Judge oks McVeigh execution request

December 29, 2000 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Judge oks McVeigh execution request
I understand the ACLU is fighting to keep him alive, but I cannot find a link.
posted by thirteen (22 comments total)

 
I understand that you cannot find a link, but I cannot post a comment.
posted by internook at 2:08 PM on December 29, 2000


I understand that you cannot post a comment, but I cannot understand why the ACLU is fighting to keep McVeigh alive.
posted by kindall at 7:29 PM on December 29, 2000


The irony is if McVeigh is executed, that will just make him a martyr to all of the right wing wackos out there. It's a dangerous move.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 7:39 PM on December 29, 2000


Because the government shouldn't be killing people?

. . . and if you believe there's a rights issue there, then the fact that McVeigh wants to die doesn't matter, because you can't give up your rights.
posted by rodii at 7:41 PM on December 29, 2000


The right to one's own life should include the right to end it if one wants to. I have no qualms with a convicted multiple murderer who wants to die being granted his wish. I wouldn't say I'm eager, but I'd say he's entitled to it. Although perhaps McVeigh shouldn't be allowed to force the state to do the dirty work for him. "You want to die? Here, take this. It goes in that big vein in your arm..."

That's a different issue from the one that skullhead raises. I can't say I'm ready to unleash even more right-wing nutjobs on America. However, I think the FBI probably has some idea how big a threat that really is, and I'm sure it will be taken into consideration when considering his request.
posted by kindall at 9:46 PM on December 29, 2000


What right is that? The right to life? People give up their rights all the time. People on this list are hot and bothered to drop some of their rights right now.
This man should be dead, it is an insult and affront to decency that he is still breathing my fricking air. People should not be killing people. Losing your own life is a fair price to pay for such a crime. I don't care if this is not a deterrent, we have nowhere to banish people any longer (THANK YOU Australia), and he has no place among us. How many people do you have to kill before your life is forfeit?
There is nothing about this on the ACLU website, but I heard a local rep on a local news show mention it, and that is why I posted. Maybe they won't get involved with the case.
posted by thirteen at 9:47 PM on December 29, 2000


Rodii, I'm afraid you can give up your rights, and it's done routinely. They can't be taken from you involuntarily, but you can give them up.

An example: I have a right to free speech, but as a contractual matter I am obligated to keep secret things I learned at the last company where I worked. While I can't be criminally prosecuted for revealing their proprietary information, I can be sued.

But someone, say, who works for NSA signs a much more strongly worded contract which includes non-disclosure, and if they break it and reveal secret information, I believe they can be criminally prosecuted.

Another example: if I'm arrested, I have a right to a jury trial. But I can if I wish waive that right and have a trial solely in front of a judge, or I can plead guilty and forgo a trial entirely.

It's certainly debatable whether there should be executions (I believe there should be) but not on the basis of not being able to give up rights.

Besides which, as a convicted felon, McVeigh no longer has very many rights. About the only right he has left is the right not to be subject to "cruel and unusual punishment" (but it must be both cruel and unusual). What those trying to prevent the execution are arguing is that execution is "cruel and unusual", but since 1973 that argument hasn't convinced the Supreme Court. It's become evident that those people doing so for their own purposes and not with the permission of McVeigh to represent him. His request pretty clearly indicates that he wishes they'd all shut up.

Rotting in a cell is pretty cruel, too. (But it's not unusual.) I can understand McVeigh's wish to get it over with. Time must weigh heavily on him. (And I wonder if he's being visited by ghosts, figuratively speaking, and being haunted by what he did. His target was the FBI, not a daycare center. Dead babies...)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:44 PM on December 29, 2000


I don't care if this is not a deterrent, we have nowhere to banish people any longer (THANK YOU Australia), and he has no place among us.

A little background information: Australia doesn't have the barbarous death penalty either.
posted by lagado at 2:53 AM on December 30, 2000


Some press reports at the time indicated that a person fitting McVeigh's description showed up at the day care center asking questions about the place shortly before the bombing.

However, when I went looking for the details, here's what I found instead from a Reuters story:
While authorities have made no statements on their questioning of McVeigh 27, news reports have said that he has refused to do anything more than give basic facts about his identity and age.

"One of the few things he did tell police was that he did not know that the children were there. He said he wasn't aware," Bahn said.
The source is Dr. Charles Bahn, a forensic psychologist on the faculty of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who claimed to have contacts close to the investigation.

posted by rcade at 7:32 AM on December 30, 2000


He's a convicted federal terrorist. As far as I am concerned, he and people like him have no right to life, just as they consider the people they end up killing as having no rights to life.

He can burn in hell for all I care.

posted by tomcosgrave at 8:46 AM on December 30, 2000


Yes, it's remarkably barbaric to stick an IV into the arm of a man who killed 168 people and send him peacefully off into the big sleep. How can we ever live with ourselves?
posted by Dreama at 9:44 AM on December 30, 2000


He may not have known about the daycare center before he set the bomb off, but he certainly knows about it now. I wonder if he sees dead babies in his dreams.

I hope so.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:36 AM on December 30, 2000


What Steven said.

[pause for reflection]

Keep in mind that individual ACLU chapters have discretion. Because one local ACLU office agreed to take on a case, often meaning they have a pro bono lawyer who volunteered on reviewing the facts, does not mean that any other office would.

McVeigh's trial lawyer, Stephen Jones, is a long-time ACLU activist. Though McVeigh is using a different legal team now, it may be that Jones is pursuing some independent action. That would make him "an ACLU lawyer" in the eyes of the media.
posted by dhartung at 12:01 PM on December 30, 2000


(I think that what McVeigh did is reprehensible. He's a douchebag. That shouldn't need to be said. Nevertheless, I believe that no one is beyond redemption, and that it's never right to take a life. I don't expect anyone else here to agree with me. But I am surprised that everyone thinks it's hunky dory to give the state the right to kill--especially thirteen, given his libertarian take on most other issues.

And am I the only one who sees the disconnect between

This man should be dead, it is an insult and affront to decency that he is still breathing my fricking air.

(with the implied "so let's execute him") and

People should not be killing people.

?

But I realize these are old battles and we're not going to make any progress on them here.)

My suggestion above that you can't give up rights is not an uncommonly-held position. That's, in fact, what the word "inalienable" (or "unalienable") means in the Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Yes, I know these don't have the force of law in the US, so let's not have *that* discussion again.) In practical terms you can surrender your rights by agreeing not to exercise them (as in waiving the right to a jury trial); that can even be backed up by state force (as in some of the other cases that Steven mentions). But the case could be and has been made that at some fundamental level, you cannot give them up--they are inalienable.

You may disagree or feel that this is philosophical hairsplitting. Feel free. I just brought the point up to suggest why the ACLU might feel they have standing to act in a case like this even though McVeigh has asked to be executed. If you feel that the death penalty is a violation of a prisoner's rights under the constitution (a legitimate position to hold, no matter how unpopular it may be) and if you feel that constitutional rights can't be vacated, then you have the basis for taking the position the ACLU is (allegedly) taking. Notice that this has nothing to do with whether I personally agree with them or not (though obviously I do).

One small further point: if I the state am ready to kill McVeigh regardless of whether he wants to be killed or not, then why should I care what his opinion is? If he doesn't want to be killed, I say "Tough, you don't get a vote." If he does want to be killed, I should still say "Tough, you don't get a vote." This is why, when Steven says "His request pretty clearly indicates that he wishes they'd all shut up" I wonder why anyone cares what his wishes are on this one point.
posted by rodii at 5:42 PM on December 30, 2000


(I think that what McVeigh did is reprehensible. He's a douchebag. That shouldn't need to be said. Nevertheless, I believe that no one is beyond redemption, and that it's never right to take a life. I don't expect anyone else here to agree with me. But I am surprised that everyone thinks it's hunky dory to give the state the right to kill--especially thirteen, given his libertarian take on most other issues.

And am I the only one who sees the disconnect between

This man should be dead, it is an insult and affront to decency that he is still breathing my fricking air.

(with the implied "so let's execute him") and

People should not be killing people.

?

But I realize these are old battles and we're not going to make any progress on them here.)

My suggestion above that you can't give up rights is not an uncommonly-held position. That's, in fact, what the word "inalienable" (or "unalienable") means in the Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Yes, I know these don't have the force of law in the US, so let's not have *that* discussion again.) In practical terms you can surrender your rights by agreeing not to exercise them (as in waiving the right to a jury trial); that can even be backed up by state force (as in some of the other cases that Steven mentions). But the case could be and has been made that at some fundamental level, you cannot give them up--they are inalienable.

You may disagree or feel that this is philosophical hairsplitting. Feel free. I just brought the point up to suggest why the ACLU might feel they have standing to act in a case like this even though McVeigh has asked to be executed. If you feel that the death penalty is a violation of a prisoner's rights under the constitution (a legitimate position to hold, no matter how unpopular it may be) and if you feel that constitutional rights can't be vacated, then you have the basis for taking the position the ACLU is (allegedly) taking. Notice that this has nothing to do with whether I personally agree with them or not (though obviously I do).

One small further point: if I the state am ready to kill McVeigh regardless of whether he wants to be killed or not, then why should I care what his opinion is? If he doesn't want to be killed, I say "Tough, you don't get a vote." If he does want to be killed, I should still say "Tough, you don't get a vote." This is why, when Steven says "His request pretty clearly indicates that he wishes they'd all shut up" I wonder why anyone cares what his wishes are on this one point.
posted by rodii at 5:47 PM on December 30, 2000


Damn! Sorry about the double post--once was already pretty long.
posted by rodii at 5:50 PM on December 30, 2000


Hey Tom, I'll see you there buddy.

Kidding, kidding.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 8:00 PM on December 30, 2000


rodii: I might be wrong, but I believe the Declaration of Independence has no legal validity, as it was written before our government was formed. If words that back up your position are in the constitution, I would like to hear them. It could be that you have already acknowledged this in your force of law statement, but I got the feeling you were referring only to the UDoHR.
I am a Libertarian, and an atheist. I disagree with the Libertarian party's stance on the death penalty. I feel execution is a valid responsibility of the government, as the only alternatives are less social, and would lead to lawlessness. I do think we must be sure of guilt before killing anyone, but I also think if we can't prove guilt, then people do not belong in jail.
As an atheist, I believe my existence comes to an end with my death. What greater crime could there be than killing? How can we tolerate those who do so? I don't know anyone from OK, I don't know the people who got shot earlier this week, and to paraphrase Harlan Ellison I will feel more pain and suffering when my cat dies, than I will when when one million people die in a Columbian earthquake. I can't feel for these people, but I know they deserve justice. Anyone who can wantonly kill is an enemy to humanity. So to answer your questioning my logic, People should not be killing each other, those who kill are no longer included in my definition of people. They cannot make up for their crime, and the only use I can think of for them is parts.
if I the state am ready to kill McVeigh regardless of whether he wants to be killed or not, then why should I care what his opinion is?
The state is ready to carry out its sentence, it believes he is guilty, the appeals give the accused the chance to prove otherwise. By giving up his appeals, he has stopped struggling. A man stranded in the middle of the ocean, is resisting its desire to suck him under. If he stops swimming, the ocean will not pause. This is a similar scenario.
I do not take pleasure in executions, they are practically beneath my notice. It has long been my belief that it is a shame that murderers and those who forgive them, or make excuses for them, couldn't find each other more easily. Wouldn't it be nice if they could murder their families, and leave cruel people like me alone.
You have made no attempt to say why it is never acceptable to take a murders life, nor why I should care a bit about their possibility of redemption. It would be nice if a murderer truly felt sorry for their actions, but I am not sure why it would matter.
posted by thirteen at 11:20 PM on December 30, 2000


I know some of the same people McVeigh does.. in the Ozarks along the AK/OK border place called Elom City, basically an outlaw hideout run by an ageing Canadian cult leader who moved there from Baltimore in 1974. The day the bomb went off, this leader was in a Texas prison acting as witness for the execution of another Elom city member.. McVeigh made a call to him just hours before. All this was dismissed in court on technicalities, lack of evidence and need for a simplistic solution.. but its in the transcripts and its possible McVeigh made up much of his story to protect Elom City, this leader and thier revenge for the Texas execution.
posted by stbalbach at 1:14 AM on December 31, 2000


Thirteen: I meant both the DOI and the UDOHR.

You're right, I made no attempt to say why I believe the things I do, because I'm not trying to convince you of them. It's like the talk.* newsgroups on Usenet--they're there because certain issues (abortion, creationism, guns, the death penalty. . . ) are going to create more heat than light and no one will ever be convinced that they're wrong, and they tend to kill all other discourse. I value the civility of this thread more than I feel the need to engage in a pitched battle over the death penalty. And I think all my arguments have been made already, and better than I could make them, in other forums. So I'd like a truce on the issue if that's OK. I gave my credo and you gave yours, but going any further seems like a bad idea.

On the other hand, both the constitutional issues and the libertarian angle strike me as really interesting. . . but I don't know if I have anything more to say on them.

An interesting fictional exploration of the case, for those of you who haven't already seen it: Terry Bisson's macs.
posted by rodii at 9:24 AM on December 31, 2000


Inalienable rights. Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. I don't think these words are in the constitution, but John Hancock signed that declaration and then became a steadfast and effective participant in the construction of the constitution, as were many other men who signed that petition. The constitution is based in part on the meaning of the declaration. I may still be disputing technical legalities and the letter of the law, but the purpose of the constitution was to complete the government that the declaration initiated. We do a grave injustice disregarding the phrase "inalienable rights" on the assumption that those words never made it to the final draft. The intent is still obvious, and verified by the ammendments of free speech and separation of church and state. Those words still echo and reverberate even today. With that said, the question of whether or not one can give up their inalienable rights is not in dispute. In our society it is unfortunately a given. Here's how it works:

When you play a game, be it Monopoly or Gin Rummy or what have you, and you cheat, the other players in the game have the right to call you on it. Make accusations and look at the evidence. They can opt to shout at you, or even remove you from the game, or simply choose not to play with you anymore.

I have the right to live alone. If I choose to do that, I can largely explore my rights of liberty and happiness as I wish. However, if I choose to live with other people, then how I act affects them. How they act affects me. So something must exist to counter that.

Our society, and all its laws and complexities, is one big game. Those laws stipulate where one person's inalienable rights end and another's begin. We've created the rules for the game of living in America, in an attempt for life to be fair for everyone. Sometimes rights must be compromised, so everyone can co-exist. And by existing here, you quietly agree to live by those rules. Don't like a rule? Work within the system to have that rule changed. Blowing up a federal building and killing many people is not working within the rules to have them changed. It's a loud and boisterous action of one man (and his alleged accomplices which shouldn't get away with it but probably will) stating that the rules no longer apply to him or anyone who believes like him. And if they want to coexist with other people on this soil, they can't do that and be allowed to continue playing.

If you don't play by the rules, you forfeit your right to continue playing.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:55 PM on December 31, 2000


rodii: While I am interested in the "whys" of your argument, I too am pleased that this has not sunk into the mud and am happy to let it rest.
010101
posted by thirteen at 11:46 AM on January 1, 2001


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