Member since: Fri Dec 21, 2012, 01:56 AM
Number of posts: 5,536
Number of posts: 5,536
For most of my adult life I was opposed to capital punishment. Those who share this position on the issue all have their own reasons, but for me it largely came down to two things.
First, I have seen too many cases in which the justice system failed, the jury got it wrong, the evidence was flawed or doctored or inconclusive, and the defense inadequate and unprofessional. The second reason is moral and personal. I believe that a society that embraces the power to kill, even after a trial and all that, is a society that diminishes itself by devaluing life. As a liberal, I am always uneasy with government violence and power, and there can be no greater power than the power to kill.
However, I admit that the counter arguments are good ones.
The suspect gets a trial. Itís not one person deciding on his own that this suspect is guilty; itís a random group of this personís peers. The prosecution presents all of the evidence it can dredge up, and there are all kinds of rules -- all of which favor the defense -- restricting what the prosecution is allowed to present to this jury. The suspect gets to defend himself, he has a professional attorney, and we make sure of it even if he cannot afford it himself. He gets to challenge every bit of the prosecutionís evidence and witnesses, he gets to offer witnesses and experts of his own, and he gets to speak last, he is given the presumption of innocence, and he no one can compel him to speak if he chooses not to. The entire process is designed to give the defendant every conceivable advantage. Including the final decision; every person on that jury must agree the accused is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.
And if the jury does not all agree, he walks forever. Seems fair. But we donít stop there.
If, after all that, the suspect is found guilty, before we execute anyone, we give him or her the chance to appeal over and over and over again. They can try to poke holes in any aspect of how the trial was conducted, and if they win even ONE of these appeals, the whole process starts over. With a system like that in place to protect the innocent, the people in favor of capital punishment have a strong case that the system is fine as is.
Yet even with all that, as impossible as it seems, we still make mistakes. It is not even a rare thing; we get it wrong all the time. All that and we still get it wrong and kill the wrong people. But there is an answer.
President Obama has proposed a BETTER solution, and one that has caused me to rethink my opposition to capital punishment.
First, he dispenses with these juries. Seeing how often they get it wrong, this is the perfect place to start. He dispenses with defense witnesses, defense cross examination, and even a defense altogether. This eliminates a great deal of time and cost and confusion. If you want the best results you need to have experts decide these things. He dispenses with the judge, and with him goes all those rules and time wasting formalities. He dispenses with appeals, and the years those can add to the process. And were that all not enough, for humanitarian reasons (to spare the poor bloke the stress and worry) he has proposed that we not even inform the suspect that he is on trial for his life.
President Obamaís system is simple, efficient, inexpensive, and humanitarian. It works like this:
A government official, in secret, reviews the information we have available, makes a decision on whether this suspect is a bad guy or not, and if he decides he is, the suspect and everyone in the general area are then blown into chunks of screaming steaming hamburger.
Thatís it. Simplicity itself.
We donít waste time and money on a trial, we donít waste time and money on a defense, we donít have any silly appeals, the bad guy never even knows its coming. Where all that not enough, no one is ever told. All of this nasty business takes place in secret, you arenít even allowed to ask about it, and the good people in the public remain untroubled by the messy but necessary business of keeping America safe from bad guys.
Best of all, this new system is PERFECT! To date there has not been a single mistake. Every person obliterated in this way has been guilty of either committing a crime or potentially, one day, at some point, committing a crime. And this applies as well to the bad guyís accomplices in the blast zone.
Therefore, with this in mind, I have reconsidered my previous opposition to capital punishment, and I salute President Obama for his bold solution to this problem.
Thanks for reading!
Posted by Demo_Chris | Thu Feb 7, 2013, 04:54 PM (14 replies)
Throughout my life, I have heard people express the sentiment that if they were present when some historical atrocity took place, they would have done something. They wouldn't have gone along with slavery, they wouldn't have gone along with the holocaust, they would have been right there marching with Martin Luther King.
These folks say that they cannot understand how anyone with a soul could have tolerated these horrors. Not them, they would have fought, they would have protested, they would have worn out the pavement fighting for their principles. I have heard these armchair-heroic statements my whole life, and I have never once heard anyone say, ďYeah, I totally would have voted for Hitler. Did you see his opponent?"
I have heard people make these noble statements my entire life, but I have never seen the slightest evidence that it is true. Just the opposite. I am no better.
What I have found is that it is easier to abandon your principles than your TV show. Itís easier to adjust your positions on the issues than your position on the couch. The folks who say they would have stood up to The Man and spoken truth to power, lack the courage to speak unvarnished ugly truth to their friends or forum members. Again, I am no better.
We do whatís easy, we go with the flow, and we change our position in order to silence that internal voice that says, ďWhat the fuck are you doing?Ē Worse, all too often we condemn those who take a stand fighting for the positions we only recently abandoned. Those fools are undermining the Jell-O cause, they are not seeing the big picture, its hyper-dimensional chess-- it is any metaphor you can name that allows one to feel good about abandoned principles.
Am I any better? I am not.
I am so cowardly that I hesitate to write this post. My new friends here at DU might not like it; I might even get in trouble. I might even -- oh my god -- get banned from a forum. Speak truth to power? Not me, Iíll talk about Beyonce, or how adorable the Presidentís doggie is in this latest pictureÖ and did you see Michelleís dress? Itís Fab-u-licious!
So no, I am no better. But I will post this.
Within a week, I suspect that at least half the people posting here will support our government killing American citizens without a trial, without any oversight, without even a wink at our laws or our Constitution. They will support this KNOWING that it will not stop there, it will expand as it always does, and when it does the eventual outcome will be horrific beyond words. Within a week, the positions these people held yesterday or today will be gone, and they will be condemning those like me who refuse to change.
I am writing this now -- while you are still on my side -- in the hope that next week, when you are condemning me for not supporting our President and the government murdering American citizens, when you are feeling self-righteous and intellectual and super-liberal, that you will remember that you are the one who changed, that YOU are the one who stands for nothing.
I once believed that everyone has their own line in the sand. I now understand that for some, perhaps most people, this is not the case. For them there is no line. Because if you canít even draw the line at the government murdering itís own people then you might as well stop looking. You are freaking cool with anything. I am not, and thatís where we part ways.
So am I better?
Yes. This time I am.
Posted by Demo_Chris | Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:17 PM (103 replies)
My only source for food now is the food bank. They have a rule where you can only get some food 17 times in your lifetime. We had to use them a few years back, so things are not looking all that great.
And yes, I have an internet account. Yes, I am aware that to many here this is proof that I am not REALLY poor, that any problems I have are my own creation, and that I am a lazy loser leaching off society. I will address these points individually.
POOR: Yes, I am. Yes, the twenty bucks or so my internet costs me is arguably waste, but I need it to try and get back on my feet. My business, now basically on death's door unless I can borrow some money to get it back going again, is the only chance I have. But the internet is also my entertainment. Yes, entertaininment. Diversion. Which leads me to point two.
MY PROBLEMS / MY CREATION: I am, without a doubt, an absolute failure at life. Unlike some other poor people who have done everything right and still ended up on the bottom, I cannot claim this. I have made so many mistakes I could not begin to count them. I've had opportunities and wrecked them, and always in hindsight the mistakes were obvious, and yet I am fully capable of making them yet again. Because that's the kind of fuck up I am. Some people, for example, wouldn't dream of going out to Applebees or wherever until they had stocked away a couple grand in the bank, but not me -- even when it's bitten me in the ass before. That's me, being a fuck up.
I don't drink or do drugs, but I roll my own cigarettes. Another waste of money that I cannot afford. Another proof that I am a failure. If my life were a book that would be the title. The internet as well I suppose. The hundred bucks I have spent over this winter wouldn't be that huge of a difference now, but it would damn sure help. I try not to think about my life because when I do I question why I am even wasting my time. I feel like I do not deserve to be happy.
Me, the LAZY MOOCH: This is no doubt correct. When I have a job I work bloody hard. I try to be the best, and I mean that sincerely. No boss has ever had cause for complaint about how hard I try or how successful at this I am. I have never once been fired from a job. Been laid off though. Had lots of bad luck that I didn't properly prepare for. My fault, always.
But as the years have gone on the struggle has worn me down. Poverty does not INSPIRE, it suffocates. Poverty doesn't make you want to get up, it commands you lie down. That's the difference between being broke and being poor. Broke is temporary, you know if you can just get through this one thing, just hang on a little while, things will get better. Poverty is when you know they wont get better, that for you there probably is no better, that every crisis will just lead straight into the next. If you don't know, this is the reason why you see poor people, who cannot possibly afford to waste the money, buying that candybar or that meal at IHOP instead of carefully saving that cash for the next crisis.
They have reached that place where they believe, where they KNOW, that no matter what they do that crisis is coming. It's always coming, and that candybar or that beer or that cigarette won't stop or delay it's arrival. Like the white wall of a tsunami on the horizon, it's coming, so fuck it have a Snickers. For those in poverty that next tsunami wave is ALWAYS visible if you look, and life is a desperate struggle swimming from one bity of flotsam to the next and hanging on. That's really what it's like, and if you are there you know it.
But yeah, that makes someone like me lazy in the traditional sense. I could clean something right now. I do have some work I could do, maybe it would even help somehow. Instead, I am writting this garbage that no one will likely read and that no one should care about. But there it is. The next wave is almost here now and I am tired of swimming.
I created my business at what turned out to be the start of the great recession. I did not know how bad it would get. I have worked very hard, unbelievably hard, and every year we have offered more and better service, but every year our earnings have been just a little worse than the last. Most of the country has run out of money to spend. And it's not like I have a whole lot of options but to keep going. I have no real skills and no one is hiring anyway.
It's a seasonal business (and to many it's probably a stupid one), but my family (I work with my wide and daughter) has somehow managed to keep it afloat and paying our bills for the last five years. Probably because we try our best to deliver the BEST to our customers. But now, like I said, we are out of money and options. We had hopef to make it through another rough winter and start again, but we failed. Now that it looks like the economy might FINALLY begin making a comeback it looks like all of our work for the last five years will be wasted.
I'll stop there. Everyone reading this (assuming anyone is) has their own sad story to tell. I'm a few grand shy of getting going again. Everyone is a few grand shy of something. Anyway, if you actually read this whole rambling and pointless rant, thanks for reading! I apologize if it was long and you wasted your time, but I was writing it for me I guess.
Posted by Demo_Chris | Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:03 PM (2 replies)
President Obama challenged us with this question: Do we want a society in which we are all in this together, or in which we are all in this alone.
Our answer, as always, ever since the post-war generation at any rate, is ALONE. We aren't a society, we are a collection of individuals all looking out for number one. We live in a culture that worships the anti-social personality. We worship greed and self-interest over everything else, we plan vacations while our children lose their homes, we give tax cuts to the wealthy while tens of millions of kids go hungry, we don't care about education or our infrastructure or unaffordable healthcare. We don't care, unless it's us. We have a generation that burned the country to the ground, snorted the ashes, then pissed on the smouldering rubble.
We call this the American way.
And we wonder why disenfranchized and disturbed people go from being anti-social -- as we taught them -- to sociopathic. How, we wonder, can these monsters do this? Do they not care about the children or other victims? The answer, of course, is no.
"Some men just want to watch the world burn." That line from a recent movie resonated with a generation, not because they were disturbed by the idea, but because they could sympathize. They want to watch the world burn, and they are one tiny psychotic break away from striking the match.
In my opinion
Posted by Demo_Chris | Fri Feb 1, 2013, 04:30 PM (1 replies)
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