."Attributing special importance to "sexuality" or to "sexual autonomy" is exactly the problem."

Call me old fashioned or even silly, but I see absolutely no value in dumbing down the beauty and specialness of human sexuality. For many folks sex is a very emotional, spiritual (not in a religious sense) and private aspect of their life. For others it is little more than a means of having fun and using other people. I have no choice but to assume that you fall into the second catagory. Well, to each their own I guess. But it saddens me to know that there are so many people in this world who are not able to understand the totally human concept of "making love". I am glad that your opinion seems (at least for now) to in the minority.

MadisonMan said...

Most abductions in the US are by pedophiles, and they almost always kill the victim.

Hey, You forgot to add non-custodial before abductions. Otherwise you're writing nonsense. (Even with the qualifier I don't know if you're correct).

Beth, thank you for fleshing out the story and the aggravating circumstances behind the punishment.

Cedarford said...

Hey - Most abductions in the US are by pedophiles, and they almost always kill the victim.

Not true. Most abductions, most Amber Alerts are due to parents in custody battles. All the missing kids stats are padded by activists lumping in family court fights with actual criminal abductions or true missing kids to make it appear to be a massive societal problem and to fear-monger.

Boehm - us Catholics oppose the death penalty.

Speak for yourself. There are Catholics and then there are milksop Catholics. The latter are infatuated with "love thy enemy
, "turn the other cheek", "just war", "forgive the murderer", "death penalty, killing in combat, and murder are morally equivalent drivel.
After fighting the Soviets, in his later senility, Pope John Paul II went the other way with the Islamoids:

1. Begging them to forgive Christians for the crusades 300 years after Islamoids killed or cleansed the Christians out of the Holy Land.
2. Ceremonially washing the feet of Mullahs & Palestinian terrorists.
3. Doing his Rodney King act and at the same time pinning most Muslim anger and violence on root causes done to Muslims by the West.

He was proof in his dotage that Catholics should mull a retirement age for Pope.

Lurker2209 - A college student who is date-raped may have lost her virginity years ago and have had a number of sexual partners in the meantime. She still feels deeply traumatized by the lost of sexual autonomy. A prostitute who is raped is going to be much more traumatized than a shopkeeper who is robbed....

The problems are that rape is mostly a "he said, she said" and women lie like men. Prostitutes lie for a living.
Some 25% to 40% of initial rape accusations are believed false. Whores will lie about rape to get pain meds (opiates).

[And children lie more than adults. I hestitate on death for child rape because of all the false convictions in the day care rape scandals. Kids lie.]

As for "trauma" that is something feminists deeply believe has to be pushed and indoctrinated into women to heighten their political awakening and sense of victimization. Women who go out on a date not intending to have sex but do anyways are encouraged by feminists to believe later that they did not truly consent. As for "whore's trauma", that stems from feminist theory extolling sex workers as victim-heroes. Whores don't want sex - they do it for rewards and inducements. Money, drugs, please the pimp, avoid arrest by the vice cop in return for one more trick. Logic says whores are a lot less traumatized by unwanted sex (unless accompanied by other crime like a savage beating) than ordinary women - similar to a gang member used to being beaten or being beaten up all his life is a lot less traumatized from an attack than a peaceful man who never was in a true fight in his life being mugged and savagely assaulted.

*******************
Death Penalty? I'm for it, for the following:

1. Treason.
2. Peacetime espionage that leads to death of US operatives.
3. Murder with special circumstances.
4. As a rare option for child rapists.

In wartime, death for the following, including what would not really be "criminal":

1. Treason.
2. Sabotage
3. Espionage for an enemy that is presently killing Americans.
4. The normal civilian crimes where the death penalty applies by law.
5. Unlawful enemy combatants targeting American soldiers or civilians with death and mayhem in violation of all Geneva Conventions and protections. (these guys are not criminals - but warriors who forgoe POW protections to kill more infidels, easier)

blake said...

I think the brilliance of the movie Dead Man Walking is precisely that it lets you make your own decision, even knowing full well what side the authors come down on.

Trollishness aside, rape is different from murder and assault in one important way: There's never any justification for it; to commit rape is to reflect a complete lack of respect for humanity.

One might speculate that half the people in this thread would like to slug "jimbino", however subdued that feeling might be. Or hell, there's that great YouTube clip of Buzz Aldrin punching the conspiarcy nut.

There are good reasons for violence, even murder. We don't condone them, generally, because we expect legal channels to be used wherever possible.

Three's no justification for rape or sexual molestation, not ever. By "jimbino"'s logic, anyone should be able to coerce anyone else into sex, provided sufficient lubricant is used to prevent any physical harm.

This, actually, is a pretty logical conclusion to absolute materialism: If a human is just a random series of chemical reactions, then the only harm that can actually occur is one to his physical person. A feeling of being violated would be delusional--as would any other feelings, really.

This leads inexorably to the fact that, in absolute materialism, "murder" is just a hysterical term for terminating a particular chemical reaction.

Simon said...

55 comments and no one's yet mentioned the elephant in the room?

Pogo said...

Re: "the chance of killing an innocent man isn't worth the cost"

Beth,
Well said. No less than DNA or video evidence should be required. I would say they must be guilty beyond any doubt for that punishment.

I just do not yet trust our government enough to abide by the promiseof "forever". Judges here in Minnesota routinely let off pedophiles from their first offense. I can't see them giving too much thought to releasing those muderers whose families are'nt around to object, and nobody speaks for the victim anymore. Ho hum, it's a 30 year old crime. Debt paid!

And then there's Simon's post. Great. An escapee lifer with nothing to lose.

A friend of mine tried to commit suicide last year because of what a priest did to him when he was 13. The man is not going to be punished much, and I am damn sure he'll be free to do it again soon enough.

Consequently, I find we aren't upholding our current laws, so I have my doubts we'll honor penalties given now when a quarter century has passed.

Beth said...

Simon, the news story does refer to Coker; it says the US Supremes explicitly said they weren't addresing crimes against chilren in that ruling. I have no idea if that's true; is it? But I would assume this guy's lawyers are hoping this court will review his case and find that the Georgia case applies. I guess we'll be reading about that in a year or so.

Thorley Winston said...

Not true. Most abductions, most Amber Alerts are due to parents in custody battles. All the missing kids stats are padded by activists lumping in family court fights with actual criminal abductions or true missing kids to make it appear to be a massive societal problem and to fear-monger.


I’m not sure if I’d go quite that far but I do remembering reading this article:


“A Justice Department study conducted by David Finkelhor of the University of New Hamp shire shows that the attorney general's tally of 440,000 missing includes children missing for a "few minutes to overnight." According to an analysis of the Justice Department figures by the Statistical Assessment Service, an independent organization that examines research findings, 19 percent of the "lost" children misunderstood parental instructions; another 12 percent forgot the time. In all, 73 percent of those lost were home within 24 hours. Among runaways, STATS reports, half returned home within two days, and 73 percent of parents were aware of their child's location.


Those most closely associated with missing children also dispute the attorney general's claims. Once a supporter of inflated figures, Louis McCagg, director of Childfind, the nation's oldest missing children organization, estimates that 600 children annually are the victims of stranger abduction, not 4,600 as the Justice Department maintains. Even if 440,000 children were missing each year, only a fraction of these cases would fall under federal jurisdiction. "It's sad to say," says John Gill, director of Children's Rights of New York, "but some organizations are exaggerating the figures to make their cause seem more urgent."”


*Sigh*, Reason Magazine used to be a wonderful read.

Thorley Winston said...

Simon, the news story does refer to Coker; it says the US Supremes explicitly said they weren't addresing crimes against chilren in that ruling. I have no idea if that's true; is it?

Yes, Coker was about the case of an adult woman who was raped. A Supreme Court ruling only really has legal effect on the case that’s before as a lower court can always say that a new case is “distinguishable on the facts” unless and until they get overruled on that particular case. That’s why we get rulings in which the same Supreme Court can say that one ten commandments display is “constitutional” in one case but another is not or even two different opinions on the racial preferences and setasides at the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School with opposite results.

Thorley Winston said...

Well said. No less than DNA or video evidence should be required. I would say they must be guilty beyond any doubt for that punishment.


I don’t buy it. “[G]uilty beyond any doubt” may sound good but the reality is that you can always invent some reason for doubt (e.g. the DNA evidence was actually left by a clone of the Defendant or the person on the tape was a shapeshifter). There’s a reason why we say that the doubt has to be “reasonable.”

LoafingOaf said...

Pogo said...
Why do atheists turn out more hideous than the fundamentalists they abhor? I think they admire the power, frankly, and represent two sides of the same hateful coin.

Pogo, you're holding up an obvious troll (that weirdo going on about twats) as evidence that atheists are hideous people?

Pogo said...

Re: "an obvious troll"

No, he is a troll, to be sure. I was being lazy; I do not mean all.

Hitchens ain't a troll, and I have run into more of the belligerent atheists of late. Some of them are the new fundamentalists. Try an edition of the Skeptic or Skeptical Inquirer for a taste.

Thorley
I mean for the death penalty, not conviction. I want DNA and /or indisputable video. I can't abide killing an innocent man.

Theo Boehm said...

Cedarford:  You might want to check the links I provided above and see what current thinking is in the actual Catholic Church, not some imagined Church of Pius XII you and Pat Buchanan would like to see in its stead.

I also suggest that there are Catholics who participate and are part of the life of the Church, difficult as that can be, and then there are those who, for whatever reason, like to throw stinkbombs.  John Paul II was a very impressive individual—a saint, in my opinion—whose moral teachings are a profound legacy to the world.

Read Evangelium vitae.  There is much there to ponder if one is inclined to think about difficult matters—or anything at all—with an open mind. 

Simon said...

Thorley,
I'm still trying to figure out if I agree with this. In Coker, the perp was granted cert "limited to the single claim, rejected by the Georgia court, that the punishment of death for rape violates the Eighth Amendment ...."

Having recited the facts of the case (including the frankly disgusting claim that the victim "was unharmed" - rape apparently not constituting "harm" to Justice White), the court said that it was settled "that the death penalty is not invariably cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment," that in Gregg, the court said that "the death penalty for deliberate murder" met the test, but that "the Court reserved the question of the constitutionality of the death penalty when imposed for other crimes," a question that in Coker "with respect to rape of an adult woman, is now before us."

That would seem to limit the application of Coker to rape of an adult woman, but the very next sentence is categorical: "We have concluded that a sentence of death is grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment for the crime of rape and is therefore forbidden by the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment." Moreover, if you can distinguish Coker on the basis that the victim in this case was not an adult woman, could Louisiana punish the rape of an adult male with death, within Coker? That is, if Coker's criterion is strictly interpreted to mean "adult woman," thus leaving open the question of the proportionality of the death penalty to the crime of rape perpetrated against a child, why doesn't it leave open the question of the proportionality of the death penalty to the crime of rape perpetrated against a male?

LoafingOaf said...

My main concern with the death penalty has always focused on the possibilities of innocent people being convicted, especially with so many unethical prosuctors running amoke, incompetant public defenders, and the unpredictability of juries.

In cases where a higher burder has been met - as close to "beyond all ciceivable doubt" as possible - I don't have moral problems with the death penalty being an option for particularly heinous murders. I similarly don't have a moral problem with child rapists being put down, that being a particularly monstrous act right up there with murder.

But in rape cases there seems to be an even higher chance that innocent people are convicted, so I think we have to be careful and strictly limit the cases where death is on the table.

I skimmed Simon's link, however, and I have difficulty agreeing with the Court based on the facts of that case, where you had a murderer and rapist break out of prison and rape again. Given the circumstances of that case, with a convicted murderer escaping and continuing to victimize with additional rapes, it does not sit well with me that the Court blocked the legislature from allowing the death penalty to be on the table.

So...this is all kinda half-baked in my mind, but I think that the death penalty should be on the table even for rapes of adults - and certainly for the rape of children - in certain cases. In a common rape case with an adult victim, I'm persuaded that the death penalty is cruel and unusual and disproportionate, and the risk of false convictions is too high. But why does this mean it cannot be on the table for a criminal like in the case Simon linked to?

So, I guess I have to look at these things case by case, and I don't like this absolute rule that in rape cases where no victim died we can never, ever have the death penalty as an option. Why shouldn't it be an option for a defendant who has repeatedly raped children? Why shouldn't it be an option for a convicted murderer whose life was spared with a life sentence, who then breaks out of prison and rapes someone, child or adult, and continues to be a menace to society?

LoafingOaf said...

Typos running amok: "unethical prosuctors running amoke" = unethical prosecutors running amok

LoafingOaf said...

I don’t buy it. “[G]uilty beyond any doubt” may sound good but the reality is that you can always invent some reason for doubt (e.g. the DNA evidence was actually left by a clone of the Defendant or the person on the tape was a shapeshifter). There’s a reason why we say that the doubt has to be “reasonable.”


For me to support the death penalty, "beyond all reasonable doubt" isn't good enough because I don't trust that standard and how juries define it enough when you're imposing death. In my previous post (if no one could make out the typos) I said as close to "beyond all conceivable doubt" as possible. But you're right that beyond all doubt is pretty unusual and maybe impossible. I just think there needs to be an even higher burden met before imposing death. Which I don't think is gonna be met in very many rape cases.

TMink said...

Rather than feed the troll, let me share a little tidbit that I picked up from working with assault, abuse, and rape victims since 1991.

Sexual abuse and rape is far worse then physical abuse/assault. I have known and worked with hundreds of survivors who were both sexually and physically assaulted, and they all said that.

All of them.

Trey

TMink said...

While I am in the thread, let me say that I am not a proponent of the death penalty. I could not enforce the sentence myself, so I am not a proponent. I understand and accept both positions as valid, but I remain firmly pro life.

But life in prison with no hope of parole is the sentence that I am pushing for rapists, child or otherwise, who violate more than one person. I had a sponser in the Tennessee legislature, but he retired to go to seminary

If they do to more than one victim, or assault the same person after incarceration, it is clear that they have a taste for it and I know of no clinical evidence supporting tha they are treatable.

Life in prison, and they die there as well. Let out all the pot dealers and smokers to make room for the degenerate rapists. Then forget about them.

Trey

Cedarford said...

Pogo - I mean for the death penalty, not conviction. I want DNA and /or indisputable video. I can't abide killing an innocent man.

I can.

I've killed, or help kill innocent men in the Gulf War. I located a hidden Iraqi "rally point" of vehicles and armor manned mostly by hapless Iraqi draftees who didn't want to be there. Airstrike on target killed 25-30 of them. Too bad for them. Great for our guys!

The death penalty opponents say that killing a single "innocent" con - should trigger a calamity, a "moral crisis in our civilization."

Hyperbolic puffery.

Wrong because, outside the obvious exception of deliberately killing innocent men and sometimes even civilians in war ---government through the people, makes deliberate choices and policies that kill thousands and thousands of truly innocent people every year. 95,000 by medical error that could be halved with a smidgeon of the public attention and resources given to "death row cons". Gov't agencies approve highway interchanges that are projected to kill 8-15 people over 20 years because the alternative design is 7 times more expensive and would only "save" 4-6 motorists from being killed.
Safety Nazis want gov't policy to ban a long list of things that will "save innocent lives". And they are right. If every school banned all nut products, 3 or so innocents would "not be killed" over a 5 year span. We mostly block the Nazis, however, in the name of freedom.

And we fail to resolve the dichotomy about if killing murderers actually saves lives. How many innocent lives are spared because of the death penalty deterrent? How many are killed by 1st degree premeditated murderers and monsters who can't be prosecuted on technicality or who are freed and then murder innocents again?
Anti-death penalty folks that blubber at the very concept of killing "the poor convict" all but shrug off the past and possible future victims of that monster.
****************
Boehm - Most Catholics disagree with Catholic leadership on a range of subjects. Birth control, abortion in cases of rape, over "loving terrorists as you would love a son", for starters.

I believe John Paul II was senile in his latter years when he ignored the pedophile/pederast gay problem in his Church, embarked on his Muslim apology tour, his dumb meddling in T Schiavo case, his overt pacifism and love of more criminal rights.

In a sense, Europe went nuts in the last 30 years about enemy and criminal rights and the Catholic Church leadership joined them in weenie-dom.

Maybe he figured that after standing up to the Soviets he could afford to humble himself washing the feet of Muslim terrorist leaders. If he was right in his dotage, then he should have busied himself earlier in life in Poland forgiving the Communists, blaming Poles for Communist anger, and humbled himself washing the feet of Commissars.

****************
Simons larger point, I think, is that Coker was already in jail for multiple murders when he escaped and raped, assaulted, and robbed. A man with nothing to lose. The rape was a freebie. Maybe it got him ***shudder***a few weeks in the Hole.

Same with a terrorist serving life with no parole for the 1st WTC bombing that lobotomized a guard with a sharpened tooth brush stabbed in through the guard's eye.

A freebie.

I'd like a provisional death penalty for those with life w/o parole - committ violent felonies inside prison or after escape - and you die right away, no appeals after a jury gets you on the violent felony.
I would actually prefer, in lieu of a death sentence, they just be tossed in a Hole for the rest of their lives - no communication with anyone, no walks outside the cell, no reading material, ministers, mail, no lawyers, no medical care.......but the ACLU would say that would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Galvanized said...

I think they should do the obvious and turn people who rape children (12 and under) over to the child's parents/guardians, mother first. Most guys wouldn't last even two minutes against a mother grieving her child's loss of innocence, and the father/family could finish the job. Plus, it would save the State its money, and the child wouldn't have to live in fear of his being eventually released.

Seriously, this should be the law.

Revenant said...

This, actually, is a pretty logical conclusion to absolute materialism: If a human is just a random series of chemical reactions, then the only harm that can actually occur is one to his physical person. A feeling of being violated would be delusional--as would any other feelings, really.

That's not true at all.

First of all, if feelings are electrochemical -- which they are -- it doesn't follow that they are delusional. Far from it; they are empirically grounded in reality in a way that the religious/metaphysical explanations for them aren't.

Secondly, a materialistic view of human emotions suggests that emotional damage is actually just another kind of physical damage, akin to poisoning. A materialist would say that when you rape a person, you are inflicting demonstrable harm on them even IF there is no bruising -- you have harmed the brain itself.

Thirdly, the brain is not a "random" series of chemical reactions. It is a series of chemical reactions without any apparent guiding force behind them, yes, but nevertheless operating according to basic physical laws. Indeed, human emotions would only be "random" -- able to arbitrarily change state from moment to moment -- if they WERE dictated by an exterior force such as a soul.

Finally, there's nothing logical about jimbino's argument (especially his amazingly ignorant claim that religion is to blame for the special treatment of rape). It is pretty obvious that he's either trolling (my personal guess), simply hates women, or both. Maybe its downtownlad posting under an alias -- he'd qualify on both counts, and he's been mysteriously absent from this thread so far.

jimbino said...

Y'all will have to deal with folks like me, who will do our damnedest to get on that jury in that capital case, swear to be amenable to the death sentence, then vote to acquit. The result will be either a hung jury or a much reduced sentence. Viva jury nullification!

Revenant said...

Viva jury nullification!

You're more likely to be the defendant in a rape case than a potential juror in one.

Simon said...

Cedarford:
"Simons larger point, I think, is that Coker was already in jail for multiple murders when he escaped and raped, assaulted, and robbed. A man with nothing to lose."

Well, my larger point is that Coker at best decides this question, and at minimum controls it, and that the Supreme Court should thus either overrule Coker or reverse LASC. Personally, I'd rather they overruled Coker. Pat and I disagree on this one, we'll likely be talking about this over at SF this weekend. I'm writing a draft explaining my view as we speak.

downtownlad said...

Maybe we should just take a lesson from the Saudis and start chopping off people's hands when they steal, etc.

The Exalted said...

this is such a rare occurrence, and life in prison is so horrible a prospect in itself, i have trouble understanding why anyone really cares about this.

death, 50 years in prison, the guilty's lives are over either way.

not to mention what i'm sure is done to child rapists in prison...

Palladian said...

"Y'all will have to deal with folks like me, who will do our damnedest to get on that jury in that capital case, swear to be amenable to the death sentence, then vote to acquit. The result will be either a hung jury or a much reduced sentence."

Folks like you? You mean perjurers?

Theo Boehm said...

Cedarford:  It is profoundly beside the point if the Catholic laity disagree with the magisterium.  The theology of the Church is not a popularity contest.  The issue is a moral, theological, and philosophical one.  As I suggested, it might be a good idea to read Evangelium vitae and tell us what's wrong with it, and not treat us to the non sequitur that its author was "senile."

The Catholic laity have always disagreed to one degree or another with the heirarchy of the Church.  Read St. Martin of Braga's sixth century De correctione rusticorum. It's amazing how long pagan practice held on even in long-Christianized areas. We no longer have the problem of housewives invoking Minerva for help in weaving, or the locals going out to make a sacrifice in a wood sacred to Artemis. But we have the issue of modern cafeteria-Catholics picking among the doctrines they find most appealing, while reserving the right to sacrifice to Minerva...er...I mean take the "morning-after" pill or show up for Mass three times a year.

But back to the popularity of Church teachings today.  We're active members or a medium-sized parish in the Boston suburbs.  My wife serves as both a Reader and Eucharistic Minister.  The parish has a number of small-faith groups, men's groups, study groups, etc., remarkably so for a nondescript parish in the 'burbs.  We know a lot of people in the parish, both from Church and socially in our town.  I'd say that of perhaps 25 or 30 people from the parish with whom this subject has come up over the years, I know nobody, not one, who does not oppose the death penalty.  We're going to be involved in St. Paul's in Cambridge starting next year, and I suspect the Harvard students and faculty I see in the pews there will be even less inclined to cheer on Ol' Sparky than the people we know from St. Suburbia.

The Catholic Church is the ultimate big-tent organization, and I readily admit that our circle of liberal Boston Catholics may not be representative of U.S. laity generally.  It's also worth noting that, partly because of my perhaps too vocal support of the late Pope, I am perceived as something of a right-wing nut among our parish friends.  John Paul II was controversial among the Catholics we know not because he was too squishy-liberal and senile, but because he was too conservative and tough-minded.  As I say, it's a big tent.  So, I may speak for myself, but I think I've got at least some company, and there are plenty of people farther to the left than I.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Maybe we should just take a lesson from the Saudis and start chopping off people's hands when they steal, etc.

Yes of course because stealing a loaf of bread is just as bad as raping a child.

Revenant said...

Mutilation is, in any case, forbidden as a cruel and unusual punishment.

blake said...

Revenant,

That's not true at all.

"Random" is, perhaps, a poor choice of words--though I could argue not--but you're missing the forest for the trees with the rest of your points.

The point is, you can say that "emotional damage" is real and physical--and of course, it would have to be if you're a materialist, because everything is, right?--but that doesn't make it relevant.

Everything in the material universe is ultimately the effect of something else. The organism called "human"--and all its actions--is simply the effect of processes that began eons ago, and is still the effect of chemistry, physics, all the natural processes.

On what basis can you claim the value of one chemical process over another? Indeed, what right have "you" to claim even the existence of "you"? "You" value one thing over another, why exactly? Well, because of processes started eons ago that "you" have no control over.

This is true unless you postulate the existence of an intervening "external" force.

The delusion is not that emotional damage isn't real but that there's something there to experience it. The sun doesn't care if it's extinguished. It doesn't care about the fate of other stars. You can "damage" it or any other chemical process. Whence comes "caring"?

It's not a coincidence that societies that believe this way (not all of them historically atheist) often dispatch hordes of human without concern.

Calvinism is interesting because (from what I understand) it postulates precisely this powerlessness, but includes a soul which is entirely effect.