News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 1/5/98
Ben Slivka wrote:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brent Simmons);
Sent at Mon, 5 Jan 1998 12:56:15 -0800;
>>I know the standard retort on this - studies prove that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent. But look at how hard it is to actually carry out the death penalty. It can be upwards of 16 years in some cases, with all the appeals...<<
I don't think that making the state a more efficient killing machine is really the answer here.
I think the death penalty would be a great deterrent -- if killers were rational. Which they're not. If they were, they wouldn't be killers.
It seems to make sense that a potential killer would think: "I won't kill anybody -- because if I do then I'll get killed."
I don't think killers think that way.
I think every state-sponsored execution sends a subconscious, non-rational message. And I think this subconscious message is far more powerful than any rational message.
The death penalty says: "It's alright to kill people."
It says: "Killing is part of our culture. You're soaking in it. Just do it."
It says: "Need to solve a problem? Kill somebody." It says: "Angry at somebody? Execute him." It says: "Need a final chapter, need an end for Act Five? Off someone."
I think the death penalty encourages killing. A more efficient system with more executions would encourage more killing in general.
Ending the death penalty won't end killing -- I don't believe that for one second. But it will prevent we the people from spreading the news that killing is a great problem-solver.
A quick note on an controversial subject:
From: email@example.com (David Weingart);
Sent at Mon, 5 Jan 1998 14:51:42 -0500;
Because of the inherent nature of our criminal justice system, innocent people are convicted of crimes. I don't know how often this happens, but that it does happen is a fact. It is incontrovertible.
Some of these innocent people will be convicted of murder. Some will be sentenced to death.
Because our justice system is not perfect and cannot be made perfect, innocent people will be sentenced to death, and executed.
The premeditated killing of an innocent person is murder. The death penalty inevitably leads to the murder of innocents by the state.
Life imprisonment at least gives the chance of correcting the wrong done to an innocent person.
>>Yes, if we applied the death penalty more broadly and more speedily, I'm sure some innocent people would be convicted and put to death. But we're so overboard in avoiding this possibility today that the death penalty is meaningless as a deterrent.<<
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dan Gillmor);
Sent at Mon, 05 Jan 1998 08:51:42 -0800;
Cold-blooded stuff. How can you be "overboard" in preventing the state-sponsored murder of an innocent person?
Incidentally, the evidence in at least one case in Texas last year strongly suggested that an innocent man was executed. Of course, none of us on your mail list knew him, so we don't have to care, do we? His death will be a deterrent, which is all that really matters.
Re: The death penalty.
From: email@example.com (Ben Slivka);
Sent at Mon, 5 Jan 1998 07:12:24 -0800;
I'll disagree with you on this one.
I think we do need severe, expected consequences for severe actions.
Obviously if we execute an individual, that person never gets a chance to learn a lesson. But other individuals will.
I know the standard retort on this - studies prove that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent. But look at how hard it is to actually carry out the death penalty. It can be upwards of 16 years in some cases, with all the appeals...
Today, the consequences for murder - whether it is intentional or "accidental" - are simply too remote to act as much of a deterrent. We've had several cases up in the Seattle area where a drunk driver killed one or more pedestrians, had been convicted of drunk driving before, had his/her license taken away, and when they finally succeeded in killing someone, only received a few years in prison. I think it's weird that your intent in causing the death of another should so widely affect your punishment. If you got behind the wheel of a two ton vehicle and killed someone, that someone is still dead, and it was your fault.
Yes, if we applied the death penalty more broadly and more speedily, I'm sure some innocent people would be convicted and put to death. But we're so overboard in avoiding this possibility today that the death penalty is meaningless as a deterrent.
With the feminist movement gaining momentum in the 60's, the official mantra was "there's no difference between men and women except the plumbing." Turns out that mantra was largely wrong. Study after study was done to show that men and women are indeed far more different than was posited during that time of foment for our social views and structures.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Greg Meece);
Sent at Mon, 5 Jan 1998 07:10:16 -0800;
Re:Men Stay Silent
I believe that one of the most important positive aspects of the feminist movements (and indeed, most "minority" rights movements) is that you can't project statistical trends of a population onto an individual.
Each individual must be evaluated for who they are, not by their gender, race, ethnic background, etc. The downside is that we become so politically correct, we ignore obvious trend within a population (such as men and women).
In his best-seller "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", John Gray struck a chord with people everywhere trying to manage stable relationships across lines of gender. When you read the book, you see yourself - because you see how it is that you've been seeing things for all the years you've had an awareness of who you were. If you haven't taken time to at least glance at it, do so - it's a fun read. It's even a fun skim!
On to my real point. One of the differences that have been shown is that one of the reasons men have more difficulty with emotive expression has less to do with sociological factors than with biology. Don't get me wrong - I think that our social structures encourage men to bottle their emotions far too often. What psychologists and medical researchers have discovered is that during gestation, the testosterone "wash" that all males get causes breakdown in the connective fibers between the sides of the brain. As we've seen through testing (primarily with epileptic patients who've had to have the connective tissue severed), the left side of our brain tends to control linear, logical functions, whereas the right side of the brain tends to control emotive, creative aspects.
Women have far more connective nerve fibers with which to "get in touch" with their emotions. Ask a women how she feels about something and you're likely to get a well-articulated answer (unless she's in the throws of that emotion at the time). Ask a typical man, and the most common answer is "I dunno - OK, I guess." The problem for men is, the emotions are there - we just don't fully comprehend them. It takes practice (usually in an affirming relationship), and it takes time.
Have I ever had an incident such as yours where I suddenly started crying, but was immediately embarassed? As they say here in Wisconsin - "You betcha!" I think our embarassment is partly due to the fact that it's not part of our "standard" makeup. The rest is from the social expectations we might have forced on each other. We can't change our biology - we can only adapt to it. We can, I believe, change how we view ourselves and each other.
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