April 1, 2019

"The Eighth Amendment has never been understood to guarantee a condemned inmate a painless death. That’s a luxury not guaranteed to many people..."

"... including most victims of capital crimes. What the Eighth Amendment does guarantee is a method of execution that not 'cruel and unusual,'" said Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, announcing the decision in Bucklew v. Precythe today, reported in "Divided Supreme Court rules against death row inmate with rare condition" (WaPo).
Missouri plans to use an injection of a single drug, pentobarbital, to carry out the execution of Bucklew. But he suffers from a congenital and rare disease called cavernous hemangioma. It causes blood-filled tumors to grow in his head, neck and throat, which his attorneys say could rupture during the state’s lethal injection process.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the liberal dissenters, said Bucklew had developed persuasive evidence that lethal injection could cause him to “sputter, choke, and suffocate on his own blood for up to several minutes before he dies.”...

In 1996, Bucklew, now 50, stalked his former girlfriend Stephanie Ray at another man’s trailer. He shot and killed the man, Michael Sanders, tried to shoot Ray’s fleeing child and then captured Ray. He handcuffed and raped her, then wounded a police officer in a subsequent gunfight. Bucklew later escaped from jail and attacked Ray’s mother with a hammer before he was recaptured.
The most-up-voted comment is: "Ah yes, conservative 'pro-life' justices strike again...." Another highly rated comment is: "So the right-to-lifers on the court show their true colors again. Hypocrites all." I'll just observe that one could be a non-hypocrite by embracing a narrow interpretation of the scope of constitutional rights and say: 1. The right against cruel and unusual punishment doesn't guarantee a painfree execution, and 2. The right to due process doesn't require access to abortion. I'm stressing constitutional interpretation, but it's obviously also compelling to fight the accusation of hypocrisy in terms of empathy and distinguish the innocent unborn child from a man who was convicted of heinous crimes. It's quite strange that people subscribe to the pro-life "hypocrisy" argument. I guess they confirm each other. It gets #1 comment status at WaPo. But it's such a bad argument.

And I'm saying that as someone who is opposed to the death penalty and in favor of access to abortion.

118 comments:

Fen said...

Shrug. This conservative is against the death penalty because I'm not comfortable with the State having that power.

Not even if it was changed to legally execute all the Marxists (which I support) because I know that would come next.

Jersey Fled said...

Apparently to some, it's OK to execute an innocent baby but not a guilty murderer.

rcocean said...

I've never understood the link between Abortion and the Death Penalty. Unless you think innocent babies and guilty killers should be treated the same.



Qwerty Smith said...

A good metric of people's intellectual honesty, with us and themselves, is whether they can identify a policy that they endorse but which is forbidden by the Constitution, or a policy they oppose which is permitted or mandated by the Constitution.

If you believe that the Constitution requires everything you support and forbids everything you oppose, you are either very fortunate or untrustworthy.

Geoff Matthews said...

What's odd is if they used the firing squad, the attorney's line of reasoning wouldn't even come up.

n.n said...

I am skeptical of the death penalty, because our processes are broken. I oppose elective abortion for causes other than self-defense, because it is a summary judgment and cruel and unusual punishment of a wholly innocent human life, and the collateral damage of the establishment of Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, is not limited to selective-child.

wendybar said...

I'm with Fen.

Jim at said...

I'll never understand how the left can equate capital punishment with abortion and somehow claim it's the right who is hypocritical when it comes to pro-life.

You do realize there's a difference between someone who committed a capital crime and an unborn child, right?

For the record, I'm not in support of using the power of the State to enforce capital punishment. I'd rather it be done the old-fashioned way.

Skeptical Voter said...

I've read a book by a physician stating that the ultimate cause of death is interference with the blood oxygen cycle. That's true whether someone dies of cancer, a heart attack, a penetrating wound or a bacterial infection.

Or in this convicted murderer's case, rupture of some blood vessels due to a phenobarbital injection.

I'm not opposed to the death penalty. In the end none of us are getting out of here alive--whether you are a murderer like this fellow or a virgin nun living in a convent from the age of 19.

rcocean said...

The only problem with the Death Penalty is making it fair, swift, and sure. Focusing on the method of execution is just a distraction from the real issue. I'm less interested in people who hold various positions on abortion and the Death Penalty, and more interested in people who favor Unnecessary wars - including area bombing of civilians - and those who oppose the death penalty.

Wasn't Christopher Hitchens like that? Hey lets drop an A-bomb Baghdad, but lets not execute that guy who tortured 6 people to death. Crazy.

Chris Lopes said...

The difference is between taking innocent life and taking the life of someone who has (in effect) turned in his humanity card by his actions. He had a trial, had his appeals, and was given a lot more due process than his victims got. Executing a convicted killer is not the same as executing an unborn child.

YoungHegelian said...

But it's such a bad argument.

There's a lot of that going around.

I understand, but don't agree with, the Catholic Seamless Garment argument, that we as persons or the state should always favor the moral approach that spares human life, even human life that is deemed physically or morally unfit to live.

But even then there's the realization that euthanasia & abortion are forms of killing that are very much unlike war or capital punishment. The first two are morally abhorrent because they victimize the innocent & powerless for the gain of others. The last two are morally abhorrent because it's not clear that they accomplish moral ends commensurate with the damage done, & because of what they do to the moral sensibilities of those who are charged with fighting the war or executing the criminal.

But the killing of a child by its mother (abortion) & the execution of a convicted murderer by the state are two very different acts, morally speaking.

stevew said...

If only the comments supported the upvote feature I could just do that for pretty much all the comments above; I have nothing different or unique to add.

Michael K said...

The gas chamber was always the most humane. Many killers are drug addicts with no superficial veins.

Bay Area Guy said...

Bring back the firing squad.

Of course, only for the worst of the worst convicted offenders.

Rick said...

So the Supreme Court is part of Rape Culture?

Mike Sylwester said...

Such decisions are governed by the US Constitution's emanations and penumbra.

Ken B said...

I suggest a new tag, death penalty bullshit. Because almost every argument about the death penalty is made in bad faith.
The hypocrisy charge is especially weak if you believe that the death penalty is a deterrent. One might support the death penalty reluctantly and only because one believes it saves lives.

Back to my first point. Death penalty opponents try to delay every execution. This drives up the costs of execution. They then cite the cost of executions to oppose the death penalty.

When I was younger I was strongly opposed to the death penalty. Now I would say I am mildly opposed. What concerns me most is the deterrent. It is common to deny flatly its a deterrent, but the data do not show that, and it’s an implausible claim.

BUMBLE BEE said...

I'd say that he'd already opted out of "humane" entirely. Thus, a .22 long rifle behind the ear should suffice.

FleetUSA said...

Some years ago I went off the death penalty ranch when I realized how long it took to finally execute. I now prefer hard time life prison sentences subject only to DNA reversals. Hard time includes lack of TV, porn, luxury accommodations, no gym, and minimal a/c. Rock breaking is best.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

They kill babies and protect murderers. This is your Democrat party.

Crimso said...

"Bucklew later escaped from jail and attacked Ray’s mother with a hammer before he was recaptured."

This behavior bolsters the argument in favor of the death penalty. The penal system equivalent to nuking the site from orbit.

dbp said...

I am torn between amusement and rage by people who think it is the height of wit to find "hypocrisy" where "drawing a meaningful distinction", is sitting right there in plain sight.

narayanan said...

I am totally confused in the rabbit hole looking glass

Right >>> Anti abortion + pro capital punishment

Left >>> Pro abortion + anti death penalty

There is hypocrisy where?

Dave Begley said...

I'm just loving the fact that the Libs have lost the Supreme Court. RBG was so, so stupid not to retire when Barack was in charge. But noooo. She had to retire and let the first female President nominate her replacement. It had to be perfect and now look what has happened.

gilbar said...

...stalked his former girlfriend Stephanie Ray at another man’s trailer.
...shot and killed the man, Michael Sanders, tried to shoot Ray’s fleeing child and then captured Ray.
...He handcuffed and raped her, then wounded a police officer in a subsequent gunfight. Bucklew later escaped from jail and attacked Ray’s mother with a hammer before he was recaptured.


I think we can All Agree that if there was Ever a person for whom we should bend the rules to make sure he's Completely Comfortable, and not inflicted with Any Pain; it's this guy!
</sarc

Wince said...

I believe execution should be rare and in cases of certain guilt.

Is there any doubt of guilt in Bucklew's case?

Every execution method should entail some measure of horror that has to be justified and in proportion to the underlying crime.

A "painless" method of execution that makes it anodyne invites eventual routine and, ultimately, a form of euthanasia.

Freder Frederson said...

It is common to deny flatly its a deterrent, but the data do not show that, and it’s an implausible claim.

The data do not show that it is a deterrent. There is no correlation between murder rates and the death penalty. I don't know why you think it is such an implausible claim that the death penalty is not a deterrent. Most people who commit crimes do not contemplate the consequences of their actions. The crime here was obviously a crime of passion and the prospect of punishment probably didn't enter his mind at all.

Oso Negro said...

People who read Wapo. People who like bad arguments. Love to see the Venn Diagram.

Martin said...

I can make it simpler--there is no reason to equate a convicted killer (in cold blood, no less) with an innocent (be definition) fetus.

And people who equate them are nucking futs. Period.

Argue about capital punishment, sure; but saying that this represents hypocrisy by right-to-lifers, no.

Freeman Hunt said...

"The Eighth Amendment has never been understood to guarantee a condemned inmate a painless death. That’s a luxury not guaranteed to many people..."

I'm glad he wrote this. It has always annoyed me when people wring their hands over the possibility of the slightest discomfort during executions. Being overcome by death, usually slowly over months, is not, based on my observations, a great experience. We are all going to die, and it is probably going to hurt a lot!

bagoh20 said...

Killing is something humans have known how to do efficiently since before we first stood upright. I just don't get the idea we have been struggling with for a century of how to do it scientifically with some strange new method every few decades. None of them have worked as well as earlier ones. None have been as painless, as quick, as cost effective, or as compassionate as the firing squad. It almost seems like we have been trying to be as barbaric as possible, while also being ineffective. The way the death penalty is handled and carried out is the perfect example of the cruelty and failure of government ineptitude. Only through government could humans collectively have such a hard time doing what every adult knows how to do, and could do alone. For the sake of decency call a veteran, a veterinarian, a freaking plumber, or just get one of the other inmates to handle it. If you really care about cruelty and pain, then you should support a firing squad or something similar. Have a robot do it.

Jim at said...

The death penalty does deter the individual from ever again committing a similar crime.

So, there's that.

Tina Trent said...

One thing the death penalty deters is subsequent pro-criminal judicial activism.

Dentistry always invokes thoughts of mortality, in dreams and awake.

rcocean said...

Of course the death penalty is a deterrent. We have criminals who've stated they've not killed people because they wanted to avoid it. You can't prove that statistically, because you can't prove someone DID NOT do something.

And, obviously, if you let the Left-wing ACLU drag out every execution for 20 years and 90% of people on death row die of old age or get "pardoned" by an out-going governor - well, its not going to be much of a deterrent.

All I can say is, I want my killer executed. And I would personally kill anyone who raped/murdered by daughter or wife. Other people can think differently.

Greg Hlatky said...

Russell Bucklew apparently did not want to live apart from Stephanie Ray. The two had lived together in Cape Girardeau County until Ray decided to break up with Bucklew on Valentine's Day, 1996. Bucklew left their mobile home and went to live with his parents.

On March 6, Bucklew returned to the trailer he had shared with Ray, found Michael Sanders, the victim in this case, there, concluded that Sanders and Ray were romantically involved, put a knife to Sanders's throat, and threatened to kill Sanders if Sanders even came back to Ray's trailer. Later that same evening, Bucklew returned to the trailer, found Ray alone, threatened her with a knife, cut her jaw, and punched her in the face before leaving. Ray reported all this to the police.

Bucklew called Ray at work the following day, March 7. He threatened her again and promised to kill her, Sanders, and her children if he saw her with Sanders again.

Ray moved in with Sanders, fearing to return to her own home.

Sometime during the night of March 20-21, Bucklew stole his nephew's car, two of his brother's pistols, two sets of his brother's handcuffs, and a roll of duct tape. He left a note asking his family not to report his theft to the police. By the afternoon of March 21, Bucklew began surreptitiously following Ray as she left work and ran errands, ultimately discovering where she lived by following her to Sanders's trailer. Bucklew waited for some period of time before he knocked on Sanders's trailer door. One of Sanders's children opened the door. Sanders saw Bucklew through a window, escorted the children to a back bedroom and grabbed a shotgun. Bucklew entered the trailer with a pistol in each hand. Sanders came into the hallway carrying the shotgun. Appellant yelled “get down” and without further warning began shooting at Sanders. Sanders fell, struck by two bullets, one of which entered his chest and tore through his lung. Sanders dropped the shotgun.   It went off and blew a hole in the trailer wall.

Bucklew aimed the gun at Sanders's head, but when he saw Sanders's six-year-old son, Bucklew fired at the boy instead. The shot missed.

Ray stepped between Bucklew and Sanders, who was holding his chest as he slumped against the wall. Bucklew invited Ray to drop to her knees. When she delayed, he struck her face with a pistol. He produced handcuffs, handcuffed her hands behind her back and dragged her to the car. The two drove away.

During the journey that followed, Bucklew demanded sex. When all of the acts he demanded were not performed, Bucklew raped Ray in the back seat of the car.   Resuming the journey, Bucklew drove north on Interstate 55.

By this time law enforcement authorities had broadcast a description of the Bucklew car. Trooper James Hedrich saw the car, called for assistance, and began following Bucklew. We need not prolong the account beyond reporting that the highway patrol ultimately apprehended Bucklew following a gunfight in which both a trooper and Bucklew were wounded by gunshot.

Michael Sanders bled to death from his wounds.


Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.
STATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Russell E. BUCKLEW, Appellant.
No. 80052.
Decided: May 26, 1998

Just so you didn't think he only stole a loaf of bread for his starving family.

gspencer said...

"The Eighth Amendment has never been understood to guarantee a condemned inmate a painless death."

Firing squad at dawn. Instantaneous; no pain.

Wince said...

"Well I'm all broken up about that man's rights."

Greg Hlatky said...

"So the right-to-lifers on the court show their true colors again. Hypocrites all."

So what's the appeals process like for a full-term fetus that's sentenced to be aborted?

Mr. D said...

Fen had it right on the first comment. No death penalty because it's a power the State ought not wield. Then again, avoiding the death penalty de jure didn't do much for Dahmer.

Greg Hlatky said...

Of course, if the death penalty was applied like the "right to choose", guys would be getting clipped for jaywalking, littering, failing to come to a complete stop, or having the wrong eye color.

Crimso said...

“Left to their own devices, the three networks would televise live executions. Except Fox—they'd televise live naked executions."-Some TV exec in the early 90s

DavidUW said...

Guillotines would be suitable.

Except for the ruling of the recent antipope, not made ex cathedra, the Catholic Church has opposed abortion and allowed for the death penalty. Since he’s the antipope, it’s safe to assume this will be changed with the election of a real pope upon francis’s hopefully soon judgment day and remittance to hell where he belongs.

rhhardin said...

I don't get why a general anaesthetic isn't used, so it doesn't matter what you do thereafter.

rhhardin said...

Guillotines leave you functioning for ten seconds, if a French experiment is right ("Keep blinking as long as you can").

bagoh20 said...

"That’s a luxury not guaranteed to many people..."

And I'd add that life on death row itself is better than most of us get to spend our final days, or years. Any time in prison is often better than what many people struggle with as free innocents. The elderly, the handicapped, the addicted, or the very poor. Life in prison beats a homeless life on the streets anywhere north of San Diego. Free housing, free food, free health care, utilities, conjugal visits, everything but free travel, and no work required.

Paul said...

"And I'm saying that as someone who is opposed to the death penalty and in favor of access to abortion."

AT TIME OF BIRTH??? Ann??? What the hell? Well Ann, then tell me, in Oregon the senate committee passed a bill to allow insane people to be starved to death, like in a hospice. You ok with that?

Now as for the Death penalty, I feel to qualify for that one needs the evidence to be "BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT" instead of reasonable doubt. If the jury cannot decide on the evidence showing beyond a shadow of a doubt but it is beyond a reasonable doubt, the life in prison.

Example: If the defendant was shown on surveillance tape doing the murder, DNA matched, and other evidence matched, well hey, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt they did it. They qualify for the Death Penalty.

Michael K said...

The data do not show that it is a deterrent.

Freder is acquainted with a repeat offender in spite of being executed.

Leland said...

I know I'm a small sample set, but the folks I know that are strong believers in pro-life, that would participate in a protest to make all abortion illegal; they are also anti-death penalty.

Personally, I support some form of death penalty for crimes similar to the mosque shootings in New Zealand. Also, my own sense is that places that have banned the death penalty have also limited rights to self defense on the consistent basis that causing another persons death is wrong for any reason. That's not hypocritical. It is actually a rather consistent argument. But I think it is stupid, and I don't agree.

On the hypocrisy grounds; does Planned Parenthood provide anesthesia to a fetus before an abortion?

Annie C. said...

The difficulty with blogging about the most upvoted comment is the same problem you described when deciding on moderation. Usually only those comments at the very beginning get upvoted, so it is not very statistically significant to have the most upvoted as a talking point.

Greg Hlatky said...

OK, let's abolish the death penalty if we also make abortions illegal. Deal?

Unknown said...

" Freder Frederson said...
The crime here was obviously a crime of passion and the prospect of punishment probably didn't enter his mind at all.
4/1/19, 4:11 PM"

One of these was murders a crime of passion. The rest, not so much. Insanity is a MUCH better cop out; surely he didn't think he was going to get away with this, and surely ( and obviously) if he had been executed before the subsequent murders they would not have occurred. This in fact and beyond the shadow of a doubt the death penalty would have been effective in deterring murder.

Roy Jacobsen said...

I'm in the camp of "I don't give a rip if it's not a deterrent" on the death penalty. It's a PENALTY. Any deterrence that accrues is just gravy.

"And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood by shed, for God made man in his own image." Genesis 9:5-6

iowan2 said...

This always gets me going.
Cruel and unusual punishment is prevented by the constitution.

Who decides? I got a heads up for Judges. It's not you. Remember the constitution is written to protect the people from the govt. Judges are govt.

The people decide. Through representative govt. Judges are inferior to representative govt. Judges don't get an opinion on what is cruel and unusual, because the freezes out the people from self governing.

This is not difficult. Judges need to stay in their own lane.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Leftists always say the “conservative” justices ignore the law and parrot GOP viewpoints in their decisions. Truth is, it’s the leftist justices who do just that (and make shit up to rationalize it - emanations, penumbras, constitutional rights to marry your gay lover, etc.).

But Gorsuch and so called “conservative” justices don’t do that. They simply read the constitution narrowly and enforce the law.

There is nothing in the constitution that prohibits the death penalty, and the death penalty was being used at the time the constitution was written, so they certainly could have prohibited it. They didn’t.

You can be against the death penalty as a policy matter (and I don’t disagree with you), but don’t claim it’s unconstitutional. It isn’t. Instead, work to get it abolished in your state, or draft and circulate a constitutional amendment.

But quit bitching about justices who read and apply the constitution correctly/appropriately, and quit claiming they just decide based on GOP issue viewpoints.

iowan2 said...

Death penalty. I was always in favor of the Death Penalty. Some people have lost the right to walk among us.

I WAS in favor.

Policing and prosecution no longer functions anywhere near the level needed to apply the Death penalty. The govt is operating at or near the cluster fudge level of competence. Can't be trusted.

Rick said...

I don't have a strong opinion on the death penalty. But I'm offended by critics who treat a dead criminal as a tragedy and dead victims as statistics. Even some I like (like Megan McArdle) do this so it's a good reminder to always be cognizant of the standards you apply.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder is acquainted with a repeat offender in spite of being executed.

This is a stupid argument. Even you should be able to do better than this.

And I would personally kill anyone who raped/murdered by daughter or wife.

So the the death penalty is obviously not a deterrent to you as you would be willing to risk it to avenge your wife or daughter.

And I'd add that life on death row itself is better than most of us get to spend our final days, or years. Any time in prison is often better than what many people struggle with as free innocents. The elderly, the handicapped, the addicted, or the very poor. Life in prison beats a homeless life on the streets anywhere north of San Diego. Free housing, free food, free health care, utilities, conjugal visits, everything but free travel, and no work required.

You have obviously never been anywhere near a maximum security prison in this country in your life. And apparently you haven't even bothered to watch any documentaries about the prison system in this country.

Richard Dolan said...

"But it's such a bad argument."

It's not really an argument on the merits at all. Refusing to treat like cases alike -- that's the sting of an accusation of hypocrisy in this context -- would require an effort to show that the cases are alike in some relevant sense. Not even an attempt to do that (and AA's comments shows that it would be very hard to do). Instead, it's just name-calling -- 'there those deplorables go again' kind of thing.

After the Hillary! debacle, you'd think Team WaPo would figure out how that approach has a high likelihood of backfiring.

Sheridan said...

I'm with Fen and Fleet USA. The "state" should not have the power to execute criminals even the most heinous criminals. Some people may still pretend that the state is a disinterested, benign, judicious entity unburdened from any strong emotion particularly anger. Not so much. The state is people selected by other people who may or may not fairly represent the interests of all the people (yeah, even the illegals). So we get all sorts of people who either pretend to or actually do speak for the "state". I don't know about you but I wouldn't want Kim Foxx or Keith Ellison (MN) or some alt-right dunderhead or anybody having the power to execute me. Because what's to stop the "state" from moving beyond simple murder and including things like religious differences or political differences in the list of capital offenses. Remember the Huguenots! https://www.history.com/topics/france/huguenots

Maillard Reactionary said...

"And I'm saying that as someone who is opposed to the death penalty and in favor of access to abortion."

Cognitive dissonance much, AA?

In all honesty, I am disappointed, and that is saying something for a misanthropist like myself. I mean, once I get to hell, I look forward to having drinks with Voltaire and Swift, but that's only because they're known to be so friendly, not that I'm in the same talent class.

Perhaps you didn't take the time to, what is the word, provide some "nuance" to exactly what (if anything) you had in mind when you referred to "access" to abortion.

Many, perhaps all of us, who are guilty of abortions grieve daily on our selfishness and cruelty. Your mileage may vary; I would prefer not to know.

There is no release from this knowledge with time.

I can't feel the same about executing a murderer. Yes, our system is imperfect, like everything humans do. There is no alternative. Like someone above said, they turned in their humanity card. I will cheerfully do the job myself with any asshole who enters my home uninvited, and sleep well that evening.

Ken B said...

Dave Begley
I think she deserves a long and happy retirement. I hope it begins as soon as possible, so that she might enjoy it as long as she can.

JPS said...

Ken B, 3:59:

"Now I would say I am mildly opposed. What concerns me most is the deterrent. It is common to deny flatly its a deterrent, but the data do not show that, and it’s an implausible claim."

I'm coming at this from almost the opposite direction. I used to be strongly in favor of the death penalty for the cruelest crimes. Now I am only mildly in favor. But I would argue against deterrence as a justification for it. It is debatable whether there is or isn't a deterrent effect, and I don't care either way.

There's a man in Pennsylvania who was just sentenced to death. What he did is a good example of why, despite serious reservations, I still think the penalty should be there on the books. It's as close as we can come to justice; the Eighth Amendment sure as hell prevents us from more closely approximating what he did to his victim.

But if it were unjust to execute him, it wouldn't become just because executing him might scare someone else, we don't know who and we'll never know that it did, out of committing some similar crime. No. He either deserves it, as I believe he does profoundly, or he doesn't.

Seeing Red said...

The data do not show that it is a deterrent.

I could have sworn Cass Sunstein wrote an article/argument about this a couple of years ago.

Aggie said...

Why is it that any normal person can be sedated for major surgery and not feel a thing while being knocked out or operated on, and even given anxiety-reducing drugs to help this process - and yet every single convicted murderer is supposedly writing in agony during what is essentially the same process? Inquiring minds want to know....

Secondly, for anyone who thinks capital punishment is not a positive deterrent, I invite review of the evidence of post-execution murders committed by the convicted. They have been deterred, in my view.

For the abortion question, I am in favor of the availability of safe early-term abortions, but against them from a personal moral position, and adamantly against them when the fetus is clearly viable. I consider them a tragedy in virtually all cases, but this is the human condition. The government has no business adjudicating reproduction, but I think it's reasonable that the window of legality should be made manageable brief.

There is no moral hypocrisy issue when conflating these two. A defenseless victim inside or outside the womb deserves protection from aggression. A vicious aggressor who commits atrocities against other humans is a monster, and capital punishment can be completely justified. A doctor performing a medical procedure on a fetus-carrying woman is not a monster. Our problem is the modern use of relentless rhetorical hyperbole that makes an honest moral examination and sharing of views impossible, because people are driven to embrace polar extremes rather than encouraged to think for themselves and develop their own philosophical positions.

Sebastian said...

"But it's such a bad argument."

So? They're progs. Arguments are tools. Badness is such a bourgeois notion.

JAORE said...

I don't get why a general anaesthetic isn't used, so it doesn't matter what you do thereafter.

I've had the same thought. IV inserted (mildly painful but way below cruel and unusual). The "Twilight" drug goes in. Down you go, never to know how you were ultimately dispatched.

MikeR said...

"It's such a bad argument." I am having trouble getting inside the head of someone who thinks it's an argument at all. I need to have empathy to distinguish a murderer from an innocent baby? It's okay to execute a murderer; in fact, it is required by the Bible. It is not okay to murder innocent people, grownups or babies.
Hard for me to grasp that anyone thinks those are the same.

Leland said...

Gig'em

bagoh20 said...

Most criminals are not deterred by prison for any offense. Should we not punish those either.
And think about repeat offenders and career criminals. Since they clearly can't be deterred, is that an argument to give them a pass?

The main reason we punish including the death penalty is justice. It's the just reward you get for taking something from someone. We should punish in a manner appropriate to a just world as best we can without being barbarian and cruel. If a person who brutally steals an innocent person's everything and much from those around him and even some from the rest of us as a murder does, then taking that person's life is insufficient, but as just as we can get. Anything less devalues the victims, what they lost, and how unfair it was to take it. You can't say murder is horrendous and then just give the guy a place to live and free room and board forever. It's an insult to the victims and our own values. State execution when the evidence in unassailable, which it sometimes is, is not in anyway murder. The murderer chose that price, at least when we have a real death penalty. He deserves what he risked.

bagoh20 said...

"You have obviously never been anywhere near a maximum security prison in this country in your life. And apparently you haven't even bothered to watch any documentaries about the prison system in this country."

I have done those things, known a few convicts personally, and have employed some, and I've spent a few nights in jail. I've also been homeless, known many homeless people, some who have lived on the streets for years, and some who died there. I've also watched how people live out their lives for years in poverty, or sickness, or handicap. Tell me what is so much worse about death row, where you are protected from the general population, cared for, provided for, protected from the elements, from street thugs, disease, and hunger. Just think about it for a moment. Would you rather spend the next week in a prison cell on death row with no fear of death or much of anything else, or spend the next week sleeping on the street in Chicago with no money, shelter, food or protection of any kind? Oh, and you just developed an abscessed tooth on day one. Good luck.

bagoh20 said...

"Guillotines leave you functioning for ten seconds"

Hey, that's long enough to write a check to the IRS. Think of the place on the left side of heaven you would get.

mockturtle said...

Deterrence has nothing to do with it, Mr. Sylvester. Death is a just punishment for first degree murder. Hanging, firing squad and guillotine are not 'cruel and unusual'. Funny how many games perps are willing to play to get a plea deal to avoid execution. Too bad so many prosecutors find this an easy way out even when there is ample evidence to take to trial. The Green River killer is a good example. Guilty of 48 murders, he threw in an addition murder confession to get a plea, reducing death to life. Makes me absolutely sick that this detestable scum is living off the taxpayers.

mockturtle said...

If the executioner's axe is good enough for royalty, it's good enough for vicious murderers.

Crimso said...

I'm pretty sure that the person being executed is rendered unconscious prior to the death-inducing injection.

I'm reminded of the project to do thin section MRI scans of a cadaver and make them available online as a reference resource. The individual whose corpse was so scanned was not identified, but potentially medically-relevant info was included: age, race, cause of death, etc. The cause of death was listed as "Drug overdose." It turned out the person in question had agreed to let his body be used for this purpose after his execution.

Quaestor said...

It gets #1 comment status at WaPo. But it's such a bad argument.

And so the readers of the Washington Post are exposed as moral midgets.

Fake news gets what it deserves.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

In 1996, Bucklew, now 50, stalked his former girlfriend Stephanie Ray at another man’s trailer. He shot and killed the man, Michael Sanders, tried to shoot Ray’s fleeing child and then captured Ray. He handcuffed and raped her, then wounded a police officer in a subsequent gunfight. Bucklew later escaped from jail and attacked Ray’s mother with a hammer before he was recaptured.

Try to focus on that part. It makes it easier to understand that retribution for murder is necessary.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

anti death penalty people and general leftists always go to the "the death penalty is not a deterrent." argument.
Really? I actually don't care if it is a deterrent or not. It's called retribution for a heinous crime. Also - the deterrent notion is unknowable. Unless mind-reading is now a thing we do.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

Only a liberal justice could come up with "He might die when we attempt to kill him." argument. or that death might be unpleasant. Ya think?

Do liberal justices bother to ponder the crime the guy committed?

gspencer said...

Well, actually it is a deterrent for THAT guy.

JPS said...

"Bucklew aimed the gun at [the mortally wounded] Sanders's head, but when he saw Sanders's six-year-old son, Bucklew fired at the boy instead. The shot missed."

Sanders' now-29-year-old son should be allowed to do the honors. If he chooses life, so be it.

The only reason I don't like this suggestion is that it puts the onus on someone who's suffered trauma something he never should have had to. But if that had been my dad, I'd be begging for the chance. And sedatives wouldn't enter into it.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

We have these things called trials and due process. The "state" doesn't just murder people. Then, after someone is found guilty by a jury beyond any reasonable doubt - the convict gets 50 years to appeal.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

Speaking of WaPo

DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS:

Steven said...

So, the complaint from the left here is that Kavanaugh is upholding the secular laws of the United States as written, rather than imposing the moral viewpoint of his religion?

Anonymous said...


As a pro (when appropriate) death penalty and pro-life person, I would be happy to make an exception and allow any [baby/fetus] to be aborted who has been convicted of a capital crime, with substantive due process rights, convicted to beyond a reasonable doubt standard by a jury of peers, including the several decades of appeals that have become the norm. If you can get through the process before the baby makes it out of the womb...you can have your precious sacrament of abortion.

The hypocrisy is those who fight so hard for the worst of humanity, and fight just as hard to condemn the only truly innocent among us.

Anonymous said...

The pro-life / pro death penalty position is more logically consistent than the pro abortion / anti death penalty position. It's not even close.....

Fernandinande said...

blood-filled tumors ...could rupture during the state’s lethal injection process.

Am I evil if I laughed at that?

sputter, choke, and suffocate on his own blood

He'll get over it.

traditionalguy said...

This was debated to death in 1973. The first year I practiced law the SCOTUS removed the death penalty. That was the dumbest move the Court had made since removing school prayer 10 years earlier.

The situation instantly became perfectly fucked up. New attorneys were put on the appointed list to defend bad guys. The taught us that in the Jail criminals had gotten the word out that when you are doing an armed robbery, you will face a 10 year sentence, unless you simply execute the witnesses at the store that you rob. Then you never have to do time. And if somehow you are caught and convicted, then your parole date for execution murder of the witnesses is about the same as an armed robbery.

The Nine Men Against America slogan was true of the Court back then. But the Justices were heros to the Liberals all of whom worshipped Humanity and not God.

Sheridan said...

BB&H - A clarification. The state will execute people for murder. It's not necessarily true that the state will "murder" a person though many may beg to differ. As far as trials go, I've served on three jury panels over my many years. They included capital murder, drug possession with intent to sell and kidnapping and extortion. I was foreperson on two of those three panels. As foreperson, I had to convince the panels to methodically proceed through the evidence rather than just immediately vote to "burn the bastard(s)". The prosecutors were good at their jobs of emotionally stimulating the jurors in addition to presenting their evidence. The defense counselors were mostly decent but they were handicapped because of the nature of the crimes (especially the murder case)and because they knew that many of the jurors wanted to appear publically to be the good guys and support the prosecutors. I became very wary of the manipulations performed by both sides. Ultimately, we brought in verdicts, for the prosecution, for two of the three cases. The third case was hung because a juror, a male Hispanic, refused to deliberate and the judge would not toss that juror for an alternate. Oh, the defendant was also Hispanic and was also illegal, as we later found out via the newspaper. I would not put my trust in the judicial system if I were in the dock. That's why I stay as far removed from that corrupt system as I can. Looking back, when I enlisted in the Air Force 48 years ago at the end of the Vietnam tragedy, I saw that same system at work. I'm "in" this culture but I try hard not to be captured by it. Not sure if that makes sense to y'all but it works for me and maybe others.

Gospace said...

Is the death penalty a deterrent? Maybe, maybe not.

Does the death penalty prevent a criminal from committing another offense? YES! As good a reason as any for keeping it.

A serious argument can, and has, been made that the widespread and frequent use of the death penalty in Europe, and especially Great Britain, winnowed out the genes that made people more prone to committing death penalty offenses to begin with, making the resulting societies more peaceful than they otherwise might be. And maybe we should use the death penalty more frequently for lesser crimes as was done in the past to continue to improve the human species. I've met well more than one person whose death would improve the world. One inmate I knew, mid 50's, 10 kids by 10 different women, in jail for the 12th time. Maybe on a third conviction that results in jail time- for anything- we should just do away with them. As for life sentences- there's the 3 strike laws. Prosecutors hated them, so the first few cases they prosecuted were felonies like writing bad checks- or stealing pizza slices from teenage girls sitting at outdoor tables. (No, I'm not going to look them up, but yes, they happened.) Liberals thought people wold be outraged at people being sentenced to life imprisonment for such minor transgressions! Surprise, surprise. People wanted career criminals taken off the street for good- they didn't care what the third strike was. And judges figured out real quick that we, the people, supported such laws, and didn't find the penumbras, emanations, and invisible ink between the lines to rule them unconstitutional.

Static Ping said...

I want to jump all over the hypocrisy comments, but I won't for the simple reason that I used to think like that. I consider it an intermediate step on the way to maturity of reasoning. There comes a time when you have an argument which is perfectly sound - the assumptions make sense, the logic works - and, clever you, you understand the most popular opposing argument in its logic and assumptions. This is important because you know how to upend that opposing argument in some way, so you figure that you win. Keep in mind that you are not building an opposing strawman. You really do understand the opposing argument. The thing that gets you in you only see the two arguments - yours and the popular opposing - and then fail to realize that there are a dozen other argument lying about, all logically sound but based on different assumptions. When faced with such thing, your ego is stomped on soundly. It is not unusual to lash out with "you're stupid" or "hypocrite!" in such situations. It's not a proud moment, but it happens. Reality is a harsh mistress.

The key is that as you mature you stop making such mistakes and get a better understanding of things. Sadly, some people never do get to that point, while others do but then pretend they don't.

mockturtle said...

sputter, choke, and suffocate on his own blood

Now, wouldn't that be a shame? ;-\

Kevin said...

But it's such a bad argument.

The point isn’t to make a good argument. The point is to provide the leftists a reason not to listen to any good arguments which might come from the other direction.

cubanbob said...

Imagine if the court had ruled in the reverse. Then imagine litigation by members of the armed forces that the government can't guarantee a painless combat death. The argument regarding deterrence is silly. Most violent criminals are fairly stupid, have little impulse control and don't think they will get caught. The prisons of the country are full of criminals doing long sentences yet the prisons have no problem being filled with new inmates. My only beef with the death penalty is crooked cops and prosecutors who either lie,
concoct evidence or withhold exculpatory evidence. We would far better served if forensics were decoupled from the police and the prosecution and instead be an independent agent to let the chips fall where they may and if DP cases were assigned to top notch criminal defense lawyers the outcomes would be seen as far more just and cheaper in the long run since there would a lot less grounds for appeals.

cyrus83 said...

The death penalty and abortion have no logical correlation, it is like comparing apples to oranges. One is a legal penalty attached to the commission of and conviction for grave crimes, the other is primarily an elective decision to kill a person who is inconvenient that need not follow any due process whatever. The only similarity is that a person dies in each case.

It really is not that hard to avoid hypocrisy in a right-to-life position by holding that the right can be forfeited by heinous criminal acts. After all, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be forfeited by committing crimes, why should life be totally exempt? Rights are not unlimited, as any number of cases of religious liberty claims have demonstrated in recent years.

Big Mike said...

Get. A. Rope.

Ty said...

I've gone back and forth on the death penalty probably over a half dozen times throughout the years.

One day I asked myself a simple question. Could I kill an unarmed stranger strapped to a table? Could I live with that? What if executioners were chosen from the population like jury duty? Would you want your sons and daughters to live with that experience?

"Well we pay other people to do that." Yes! We ALL do. That almost makes it more obscene.

I would kill a man on the battlefield and wouldn't lose sleep killing a person in self-defense. I could not live with executing another person and will never again endorse that position.

The most important thing to consider in taking any position on serious matters, and this applies just as well to abortion, what are the consequences if I am wrong?

Freeman Hunt said...

Major deterrent against vengeance killings.

Jeff said...

Bucklew is 50. So follow n. n.'s lead and just call it a 200'th-trimester abortion. Then everyone should be happy, no?

Jeff said...

If there is no death penalty, and we don't believe in inflicting physical pain as punishment for crimes, then how do we punish the convict doing a life sentence when he murders one of his guards, or maybe a fellow inmate?

I had a poli-sci teacher once who pointed out that Justice consists of people getting what they deserve. Is there any doubt that Bucklew deserves to be killed?

Two-eyed Jack said...

5-4 people.

Breyer writes in dissent "it may be that, as our Nation comes to place ever greater importance upon ensuring that we accurately identify, through procedurally fair methods, those who may lawfully be put to death, there simply is no constitutional way to implement the death penalty."

One flipped justice and that would be the majority ruling.

Billy Mark said...

I am really happy to read this blog post, you have many information put it on this article, am really suggest to my all dear friend to visit this blog post and collect this useful and valuable information.
mcafee.com/activate | mcafee.com/activate |office.com/setup | norton.com/setup | norton.com/setup | norton.com/setup

Unknown said...

The Washington Post comment section is a total wasteland. So rare to see any intelligent comments there. Mostly rote left-wing nonsense of the dumbest kind. Probably government-worker drones wasting their workdays.

Larry J said...

It amuses me when I hear people who support killing babies in or out of the mother's body compare that to capital punishment. Prisoners on death row not only get their trials where they were found guilty of heinous murders, they get 10-30 years of legal review. Babies being aborted, not so much. While I'm not a Catholic, at least I can respect their consistency in opposing abortion and the death penalty.

Gospace said...

Two-eyed Jack said...

Breyer writes in dissent "it may be that, as our Nation comes to place ever greater importance upon ensuring that we accurately identify, through procedurally fair methods, those who may lawfully be put to death, there simply is no constitutional way to implement the death penalty."


And the people who wrote our Constitution are staring down from above wondering if he's ever actually read it.

Anonymous said...

Jim at: "I'll never understand how the left can equate capital punishment with abortion and somehow claim it's the right who is hypocritical when it comes to pro-life.

You do realize there's a difference between someone who committed a capital crime and an unborn child, right?"


You're assuming that the reasoning process ever goes as far as considering that second sentence. The outstanding characteristic of lumpen-prog thought is the inability to make rational distinctions and legitimate analogies. "Everything is exactly the same as everything else" is the foundational dogma and rallying cry.

It shouldn't be surprising that someone who believes that, say, "rejecting gay marriage is *just like* supporting slavery" lacks the ability to make any meaningful moral distinctions between abortion and capital punishment. (Of course, the dogma, though foundational, is allowed flexibility in the right hands. "Everything is exactly the same as everything else" until it isn't, because reasons.)

It's possible to rationally oppose both abortion and capital punishment (and lots of rational, honest people, left and right, do just that). But you can't expect a lumpen-prog to get beyond "both abortion and capital punishment kill someone, so you're a hypocrite!". It's asking too much; that initial observation about their both being forms of "killing" is pretty much the limit of their deductive and analogical powers.

Paul said...

Freder Frederson said...

'The data do not show that it is a deterrent. "

But the data DOES show that when a murderer is DEAD they don't do ANY CRIMES AGAIN.

There are three reason for prisons. 1) Rehabilitation, 2) deterrent to others, 3) PUNISHMENT.

And now a 4th) make sure the never do it again. I.E. no recidivism.

Now in prison convicts sometimes murder another convict or a guard. Being dead makes sure they never do ANY CRIME AGAIN.

So one can say the death penalty gives us punishment and no chance of recidivism.

TWW said...

What is cruel and usual (unfortunately) is a legal system that forces victims and their families wait twenty three years for justice.

Q22 said...

Reminds me of the PJ O'Rourke quote:

"No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.”

Nichevo said...

You have obviously never been anywhere near a maximum security prison in this country in your life.


So, Freder, what were you in for? (And why didn't they deport you?)

Curious George said...

Strap 'em in. Light 'em up.

n.n said...

there simply is no constitutional way to implement the death penalty

Due process. Beyond a reasonable doubt. Neither cruel nor unusual punishment of murderers to mitigate the risk of recidivism. Once you choose to abort a human life for lunatic, social, or petty causes, then it is reasonable to assume that you possess a transhuman orientation, which will express itself again, and again, and again.

Then there is planned prisoner or any other cause under the Twilight Amendment. When and by whose choice does a human life acquire and retain the right to life? And its corollary: lose the right to life?

mockturtle said...

"No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.”

PJ O'Rourke was wrong about 'devout Christians'. He was obviously referring to devout Catholics.

n.n said...

The death penalty and [elective] abortion have no logical correlation

Both terminate a human life. The former for causes of transhuman orientation (e.g. premeditated murder), and the latter for social progress, medical progress, political correctness, and personal convenience.

n.n said...

Murdered University of South Carolina student's cause of death revealed

Capital punishment or community service? Perhaps with a diversity enhancement.

gahrie said...

And I'm saying that as someone who is opposed to the death penalty and in favor of access to abortion.

I have never understood this position. We must protect the lives of the guilty and allow the killing of the most innocent form of human life. Why is the life of a murderer more valuable than the life of a baby?

gahrie said...

We should just give the condemned an overdose of heroin...quick and painless.

Unknown said...

mcafee.com/activate