Deciding who dies

After a few days away, I thought it would be ‘nice’ to begin the week with something heavy. As ever, I apologise that the stories are so Anglo-centric.

The Washington Sniper, John Allen Muhammad, was executed in Virginia on Wednesday. Along with an accomplice, he took the lives of ten people (six more survived being hit by one of his bullets) over a three-week period in 2002. He was also suspected of other fatal shootings.

His legal team argued that he suffered from Gulf War syndrome, his psychiatrist that brain scans hinted at schizophrenia.

He was killed by lethal injection.

Those following the story in the UK may well have watched with interest Channel 4’s controversial fictional drama, The Execution of Gary Glitter, where the shamed Seventies star and convicted paedophile was tried for his crimes – committed in Vietnam – in a Britain where capital punishment had been reintroduced for murderers and rapists of children under the age of 12.

Back in reality, in the US, the call to extend death penalty laws to include sex offenders was narrowly defeated in a landmark Supreme Court ruling last June.

Working on the assumption that the programme’s title has already spoiled the ending for those that didn’t see it, I confirm that Glitter’s character exits with a rope around his neck. No lethal injection here, just the hangman’s noose.

Britain abolished the death penalty in 1969, by the way.

Apparently, as Channel 4 eagerly flashed on screen seconds in to the broadcast, 54% of Britons support its reinstatement.

As people were questioning the bad taste of depicting the execution of someone who is very much alive (and living quite freely), although it seemed that many were getting more het up over the suggestion that Glitter was threatening to sue the programme-makers than the thought of the programme’s subject being upset at seeing himself hanged on TV, a young couple at a London court were contesting whether their chronically-disabled 13-month-old son should be allowed to die.

Diagnosed with a rare neuro-muscular condition that severely restricts one’s ability to breathe, with limited control over his limbs, unable to make facial expressions or show when he was in pain, doctors agreed that Baby RB would lead a “miserable, sad and pitiful existence” and was not likely to live beyond the age of five.

It was decided that his life support should be switched off, and he died on Friday.

As feelings toward matters such as these are often dictated by the heart more than the mind, driven either by feelings of loss or burning rage towards a criminal deed, or perhaps by faith, the case for and against choosing exactly who, if anyone, should have the power to end the life of another is hardly necessary here. But I would like to hear your random thoughts.

This year, we have watched in disbelief as yet another missing girl, now grown up, was found living in squalor with children fathered by her abductor and abuser. We’ve been sickened into accepting that children can torture other children in ways that even Quentin Tarantino would consider too graphic for inclusion in his movies (hopefully). We had the usual smattering of cases that disturb, such as the deliberate and brutal murder of a defenceless disabled man, a desperate mother taking her own life as well as that of her mentally-handicapped daughter to escape their tormentors once and for all, and frail pensioners being sexually attacked in their homes. Can such evil ever be cured? And isn’t it similarly ‘evil’ to allow another to suffer knowing that their life is filled with incredible, inexorable pain?

One final thought: Terminally-ill so-called Lockerbie Bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, found guilty of 270 counts of murder in what many believe to be a miscarriage of justice, was allowed home to die on compassionate grounds this year. Just consider how sharply that act of kindness split opinion worldwide.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

91 thoughts on “Deciding who dies”

  1. … I can’t really comment on that entry, except saying that authorities shouldn’t be allowed to take one’s life, either by death penalty or by sending young men and women to war. As a society we should not make ourselves murderers…

    Death is a strictly private matter and only the person and her/his nearest relatives may be able to decide if death is better than a miserable life. My father died of ALS and he (I’m sure) and we were relieved that he did and we did not have to decide over his life.

    Difficult topic, FEd, but worth discussing.

    Regards
    Taki

  2. I do agree that the terminally ill should decide whether to live or die. What’s the difference in deciding if a sick pet is euthanised, or a person, severely affected, can’t have a normal pain free existence?

    If all parties agree, why not?

  3. We had the usual smattering of cases that disturb, such as the deliberate and brutal murder of a defenceless disabled man, a desperate mother taking her own life as well as that of her mentally-handicapped daughter to escape their tormentors once and for all, and frail pensioners being sexually attacked in their homes. Can such evil ever be cured? And isn’t it similarly ‘evil’ to allow another to suffer knowing that their life is filled with incredible, inexorable pain?

    Yes, it can be cured by bringing back proper discipline in the home and schools.

    And before anybody says anything, there is a major difference between discipline and abuse. Too many people have blurred the lines in this regard. Even if it means bringing back the cane. For the record, I would not be where I am today if I was not disciplined for my wrong doings when I was a child.

    The National Service should be re-instated and the youth should be taught how to “respect” things. The problem with this “sticks and stones but words DO hurt me” era, i.e. politically correct era, that we live in has blown family values and morals apart.

    Another problem with political correctness is that we will become complacent and then the next megalomaniac will walk right in and take us over.

    1. Yes, it can be cured by bringing back proper discipline in the home and schools.

      I agree with you, Julie.

      Did you hear about the lady followed home from the supermarket by an off-duty policeman because she was overheard telling her misbehaving children that they’d get a “hiding” when they got home?

      I’d like to know where such vigilant off-duty police officers, concerned neighbours, friends and family members were when poor Baby P was being battered black and blue in his home.

    2. Yes, it can be cured by bringing back proper discipline in the home and schools.

      Sorry, but I don’t agree at all. I think it’s far too easy, utopic and even wrong to claim that the so called lack (or loss) of discipline in the home and schools is alone to blame for all the horrors that are committed in the world.

      Criminal motivations are often very hard to understand and come under personal complex disorders that have nothing to do with education.

      Apologies if I didn’t understand perfectly what you meant.

      Of course I agree with you that parents and school should work TOGETHER to restore any form of respect.

    3. I’d like to know where such vigilant off-duty police officers, concerned neighbours, friends and family members were when poor Baby P was being battered black and blue in his home.

      They probably were along with the social workers and doctors who went visiting him.

    4. Criminal motivations are often very hard to understand and come under personal complex disorders that have nothing to do with education.

      The FEd’s passage that I quoted were crimes committed by children, I do believe.

      When these things happen over here in Blighty, Michele, they are normally done by “youths”. Because discipline has become lax the youth are getting away with “murder”. They have no respect for their elders, they have no respect for anything. I am not saying all youth are like this, but as usual, it is the bad who are ruining it for the good. I wasn’t talking about criminal motivations.

      Children are starting to kill children lest we forget about that boy who got shot dead by another boy in Liverpool a couple of years ago. So that fact alone indicates that there is something going wrong with discipline. Teenage gangs are becoming a problem here in Birmingham.

      To quote Roger here: “…when I was their age all the lights went out, there was no time to whine and mope about”.

      I was on my scooter one evening going to visit one of my elderly clients when a gang of about 25 kids started walking in the middle of the road and throwing coins at me. Of course, I did not stop to tell them off, as they would have probably kicked my head in. I also did not stop because that would have meant that I would have been late for my client.

      The very next day though, I did report this incident to the police. I informed the police that the gangs were putting the ordinary citizens at risk. I mean I could have come off my scooter if any of the coins hit me in the face and they would have jumped me.

      I also cannot stand how the elderly are so disrespected in this country. People seem to forget that they have have been there, done it and got the T-shirt and paid their taxes.

      I could go on and on about this, but it does come down to how soft-soaped society has become. No discipline at home and school, however is a child to know right from wrong?

    5. I do feel sorry for teachers. There is a lot of bureaucracy making their (difficult) job more difficult than it needs to be.

      I agree with Michèle: parents and teachers should work together to bring out the best in our youngsters. It just seems as though everyone’s too busy to work together.

      Some parents, of course, expect the school to do all the teaching as well as much of the parenting. The parents should teach, too.

      Then there are the parents that do not want to admit that their little angels are really little monsters, particularly at school. Just because they’re too busy to notice what their kids get up to half the time, they assume they’re well-behaved, well-mannered and well-adjusted. And if the teachers can’t convince them otherwise, what hope is there of ever altering the child’s behaviour?

      I blame the parents before blaming any teacher.

      Better still, blame Selfish Capitalism.

    6. Better still, blame Selfish Capitalism.

      Thanks for the link, FEd. That’s very interesting.

    7. I do feel sorry for teachers. There is a lot of bureaucracy making their (difficult) job more difficult than it needs to be.

      I agree with Michèle: parents and teachers should work together to bring out the best in our youngsters. It just seems as though everyone’s too busy to work together.

      Well, some parents DO try and work with the teachers but the teachers are too busy trying to say that there is something wrong with the child because they cannot cope with children who have personalities. I have discussed this very fact with many a decent parent who is married and who has had their child legitimately. It is not all the parents fault; which everyone seems to be so keen on blaming these. Maybe it is the teenagers who have children illegitimately and sponge off the state that are giving parents a bad name.

      An old teacher who lives next door to me has confirmed that today’s teachers – thanks to the government (namely the Labour party) dumbing down the education system – cannot cope with bright (intelligent) children. They would rather the children follow like sheep.

      Great Britain USED to have the best education system in the world but the government keeps interfering and has dumbed it down too much.

      According to my sister, who has 5 children, teachers are too lazy to discipline children at school so they just exclude them instead. So that in turn does not teach a child anything, it just makes the child throw themselves on the scrap heap of failure. Despite the fact that my sister disciplined her children; it was all one-sided in that the teachers didn’t do anything.

      Thank God my daughter has a semi-decent teacher. Semi because I do not trust the “state education” system.

      But to re-iterate my original comment, the world would be a lot better place if the PARENT and TEACHER would properly discipline the children.

      Amen.

    8. today’s teachers – thanks to the government (namely the Labour party) dumbing down the education system – cannot cope with bright (intelligent) children. They would rather the children follow like sheep.

      I don’t doubt that. There are plenty of lazy, disinterested teachers, too, as in all professions.

      Don’t get me wrong: I don’t particularly care for the person’s background, but I do care that so many of them are wasters – and there are also respectable, well-to-do, middle-class wasters.

      My feeling will always be that some people simply shouldn’t have children. They damage them without realising it and are too stupid, precious and/or busy to stop.

      A good teacher can help repair some of the damage, I’m sure, but aren’t teachers burdened with targets and league tables? I don’t know if they’ve got time to teach their rigid syllabus, never mind get to know their pupils.

      Going back to Oliver James and the link I included to his Guardian article above, I strongly believe that parents – rich or poor – are often too busy chasing imagined needs to be good parents. As Rob just said, albeit on a different topic, they should be spending quality time with their kids doing something that sparks their creativity and makes them feel valued, not dropping them off at McDonald’s with a promise of a new gadget if they’re good and a handful of notes.

    9. Michele, here is an article about the “undisciplined youth problem” that Birmingham is experiencing.

      This happened over the weekend. This is frightening as it happened about a mile away from where I live.

      Believe me, the youth have no respect for their elders these days.

      Something has got to give.

  4. I agree with Julie as well. It all starts in the home and truthfully that is where governments need to stop meddling. In the minds of many it seems the line has been blurred between discipline and cruelty when raising children. There are way too many children out there who do not respect their parents let alone their elders. And unfortunately their are too many parents out there that really don’t care about their children.

    Just take a read of this article and ask yourself how a person could prostitute their own 5 year old child? I certainly have no answer to this but it makes me sick.

    And FEd, on this topic of death, how could you not mention this current story?

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. My apologies, Andrew; I’m glad that you mentioned it, as the 13 killed and 42 wounded should not have been harmed by one of their own and I hear that the majority of Americans want Nidal Malik Hasan to face the death penalty.

      That said, I do think this is an issue worthy of discussion in its own right. Shouldn’t Muslims be able to claim ‘conscientious objector’ status when instructed to wage war on other Muslims?

    2. I think in this debate we are all really (thankfully) on the same side.

      However F’ed I must differ on this one.

      Without revisiting the facts, I believe “conscientious objector” status best applies to a conscript situation, not a Professional soldier who has acquired the rank of Major.

      There have been plenty of wars between people of the same religion. I don’t think it is helpful nor accurate to portray this as a war on Muslims. There are no doubt Muslim Americans fighting alongside Muslim Afghans against the forces of “insurgency” or whatever label we would like to give them. As frankly with all things, I prefer to leave religion out of it.

      Also I think that there were other options open to anybody who felt aggrieved by the war and any anti-Muslim undercurrents. Resign one’s commission, go AWOL, sit on the roof and protest. Gunning down unsuspecting victims does not seem to me the act of a conscientious objector.

    3. Of course what he did was unforgivable and he should pay whatever price is demanded of him. Yes, there were other options open to him rather than murdering his colleagues, which makes his actions all the more deplorable because his victims trusted him. But he was also a psychiatrist. Who knows what he had to counsel and how it affected him? Have you not heard the language used by some – that’s some, not all – soldiers to describe Muslims? Rag heads? Hodgies? There is undeniably racism in the military. Some argue that there’s a full-blown racist policy. Read what Iraqi civilians and guilt-ridden returning soldiers (of all nationalities) have reported.

      One’s loyalty to Islam can be greater than to one’s country. Such loyalty would understandably be strengthened by the harassment he’s alleged to have experienced in the military because of his faith. Leave religion out of it by all means, maybe he was simply avenging his bullies, but why was he bullied in the first place?

      I think it can be viewed as a war on Muslims, particularly when Bush stupidly likens it to a ‘crusade’ (a typically thoughtless choice of word on his part, perhaps, but still offensive).

      In any sense, it being a holy war in the killer’s mind makes it a clear act of terrorism and thus he’s more likely to face a harsher sentence; as you say, it doesn’t seem to be the act of a conscientious objector, so if that’s his defence, it shouldn’t take long for the best lawyers to tear it to pieces.

    4. Note that apparently Nidal Malik Hasan is now paralyzed from his actions. Could that be considered justice? I’m sure it may still not be enough to all the families who lost loved ones from his actions.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  5. Hey Fed,

    Got to hand to you… you never flinch with tough topics.

    I also agree with Julie adding only that tough standards of right and wrong need to be instilled into the youth of today.

    I am not optimistic that this will happen because of the amount of time kids are left alone to their own devices with busy parents. I also notice that with each generation of parents there seems to be less “real parenting” going on. These days you are a good parent if you keep all your kid’s scheduling appointments on time, such as Football practice etc., not how you teach them morality and caring for others…

    I used to be really tortured about how these things could happen. This was not from a religious standpoint either. I had a really weird experience earlier this year… a kind of pagan epiphany if you will. It was the linking of what happens in the world to the total lack of any religion being real. When you realize this everything in the world makes total sense to you and you are no longer shocked by what happens… saddened, yes, but not shocked. This is how a world would act without any religion.

    Cheers, Howard

    1. Thanks, Howard.

      You make a very good, but depressing, point. When I wrote of watching in disbelief, I stopped to question just how shocked I really was by each of the examples given. It seems that nothing has quite that shock factor any more.

      As you say, we’re saddened, appalled, disgusted and angered by such horrible stories, but maybe we’re not all as shocked as we’d like to be. (Not that we want to be shocked, of course. Rather that we could feel better about ourselves if these incidents shocked us more. I guess they happen too frequently now, or we just get to hear about them more often. I don’t want to suggest that a sensationalist media makes them hit harder, because these cases would no doubt repulse if you only heard the bare facts.)

      Do you think 9/11 was the turning point? That seems to be the last time I found something utterly atrocious so very hard to believe.

    2. Howard,

      Don’t be depressed my old son. Trust me, the World will be a much better place when everybody wakes up and shares your epiphany because killing in the name of false religion has killed many many more people than any sense of “faithlessness”.

      When people finally start to love and respect humanity for its own sake, not because they fear or follow rules that they perceive have been “handed down from on high”, we will be heading towards the light.

    3. You’re right on a lot of what you say there Howard. It’s no wonder such things occur in today’s world. It is ultimately what goes into a person that comes out later on. If you let your kids run wild with no direction, no discipline, what else can happen?

      Youth of today need to have a positive direction. They need to realize why they are here in this world. Everyone does. The youth of today need it because they are taking the place of all the retiring people of the “booming” years as it were. It’s what goes into, comes out of.

      Complexity and confusion result from the question of ‘why am I here?’ when they have no real answer. From early in life kids need to know you love them and that there is a right way and a wrong way to live. They have to know you do not hurt people, you help people. You do not destroy, you create. You do not lie, you tell the truth. Simple morality instilled in them at an early age lays a pathway for them to understand why it is so important to live in this manner, for them to realize themselves and the part they play in life. What their actual purpose is here in this world.

      Now we get on to Religion; everyone has some sort of God… well most anyway. I cannot state my personal beliefs here because that would not be fair to FED, being independent as this site is, one must remain neutral as to being pro or con to any one belief. However, take your children to worship and learn as this is part of their input as to their character makeup and morality. “All you need is love” – a lot in that people!

      Whether you like it or not, let’s try not to be “the final judgement” of others; That one has spots, this one has numbers, the Floyd said it very well in The Wall. How do you stop the violence? Stop hurting children, stop raping the people, surrender to the logic of love and why you are here. Stop teaching hate! Go and put hate into a child all their life and you get a murder. Go and put love in a child all their life and you get someone who will give and not take, someone who realizes why they are here.

      Make today a better one Howard, tomorrow may not be at all. Love everybody while we still can. No need to be shocked by what someone does when they are grown of dark soil. 😐 Stop broadcasting darkness over the radio or TV or local pub or whereever you are, just stop that! Broadcast love!

  6. As a father of three these stories of child abuse sicken me to no end. Lethal injection is far too easy a way for these predators to leave this world. Eye for and eye in these instances, they should be tortured physically and mentally for an extended period of time and then buried alive.

    As far as the terminally ill are concerned I feel it’s your life to decide how it ends.

    1. Matt:

      I read a book by John Douglas where he discusses pedophiles. He was one of the original FBI profilers. Very interesting book. Hard to read, though. He and others feel strongly that pedophiles, in particular, can not change their behavior.

      Perhaps a few mind-altering drugs?

      A really difficult thing. I don’t have children, but one of the worst things to happen in my mind is this destroying of innocence.

      Jan

  7. The history of humankind is full of injustice, stupidity and hypocrisy. One has to allow oneself to get rid of all human “qualities” to begin to see things as they are and not as one judges them. I wish we all could have one single moment of a “non-human” life, as an animal or plant, or even as a rock, in order to stop being jerks and finally enjoying just being… but that’s just a dream.

    “And what exactly is a dream, and what exactly is a joke?” 🙁

    1. As someone who generally prefers animals to people, the many stories of animal cruelty have equally angered and upset me this year. They also seem to be getting more frequent, the acts more depraved and the culprits younger.

    2. FEd:

      I have been gone for so long and am so far behind in the blog. Was just trying to get caught up a bit and not ‘caught up’ in giving an opinion.

      Had to agree with many of what has been posted. And, like you, I am afraid that while I am shocked at how terrible people can be to each other, my sympathies lie often with the atrocities done to animals. So I just can’t go there. Too painful.

      On the issue of ‘right to die’. I wholly agree with this way of allowing a dignified ending to life. Death is inevitable to us all, so why not allow us to die, if possible, with as much peace as possible? Not tied to more painful and maybe unnecessary medical procedures. Hospice for me with DNR. It seems terrible to me that others, who do not know you or will not be there to help a family care for you, should have any say in how you die.

      The comments in the blog today make for great discussion, but a complex situation with no one answer. Good to ‘keep talking’ and exploring ideas. I do feel there are a certain number of people who have become desensitized to others’ pain. But this is not a new thing. Years ago there was an event in Central Park called a ‘wilding’. Terrible, but as mentioned before here, atrocities have been happening for many years. Just don’t think we have had the rapid access to the information that we have today.

      It is encouraging that this discussion is happening.

      Back to work for me.
      Jan

  8. I don’t advocate the death penalty. It doesn’t solve a thing, it may give pause or relief to some of the victim’s friends and relatives but it doesn’t bring back the victim or victims, it won’t deter other human beings from committing the same crimes over and over. All it serves is a sense of–twisted–justice which, in my mind, serves no purpose at all.

    As for the right to die, I support it under very special circumstances, after all you should be able to decide for it should you be terminally ill or facing a long and painful illness, but that’s just me.

  9. What an interesting topic this is.

    I saw the Gary Glitter programme on Channel 4 and wanted him to die. If Glitter is that sick and smug in real life, I don’t want him roaming our streets thinking he’s above the law and can get away with raping children.

    The man who has been raping the old folk in London also disgusts me.

    I think we have a duty to the most vulnerable members of society to protect them from people like Glitter and the Nightstalker and they should be punished for their crimes, not kept in prison at great cost to the taxpayer. They will never change.

    I would like to see the death penalty reintroduced in Britain.

  10. Thank you for your blog topic. I found the comments very honest, interesting and thought provoking.

    Crimes committed against another person, animal or even the environment warrants our full attention. We are all part of the human race and for that reason alone, we should be concerned about the atrocities committed against others. Some of the crimes against the elderly and children are just sickening. You have to wonder do these people even have a soul or conscience?

    I also feel the press gives many criminals unwarranted celebrity like status. They have documentaries, hours of news time, and whole articles devoted to them. Ex. Charles Manson. I once read that he receives more mail than any other prisoner in the US. In my opinion he deserves nothing more than the basic essentials to live out his life in prison. I will never understand people’s fascination with criminals like Manson.

    The main problem I have with the death penalty is that it is not foolproof and innocent people have died in the past. DNA has certainly helped, but one person falsely punished is one to many! Until a system is invented that is 100% accurate, I cannot support the death penalty.

    I was very pleased to find this blog. I am a huge PF fan. So in case Dave reads this, thank you for many years of great music. From one Pisces to another keep up the great music!

    Love you! Shunda

    1. Thank you, Shunda; I really appreciate your kind words. David does read the comments (this is as good a time as any to remind anyone in need of reminding that David doesn’t write this blog, that the views expressed are my own and certainly not always the same as David’s, less still his management and/or record company), so I’ll thank you on his behalf for supporting him and for enjoying the music down the years.

      I have to confess to having a fascination with the likes of Manson, but absolutely agree that he deserves nothing more than the basic essentials to live out what’s left of his miserable life in prison.

  11. Do you think 9/11 was the turning point?

    Yes in terms of shock value… amplified because the US has traditionally been spared any direct consequences of its actions either good or bad… outside of Pearl Harbour and the Civil war.

    I only hope at the very least that I can make it through to life’s end relatively unscathed. Note: very least… I hope all can but am realistic to see that many won’t.

    Cheers, Howard

  12. If murder is considered by our society a very wrong action, I can see no reason why it could work differently for a government or any other kind of authority, especially if elected by the people.

    For this reason, I’m completely against the death penalty. I think it could be enough if the right sentences (also life incarceration, for the worst crimes) would be actually applied.

    If you think about it, an entire life in jail is even worst than dying, in the end.

    Surely, I don’t want to see someone who committed murder or any other terrible crime, walking free. Unfortunately, this happens very often in my country.

    As for deciding over my own life or over the life of a member of my family, I just think the same as Taki.

    My boyfriend’s father also died of ALS. I think everyone who feels very sure that life is always worth living, should live an experience such is that before speaking as they had the truth in their hands.

    Those are tragedies you have to live with, day after day, often without the assistance and solidarity you would need.

    If I think of Eluana Englaro, I get angry again.

    Everyone meddled with her father’s decision, Catholics, politicians, mass media, even the most stupid TV show wanted to express an agreement or disagreement, but not one of them had an idea of what they were talking about. They couldn’t have it, because it was two other people’s life they were judging.

    It was disgusting.

    1. My boyfriend’s father also died of ALS.

      Sorry to read that. Sadly it seems not to be commercially worthy to do research and find a cure or treatment for ALS.

      Taki

    2. Sorry to hear about your father, too.

      No, it’s not worthy to research on a disease like that, it seems.

      I don’t know in your country, but in Italy, ALS features in the list of the so-called “rare disease”, even though it’s not so rare, in the end. Featuring in that list means that only little money is invested in researching and even less in giving information and support to ill people and their families.

      When ALS started being diagnosed to football players, I (cynically enough, I know) thought the mass media would have finally raised the attention on it, but it worked for a while, only.

      And if, in Italy, football is not enough, I just don’t know what else could be.

  13. Just adding a more direct answer to the subject…

    No thanks, I don’t want to decide who deserves to die. I’m afraid the list would be too long… and the evil minds will keep coming anyway.

    This is the price we have to pay for having a very complex nervous system, prone to a great degree of variability.

    The obvious answer to alleviate the suffering of the victims should be one that celebrates life and not an apologia of death. As a teacher I stand up for education, that’s the only way to understand and control evil minds.

  14. The Lockerbie Bomber liberation to let him die in peace was a rare case of compassion that uplifted those who still have some good sense.

    There is an increasing flow of post modern fascists all over Europe and especially US that believe to solve problems by just burying them.

    Assassinating criminals will only exasperate reactions of other criminals.

    1. Assassinating criminals will only exasperate reactions of other criminals.

      I totally agree.

      And: Assassinating criminals makes us criminals, too.

      Taki

  15. Assassinating criminals makes us criminals, too.

    Agreed, but guess what?

    For as long as I’ve been aware of such atrocities happening nothing has worked to stop it. Pacifism does nothing and being pro-murder does nothing as there are always new crop of miscreants preying on the innocent and there is no defense against insanity.

    Bottom line is should these monsters be afforded the opportunity to live when they have killed?

    My opinion is no… and the punishment should definitely fit the crime.

    I’d like to bring back public impaling for the child molester/killer…

    1. With respect to your arguments: humanity punishes murders with death for thousands of years. Did you see any improvement at all? At any time?

      I’m surely not pro-murder, but I don’t want to be one myself, even only by accepting death sentences. I’m for hard but human laws. And I do not think that killing a murderer fits the crime. Those creatures do not value life as such, so you just relieve them.

      I’m trying to understand your last suggestion, but I must admit I can’t, so I won’t comment on it. 🙁

      Taki

    2. That’s just a feeling of revenge, Matt, we all can have it, it’s human, but it just makes things much worse, terribly worse.

  16. Shouldn’t Muslims be able to claim ‘conscientious objector’ status when instructed to wage war on other Muslims?

    That is like saying Christians should be allowed the same thing if fighting Christians… which is a load of bunk. I can understand CO’s if they have an issue with fighting, period, but this guy joined the army for crying out loud.

    Cheers, Howard

  17. In Italy the death penalty was abolished in 1889 (except for few crimes against king and war crimes). Then it was brought back during the fascist regime and finally the last capital execution was in 1947. It is abolished since then.

    Italy was one of the countries that strongly supported, at court of ONU, the recent moratorium on the death penalty.

    Alessandra, Ginaluca and me feel, I believe, we are very well represented , for once, by our country.

    The death penalty, the right a man gives to himself about deciding on someone else’s life, is not ethical, is unuseful (our crime rate is lower than more “punishing” countries), is wrong.

    On the other side, if we cannot decide on other people’s life, we have one of our own. And I think that this life is only ours, and the only one which is. Thus I believe we can do everything we want with it. We shouldn’t ruin it, or use it for other people’s damage, but ultimately if no one else can decide on my life, I should legally be allowed to decide about mine. In any condition. In health and in sickness. Exactly as I express with my wish. “Suicide” should be allowed. And I think what Alessandra wrote about Eluana.

    Life, in any case, is sacred. It is the highest value and our personal decision on our own, and only ours, should be kept exclusively as extreme escape.

  18. RE: Death penalty

    Knocking them off saves us a lot of money and resources that can go to deserving others.

    Cheers, Howard

    1. … which of course would be invested into child care and education, and not into arms, police forces, nice trips for administration et cetera. 😉

      In my opinion the civilization is responsible for its failure and should stand up right for its costs. What’s next? Killing prisoners to save money? Confiscating and destroying cars to prevent traffic jams?

      Again, I’m for punishment but we should not allow ourselves to step down to a criminals level.

      Taki

  19. I’d like to know where such vigilant off-duty police officers, concerned neighbours, friends and family members were when poor Baby P was being battered black and blue in his home.

    Some great comments by everyone, poor Baby P deserved a better chance in life… well said!!!

  20. Pretty heavy topic FEd.

    I would have to say that I would be for the death penalty for very heinous crimes. The problem is that states with the death penalty have people sitting on death row for years before they are executed.

    As for assisted suicide here in Michigan we had Dr. Death Jack Kevorkian who assisted in over 100 suicides. He spent 8 years in prison on a 2nd Degree Murder charge for helping someone die. He had to inject the drugs into the iv as the person who he was assisting could not do it for himself as he was in the last stages of ALS. Although the man gave his full consent Kevorkian was convicted for that. Michigan wasted a lot of taxpayer dollars trying to convict him up to that point as public opinion was with him and still is I believe. Just had some DAs and Prosecuting attorneys trying to make names for themselves over this topic.

    Oregon is the only state that allows doctor assisted suicide I believe.

    I think that it should be up to the individual or family to be able to have that choice.

    Hoss

    1. The problem is that states with the death penalty have people sitting on death row for years before they are executed.

      What I thought interesting about the fantasy law that Britain had introduced (in the programme mentioned above), was that the execution has to take place no more than 30 days after the death sentence has been passed.

  21. Such an interesting but difficult topic.

    – When I think with my mind, I am against the death penalty as I think it’s a total nonsense to kill someone who killed someone else, to show killing is wrong.

    Besides, in general, the ‘Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ thing never helps and doesn’t solve anything; it’s just a step further in increasing violence and hate.

    Anyway, executing a murderer will not make the victim(s) come back to life.

    Moreover, the death penalty is a violation of human rights, since The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (1948) proclaims “the right of every individual to protection from deprivation of life”.

    Finally, let’s not forget there is always a risk of executing an innocent. So many miscarriages of justice in the past have led to unfair executions. (That makes me think, has anyone seen the movie ‘The Life Of David Gale’ by Alan Parker? Disturbing.)

    Some could argue that the death penalty could deter potential criminals from committing murder but it has been proven that murders or sexual crimes are often spontaneous, impulsive acts and killers don’t give much thought to any punishment before they act.

    – However, when I think with my heart, I have mixed feelings and I’m not sure I wouldn’t react like Matt (comment 6) if one day I was personally confronted with such awful atrocities he is talking about (children sexual abuse).

    “Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait point.” (Blaise Pascal)

    Michèle

    1. (That makes me think, has anyone seen the movie ‘The Life Of David Gale’ by Alan Parker? Disturbing.)

      Excellent film, I’m glad you mentioned it.

  22. I oppose the death penalty. I do recognise that there are crimes that seem to deserve it and I believe it is natural to desire retribution. I also recognise that there are better things we could do with resources than keep evil people incarcerated in perpetuity.

    I do not believe the death penalty increases deterrent value and I am concerned that miscarriages of justice have and will continue to happen.

    Whilst “it is wrong to kill” is not a bad starting point, we can unfortunately not treat it as a moral absolute. From a moral standpoint self defence, killing to end suffering, killing to save other lives, killing in war can all be justified. Killing can also happen by misallocation of resources and always will. You eat well, someone starves. You take malaria tablets, a kid somewhere dies of neglect. In certain circumstances, I could kill and feel no great crisis of conscience.

    There are some acts indeed that seem morally less ambiguous – rape for example and child abuse have no such “complications”. They speak only of moral vacuity. Or maybe sickness.

    The death penalty is wrong because we have a choice. We must resist killing on financial grounds. We must resist killing because it makes us feel better. We must resist killing because they “deserve” it. We must resist killing because we want vengeance. The state must do in our name what we may not even be able to do for ourselves. It can be hard, but we are better for our ability to rise above gut instinct.

  23. Where do you draw the line regarding how someone gets punished for their actions?

    Ask a Holocaust survivor if they think that Hitler should have been put to death or sent to exile like Napoleon. Ask the people of Uganda if Idi Amin should have paid for the atrocities he put the people of that nation through.

    And then there is torture. The British have quite a history in human torture as do many other European countries. Take a tour of the Tower of London sometime and hear about the torture chamber.

    As for methods of carrying out the death penalty, isn’t lethal injection the most humane? Much less torturous and less bloody than the Guillotine, Electric Chair, Firing Squad, Gas Chamber, Hanging or Stoning.

    The death penalty is a very difficult topic for everyone to agree upon as opinions will vary widely depending on the circumstances.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. As for methods of carrying out the death penalty, isn’t lethal injection the most humane? Much less torturous and less bloody than the Guillotine, Electric Chair, Firing Squad, Gas Chamber, Hanging or Stoning.

      “Much less torturous than guillotine” (example)? Well… the big and most important difference is that the guillotine (example) is – of course – no longer used…

    2. And then there is torture. The British have quite a history in human torture as do many other European countries. Take a tour of the Tower of London sometime and hear about the torture chamber.

      Don’t even go back that far, just google ‘Binyam Mohamed’.

    3. I never said that torture was abolished altogether. It certainly still exists today, worldwide in fact.

      You don’t have to be strapped to the rack or put into an iron maiden to be tortured. Some methods of torture are more mild.

      Isn’t putting someone in solitary confinement in a prison also a means of torture? Don’t you think that some of the ‘brute force’ that may be used during interrogations at police stations worldwide is torture? And certainly there are more aggressive forms being used today as well.

      In fact the girl you mention above who was “found living in squalor with children fathered by her abductor and abuser” was tortured for 18 years. How should her abductor be punished? Some would call for the death penalty others would call to just cut off his penis. Of course in the end, he’ll be jailed for life.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    4. Ask a Holocaust survivor if they think that Hitler should have been put to death or sent to exile like Napoleon.

      This made me think of Erich Priebke.

      As I said, I’m against the death penalty, but, old age or not, I really think he should have spent his life in jail.

    5. the big and most important difference is that the guillotine (example) is – of course – no longer used…

      But what is amazing that it only recently was stopped being used. I find that the last use of the guillotine in France was in 1977. And if you think back even further before the guillotine, they used to do it with just an ax.

      O, and I forgot one, there is also hanging.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    6. I hope that, in 32 years, no one, in any ‘civilised’ part in the world will still be deliberately killed by ‘clean’ lethal injection…

      That being said, I’m not proud to point out that the death penalty was abolished here only in 1981.

  24. I don’t agree with the death penalty myself. But when you have adults beating young children, I can see why the question is raised.

    It is a difficult topic this one…

  25. I am against the death penalty, not only because we become the thing we seek to eradicate, but also because the legal system is imperfect, with imperfect laws, court officials, jurors, witnesses, etc. The margin for error is wide. When an error is made, innocent lives are taken. I have trouble finding a justification for that.

    I agree that home is a good place to begin teaching values. Sadly, values seem less a priority than they might be. But, historically, that may be the norm. I offer two quotes:

    “The gentle man has perished/the violent man has access to everybody/To whom can I speak today?/There are no righteous men/The world is surrendered to criminals. – written by an unknown Egyptian during the Middle Kingdom, 2040-1782 B.C.

    “The earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their parents… and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.” – legend on an Assyrian tablet, circa 2800 B.C.

    Maybe things have always been this bad, proportionally. But “back in the old days,” they just didn’t have TV and the internet to get the word around. We all have front row seats now.

    “Alas, times are not what they used to be.” This one is taken from the Prisse Papyrus, 4000 B.C., the oldest bit of known writing.

  26. As a teacher I stand up for education, that’s the only way to understand and control evil minds.

    Even though I agree with you, I can’t help wondering if, today, all those people (parents, teachers…) who should be in charge of educating the youngest are actually able to teach them the right values they would need.

    What I think is that, if you want to teach the right values, you have, firstly, to believe in them and apply them to your own life, or the message you give will never work (and the children are very clever at “decoding” ambiguities). But, being us all parts of the same society, I’m not sure the adults really know what to teach anymore.

    Sorry if I’m repeating myself, but, in my opinion, a society like the one we live in, centred on money and power, can only communicate wrong values to the new generations.

    Of course, right values could be still taught inside the family or at school, but the youngests’ reality is not only their home or the school they attend. They go out, meet people, watch the TV…

    I mean, the culture we live in is much more powerful than us. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, some ways.

    I hope what I meant was clear. 😕

    1. Your opinion is perfectly clear and I agree with you in some degree. But when I say “education” I mean something else than moral values.

      I think science can help us understand why some people are born without moral or ethics or what kind of environment can lead someone to lose these values. So we could deal with this “human misery” using more appropriate and reasonable tools than lethal injections… such as medicines, therapy, etc. After all, nobody is “normal”, everybody needs help sometime.

    2. I think science can help us understand why some people are born without moral or ethics or what kind of environment can lead someone to lose these values.

      That would be certainly a good starting point, but I also think that, after demonstrating that a certain environment leads to lose the values, we have to do something to change it.

      And what could we do if, as I believe, the wrong environment was our culture itself?

  27. I don’t believe Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds. I think it had more to do with not wanting his appeal to go ahead and wanting to avoid him dying in prison in case it came out at a later date that he had indeed been wrongly convicted. That and Libya has lots of oil.

    The one person whose take I believe on all of this is Dr Jim Swire – his motives are pure, all he wants to do is find out who really killed his daughter, she was on that flight.

    I think most of our government ministers have proved what a bunch of spineless b*stards they are recently. They wouldn’t know compassion (or honour for that matter) if it ran up behind them and bit them on the arse.

    There, I feel better for that.

    1. It’s no wonder we live in a violent society when even “compassion” and “honour” will run up behind someone and bite their arse.

      Thank goodness “sneaky” and “viscous” weren’t on the scene. :))

  28. I think that the Italian bloggers have already said everything I wanted to say, especially about the famous case of Eluana.

    I’ve got to admit that I don’t feel to be well represented by the thought of the Pope and all the keen Catholics. Before my aunt died in June I had always thought “It must be very hard for the families of these poor people who have been forced in bed for several years and there is no hope they can get over it”. Then, when I lived the same situation I understood what it really means, though.

    It’s very, very hard. People MUST have the right to die when they are in such a tragic condition, no excuses.

    Before Eluana died she lied in her bed for 17 years and there could have been many more if her father had not taken the most difficult decision of his life. It’s a shame that when she was dying there were plenty of people outside the hospital in Udine, 30 km far from where I live, who were screaming to her father “You’re a killer, bastard, murderer”, it’s ironic, disgraceful and paradoxical to me.

    To these people I say: GET TO WORK! You have to take respect if you want to be respected, these things can happen to everyone of us and if it happens to me I don’t want my mother and the people who love me to see me in a bed for twenty years.

    Thank you Fed for giving me the chance to say what I really think.

    1. these things can happen to everyone of us and if it happens to me I don’t want my mother and the people who love me to see me in a bed for twenty years.

      Indeed. I feel the same way.

      To quote Professor Jacob Appel, “Mercy delayed is mercy denied.”

      Isn’t it tragic that the terminally-ill have to spend what time remains theirs visiting courts and having cameras and microphones pushed into their faces just to be sure that their loved ones will not end up in prison should they assist with their suicide?

    2. I hope no-one thinks it’s contradictory that I am anti-death penalty and pro-“choice” and the right to die in dignity.

      It’s really not difficult, it’s about choice, about motivation, about life meaning more than existence.

      Unfortunately the bigots – usually religious I’m afraid – who impose themselves in these personal tragedies have been taught for too long that pain and suffering have somehow got cleansing power. I beg to differ.

    3. I hope no-one thinks it’s contradictory that I am anti-death penalty and pro-”choice” and the right to die in dignity.

      It’s not contradictory at all, in my opinion, because they’re two completely different arguments.

      And I completely agree with you about the bigots.

      When I listen to them speaking about morality and things like that, I always wonder how many of them really believes in what they’re saying and how many, instead, support some kind of ideas, just because they’ve been taught it’s the “right” way to think.

  29. Hi FEd.

    Well, I think it’s very important talk about the death penalty.

    I say a strong NO to death penalty, in all cases. My point of view is everyone can change this terrible situation.

    A dramatic example is China, that kills every day too many innocent people. It’s basic to press China and other Countries with diplomatic actions. Maybe we’ll get something good.

    Bye, Hydrea

  30. And what do you possibly do with these creeps? Can you believe an entire family was involved? How sick and twisted.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Impale them on a banjo… Now that would be a “deliverance” of justice.

      This is exactly what I’m talking about… these monsters show a complete lack of humanity and compassion and should be dealt with the same…

    2. Matt,

      quite a cowboy thinking. I think we evolved from that. Being still at this point… in this discussion… is sad, frankly.

  31. I am uncomfortable with the idea of a death penalty, and I say that safe in the knowledge that more than once I have argued that ‘paedoes and rapists should be shot’ or meet some other grisly end.

    I’m sure most of us know what I mean, and in the heat of a debate, or after watching a news article have muttered something similar about the sickos and bastards that walk amongst us.

    But would I actually support the death penalty, if I were on a jury deciding such a matter (I know the jury doesn’t give the sentence but guilty or not guilty etc) could I give a fair and balanced decision knowing that my actions may put someone to death?

    I don’t know that I could.

    Maybe I am veering away from the topic because I know we are also talking about the tragic case of that disabled baby.

    I have never been to a prison. I do not know anyone who has been to prison, and have not heard about the ‘true’ conditions.

    The media tends to paint the picture of an almost holiday camp where prisoners get the luxuries few can afford in these times, 3 square meals a day, TV, gym facilities, education – yet they are being punished?

    I do believe a life sentence to be preferable than a death penalty, but that the reality of a prison should be as far removed from the above as possible.

    People who live outside the law, should be afforded no protection by it.

    I’m not sure I am making my point clearly enough.

    In the case of the disabled baby, I don’t think it should need to be a court decision, it shouldn’t get to that stage.

    The doctor’s argue to the parent – in this case I believe the father was not in agreement – that the child should be allowed to die, but if that father is not ready to let his child go – why should he have to?

    If you look at it coldly, objectively, the child had no life, no prospect of recovery, and is taking up resources in an over crowded NHS system.

    But this is a parent and their kid, and I just can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be in that situation, and I just don’t know how I would react if I were. I’m not sure I would react too well if a court told me I had to let go.

    1. Your heart aches for them, doesn’t it? What a painful decision to have to make, and to have to make it in court before the media glare is all the more upsetting.

      If you look at it coldly, objectively, the child had no life, no prospect of recovery, and is taking up resources in an over crowded NHS system.

      Although it seems very insensitive to even think it, would it have been different in the USA, for example, where equivalent health care is not free of charge? For one thing, would the doctors have advised, or been allowed by their paymasters to advise, bringing the poor mite’s suffering to an end?

  32. Well, ponder on this one as well. In life there are situations during childbirth that complications arise that requires a decision to be made. Do you save the life of the mother or do you save the life of the baby?

    I was aware of one person who was faced with that question. He is a devout Catholic and apparently in that religion you always pick the child. (Someone else can confirm that or correct me if I am mistaken.) He did but unfortunately he lost both anyway.

    Now this is not a situation where you can sit and ponder for awhile. You need to make that choice.

    Talk about pressure.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Unimaginable pressure. We say that life can be cruel but are there many things more cruel than that?

      I find the role of faith in all these instances fascinating. The mother whose daughter has been murdered and violated who can forgive her killer, for example, never fails to amaze me. I’m sure I’d want a front row seat for the execution.

      Thanks again, everyone. I always enjoy our discussions.

  33. Speaking about murders, I’ve heard today, on the TV news, about a mother who killed her 3 year-old son.

    They say she was depressed after her second daughter was born, this August. It also seems no one of her family or friends had noticed there was something wrong with her, just that she was speaking less than in the past, but nothing more than this.

    Unfortunately, something like that has happened more than once, recently.

    I wonder how it could be possible that a mother kills her own child. That’s the most unnatural action a human being could do, I think. Apart from us, no other kind of animal does that.

    And, above all, how could the people who know her completely ignore the tragedy she was living?

  34. This subject won’t let me go.

    In ’81 there was a good film with Richard Dryfuss called ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway’. Taken from a story written by Brian Clark, who wrote this for a BBC production in the 70s. About the tug of war of ‘personal needs’ versus ‘well intentioned expert(?) opinion’. Worth seeing.

    As I have mentioned here before, my mother had a long battle with cancer. The last year of her life she had to decide to stop taking treatments as her body could no longer endure. She spent the last months in her home with my sister and I as her ‘nurses’ and the wonderful aid of Hospice. My dad would not leave her side all those months. He essentially ‘died’ when she did. However sad this situation was for us, we would never change this. She died with some smiles, prayer, talk of her memories. Visits from family and friends and laughter.

    Somehow ALS, I feel, is some terrible ‘joke’ of God’s. This is a horrible disease and must be as terrible for the family as the patient. Makes the guillotine seem an easy death.

    Before someone can say ‘right to live or right to die’ they must walk in the other’s shoes. How can others feel they have the right to decide for you? Preposterous and presumptuous.

    In another area, can I please see a show of shaking heads on the subject of our state having provided 55″ screen TVs to a prison? Just how pleasant should prison be? Maybe that is part of the answer/problem?

    Jan

    1. I’m shaking my head with you, Jan.

      This – and this – is one argument that keeps coming up in the UK, particularly concerning institutes for the under-18s, where the less-privileged often have more luxuries in prison than they ever had at home.

      I’d certainly replace their games consoles and TVs with trained people who can help them see the error of their ways and prepare them for a better life on release. Time to reflect is what they need, I’d have thought, not an easy escape from reality.

      That said, games consoles and TVs are possibly the cheaper, as well as easier, option.

    2. FE’d:

      Seems like lots of ideas have been tried with the view of trying to rehabilitate prisoners. This prison system is so costly and prisoners often have a better life than the people they hurt that caused the imprisonment.

      Wonder why with all the ‘brains’ in the world man can’t come up with a better way.

      The topic for this day was very thought provoking.

      Jan

  35. Concerning FED’s November 17 comment, I think that all punishments regarding children is something that should stay within the family. The police don’t need to stick their noses into something that is a family matter.

    1. There is no easy answer to this either. Especially where the possibility of child abuse comes in. The people are saying, why didn’t the authorities do something sooner?

      Unfortunately with the systems in place now, which are as flawed as people, children will always be the losers in this.

      Wow, sad subject… think I need a trip to the bar.

      Jan

    1. Now there’s a story to make you reassess your view on the death penalty: ‘executed for endangering public safety’.

      Makes me think of Gary Hart, the man found guilty of falling asleep at the wheel, whose vehicle subsequently ended up on a railway line, resulting in ten deaths. His punishment was five years in jail.

      Is China too harsh or is Britain too lenient?

      Thanks for that, Andrew.

  36. This subject is so deep and yet so vast. Maybe too vast to share all my points of view on the subject, but I’ll try.

    As far as what the world does, or each country as countries go, has nothing to do with God, from my point of view. We have free will down here on Earth and the only way to change the laws regarding would be to sway public opinion towards no capital punishment.

    I am certainly against Doctors and Politicians deciding who lives or dies. I think it Orwellian when Politicians get in the way of healthcare – period.

    There’s always going to be evil in the world from what I see. The yin-yang effect has ditches on both sides like a two lane highway and if a body rides the center they will be hit by oncoming traffic from both lanes.

    Has anybody read where the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is breaking apart and melting? Ocean levels expected to rise 60 meters from it in about 15 years or so? Time to wake up, world polluters!

    We’re (us Democrats) trying to do something over here across the pond but ignorant and corrupt Repugnicans are blocking us almost at every turn.

    Just my thoughts on the matters…

  37. As the judiciary system in all countries has committed innocent people to jail or worse, how can you justify the death penalty? If one of these innocent people are executed who is then guilty of murder?

    As there is no perfect legal system errors will occur therefore if you incarcerate an innocent person he can be released, admittedly having lost a major period of their life, however you can not reincarnate a wrongly executed person.

    Just remember it could be you!

  38. I do not advocate corporal punishment but matters of conspiring or attempting mass murder or gratuitous murder I have little to no tolerance for.

    In the case of Mark David Chapman, he achieved exactly what he desperately desired–celebrity. I don’t think he should have been put to death but the fact that he’s been in solitary confinement, safely segregated from general pop for almost 30 years really bothers me. :/

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