February 24, 2000
11:20 AM   Subscribe

After all the death-penalty arguements have been made, there is only one reason to link to the story about this Texas case: to use the phrase Beets Around the Bush.
posted by wendell (24 comments total)
Interesting that the Gallup poll released stats that say support for the death penalty is at low, but it's still 2/3 of the population.
posted by mathowie at 11:22 AM on February 24, 2000

You know, since Rafe mentioned that he couldn't find death penalty stats on the other candidates, I went hunting around for the info myself. My man Bradley seems to really support it (scroll down to "Crime"), which both surprises and sickens me. It looks like Nader is the only one saying we need to rethink our position on this nation's prison state.
posted by mathowie at 11:55 AM on February 24, 2000

Actually, Nader has yet to endorse the whole of the Green Party's 2000 platform. So it seems in this year's election no one wants to stand openly against capital punishment. After all, 66% of the people is an awful lot of votes.
posted by Awol at 12:12 PM on February 24, 2000

Ugh, these statistics turn my stomach. I hadn't realized that Bradley supported the death penalty either. I just don't understand how 91% of people polled can acknowledge that at least one innocent person has been wrongly executed and still favor this irreversable, and seemingly barbaric, form of justice.
posted by megnut at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2000

"An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind"

- Martin Luther King Jr.
posted by mathowie at 1:04 PM on February 24, 2000

The possibility of just one innocent person dying is enough for me to be against the death penalty.
posted by Mark at 2:39 PM on February 24, 2000

I favour the death penalty in cases of terrorism.

People like McVeigh or, in my country, the Real IRA who take life in such a brutal and pointless manner simply do not deserve to live.
posted by tomcosgrave at 2:47 PM on February 24, 2000

Not to be barbaric but I also favor the death penalty for the asshole that carjacked a vehicle with a 6 year old in the back. He realized the kid was there while zooming down the freeway so he opened the back door and flung the kid onto the road. Unfortunately the child was buckled in and dragged for four miles to his death.

No sense of morality in me is strong enough to think this man shouldn't die. Slowly if possible.
posted by Awol at 3:17 PM on February 24, 2000

I just moved to Texas, and was surprised to learn just how pervasive the hang 'em mentality is here. You can even study the last meals and last statements of every person executed in Texas (along with many other statistics) on-line.
What's getting lost in the furor over Betty Beets, however, is the fact that Odell Barnes, scheduled for execution on March 1, likely did not commit the crime.
That said, I can't claim that I am totally against the death penalty.
posted by bwanabetty at 4:30 PM on February 24, 2000

Tom Tomorrow has a biting death penalty commentary in last week's This Modern World
posted by jessamyn at 4:40 PM on February 24, 2000

And it's over.
posted by mathowie at 4:54 PM on February 24, 2000

Valid points there Jessamyn, but in Ireland, people have been released on technicalities in their trials (even though it was clear to all they were guilty) and they still go back and kill more people.
It happened with Real IRA people who blew up Omagh in 1998. 29 died, and hundreds were injured - people who were doing their shopping on a Saturday afternoon and who suffered because some ruthless people thought a bomb was a good political statement.
McVeigh was making a political statement when he bombed that building in Oklahoma as well.

I oppose the death penalty in all other situations because there is always a possibility of mental instability (Karla Faye Tucker is a good example) and also a chance of innocence, but terrorists are not unstable - I've heard their ilk talking, and they are 100% sane - they're also very easy to find guilty using forensics - the only times (to my knowledge anyway) people were innocent but convicted of terrorist crimes is when they were deliberately framed. Terrorists are downright dangerous, and a huge danger to society in Ireland (which is really the only context where I'm able to make valid points). I don't want to support them in jail - I would rather see my tax money used for something more useful to society.

I have seen what these people do. I have seen the damage they cause. I have seen the hatred they act upon. I am still of the opinion that the only thing they deserve is to meet their death in the gunsights of a firing squad.

Sorry for the rant.
posted by tomcosgrave at 4:59 PM on February 24, 2000

In war, we are always invoking the death penalty without trial on the people wearing the enemy uniform. Terrorism is an extension of war (and more accessable to smaller, less-well-funded enemies), so similar rules can logically be applied. But when a few terrorists in a minority population do their terror in the name of "their people", we leap into the crowd to find the terrorist and face the risk again of executing the wrong person.
But to return to my original bad-taste pun, it turns out he didn't Beets around the Bush ...
posted by wendell at 5:40 PM on February 24, 2000

It seems like Tom's points about terrorism as a crime punishable by death could still be addressed through a federally-enacted death penalty (forgive my ignorance here, isn't there something like this on the books right now?) for crimes against the state. And at a state (U.S. state I mean) level, execution could be outlawed. Of course, that could start another state's rights discussion, but it seems to me that in most situations, execution is not the most reasonable solution. Too many people, a disproportionate amount poor, under-educated, abused, and emotionally damaged, get caught in this system. The State of Texas just executed a woman who's lead trial lawyer was a known alcoholic who'd swing by the VFW post around lunchtime and "have usually two or three doubles before he had to go back to court". And no one saw fit to issue a 30-day stay to examine the allegations of years of abuse that the lawyers neglected to mention in the trial. How truly sad. (and I'm done ranting about this now because it's making me really upset.)
posted by megnut at 6:11 PM on February 24, 2000

I disagree with the death penalty largely because I don't believe that it solves any problems. I also believe that it's wrong for the state to take a life, unless the direct effect is to save another life (or lives). (Which is why it can be OK in times of war.) I can certainly understand the emotional state that leads people to believe that murderers, terrorists, and other violent deserve to die. If someone killed one of my family members, I think that my reaction would certainly be to wish death upon them. I just don't believe that it's the role of government to act as an instrument of revenge.
posted by rafeco at 6:40 PM on February 24, 2000

Meg makes some great points, and illustrates why I oppose the death penalty in non terrorist cases.

Rafeco - While my opinion has certainly been as a result of experiences I've had in Ireland, I don't believe it is an emotional reaction. Most of the things I witnessed were the witnessing the sites of bombs. Some things I witnessed were of relations and friends finding out somoene died - but I have not been directly affected by terrorism. So I think I be relatively objective.
I'm really surprised at your final comment - surely if the likes of McVeigh destroy government buildings and kill 265 or so people in the process, it is their right to act? And I don't think it is revenge - you can argue that sending someone to jail is an act of revenge (ie, I don't like what you did to x, so now we're going to lock you up).
And executing terrorists in Ireland would almost certainly have saved lives - as I already mentioned some of the Omagh bombers were released from previous terrorist convictions.
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:52 PM on February 24, 2000

How exactly do you define something as a terrorist case? If it has political intent? By number of people? How far would people stretch cases to make them seem terrorist?
posted by jbeaumont at 7:04 PM on February 24, 2000

I guess I'd define a terrorist act as an act of violence perpetrated by a person or persons that use the lives of innocent citizens as a tool 1) to further their own political agenda and 2) as a means to pressure a government to act in accordance with their wishes.
posted by megnut at 7:11 PM on February 24, 2000

I cannot support the death penalty simply because I don't agree with the taking of human life - I don't support murder from anyone, whether that be the government or crazed lunatic. Also the people who I see supporting the death penalty so whole heartedly ( by cheering on the whole process ) make me as nervous as the people being executed. While the enthusiasm for capital punishment in Texas would certainly make me think twice about ever living there - the attitude of my present home is similar (though they have no where near the volume of executions). Upon arriving in Taiwan the first thing that is announced to you is not "Welcome...." but " Carrying drugs into the R.O.C is punishable by death".

Crazy world.

posted by cmacleod at 7:46 PM on February 24, 2000

A terrorist case is one with political intent. Most acts of terrorism, that are called terrorism are political.

As for defining who is a terrorist I would say that anyone aiding and abetting individals in carrying out an attack, as well as actually carrying out an attack or aiding and abetting individuals in procuring weapons or substances to be used in an attack.
That's already pretty similar to what is used already.
Others would define a terrorist as someone who is a member of an illegal paramiliary organisation (the IRA, real IRA, UVF, LVF are all examples in Ireland).

posted by tomcosgrave at 8:04 PM on February 24, 2000

For those of us, who, unlike Al Gore (living up to his last name, he digressed), have a problem with executing innocent people, our friends at The Onion, in their eloquently sarcastic way, point out one genuine paradox with their front-page story: Innocent Man Unrepentant
posted by wendell at 8:35 PM on February 24, 2000

Ok, so using our definitions - would an african american who shoots a cop because he feels that cops mistreat people in his neighborhood fall under the label of "terrorist"? Is that accurate?

What about a woman in a country who after having her genitals sown up (as is the custom) kills her "surgeon"? Is she a terrorist? Or should we use my rule, which is "once your culture does stupid shit like this, you just lost your right to a culture"?

Both instances involve killing someone due to the particular politics or customs of an area they are affected by.

I just worry that ANY law where you say "the death penalty can be applied to cases like " will just offer incentives for people to try to fit suspects into that to maximize their "revenge."
posted by jbeaumont at 9:43 AM on February 25, 2000

Jbeaumont - no, that would not fall under terrorist crime.
However if a terroist (again, in Irish context) let's say an IRA man shoots a cop to evade arrest - which has actually happened - then that would be terrorist crime.

The context I was making was really hard not to get wrong - someone who plants a car bomb in the mainstreet of Omagh town, or puts a truck full of explosive outside a building and then detonates?
That's a relatively uncomplicated context.
posted by tomcosgrave at 11:41 AM on February 25, 2000

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