News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus Mail Starting 2/5/98

From: sakett@garlic.com (Shannon);
Sent at Fri, 06 Feb 1998 00:59:31 -0700;
Re:Forgive Her

I am not a religious person. I grew up going to church and liked/loved and hated it at times. My mother said to me that God puts us here for a purpose, and when we do it then he takes us home. I think God missed Karla Faye Tucker so much he took her home. Maybe her death was a lesson to me, you or everybody. I don't know.

From: alecs@microsoft.com (Alec Saunders);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 22:16:56 -0800;
Re:Forgive Her

This is about reason too.

Here is a case where the death penalty failed. Advocates claim that it's a deterrent, yet it didn't deter Karla Faye Tucker, nor apparently does it deter others. Texas claims both the highest execution rates, and the highest murder rates in the country. Some deterrent! Advocates claim that the death penalty protects society from individuals who are beyond redemption, yet Karla Faye was not just rehabilitated, but willing to spend the rest of her life behind bars ministering to others to atone for her crimes. Who are we to say that an individual is beyond redemption?

The barbarism of the death penalty is that it judges each person to be no better than the worst thing which they have ever done, and then exacts a terrible, irreversible, final punishment.

How many more Karla Faye Tuckers are waiting on death row in the nation's prisons? Karla Faye admitted her crimes, but how many innocents are waiting the final judgement? How many lack the advantage of being pretty, articulate, female, or white, and will go silently to their deaths?

I have long been ambivalent about the death penalty. I'm thankful to Karla Faye Tucker. She helped me to see the death penalty for what it is - societally sanctioned murder.

From: rickeame@microsoft.com (Rick Eames);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 17:22:31 -0800 ;
Christians and Capital Punishment

To the Christians who believe that the death penalty is right -- do you really believe that Jesus, a man who was put to the death, would approve of this form of punishment? If he were here, do you think he'd be right there with you cheering the death of Karla? Somehow, I think not. So how can you support it?

I have been very depressed in recent weeks. Depressed over a society that will cheer the death of a human being, over a society that says they don't care if a President lies to them, and over a society that would rather their children see heads blown off than see a naked breast. I'm pretty sure that America is not the kind of place I would choose to live in if I hadn't been born here. THAT depresses me even more.

From: jevans@shokt.com (Jeff Evans);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 17:20:06 -0800;
Re:Forgive Her

I'm from NJ.

I've lived in Austin, Texas for 8 years now.

The other day I started thinking of moving.

I won't. Texas needs more love :).

I am a little sad and shaken. A poll here on Monday indicated that almost 70% of Texans were all for executing Karla Fay Tucker.

I turned on CNN at 5pm on Tuesday - Texas time. I watched the Reverend Jerry Falwell interviewed on CNN at 6. He was the most powerful of them all. Usually I tune him and others of his "ilk" out because he represents a fear-based approach to God. He revealed that at his core he is indeed a man of peace and love. And that's what counts. He's just doing his best to unfold that in his life and in others.

He was so real. I was stunned when he said that other "Christian" ministers were telling him he was off base.

He was right on. He listened to his heart of hearts and didn't deny his feelings.

When they cut to Governor Bush and his pronouncement you could see Nature's dismay in the shadow of his aura and in the lines of his face. He could have been noble and inspiring. Instead he was only a petty and predictable politician. What a terrible place he must have been in. He seemed a gentle man at odds with his heart.

And that aetheist lady that CNN interviewed that evening who wrote "Vamps & Tramps" who believes that revenge is good. What is her trip?

You can look at a face and tell. You can feel and know the love in another from a look or from a few spoken words. You can tell at that time if they are a force of light or darkness upon Earth. It freaks me that there is so much anger in the world. It's the kind of collective stress that results in the outbreak of war among nations and peoples.

It wasn't a choice of letting Karla Fay out of prison or execution her. She could have done plenty of good for others for the rest of her life in and from prison. She screwed up as a 16 year old junkie. Big time.

What a waste all around.

From: ericdh@tiac.net (Eric Hendrickson);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 17:22:20 -0800;
Re:Forgive Her

Before I go on, let me state that I don't necessarily disagree with you on the death penalty issue. In fact I used to be strongly opposed to the death penalty for much the same reasons you state. I felt it was wrong for (mere) people to take another person's life for *any* reason, including justice. (Not only that, but secondarily it's actually *cheaper* to keep a person in prison for life than to execute them, due to all the legal bills from death row appeals, etc.)

I still feel that way, and that was my strong position for many years, until just recently I read How I Survived the Unabomber, which gave me a different perspective on the death penalty. That is, putting the offender to death is society's way of paying respect to those who were murdered.

However, some people really get into the "revenge" and "anger" side of the death penalty, such as the people who cheered outside the courthouse when word went out that she was dead. I can't imagine cheering over any death, and I don't identify with those people at all, including those who would tell someone else to shut up because they don't agree with them.

So I'm not strongly opinionated either way anymore.

As for Karla Faye Tucker, I tend to see her death as justice just like any other death row inmate. Even though I *hate* seeing women get killed in movies (I get this urge to protect them valiantly, wishing I could be there to help), I prefer not to think of her differently in this case because she is a woman. She killed those people just like a man would, and should be treated as such IMHO.

I was watching an episode of "Politically Incorrect" a few days ago, and they were talking about this case. One of the guests made the comment that the Son of Sam is on death row in New York, and he claims to be a changed person and a born-again Christian now too, just like Karla. Only he says he knows what he did was horrible and wouldn't ask society to trust him again with freedom after that. He in fact insists that he should be put to death. The guest went on to say that he puts more stock in an attitude like that than in Karla's pleas to be let go, and I agree.

From: cshotton@biap.com (Chuck Shotton);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 18:09:39 -0600;
Karla Faye's follow-up

You lamented the lack of follow-up coverage to the Karla Faye Tucker execution. There's definitely no lack of follow-up here in Texas and I had to do a double-take tonight when the local news read the letter she wrote the night before she died.

Surprisingly, she said almost exactly the same thing I did in my comments about Plato's Republic a few days ago. Check out the details on the Houston Chronicle website.

From: David.Varney@email.moore.com (David.Varney);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 18:03:44 -0600;
DaveNet & the thinking developer

I read your writings on a semi-regular basis. It must be very rewarding to be able to throw your ideas out and get the feedback you do.

Just a few thoughts that occurred while reading today.

Some people think that developers shouldn't be wasting time reading "non-programming" stuff on the net...they should focus on the task at hand. I think they are the ones who manage projects that have no soul or creativity. And their documentation probably sucks too.

Your thoughts about the business are interesting. I used to have feelings similar to yours about how business works, motives, BIG guy vs. little guy, etc. Then I went to school to work on an MBA. Now I understand the motivation of the other side, but it hasn't altered my opinions much. It must have something to do with idealism.

And last, the platform wars. I started computing life on a PC, then a Mac. I invested a lot into the Mac world. I listened to all the stuff flying back and forth about who was better, and believed some of it.

One day my kids, ages 3 and 4 started using computers. They tried my Mac and my PC. I realized they did not care one damn bit if they were using a PC, Mac, or an Apple II. It was just a computer to them; a mouse, keyboard, screen, and something interesting to do. That put it in perspective for me. It made a lot of people sound like idiots, and validated some of the other ideas I had.

Those same thoughts were reinforced at the local hardware one day. Two workmen were arguing over what power tool brand was better. I was trying to figure out if it made any difference when they built my house. Mentally I envisioned two writers from Windows and Macworld magazines.

Its just a tool.

From: RGB555@aol.com;
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 18:39:48 EST;
Re:Forgive Her

I remain, and always have been, morally opposed to the idea of the death penalty.

But, as I watched the recent events play out that ended with Karla's execution, I was surprised at how my heart responded to what I learned.

I fear that we allow the softening of time to allow ourselves to focus on HER redemption and the value or HER life. I think for me the point is that no matter how far back in her life you must go to find the choices that led to her actions, she alone must carry the weight of responsibility for what she did. Karla had something that her victims did not: The time to deal with what happened. Did she deserve to have the time to find redemption?

That poor woman, who's face I will never see, hiding beneath her sheets. It is her that cries out to me. What Karla recently went though simply does not affect me as much.

Did I find peace with the execution? No. But it did feel inevitable. If it were my place to do so, could I forgive Karla for what she did? No. I wish that I could.

From: seaf@epix.net (Terrence Seaford);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 15:23:24 -0800;
Re:Forgive Her

I've adopted your "of, by and for the people" argument. I accept that I have blood on my hands. This secular logic dovetails nicely with my faith. God says all sin is... sin. He doesn't differentiate. He also tells us we should not kill. On the other hand, execution could be considered the ultimate "rendering unto Caesar that which is Caeser's".

You're right. Capital punishment is wrong. But what a witness Karla Faye presented! Her end, her beginning. Praise God.

Perhaps this dialogue can gain some positive momentum when we stop considering ourselves victims. Or when we achieve the gift of being able to look beyond ourselves, to embrace the concept of absolutes... to render unto God that which is His.

You're a complex dude, dude.

From: mnorman@princeton.com (Michael Norman);
Sent at Thu, 05 Feb 1998 17:54:34 -0500;
Frontier performance on G3 vs P2

Wouldn't this simply show the bottleneck to be in the MacOS rather than the PowerPC? How much do you think the file system slows the odb down?

I don't think the file system slows down the odb that much. And are Apple's claims honorable if it doesn't mean a performance improvement for users? What's the point of having a faster CPU if it's hobbled by an inefficient operating system? Let's find out. DW

From: gvaughn@roughstock.com (Greg Vaughn);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 16:07:49 -0600;
Re:Forgive Her

I'm a bit concerned as I write this. You wrote "you can't reason with me". I'm concerned that your mind is closed. However, I was pleased to see that you did publish alternate opinions in the Mail section, so perhaps you are not. I'd like to throw my interpretation of this issue into the pot.

I found myself both happy and sad by some of the things you said in Forgive Her -- sometimes consecutive sentences made the jump in emotion. To let you know where I'm coming from, I'm an 8th generation Texan and a Christian and I believe in the death penalty. The root issue of all of this is really responsibility and justice. Karla Faye Tucker committed murder and has to be held responsible for that. Sometimes saying "I'm sorry", no matter how sincere, just doesn't cut it.

Religious conversion and genuine sorrow for past actions are not something the government can objectively verify, nor should they try. Even if they could, it does not relieve someone of responsibility for their actions. It would be quite possible for someone to fake. I wasn't certain until she faced her death (with great dignity, I might add) and gave her last words that she was not faking. My soul soared when I heard her final words. I knew at that point that she had been granted forgiveness by the God we share and she was going to join Him in heaven. Her death and last words glorified Him. She hoped her death would ease the pain and provide closure for the family and loved ones of the ones she murdered. She accepted responsibility for her actions and gained my respect.

I know that religion is not a popular topic of conversation, but it is extremely relevant in this situation. Christians believe that forgiveness of all sins is available to anyone who asks with an honest heart. This forgiveness allows their soul to have a place in heaven. Once someone asks for and receives this, physical death becomes much less scary.

Her soul received forgiveness from her God, but her physical body was executed in the name of justice by human society. I am pleased on both accounts. I continue to pray for the families and loved ones of her victims. I hope that her death and the intervention of God can finally bring them peace. I also pray for all of those angered by her death. I hope they can cherish the time and lessons they learned from her and that they can understand the purpose of her death and the safety of her soul in her last words.

From: bcox@gmu.edu (Brad Cox);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 12:09:29 -0800;
Re:Forgive Her

Those of you who wanted death, you now have it. What do you say? Teach us. Does her death give you a sense of peace?

Yes. But not on any high-minded moral grounds.

There's simply one more axe-murderer among us, one less criminal to feed and clothe with our taxes, one less to worry about ever returning to our midst.

From: schooley@ee.gatech.edu (David C. Schooley);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 15:00:17 -0500;
Re:Forgive Her

Every society has the right to establish the rules by which its members must conduct themselves. It doesn't matter whether that society is a nation-state such as the USA, the state of Texas, or the Southern Ladies Canasta Club. Along with the right to define the rules, each society also has the right to specify the penalties that will result from misconduct.

We as individuals may not like particular rules or penalties, but we must accept the fact that violating those rules will result in the specified penalty. When we don't like the rules in a free society, we have the right to leave, or we can work to change the rules.

The Canasta club may choose to evict members who cheat or are otherwise disruptive. The Canasta club may also establish procedures for restoring the status of an evicted member. The laws of the state of Texas say that you must not commit murder. Those same laws say that if you are convicted of capital murder, then the penalty is your own death.

Just as the Canasta club may have a procedure for restoring members to citizenship, Texas has conditions and procedures that allow an applied death penalty to be commuted to something less final. Karla Faye Tucker's religious conversion did not meet the conditions necessary to have her sentence commuted. I believe that Gov. Bush's decision was the correct one, even though I share Ms. Tucker's religious beliefs. A decision to commute her sentence based solely on her apparent change of heart, mind, and soul would have set a dangerous precedent and would have perhaps itself violated the law. Do we release every convicted felon who professes a religious conversion? Had Ms. Tucker's sentence been commuted, she would have been eligible for parole in five years. Do we make the decision based on a particular religion? I don't think Pat Robertson would have given her a second thought had her conversion had been to Islam instead of Christianity. Did society fail in its obligations to Ms. Tucker? Yes, but not by executing her. She herself said that there was a time, early in her life, where her life's path could have changed had somebody noticed that there was a problem and cared enough to do something about it.

Having said all of that, yes, I was very much saddened by her death. I arrived back in my office a little after 7:00 p.m. EST Tuesday evening after teaching a class. The time is significant because that's when her execution was scheduled to begin. The first thing I did was check CNN's web site, hoping that, somehow, there had been a last-minute reprieve. The page initially said that her final appeal had been denied. A short time later, it said that her execution was in progress.

A short time later, I had to take a long walk out to my car. It was dark, cold, and raining. The lousy weather only accentuated the feeling that a light had been snuffed out in a world where darkness is too often allowed to flourish.

From: jonathan@webware-inc.com (Jonathan Peterson);
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 10:33:21 -0800;
Re:Forgive Her

I don't really think something as emotional as the death penalty can be fairly handled by the government. Vengeance is part of the death penalty's justification; when potential jurors who are not vengeful are removed by the prosecutor prior to a trial ("Could you sentence this person to death?") the people best able to objectively decide (the jury) are already weighted towards vengeance. Name making prosecutors and legal oversights (Ms. Tucker's sentence couldn't be commuted to life without parole) force the hand of the jury.

Perhaps Ms. Tucker will be the sacrificial lamb for the US which changes public opinion, as Derek Bentley was for the British death penalty. I don't know that I, or the rest of the US, care to think too long and hard about what it might say about US culture that the execution of a white, born-again Christian woman had to be the catalyst for such change. But you are right, we should think about it.

From: trebor@animeigo.com (Robert J. Woodhead (AnimEigo));
Sent at Thu, 5 Feb 1998 09:30:43 -0800;
Re:Forgive Her

David, I, like you, am opposed to the death penalty -- though perhaps not for the same reasons as you.

I firmly believe that there are some people who commit crimes so unspeakably vile as to deserve to be put to death. I also firmly believe that in almost all cases, they should not be executed, for the following reasons:

Economic : the total cost of warehousing someone for the rest of his/her life (say, $30K a year) is perhaps $300-500K. This is less than the total cost of the appeals process.

Punishment : I believe that putting someone in jail until death, without possibility of parole, is a harsher punishment than execution; particularly if they do not find:

Redemption : There is always the chance that the prisoner may find redemption during the incarceration, and thus make some contribution to society, however small. Not that this means that he or she ought to get out.

Justice : there is always the chance that an innocent person might be executed; this must be avoided for the sake of justice.

Therefore, my position is that the death penalty should be abolished, and replaced with life w/o possibility of parole. They should only get out if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a pardon from the governor or president

From: jgerdes@stclair.k12.il.us (jgerdes);
Sent at Thu, 05 Feb 1998 10:54:26 -0600;
Hello, and Bravo!

This is a large thank you for your article on the death penalty. I appreciated it both in substance and tone. My own view is that there is both a moral objection to the death penalty, and a much more subtle one, entrenched in the vision of what a government is.

My view of the death government is filtered through my vision of government, which is this. Government is a tool, an institutional tool created by the people (in a democracy or a republic). The underpinnings of this tool require a derivation of the "moral right to govern." The aggregate of the people acting in comity is only a part of this, adduced often in the phrase "democracy protects the minority from the majority." Therefore, my belief is that a government must represent not the least common denominator of a people, but rather, a synergetic best, an ideal in practice. Lincoln referred to this with far greater poetry than I (though I have published poetry, in fact) in referring to our "better angels." This I believe a government must be.

Therefore, whereas I would genuinely understand the need for revenge or closure for an individual or family who suffered a loss due to a murderer, I insist the state must be above these honest but base emotions. The state, if you will allow a general semantics analogy, must represent the hypo-thalamic pause, the processing of the baser emotions of the mid-brain into the more lofty thoughts of the cortex.

As such, whereas I'd counsel the utmost mercy for an individual who, grief-stricken and desolate, took revenge, I must state that absolutely the crown, the state, the government, the body-politic, in short, no form of government, ought to have the right to take a life (I would recuse honest defensive military action as self-defense). No government ought to derive the moral imperative to govern absent being above the best of its people. The synergy requisite for the moral imperative to govern, I believe, is no less than an absolute, unreserved positioning of said state as--without exception--better than, and more reasoned than, our lesser angels,to bastardize Lincoln.

As such, my opposition to the death penalty is not only one of morality and one of logic, but one of fundamental governmenal theory.

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