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Man on death row wants to donate liver to dying sister
May 16, 2005 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Man on death row wants to donate liver to dying sister. I think this opens up many questions and mucks up the waters if you are both pro life(viva Terri), and also support the death penalty. (first fpp)
posted by MrMulan (115 comments total)

 
"Kraus said doctors could take a piece of Johnson's liver in what is known as a "split liver" transplant. The remainder of the organ would regenerate and, in time, Johnson would be healthy enough to be put to death."

Priceless.
posted by brain_drain at 2:31 PM on May 16, 2005


You know, they sterilize the needle used to administer a lethal injection.
posted by clevershark at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2005


Another classic line: "You can't donate a liver before you die, because that would kill you and that gets in the way of the state killing you."

Heh. America: where laws replace sense.
posted by Malor at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2005


If the United States is going to use the death penalty, couldn't we find a way of doing it that would keep organs viable for donation? How many people are put to death a year in the United States- and how many people could be saved if even half of their organs were available for donation?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:35 PM on May 16, 2005 [1 favorite]


How does support for pro life and death penalty, muck the water up since she may be able to live w/o his liver?

Seems the discussion should revolve around; does the prison have the authority to allow this? And if not, the why and who may grant it?
posted by thomcatspike at 2:35 PM on May 16, 2005


Pink, there's a big ethical problem there that was foreseen many years ago. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote about this... they called it 'organlegging', as I recall.

If the state has an INTEREST in killing you... say because your liver is a perfect match for the dying President's.... that leads to all kinds of possible abuses.

Before the current administration, I wouldn't have worried too much about that possibility, but with this crew in charge I'm not so sure.
posted by Malor at 2:39 PM on May 16, 2005


Well, not only do the laws not make sense, but wouldn't there be some sort of medical ethics issues involved? Can a doctor really remove someone's organs, while alive, that will cause his death? For me, that would be crossing a line I'm not comfortable even going near. After all, the legal sentence of death may be suspended, delayed, found unconstitutional, etc... the day after the operation. Who knows? I mean, we don't allow terminally ill people to donate a liver or heart while their still alive, even if that's the only way their organs would be transplantable.
posted by thewittyname at 2:39 PM on May 16, 2005


Can't they just change the method of execution? A proper beheading is quick, relatively painless, and wouldn't damage the liver. Of couse they'd have to fly in a qualified headsman from Malaysia or someplace, but he'd probably work cheap. Just because we're barbarians doesn't mean we can't be sensible about it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:44 PM on May 16, 2005


How many people are put to death a year in the United States

average per year since 1979 is 29. Highest in recent years was 98 in 1999. In contrast, 40,000 people die per year in the US in car crashes. We would save far more people by encouraging people to be organ donors than by changing execution methods.


posted by mdn at 2:44 PM on May 16, 2005


Here's the original Indianapolis Star article, which has a bit more information. Including the fact that, regardless of the question thewittyname raises about the ethics of removing an organ that would cause death, Indiana state law requires that all executions be done by lethal injection; an execution-by-removing-the-liver is currently illegal in Indiana.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:46 PM on May 16, 2005


If there was ever a cause for extraordinary rendition, this is it. I've no doubt at all they could behead him in Syria. So what's the problem? We do it to people who don't want us to, why be squeamish about doing it to someone who does?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:49 PM on May 16, 2005


DevilsAdvocate writes "Indiana state law requires that all executions be done by lethal injection; an execution-by-removing-the-liver is currently illegal in Indiana."

Can't they give him a lethal injection just after removing the liver but while he's still being kept alive by machines?
posted by nkyad at 2:51 PM on May 16, 2005


nkyad: the Hippocratic Oath that might get in the way of that one.
posted by moonbird at 2:56 PM on May 16, 2005


You can't let someone on death row donate his body parts! Haven't you people read Boileau's Choice Cuts?!
posted by casu marzu at 2:58 PM on May 16, 2005


Obviously, they just need to put him to death in a way that preserves his liver, then throw it in the Styrofoam cooler and away therewith. Why they won't do this is a mystery to me, because it would satisfy all conditions as far as I can see, except the "We want to kill him THIS way" one.
posted by sninky-chan at 2:59 PM on May 16, 2005


Just to clarify, there are two types of organ transplant: cadaveric and living donor. As far as liver is concerned this means there are two types of transplant procedures. From a cadaver the entire liver is taken, since that improves the outcome for the recipient and makes no difference to the donor. In living donor transplant the liver's remarkable regenerative capacity is taken advantage of and only a portion of the liver is taken. Within 6 weeks the donor's liver is nearly completely regenerated, and the portion of liver given to the recipient has grown as well (ideally, assuming an uncomplicated convalescence).

The possibility does not exist that one would take an entire liver from a living donor. Medical ethics aside, there is no single transplant surgeon in North America who has ever performed such a procedure, and there are definitely no surgery protocols lying around for anyone to follow. The main issue here is 1) how much better off would his sister be by getting a donor from a relative (a complicated question consisting of numerous medical factors only her transplant team would know), and 2) how long would his execution need to be put off.

The ethics of this thing are complex, no doubt, but the medical facts limit some of the range of the discussion.
posted by thelaze at 3:04 PM on May 16, 2005


Do they have to wait for him to get better before killing him? Can't they give him the partial liver removal, and then kill him the next day?
posted by 23skidoo at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2005


PinkStainlessTail writes: "Can't they just change the method of execution? A proper beheading is quick, relatively painless, and wouldn't damage the liver."

An interesting aspect of a beheading is that you are still aware for something like half a minute after your head is severed. So, in addition to a last meal, you could also request that something incredibly cool be done with your freshly severed head before you fade out.

Just make sure you have a competent executioner so you don't have the Mary, Queen of Scots experience.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 3:16 PM on May 16, 2005


Ahh, that's the sort of statistic I was interested in (but too lazy to look up). Thanks, mdn.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:19 PM on May 16, 2005 [1 favorite]


If they were going to behead you, I'd seriously hope someone would be clued in enough to knock you out with a heavy sedative first...
posted by thelaze at 3:20 PM on May 16, 2005


An interesting aspect of a beheading is that you are still aware for something like half a minute after your head is severed.

I've always wondered how they verified this: "Blink if you're still aware. And again. and again. And again. No? Right, stop the clock. How long was that?"
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 3:21 PM on May 16, 2005


PST, you're exactly right about the blinking. This was done during the French revolution, when plenty of... volunteers were available.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm not sure I see the problem with this. Unless he's trying to escape.....
posted by fenriq at 3:32 PM on May 16, 2005


If the United States is going to use the death penalty, couldn't we find a way of doing it that would keep organs viable for donation?

Because this might happen.
posted by gilgamix at 3:39 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm pretty sure the blink thing is apocryphal...

this page agrees... it's possible, but it's not really proven whether a brain is still conscious after a beheading, or, to what degree & for how long it's conscious. Even if the eyes blinked it'd be possible that that was just reflexive. Basically, the only way to find out would be to have yourself beheaded...
posted by mdn at 3:44 PM on May 16, 2005


Put him under anaesthetic, remove his liver, administer the lethal injection = everybody gets what they want.
posted by Specklet at 3:53 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm sure we've all seen that Monty Python segment: "Live Organ Donations" from the film "The Meaning of Life."
posted by Jon-o at 4:17 PM on May 16, 2005


for the beheading; couldnt you just put the beheaded head under one of those brain imaging machines?

But on topic, why cant they do like 23skidoo asked?
"Can't they give him the partial liver removal, and then kill him the next day?"
posted by Iax at 4:30 PM on May 16, 2005


I can't see where it would hurt anyone to give him a short reprieve to allow the donation. It would, however, definitely help his sister. The Indianapolis Star article says only kidney donors can specify who gets their donated organ. However, no matter who gets his, his sister moves up on the transplant list and is that much closer to one of her own.

How many death row inmates waste years and millions in taxpayer money on pointless appeals? This guy wants to do something positive before he goes...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:33 PM on May 16, 2005


Perhaps someone better acquainted with the legal minutae around capital punishment can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a pretty strict prohibition against killing someone who's not well? I think that would remove the possibility of taking his liver and then executing him the next day.

I think part of the problem is, when and how do you start preparing him for the execution? Do you wheel him into the room with his IV's and monitors and then shoot him up with poison, or do you remove his various treatments 2 hours beforehand? Or 6 hours, or 24 hours, etc...
posted by thelaze at 5:03 PM on May 16, 2005


Here is a supposed instance of a decapitated head displaying awareness (read the entire short article), and another one. Still, I couldn't find any scientific articles on the phenomenon (not surprisingly), so who knows.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 5:28 PM on May 16, 2005


if you are both pro life... and also support the death penalty

I do not understand this. It sounds to me like "if you are a Christian and also support atheism."
posted by languagehat at 5:47 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm not a pro-lifer, languagehat, but the logic goes something like this, I think: an unborn child is innocent, ao to end it's life is a horrible murder, a condemned killer has committed a horrible crime (theoretically), so to end his life is justice. Like, I said, I don't neccessarily agree, but it makes an odd kind of sense.
posted by jonmc at 5:53 PM on May 16, 2005


PinkStainlessTail's suggestion of using the organs from executed criminals reminds me a great deal of the "good ol' days" of medicine in which you went to hell if you were dissected after death and so this "punishment" was reserved only for criminals.

Eventually, it was found too cruel even for criminals and medical dissections were reserved for "whoever we can dig up and drag in before they've completely rotted." Doctors from this era would sometimes have themselves outfitted with outrageously complicated coffins to prevent this happening to themselves.

On another note, this reminds me all too much of a Law & Order (or was it Ally McBeal?) plotline. I seem to remember that in the episode, the man's request to donate an organ was denied because there's just no way of getting around the hippocratic oath. The way they solved it? The guy offed himself after signing an organ donation card.

This convict seriously needs to watch more TV.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:56 PM on May 16, 2005


From a Clark County, Indiana, prosecutors report:

Ruby Hutslar [82 years old] was found 5 feet from the front door with broken bones on her nose and cheek and 20 fractured ribs. Her larnyx and spine were also fractured.

An autopsy revealed that she died as a result of these injuries and not fire or smoke inhalation. . . Johnson stated that he had entered the home by breaking a front window with a broom and immediately confronted 90 pound Hutslar in her night clothes.

Hutslar slumped to the floor, breathing heavily. Johnson said he stepped on her as he moved around the house. He took a watch and silver dollars, found some matches, started the fire and fled.


It is sad that his sister is dying. I found it helps to think about what the last 5 minutes of Ms. Hutslar's life was like.
posted by mlis at 6:00 PM on May 16, 2005


The basic thinking, I think, is the state cannot torture someone to death. That's why all the restrictions including being in reasonable health and the method of killing. Of course it's hard to draw fine distinctions so that's why rules exist like sterilizing needles. The state wishes to kill, not commit torture, so that's why everything reasonable and normal is done regarding health up to the actual killing.

As to allowing a short reprieve to allow donation: like just about every odd legal situation the problem may be one of setting precendent? If it's allowed here, then why can't all condemned prisoners start selling off body parts in a decades long series of profitable and life-diminishing but life-extending operations? Perhaps someone out there with the necessary medical background could work up a proposed 'optimal' list of operations working along from minor to major parts? Sort of a plan B for folks who've exhausted all the legal avenues, once that's done they can move on the medical avenues?
posted by scheptech at 6:02 PM on May 16, 2005


an unborn child is innocent, ao to end it's life is a horrible murder, a condemned killer has committed a horrible crime (theoretically), so to end his life is justice

Of course I understand how you can be against abortion but for state-organized murder. But you don't then get to call the first position being "pro-life."
posted by languagehat at 6:16 PM on May 16, 2005


It is sad that his sister is dying. I found it helps to think about what the last 5 minutes of Ms. Hutslar's life was like.
posted by MLIS at 9:00 PM EST on May 16 [!]


What are you saying? That the killer's sister is somehow responsible or should suffer for the killer's crime?
posted by a_day_late at 6:16 PM on May 16, 2005


This guy's a POS. I'm cool with not allowing him to give away his good parts to his loved ones before the gov't punches his ticket on what's left over.

I think the message should be that when you do something this horrible, you forfeit. Everything. Including the right to donate your organs to your dying sister. He should've thought of all the potential consequences before you brutally murdered an old lady.
posted by 27 at 6:20 PM on May 16, 2005


Of course I understand how you can be against abortion but for state-organized murder. But you don't then get to call the first position being "pro-life."

OK, let me have another whack at it: the aborted fetus didn't get a chance to actually "live," but the condemned criminal got his life and fucked it up. Hence "pro-life."

Of course I do realize that saying that the fetus didn't get to "live," contradicts the "life begins at conception" thesis at the heart of the pro-life argument. But like I don't support, I'm just trying to figure it out. It's kind of a weird hobby of mine.

This guy's a POS. I'm cool with not allowing him to give away his good parts to his loved ones before the gov't punches his ticket on what's left over.


Sure he is. I'm probably more anti-crime than anyone here, but this guys organs can do an innocent person some good, and when it's all done we still get to snuff him. Win-win.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 PM on May 16, 2005


I suddenly hear Elvis singing "Viva, las Terri!"
posted by tr33hggr at 6:30 PM on May 16, 2005


Sure he is. I'm probably more anti-crime than anyone here, but this guys organs can do an innocent person some good, and when it's all done we still get to snuff him. Win-win.

I hear you, jonmc... But Ruby might've been on the way to sign up for organ donation when this guy killed her. Maybe she had a sick relative too... He didn't care. Now we're supposed to?

I feel bad for his sister. It's a shame all around. But my sense of justice digs the idea of this guy learning a real, real hard lesson on his way out the door.

How 'bout a compromise? They tell him "No dice" on the organ donation, put him under, harvest the liver, then wipe his ass out. Then he kicks thinking that he really fucked it up for his sister.
posted by 27 at 6:31 PM on May 16, 2005


Well now, that story is the silliest damn thing ever. Why punish the sister for what the guy did?

Regarding decapitation, here's the Straight Dope's take. WARNING: Extremely disturbing account at the end.
posted by schroedinger at 6:32 PM on May 16, 2005


You know, they sterilize the needle used to administer a lethal injection.

Actually, it's more likely the case that the needle used is a standard sterile disposable IV needle that is broken out of the package, used once, then thrown away. Single-use sterile needles are not just to protect the patient, but also to protect the medical staff serving the patient. Accidental needle sticks are one of the hazards of the job.

I'm anti-death penalty here, but with enough horse sense to get into that whole argument.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:37 PM on May 16, 2005


schroedinger: Um, that is the same link that Derive the Hamiltonian of posted.
posted by mlis at 6:38 PM on May 16, 2005


He didn't care. Now we're supposed to?

Sure. But not about him, screw him. I care about his sister who didn't kill anybody. If nothing else we get the satisfaction of knowing we're not sociopathic scumbags like him. Kinda changes perepective, huh?
posted by jonmc at 6:40 PM on May 16, 2005


jonmc: Sure. But not about him, screw him. I care about his sister who didn't kill anybody. If nothing else we get the satisfaction of knowing we're not sociopathic scumbags like him. Kinda changes perepective, huh?

I've had this observation for a while. Many people in favor of the death penalty are focused on what it says about the value of the convicted. While many of those opposed to the death penality are focused on what it says about our culture. I don't think that much in the way of discussion is possible given these two very different views.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:54 PM on May 16, 2005


I don't think that much in the way of discussion is possible given these two very different views.

Actually, KJS, you could make the argument that by not executing the guy, we're getting the satisfaction of knowing we're not sociopathic scumbags like him. And pro-death penalty people would say that executing him says the same thing. Same idea, different methods. Both groups want to set them selves apart from the murderous scumbags.

See, there's always common ground.

For the record, I go back and forth on the death penalty. I realize all the inherent flaws and the dangers of executing and innocent man. But at the same time there are crimes so heinous that they cry out for it. I imagine I'm not alone in that perspective.
posted by jonmc at 7:02 PM on May 16, 2005


Many people in favor of the death penalty are focused on what it says about the value of the convicted. While many of those opposed to the death penality are focused on what it says about our culture.

That puts the anti-death penalty camp at a rhetorical disadvantage. The convicted is a real live human who's done something that enrages people on a visceral level. "Our culture," is an abstraction that people often feel no connection or loyalty to.
posted by jonmc at 7:06 PM on May 16, 2005


MLIS: Huzzah! I am observant! Crap, sorry about that.

"Our culture," is an abstraction that people often feel no connection or loyalty to.

Not to mention that people don't identify with the same "culture", or interpretation of what their culture is.

Some people believe it is in our culture to respond to this visceral reaction against heinous crimes. Others believe it is our culture to be more lenient. Me, I'm with jonmc. I oscillate.
posted by schroedinger at 7:17 PM on May 16, 2005


Me, I'm with jonmc. I oscillate.

That's where I find myself getting into trouble in arguments about the death penalty. I understand and respect the intellectual arguments against executing a Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. But, I can't relate to people who don't for, at least a moment, feel the rage and urge to summarily execute them. What you channel that urge into is where the debate goes.
posted by jonmc at 7:23 PM on May 16, 2005


jonmc: For the record, I go back and forth on the death penalty. I realize all the inherent flaws and the dangers of executing and innocent man. But at the same time there are crimes so heinous that they cry out for it. I imagine I'm not alone in that perspective.

I see a bit of a taxonomy among people uncomfortable with the death penalty. So you have the moral opponents of the death penalty that argue that no matter how heinous the crime, an institutionalized death penality is a bad thing. Then you have the pragmatic reformers who are primarily concerned with bias and error in the death penality system.

Where the differences come boil down to is that to moral opponents of the death penalty, it does not matter how heinous of a crime was committed. It's completely irrelevant.

That puts the anti-death penalty camp at a rhetorical disadvantage. The convicted is a real live human who's done something that enrages people on a visceral level. "Our culture," is an abstraction that people often feel no connection or loyalty to.

I'm also not being particularly lucid in my advocacy here. But yes, it is a serious problem in that the death penalty is set up to effectively diffuse responsibility for the death of a person. Who is responsible for putting a man to death in Indiana: the jury, the judge, the warden, the doctor, the govenor, the prosecutor? The tricky thing is, this diffusion of responsibility has been at the core of just about every atrocity committed by governments. What you have is a collection of individuals following orders, that were crafted by people following orders, that were derived from a public policy, established by the will of the people.

By all means, this abstraction is pretty darn powerful, to the point that it takes some pretty outrageous abuses of abstraction and a shift in politics before anyone objects. Politics is a big factor in this as well.

But, I can't relate to people who don't for, at least a moment, feel the rage and urge to summarily execute them. What you channel that urge into is where the debate goes.

Oh, I can understand the rage and desire behind revenge. I just know from pretty bitter experience that my rage hasn't done a lick of good for me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:36 PM on May 16, 2005


Me, I'm with jonmc. I oscillate.

Some call that "Flip-Flopping"...
posted by Balisong at 7:39 PM on May 16, 2005


Oh, I can understand the rage and desire behind revenge.

That's all I, and anyone you'd want to debate effectively on this subject needs to know. And for what it's worth, I agree with the second half of your statement, as well.

I just remember a guy, who was both a self-proclaimed born-again Christian and a major league stoner, who in the middle of a classroom debate on this subject proclaimed that he had "shed tears," over Ted Bundy's execution. He was on another planet as far as I'm concerned, I could find nothing to relate to there, and that's what defeats a lot of anti-death penalty activists, IMHO.
posted by jonmc at 7:49 PM on May 16, 2005


Schroedinger, I took a measurement the other day, and, uh... it turns out I killed your cat. I'm really sorry.

To actually be on topic for once in this thread, I agree that there is no valid reason to keep this man from donating his liver. As for the death penalty, I often hear the argument that the cost of the investigation, trial, appeals process, and actual execution far outweigh the costs of life incarceration. A maximum security prison is no picnic either; I think many people might actually prefer execution after a few decades of near solitary confinement.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 7:51 PM on May 16, 2005


Some more random comments:

1: I think this is partly an attempt to stall for a better clemency hearing.

2: Something sounds fishy about potassium chloride rendering the liver unusable.

3: Given my views on the death penalty, it should be no suprise that I'm don't think he should be executed, and the organ donation setup seems to be equally problematic.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:53 PM on May 16, 2005


I've been trying to think of how to respond to this thread without sounding hollier than thou. I think many of us who oppose the death penalty really do feel rage against murderers. I admit I didn't mourn Nicolai Caucescu or Ted Bundy for a second. Nor did I really feel better when they were dead.

Maybe is a rationalization of my beliefs, but I worry that the death penalty is a step on the way to antinomianism. Where do we stop acting out rage? There are so many people the world would be better off without. (No, I'm not talking about SUV drivers, or dios, I mean child pornographers, Dick Cheney, and the like). How do we know when to stop?

I haven't seen anyone benefit from an execution, feel closure and peace after the murderer of a loved one died. That might make me oscillate.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:02 PM on May 16, 2005


Death 'penalty' is a disingenuous oxymoron. How can something be a penalty or punishment if you're too dead to know you've been punished? It's not punishment in any normal functional sense. It's much closer to retribution, blood for blood, horror for horror, an attempt at 'balancing out' cosmic forces somehow for the victims' families and friends. In a religious context this is a no-no? Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, forgiveness, and all that?

Many people in favor of the death penalty are focused on what it says about the value of the convicted. While many of those opposed to the death penalty are focused on what it says about our culture.


Yup, put another way: local effects / global effects or short term / long term.

In favor - you want the aggrieved family to feel like justice has been done and some want the perp to feel the same fear and helplessness they caused.

Not in favor - you're concerned about the bigger picture, the overall negative effects on society beyond those who personally knew and loved the victim, of purposely adding death to death.
posted by scheptech at 8:05 PM on May 16, 2005


Us good, them bad.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:09 PM on May 16, 2005


If a loved one of mine was murdered, I'd want to see their murderer get his (or hers).

And I swear I'd feel better about it when it was over with.

Beyond that, I don't think there's anything wrong with a society that says that they will only tolerate so much from individuals before they have to pay with their own life.

And personally, off-ing a guy who broke an 82 year old woman's face and 20 of her ribs is firmly within my comfort zone.

No need to draw the line in front of him. And he hasn't earned the right to do something charitable (yet somewhat self serving, this isn't an orphan or a relative of the victim, it's his own sister after all) in his final days. He doesn't deserve to die thinking "at least I did something nice for my sister".

Fuck him.

On preview: scheptech nailed my "in favor" sentiments exactly.
posted by 27 at 8:15 PM on May 16, 2005


A little background on organ transplants:

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) homepage.

Waiting list candidates 88,465 as of today 11:21pm
Transplants January - February 2005 4,373 as of 05/06/2005
Donors January - February 2005 2,263 as of 05/06/2005

And Transplant Living, their website with information on organ donation and the transplant process

And on the other side of the equation:
Death by lethal injection, adopted in 37 states as a painless method of execution, actually might inflict enormous suffering on the condemned because of a routine failure to use enough anesthetic, according to a study of death-row autopsies
posted by warbaby at 8:25 PM on May 16, 2005


And he hasn't earned the right to do something charitable (yet somewhat self serving, this isn't an orphan or a relative of the victim, it's his own sister after all) in his final days.

Could you expand on the concept of "earning the right to do something charitable"? Call me a crazy utilitarian, but when it comes to charity the primary shit I give is that someone in need was helped, regardless of the motives or moral standing of the giver. Not that this isn't an issue: I bet there's plenty of people in NYC who won't hear a bad word said against John Gotti because he "gave back to the community", but I still think good works outweigh bad intentions.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:28 PM on May 16, 2005


Some call that "Flip-Flopping"...

I like calling it "seeing both sides of the issue," "appreciating the gray areas." "Flip-flopping" implies that one would argue hard for one position one day and then hard for another position another day. But you can call it that if ya like.

I guess, in addition to the idea of addressing particularly henious crimes with a sense of "justice", I also feel that there are some people who are broken and aren't going to be fixed. Gacy? Dahmer? Those guys weren't going to be fixed. They're never going to be productive members of society--if you let them out, they're going to keep doing what they're doing because the parts of their brains that are broken can't heal. So do you lock these guys up forever or take them out? Financially, it costs less to lock 'em up for life than it does to kill 'em. But then ya go back to the appeasing the victim's family stance--the people who are that broken have done some pretty terrible shit.

However, I don't think the death penalty should ever be seen as necessary because it's a deterrent. All the prisoner accounts I've read have stated that simply doesn't work.

Speaking of which, if ya want to read some particularly well-written stuff by a guy on death row, check out Michael Hunter (well, his sentence has been reduced to life, but most of this stuff was written before that).

He doesn't deserve to die thinking "at least I did something nice for my sister".

I'm not all for bastards dying happy, but I'm even less for innocents dying painfully to satisfy a desire for revenge. The guy will be dead. You don't need to take his sister with him, she's done nothing.
posted by schroedinger at 8:39 PM on May 16, 2005


Sure, I'll expand on the concept.

He beat an old lady. To death. For that, he forfeits his right. To live. To help his sister, his mom, his kitty, whatever. I don't have any problem with seeing him lose the opportunity to help his sister and put a somewhat positive spin on his final days.

I mean, that's what this debate is all about, right? His right to donate part of his body (charitably) before he's killed?

I say:
For his horrible crime against that old lady, the state owns him - body and mind. His sister can have whatever's left after he's done paying his debt.
posted by 27 at 8:43 PM on May 16, 2005


You don't need to take his sister with him, she's done nothing.

I feel badly for his sister. I hope she finds a way through this and finds another donor.

But I feel worse for that poor old lady. And if this guy has to ask permission to donate his organs, then I would say "no". If he dies a little more miserably, than good - because it probably still won't be as bad as being 82, scared to death, in agony, and wondering why somebody did this to you. But it'll be worse.

In the end, yeah - he's dead anyway. But it's an extra dimension of shit that he didn't bargain for in all of this.

Hopefully the sister finds another way.
posted by 27 at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm surprised that no-one has brought up that Halloween episode where Homer get's transplanted with Snake's scalp...

This is an interesting, albeit non-scientific, collection of conciousness-after-beheading stories. I'd imagine that beheading is a pretty traumatic affair - to the good doctors on metafilter; how frequent would sever shock be manifested in beheadings?

I haven't read the linked articles, but the one I ran into a couple of days ago stated that the convict hasn't even been screened to see if he would be a suitable donor for the sister. From what I remember, a full fresh cadaveric transplant doesn't result in a*tremedously* better outcome to a partial - all thing being equal.

Livers have tremendous regenerative abilities, but if you give a part of your liver to someone else, it'll only grow back to about 80% of it's original size. Sufficient, sure, but not completely regenerated.

I really wished that legislation could be enacted such that post-mortem organ donation in North America was an opt-out proceedure rather than an opt-in, like in some European nations.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2005


I don't have any problem with seeing him lose the opportunity to help his sister and put a somewhat positive spin on his final days.

Ok, practical legal considerations aside, if we're good people then doesn't allowing him to perform a 'good' act actually enhance our position? Doesn't it mean that he's admitting we're right and he's wrong? Shouldn't we, as good people, allow further good to take place? Doesn't this mean that we're winning in more ways than simply having physically captured him and put him on trial? Why prevent his public admission and act, his demonstration that he has been wrong and that good, love, and the law are right?
posted by scheptech at 9:12 PM on May 16, 2005


I like calling it "seeing both sides of the issue," "appreciating the gray areas." "Flip-flopping" implies that one would argue hard for one position one day and then hard for another position another day. But you can call it that if ya like.

I agree wholeheartedly. It's just that some people can/will frame a debate in such a way as to call such indecisiveness a bad trait. I don't.

Capital punishment is fine, necessarry, even... If you have no flaws with your system.
If anything, there should be more (talking on a cellphone while driving, embezlement of a company's retirement fund, politicians caught in misuse of information that caused the death or dismemberment of a citizen, ripping the tag off your matress), and streamlined. Make it pay-per-view with all procedes going to victim's assistance funds. At least then we get to see the reality of it, instead of it just being a by-line in the paper (or blog). It might even settle some of the bloodlust that we a'Mericans have, and we can go back to movies and video games to sadisfy our urges, instead of fucking another country for our daily dose of bodycount, and carnage.
posted by Balisong at 9:27 PM on May 16, 2005


Why prevent his public admission and act, his demonstration that he has been wrong and that good, love, and the law are right?

How "good" is this act? He's giving away something that will be of absolutely of no use to him in a short while anyway.

Would he have done this if his liver wasn't about to be decommissioned by the penal system?

Would he have given it up to someone that wasn't a family member? Does he have plans to give other organs to other people?

I don't see this is as quite the moral breakthrough or admission of wrongdoing that I think you see it as (apologies if I'm wrong). I might feel differently if he wanted to give the liver to someone in the victim's family, or if he wanted to donate all his organs or something.
posted by 27 at 9:58 PM on May 16, 2005


I feel badly for his sister. I hope she finds a way through this and finds another donor.

But I feel worse for that poor old lady.


Sorry, I just don't see how these are connected. The sister didn't kill the old lady. The sister bears no responsibility for her brother killing the old lady.

And if this guy has to ask permission to donate his organs, then I would say "no". If he dies a little more miserably, than good - because it probably still won't be as bad as being 82, scared to death, in agony, and wondering why somebody did this to you. But it'll be worse.

But it's happening at the expense of putting another innocent life at risk. That makes no moral sense. It's a savage decision. If you were arguing for directly torturing the guy, I still wouldn't agree with you but I would at least get the moral position you were coming from. But torturing him indirectly by harming an innocent family member through inaction?

Hopefully the sister finds another way.

Livers from matching donors aren't exactly a dime a dozen.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:10 PM on May 16, 2005


The sister didn't kill the old lady. The sister bears no responsibility for her brother killing the old lady.
No arguments here. I'm only addressing the brother's issue. He's asking for a something he's not entitled to (a reprieve) in order to do this. I don't feel he deserves it. He gave his victim no reprieve.

But torturing him indirectly by harming an innocent family member through inaction?
I'll admit that I won't lose sleep if this guy is tortured indirectly if he misses this opportunity to help his sister, but that's a footnote. The guy's asking a favor here - for himself and his sister. I don't feel he deserves it. She certainly does, but he's got a debt to pay. He should've considered this all up front.

It's a savage decision.
It's a sad, horrible, tragic consequence of his savage decision.

I do see the opposing view, and they've been made well by all. I just don't see cutting the guy even a little break because something horrible happened that he didn't see coming when he killed his victim.

And there is a some serious karma/poetic justice at work here. The sister deserves none of it, the murderer deserves every bit of it.
posted by 27 at 10:36 PM on May 16, 2005


I think it's wrong, very wrong.

He's being executed because his body and mind was responsible for a crime.

If any parts of his body were to live on, in someone else, then the whole point of the execution is lost. In fact, it could be argued the sister, once "cured", should be put to death. Or, made to suffer life for a while before the liver is removed.

In this way the blood price is multiplied and, as 27 points out, it would be karmic/poetic justice -- even though one should not believe in karma in America, because it belongs to an external religion.
posted by gsb at 11:05 PM on May 16, 2005


Sloppy language makes sloppy thinking.

Or is it the other way around?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:24 PM on May 16, 2005


If any parts of his body were to live on, in someone else, then the whole point of the execution is lost. In fact, it could be argued the sister, once "cured", should be put to death. Or, made to suffer life for a while before the liver is removed.

The point of execution isn't that none of his cells continue to reproduce, but rather that he stops being alive. If he wasn't allowed to donate organs, they just would have said "Sorry, but inmates aren't allowed to donate organs." But they said, "Sorry, but you are scheduled to die before there's time to donate your liver." I really can't imagine anyone arguing the case that anyone who accepts organs from an inmate on death row should then be killed or tortured.

How about this for the flip-side of the "convicts get what's coming to them" argument: Death row inmates should be required to donate all (or some percentage) of their organs upon their death.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:30 PM on May 16, 2005


OK folks, that's what I call early morning sarcasm. Strange how a ridiculous viewpoint gets traction these days.

Oh, I forgot. It's called "balance".
posted by gsb at 11:54 PM on May 16, 2005


this reminds me all too much of a Law & Order (or was it Ally McBeal?) plotline...The guy offed himself after signing an organ donation card.

This was a plotline in ER... the guy shot himself outside the ER in front of a couple of the docs. His daughter's transplanted liver had been destroyed by the drug he was working two jobs to pay for.
posted by Pigpen at 12:09 AM on May 17, 2005


Ah, silly me, I find it hard to recognize sarcasm when someone mocks a point that nobody is endorsing.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:32 AM on May 17, 2005


It's called preemptive sarcasm.

And funny how it's easy to swallow, guess I better take my Brit brand somewhere else. Sorry for the inconvenience.
posted by gsb at 2:54 AM on May 17, 2005


You can't be pro-life and support the death penality. Although pro-life is often used synonymously for anti-abortion, there is more to it; such as being anti-death penalty.
posted by nthdegx at 6:01 AM on May 17, 2005


27: And there is a some serious karma/poetic justice at work here. The sister deserves none of it, the murderer deserves every bit of it.

This isn't some act of fate, or vengeful god. The state is making the decision to take away this woman's chances for life. Trying to put full responsibility on the murderer, while you're actively poisoning her cure, is intellectually weak.

That said, thank you for making the opposing case.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:09 AM on May 17, 2005


How about this for the flip-side of the "convicts get what's coming to them" argument: Death row inmates should be required to donate all (or some percentage) of their organs upon their death.

I actually like that idea. It would certainly be a better way to repay your debt to society than the current system offers.

But, if that was the case, it only seems right they should go to the general pool so the next person on the list, the person with the most dire need, gets it, not whoever the convicted picks.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:29 AM on May 17, 2005


But at the same time there are crimes so heinous that they cry out for it.

Crimes do not "cry out" for anything; people do. Some crimes -- whether because they're seen as particularly heinous, or they affect prominent members of society, or the media latch onto them for whatever reason ("Jimmy, we need a human-interest story, go down to the police station and see what they've got") -- arouse a public outcry that then becomes a factor in how they're treated. Other (most) crimes, however "heinous," are unknown except to those immediately affected, and they get treated according to the law and forgotten (except by those immediately affected). There is no logical or moral relation between public outcry and just punishment (and, needless to say, even less relation between automatic racism and just punishment). If we're to punish criminals as a society, surely it should be on some more objective basis than visceral rage or racist indifference ("Good gracious! anybody hurt?" "No'm. Killed a nigger." "Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt."). That's why we have laws instead of mob "justice."

Yes, of course if somebody killed my wife or a member of my family, I'd want them dead, and I'd fantasize about doing it myself. If they didn't get what felt to me like sufficient punishment, I'd be bitter and rail about the goddam justice system. But so what? That's human nature; if you think about it for half a second, you realize we can't possibly run a society according to the visceral reactions of everybody in it, no matter how understandable. I understand (though I don't accept) arguments that we need the death penalty to deter crime or to satisfy some abstract idea of justice; I don't understand arguments based on rage at the bad, evil man who "deserves to die."

27: You really need to learn how to think. Your "argument" makes no sense whatever.

It's a sad, horrible, tragic consequence of his savage decision.

In the words of Abe Lincoln, "A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!'" Or (to spell it out for you) "I'm going to withhold your liver from your sister, and then she will die and you will be her murderer!"
posted by languagehat at 6:36 AM on May 17, 2005


27, you are making no sense. You want to endanger his sister's life to punish the killer. How's about we look up his friends and whack them on the shins, so the killer could suffer some more?

And there is a some serious karma/poetic justice at work here. The sister deserves none of it, the murderer deserves every bit of it.
It think you should leave karma to the karma god(s), before it jumps up and takes a big bite out of your arse.

On preview: what languagehat said.
posted by a_day_late at 6:50 AM on May 17, 2005


It's always awkward when a little knowledge gets in the way of an emotionally satisfying opinion.

I was telling a friend who works at an organ transfer program about this story. As grotesque as the decapitation subthread was, it turns out that donor organs must come from a biologically alive donor. Even though they call it "cadaveric donation" the organs become useless because of clotting within a couple of minutes of the blood flow ceasing.

The reason for the scarcity of organs is the relatively rarity of "brain-death" situations. No doctor is going get involved in a situation like this one -- the problem is the absolute ban on doctors participating in -- not to mention benefitting from -- executions.

He also said that living donor transplants for livers are somewhat rare because they are less successful than full organ transplants. And living donor transplants only happen when the surgery team is absolutely certain that both the donor and the recipient will benefit from the process. Any hint of putting a donor at risk would almost certainly lead to a program being shut down.

Which explains why no transplant surgeon is going to touch this case with a barge pole. Evidently, the only doctors offering opinions that would favor this guy donating all have nothing to do with organ transplants.
posted by warbaby at 7:02 AM on May 17, 2005


Pigpen : I see everyone's getting mileage off of this scenario. I remember distinctly though seeing a long protracted courtroom battle in which a man fought tooth and nail to give his organs to a family member - there was a lot of crying. Something tells me that it was during that awful last season of Ally McBeal and Calista Flockhart did a lot of brooding about the whole thing.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:38 AM on May 17, 2005


Malor: If the state has an INTEREST in killing you... say because your liver is a perfect match for the dying President's.... that leads to all kinds of possible abuses.

Yep if asset forfeiture teaches us anything it's that we don't want the government actors to benifit from making us dead.
posted by Mitheral at 7:39 AM on May 17, 2005


I'm anti-death penalty, but I do believe there are people who deserve to die. I just don't think we have the right to kill them. Killing in any form should not be sanctioned by the government (obviously wars are a slight exception to this, but I think they should be a more more exceptional...).

And as for the practical arguments (deterrence, costs, etc), most of them have been proved pretty false. In many states, death-penalty-worthy crimes went up once capital punishment was implemented, and keeping a prisoner locked up for the rest of his life is much less expensive than paying his legal fees up through his execution.
posted by occhiblu at 8:04 AM on May 17, 2005


warbaby: I think you've nailed it. Doctors feel ethically prevented from becoming involved in this execution. The judiciary feels ethically prevented from altering the duly prescribed punishment. Everyone is too ethically hamstrung to accomplish any actual good in the situation.

This whole story could be a Shakespeare play.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:09 AM on May 17, 2005


You really need to learn how to think.
How's the view from the high horse, languagehat? Why don't you tell me where you're giving lessons, and I'll buy a ticket, jackass. Teach me some snappy quotes (because there's one for pretty much every POV, isn't there) and I can be as bright as you are.

Maybe a bright guy like you should stay on topic. Insulting others doesn't make your point any stronger. A big brain like you should know that.

The fact that his sister is dying shouldn't change the way his penalty is carried out. And apparently I'm not the only one who "really needs to learn how to think", or this wouldn't be an issue now, would it? I don't *want* to endanger this woman's life, I just don't want to cut the guy a break so that he can see to his family before he gets executed. He's been sentenced. The timing of this is awful. But his victim doesn't have that option, so he shouldn't either.
posted by 27 at 9:34 AM on May 17, 2005


What if his sister needed a liver 7 months ago, and they were a perfect match for the partial liver thing, and he needed 6 months to be well enough to execute by lethal injection, and he never saw her while while he was out of prison getting part of his liver removed?

Would you still be against him donating to his sister?
posted by 23skidoo at 9:47 AM on May 17, 2005


No. If I didn't involve altering his sentence in any way or making any special concessions (outside of perform the actual operation), then I'd have no problem with the donation.
posted by 27 at 9:54 AM on May 17, 2005


No need to draw the line in front of him. And he hasn't earned the right to do something charitable (yet somewhat self serving, this isn't an orphan or a relative of the victim, it's his own sister after all) in his final days. He doesn't deserve to die thinking "at least I did something nice for my sister".

So in other words, you're so full of vengeful desires, that you'd condemn an innocent woman to death just to emotionally torture someone else.

No better then a common murder, IMO.

---
But, I can't relate to people who don't for, at least a moment, feel the rage and urge to summarily execute them. What you channel that urge into is where the debate goes.

I suppose I've felt a desire for violent revenge on violent murders from time to time. I guess. But in general I just don't care that much about them, or the victims. I mean, unless I know someone personally I just don't care that much. For me, morals and ethics are a statistical game. What's good is what decreases the over all amount of human suffering in the world.

Since I don't think the death penalty would deter other violent psychopaths, I don't see why we should have the death penalty.
posted by delmoi at 10:36 AM on May 17, 2005


Defense attorneys want Gov. Mitch Daniels to grant Johnson a short reprieve that would allow time for medical tests to determine whether the organ is compatible with Johnson's sister.
This post is full of questions.
First, do the laws allow him to be tested? Then there is the wonder, why asking a reprieve now than earlier? As when was his sister’s medical condition first known?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:37 AM on May 17, 2005


I wish I knew how the victim's family felt about this.

Oh, and I really really doubt this operation will happen. Really.
posted by agregoli at 10:39 AM on May 17, 2005


For me, morals and ethics are a statistical game. What's good is what decreases the over all amount of human suffering in the world.

In the sense of creating overriding policies, that's absolutely true. But, on a more individual level, emotion and visceral reactions certainly come into play.

I suppose I've felt a desire for violent revenge on violent murders from time to time. I guess. But in general I just don't care that much about them, or the victims. I mean, unless I know someone personally I just don't care that much.

Don't take this as a judgement, delmoi, since I don't know you, but the last two sentences of that paragraph come across and kind of...cold and unfeeling. When I speak of rage, it's that involuntary disgust one feels when reading a newspaper account about some guy raping and murdering someone and thinking "miserable sick bastard. I hope you suffer and die." It's hard not to imagine yourself in the victim's position and feel for them. And it's equally hard for many to imagine themselves in the perpetrator's position, which is why a lot of people are baffled by anti-death penalty advocates seeming sympaties for them. It's a disconnect.
posted by jonmc at 10:43 AM on May 17, 2005


So in other words, you're so full of vengeful desires, that you'd condemn an innocent woman to death just to emotionally torture someone else.
No. I'm so full of vengeful desires, that I want to see this guy's penalty carried out without exception. It doesn't really matter what the exception is. This guy stomped an old lady to death. He's got an appointment that he's got to keep. I don't feel badly about giving him the same flexibility in choosing (or altering) that moment than he gave his vicitim.

Then there is the wonder, why asking a reprieve now than earlier? As when was his sister’s medical condition first known?
Great question.

I wish I knew how the victim's family felt about this.

Ditto. Ultimately, his debt is to them. If they were for it, Id' probably feel differently. If they were against it, I clearly wouldn't hold it against them.
posted by 27 at 10:52 AM on May 17, 2005


jonmc, I think some of those "sympathies" come because the system is so fucked up. Even ignoring racial inequalities in capital punishment, you get things like court-appointed defense attorneys falling asleep during the trial and higher courts carrying out the death sentence anyway. There's such a sense that the guys who are on death row aren't necessarily any more violent or heinous than the guys who got off, they're just poorer. And the fact that we as a society seem to think that it's OK to execute the poor murderers but not the rich ones does, in fact, make me sympathize with the condemned. Because the system is thoroughly screwing them over.
posted by occhiblu at 11:04 AM on May 17, 2005


And the fact that we as a society seem to think that it's OK to execute the poor murderers but not the rich ones does

Actually, it was rich murderers like the Menendezes, OJ, Scott Peterson, Robert Blake etc. that elicited the most "fry the bastards," in my experience, but like you said, they all (with the exception of Peterson) got off or got lesser sentences, so it dosen't quite work out the way we'd like.
posted by jonmc at 11:14 AM on May 17, 2005


Don't take this as a judgement, delmoi, since I don't know you, but the last two sentences of that paragraph come across and kind of...cold and unfeeling. When I speak of rage, it's that involuntary disgust one feels when reading a newspaper account about some guy raping and murdering someone and thinking "miserable sick bastard. I hope you suffer and die."

Well, maybe that happened when I was a kid. But in general when I read about some horrible crime I don't feel anything. Maybe a little sad but not angry. Those things happen, and they'll continue to happen because some people are just defective. Why get worked up about it?

It's no different then a child dying because of some cancer, or a car accident or whatever. It's sad, but there's always going to be some chance ... we should work to reduce those chances as much as possible, but in general I think the chances of a violent murder are much lower then car accidents.

For example, read that strait dope article linked above. A guy was in a car accident and his head got cut off. According to his friend the decapitated head looked around confused and then scared, etc.

That’s just as horrible and empathy evoking as getting crushed by some dude’s boot. An appropriate punishment is reasonable. Obviously, a lot of my opposition to the death penalty is emotional rather then logical I don’t like what it says about “our culture”. I personally don’t want to be (as a voter and as a taxpayer) a murderer.

Also, these sorts or horrible things happen all the time. Humans make other humans suffer on a grand scale. Everything from these common criminals all the way up to unnecessary war. Why should one instance affect me more then others just because I read a story about it? This emotional reaction is, I think, one of the great problems with this country. People react emotionally to anecdotes, and pass stupid-ass laws rather then trying to reduce suffering overall. Sometimes, I think these laws end up increasing overall suffering. (Like the War on Drugs, or the Iraq War, etc).

I think that if someone had the same amount of emotion and anger they feel when they read about some horrible thing with every horrible thing in the world they’d surely go crazy.

---
No. I'm so full of vengeful desires, that I want to see this guy's penalty carried out without exception. It doesn't really matter what the exception is.

Oh please. The two are inseparable.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 AM on May 17, 2005


There's such a sense that the guys who are on death row aren't necessarily any more violent or heinous than the guys who got off, they're just poorer. And the fact that we as a society seem to think that it's OK to execute the poor murderers but not the rich ones does, in fact, make me sympathize with the condemned.

Well, how would you feel if the system was perfict and only those who met some spesific, fair, criteria were exicuted?
posted by delmoi at 11:18 AM on May 17, 2005


It's no different then a child dying because of some cancer, or a car accident or whatever.

Except that murder is willfull, and cancer and car crashes, while certainly tragic, are products of chance, technological ineffeciences, and carelessness. That's a pretty big difference in my opinion.
posted by jonmc at 11:22 AM on May 17, 2005


delmoi, I would still be against the death penalty -- I'm not sure how you "teach" someone it's wrong to kill by killing.

So that's my position on the theory. On on the application, the system is just so riddled with problems that I don't know how it can be defended as it stands, even if one was pro-capital-punishment in theory.
posted by occhiblu at 11:35 AM on May 17, 2005


Except that murder is willfull, and cancer and car crashes, while certainly tragic, are products of chance, technological ineffeciences, and carelessness.

They're also products of unethical companies polluting the air and putting chemicals in our foods, bad policy decisions by greedy governments and CEOS, etc. I can get just as angry at the prevalance of cancer and our society's blindness to some of its causes, creating death and illness for millions of people, as I can about one guy murdering one woman.
posted by occhiblu at 11:39 AM on May 17, 2005


Followup article: Transplantation doctor claims inmate's liver not needed. "If she were put on the transplant list now [she is not currently on the list while she recovers from a separate condition], she would be the only person in the state with her blood type waiting for an organ, Tector said. And the wait is typically short, less than three weeks."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:40 AM on May 17, 2005


It's hard not to imagine yourself in the victim's position and feel for them. And it's equally hard for many to imagine themselves in the perpetrator's position, which is why a lot of people are baffled by anti-death penalty advocates seeming sympaties for them. It's a disconnect.

I'm actually with delmoi. While I might feel a scrap of horror at some of the most gruesome cases, I find it hard to muster up sympathy or interest in most of these cases. I find it equally hard to feel for either side. I don't know what it's like to be a victim of a heinous crime, or to have a family member murdered, thank goodness. And I've never killed anyone, nor could I, I think. So where's my point of reference?

People have done and always will do awful things to each other. Frankly, what I find fascinating and hard to understand is why people gawk so much - I've had friends and relatives start to tell me things like, "Did you hear about the little girl raped/kidnapped/man eaten alive/woman stabbed and drowned and run over by a truck..." and I have to emphatically say NO. And I don't WANT to hear about it.

I'm interested in the legal process and I am opposed to the death penalty, which is why I read these types of cases. But I don't really feel anything for either side. I only have a limited amount of emotional resources, and I prefer to spend them on my friends, family, and animals. I can't get worked up about everything, nor do I think I could. I think this position is a lot more common than you make it out to be, jonmc.
posted by agregoli at 12:11 PM on May 17, 2005


I think this position is a lot more common than you make it out to be, jonmc.

I'm sure it's fairly common. I'm stating my own, and that, from my own experience, it's fairly common, as well.
posted by jonmc at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2005


Good for you.
posted by agregoli at 12:26 PM on May 17, 2005


Indeed. And good for you, as well.

*blows kisses*
posted by jonmc at 12:28 PM on May 17, 2005


For the record, I go back and forth on the death penalty. I realize all the inherent flaws and the dangers of executing and innocent man. But at the same time there are crimes so heinous that they cry out for it. I imagine I'm not alone in that perspective.

You're not alone, jonmc. I almost posted something very similar to this yesterday but didn't. I used to be totally pro-death penalty but have become more wishy-washy about it. I hate the idea of someone innocent being executed but there really are people I don't think we should suffer to live.
posted by deborah at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2005


jonmc: In the sense of creating overriding policies, that's absolutely true. But, on a more individual level, emotion and visceral reactions certainly come into play.

Which is why I'm a profound skeptic when it comes to moral philosophy in general, and utilitarianism in specific. Human beings appear to be pre-wired to be bad at evaluating risks, benefits and threats. It is this basic fact of human nature that has kept loan sharks and gambling establishments in business for the last 5,000 years.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:49 PM on May 17, 2005


You're so defensive, jonmc, is what I was getting at. I know it's your opinion, you don't have to restate that it is your opinion after I've stated mine. I was hoping for more actual discourse from you instead of that.
posted by agregoli at 1:20 PM on May 17, 2005


actually, I was merely refuting you're assertion that I was "making out" any opinion to be more commonly held. I used the word "many," in my initial post, not "most." And I discourse like a motherfucker, it's just not what you want to hear, a lot of the time.
posted by jonmc at 1:46 PM on May 17, 2005


Petty attacks again. Yawn.
posted by agregoli at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2005


I missed the petty attacks. Wait, I mean, "I didn't notice any petty attacks."
posted by 23skidoo at 2:25 PM on May 17, 2005


Neither did I. But that's her standard MO around me or anyone else who questions her worldview. I don't take it personally.
posted by jonmc at 3:44 PM on May 17, 2005


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