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call for restoration of death penalty

HS Thomas
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Tories call for restoration of death penalty
Thomas Paul
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But the Liberal Democrats said the comments signalled a "shift to the right of terrifying proportions".
You have to love political rhetoric. It is "terrifying" that someone wants to execute brutal serial killers? Just once I would love politicians to says something like, "Our opponents opinion always bears weight with us as we have great respect for them. Although I can understand their frustration we believe that this is the wrong way for the country to head, but perhaps the issue does need to be discussed in a public forum."


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Tim Baker
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thats over a month old and it isn't conservative policy, just one mans opinion.


Kim Jong II (North Korea's Dear Leader) said:Nuclear weapons don't kill people, people kill people.
Steven Broadbent
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The death penalty is over in Britain and it will never be coming back. One of the most important reasons? Someone would be wrongly executed within five years of reintroduction, as obviously as night follows day.


"....bigmouth strikes again, and I've got no right to take my place with the human race...."<p>SCJP 1.4
frank davis
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
The death penalty is over in Britain and it will never be coming back. One of the most important reasons? Someone would be wrongly executed within five years of reintroduction, as obviously as night follows day.

Is the fact that someone will be wrongly executed a valid justification for never executing anyone?
Society seems to accept the death of innocents in many other contexts, why not in the context of justice? For example, we know, as a statistical certaintity that a certain large number of people will be killed on the highways on ayearly basis as a result of the speed limit not being lower than it currently is. We could save hundreds of lives every year by lowering the speedlimit to 40 kph.
Or just as in the case of the death penalty, we could be a truly humane and civilized country by forbidding all motor powered transport and reducing such fatalities to zero. Horses are nice, but sometimes the nasty creatures throw their riders so we'll forbid them also since we're humanitarians.
Tim Baker
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Cars give you a social benefit, executing someone leads to no benefit at all. Often it costs more to execute someone that it does to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives.
Frank Silbermann
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When there is no death penalty and no torture, life in prison becomes the harshest punishment. Now, imagine that you are a jailer who supervises fifty prisoners, five of whom have been sentenced to life in prison. Exactly how do you propose to discipline the five lifers, to ensure that they obey the rules, that they do not try to harm you, that they do not murder and terrorize the other prisoners? _There is absolutely nothing you can do!_ You cannot offer them hope of an earlier release, nor can you offer the threat of greater punishment!
That's why societies without the death penalty have no choice but to offer freedom to murderers who behave well in prison.
Another benefit of the death penalty is that it deters the kind of long-running family/group feuds that exist in the absense of government. I've read that murder is a major cause of death among hunter gatherers, especially when there are no close relatives in common to provide social restraints. Generally, when hunter-gatherer bands meet, violence is always a great danger. When the rise of agriculture increased population density to the point that contact with non-relatives became frequent, widespread bloodshed was suppressed only through the development of religious cults that indoctrinated people into giving the chief a monopoly on the application of vengeance. Of course people could kill in self-defense, but only the chief's men were allowed to kill a murderer after the fact. This prevented frustrated relatives of the deceased from murdering relatives of the murderer, and prevented relatives of the murderer from taking vengeance on vengeance takers.
When government abdicates its role as the source of vengeance, society falls to a lower level of civilization in which people could only rely on their friends and family for vengeance. Given modern population densities, that's a recipe for disaster. And we see it happening, too, as lower class young men organize themselves into gangs for protection, and gang vengeance degenerates into open gang warfare. Because the death penalty is so rarely used in America, we have gangs whose policies are to kill members of rival gangs on sight, if they can.
What good is it to have a "more civilized" government if the result is a less civilized population?
[ December 22, 2003: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
Frank Silbermann
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But the Liberal Democrats said the comments signalled a "shift to the right of terrifying proportions".
You have to love political rhetoric. It is "terrifying" that someone wants to execute brutal serial killers?

I've read that a traditional form of British wit is to understate huge things and overstate small ones. Thus, when a British man gets his arm blown off in the London blitz he says, "It's just a scratch." But then at a party he remarks that his friend a wearing a "frightfully ugly tie."
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
The death penalty is over in Britain and it will never be coming back. One of the most important reasons? Someone would be wrongly executed within five years of reintroduction, as obviously as night follows day.
"As obviously as night follows day"? What leads you to this conclusion? There is no evidence that any innocent people have been executed in the USA since the reinstatement of the death penalty. We have come close but the justice system apparently works to prevent it.
Would you be supportive of the death penalty in cases where there was "no doubt" instead of "no reasonable doubt"? Perhaps the case of a serial rapist/murderer who left his DNA or a killer who is caught on videotape?
frank davis
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Originally posted by Tim Baker:
Cars give you a social benefit, executing someone leads to no benefit at all. Often it costs more to execute someone that it does to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives.


Executing does give both tangible and intangible benefits.
Firstly, there is the intangible benefit of justice. We can start another thread on whether executing mass murders is actually justice and do the Socrates thing on "What Is Justice?" there, but for now we can we accept the fact that excuting people for heinous crimes has long historical precedent as a form of justice in many diverse societies around the world. From the victim's survivors perspectve, and their sympathizers, at least they feel a sense of closure and their outrage and is therefore muted, leading to social stability. Allowing murderers to live shows that the consequences of taking others lives is not so severe, hence cheaping society's view on the value of life. Society needs to show taking a life will be dealt with in the strongest possible way.
Secondly, regarding the tangible benefits. Cost reductions could be achieved depending on the expected life span on the individual. In the case of young mass murders, the cost of housing, feeding, guarding, providing food and medical care for the next 50 years outweighs the cost of a bullet to the head. Now I realize that most of the costs in capital offense cases involves the extra ordinary judicial review and appeals given such cases, but as in the case of the highway deaths vs speed limit cost vs benefit weighing of interests, it is possible that such costs need to be reduced.
It is possible to go too far in such matters such as judicial reviews and appeals; perhaps that is the current state now....
Steven Broadbent
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Because I've been interested in this area long before I got into programming
and I've written several magazine articles on criminal trials.
I was talking in particular about the UK. For why things do and would go wrong, look at a book like the BBC's 'Rough Justice'.
As for the states I'm not an expert but I know there is a lot of info about how poor/uneducated/black people are more likely to end up on Death Row.
DNA evidence will cut out some cock-ups but not all of them.
Steven Broadbent
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I don't have some airy-fairy liberal objection to the death penalty.
Maybe it should be available to those who ask for it. But then again
there have been mentally unstable people who have deliberately got themselves convicted of murder.
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
As for the states I'm not an expert but I know there is a lot of info about how poor/uneducated/black people are more likely to end up on Death Row.
I'm not sure that is an argument for eliminating the death penalty. It sounds more like an argument that we don't execute enough people!
Steven Broadbent
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Sorry I meant innocent ones.... Anyway there is no chance of the death penalty coming back here - ever.
It will probably persist in The US for a long time, especially while Fry'em Bush and his like are around.
BTW is it true he mocked a female death row prisoner's plea for mercy
on a TV broadcast a few years back?
Tim Baker
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There are ways to control prisoners who are in for life. There are many small privelages that prisoners may be awarded whilst inside that can easily be revoked, and those that are violent can easily be confined to solitary. In solitary the bars on the prison do a pretty good job of controlling their behaviour.
And there have been many documented cases of innocent people who have been executed in america, obviously I don't have them to hand, but I'm sure if you looked properly you would find them.
The deterent that is often promoted actually does not exist. If you look at death penalty states vs non dealth penalty states you won't see any significant difference in the rates of the different types of murder.
HS Thomas
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There is the Human rights arguments against capital punishment that this is against one most basic human right - the right to life.
Death by electrocution and lethal injection are not always smooth and painless can actually be a form of torture, causing painful deaths.Keeping prisoners on death row for many years is itself cruel and a form of torture.
The argument for capital punishment that it deters wannabe murderers is also suspect as it has never been demonstrated statistically.
When Canada got rid of the death penalty there was no instant increase in crime. The execution of the innocent argument against capital punishment is based on the fact that legal systems also make some mistakes. Executing the wrong person makes people think the law is unfair.
People numbering towards one hundred have been released from death row in the USA since 1973. They were found to have been wrongly convicted.
A smaller number have been found to be wrongly convicted of murder in the UK. Freed from Death Row
Why the UK wants to recall the death penalty may have more to do with The Terror Act which has enough going for it to sound like overstepping the mark with respect to human rights. Without a doubt many innocent lives will be lost while the debate carries on.
[ December 22, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Tim Baker:
And there have been many documented cases of innocent people who have been executed in america, obviously I don't have them to hand, but I'm sure if you looked properly you would find them.
As I said, I am not aware of any cases since the reinstitution of the death penalty. The system is designed to prevent innocent people from being executed.
Tim Baker
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The UK as a whole doesn't, that story above is just one guy and he has little to no public support on the issue.
Thomas Paul
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Death by electrocution and lethal injection are not always smooth and painless can actually be a form of torture, causing painful deaths.Keeping prisoners on death row for many years is itself cruel and a form of torture.
Although there are claims that lethal injection can be painful, I have seen no evidence to support this claim. Death normally takes less than 2 minutes. I have read that people who are electrocuted feel no pain because there nervous system is blasted. That fits in with the experience of people who have been electrocuted in accidents and have survived. They all describe numbness at first and pain only later from the burns.
The argument for capital punishment that it deters wannabe murderers is also suspect as it has never been demonstrated statistically.
I agree. But since I don't support the death penalty as a deterrent this is irrelevant to me.
People numbering towards one hundred have been released from death row in the USA since 1973. They were found to have been wrongly convicted.
In other words, the system worked. Innocent people were not executed but were eventually freed.
Without a doubt many innocent lives will be lost while the debate carries on.
A properly written death penalty does not have to cause the death of any innocent people.
HS Thomas
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Originally posted by Tim Baker:
The UK as a whole doesn't, that story above is just one guy and he has little to no public support on the issue.

Even though the Tory Party have publicly distanced themselves from the Shadow Home Secretary it could be an attempt to test the waters, gauge the public mood. One terror act and the death penalty could be back ! Not to mention issues hanging in the balance with respect to advances made in the human rights area. Get the mood just right and we could even see the return of public executions.
Paul Stevens
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Guilty people are not sentenced because of juries. We need to get rid of jury trials so this does not happen.
Steven Broadbent
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Public executions....don't make me laugh. Seems like you know nothing about the history of the death penalty and abolition in the UK.

We have had some terrible terrorist outrages here but there was never a serious campaign to bring back the death penalty.
It's about as likely as Posh Spice singing opera at la scala
HS Thomas
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
Public executions....don't make me laugh. Seems like you know nothing about the history of the death penalty and abolition in the UK.
I forgot to add this...
Seems like you know nothing about the history of the death penalty and abolition in the UK.We have had some terrible terrorist outrages here but there was never a serious campaign to bring back the death penalty
Seriously, would you like to remind me and the Shadow Home Minister what there is about that history that will ensure it never returns. I recall reading something about the last murderer executed in Britain was a woman and there was some political scandal.
So if Monica Lewinsky murders Bill Clinton round about the time that Hilary Clinton gets elected in 2008 will the death penalty similarly be abolished in the States? The moral test for Hilary Clinton would be whether to abolish it before or after Monica is executed.
It's about as likely as Posh Spice singing opera at la scala
If that does happen, I read it here first
[ December 22, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
HS Thomas
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The death penalty had been available for five military wartime offences: Serious Misconduct in Action; Communicating with the Enemy; Aiding the Enemy or Furnishing Supplies; Obstructing Operations or Giving False Air Signals; Mutiny, Incitement to Mutiny or Failure to Suppress a Mutiny. The last execution under military law was in 1942. In July 1998, Armed Forces Minister Dr John Reid MP had announced that the Government would repeal the death penalty for military offences - and that this had the support of the military top brass.

The UK Government made an international commitment to the permanent abolition of the death penalty on 20 May 1999, when it ratified Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights. Protocol 6 is an international human rights treaty which commits a government to the permanent abolition of the death penalty. It has been ratified by all other European Union member states.

On 10th December 1999, International Human Rights Day, the UK Government ratified the other international treaty which bans the death penalty, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and completed the journey to total abolition.

This historic transformation marks the end of a long campaign to get Britain to say "never" to the rope. It is also a landmark victory for campaigning by Amnesty International and by other organisations opposed to the death penalty. It follows the abolition of the death penalty for treason and piracy in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act and is part of a global trend which has made massive strides in recent years.
Steven Broadbent
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Posh Spice singing...now that is "Cruel and Unusual punishment"
Frank Silbermann
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"Wrongfully convicted" is not the same as innocent. Often it merely means that there were procedural problems with the trial, e.g. the jury may have seen evidence obtained without a search warrant that the judge normally would keep from the jury to punish police for violating the rules.
And even in cases where a person is convicted of a crime and later discovered to be innocent, usually the convicted person was suspected by the police because he had a pattern of committing similar crimes, and therefore not the kind of person one visualizes when one hears about "an innocent person" being convicted. (E.g. a husband who brutally beats his wife to the point of hospitalization when drunk, who is falsely accused of murdering her when in fact this time she was beaten to death by a burglar.) Cops are not in the habit of picking suspects at random.

Tim Baker: The UK as a whole doesn't, that story above is just one guy and he has little to no public support on the issue.

I've read that a majority of the UK has always favored the death penalty, but people who have been educated at elite universities overwhelmingly oppose it, and they are the ones who run the country.
I believe that British gun control was instituted largely to trick the populace into thinking that something was being done about violent crime so that they wouldn't start demanding a return to the death penalty. That tactic has largely run its course, so what will be the new tactic?
You'll probably end up with more unofficial executions -- convicts who were allowed to be murdered by other criminals (e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer who was killed by other prisoners) or by the arresting police. For example, I vaguely remember a mass shooting recently on the continent -- either France or Switzerland -- in which the shooter was captured alive but managed to "jump out" of a window to his death while in the custody of police. (Does anyone else remember reading about something like that?)
HS Thomas
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"The last executions in Britain were of two men on 13 August 1964. Peter Anthony Allen, aged 21, was hanged in Walton gaol, Liverpool and Gwynne Owen Evans, aged 24, was hanged in Strangeways, Manchester. They were both convicted of the murder of John Alan West, while robbing him in his house on 7 April 1964"
Ruth Ellis was the last woman who received the death penalty in 1955.
The History of Capital Punishment in the UK
It does seem unlikely in the extreme that the death penalty will be revived considering the length of time it took to abolish it.
Steven Broadbent
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The death penalty had been under attack since the 30s in the UK. In 1948 it was suspended for several months by the house of Lords. For the last ten years it was only applied for cases involving robbery, rape or the murder of police/prison officers.
So from 1955 onwards many death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.
Tim Baker
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

I've read that a majority of the UK has always favored the death penalty, but people who have been educated at elite universities overwhelmingly oppose it, and they are the ones who run the country.

Thats funny because I am entirely working class, and so are most of the people I know and we are all against the death penalty. The only people who are really for it are the 'common' people, and when I say that I don't mean they are high in count but they are the lowest common denominator in society, the UK equiv of 'trailer trash'. Most people in the UK believe in human rights, which includes the right to life. Hence why so many people were against the war.
Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

I believe that British gun control was instituted largely to trick the populace into thinking that something was being done about violent crime so that they wouldn't start demanding a return to the death penalty. That tactic has largely run its course, so what will be the new tactic?

Unlike the US the vast majority of the UK populace has no desire to own a firearm, or the belief that they have the right to do so. There are posh country types and farmers who say they need guns, and by the large part they are allowed to have them, with strict regulations. My grandfather has shooting guns and has to keep them very secure, he's never said he resents the laws. In fact in my entire life I've never heard anyone complain about gun controls in the UK. You may say that it has no effect, but I'm pretty sure it does. When the police search someones house and they find a gun, they can arrest the individual and remove the gun. The increase in gun crimes is largely down to the increase in gang activity and a simple case of raising the stakes. Theres has been a lot of media coverage of so called replica guns being converted into live firearms for use, and this has to be a good result of gun control because often these converted replicas will blow up in your hand.
Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

You'll probably end up with more unofficial executions -- convicts who were allowed to be murdered by other criminals (e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer who was killed by other prisoners) or by the arresting police. For example, I vaguely remember a mass shooting recently on the continent -- either France or Switzerland -- in which the shooter was captured alive but managed to "jump out" of a window to his death while in the custody of police. (Does anyone else remember reading about something like that?)

I somehow doubt it, many recent cases in the UK of attempted suicide of major public 'villans' have ended in failure, when obviously the Police / Prisone Guards could easily have left them for longer to die before raising the alarm.
Sadanand Murthy
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

When government abdicates its role as the source of vengeance, society falls to a lower level of civilization in which people could only rely on their friends and family for vengeance.[ December 22, 2003: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]

Wow. And I thought the role of the government was to ensure that justice was done. There is a huge difference between justice & vengeance. Look at the case of John Hinkley Jr & the furore his parole has caused to understand the difference.
When we start using vengeance as the reason to prosecute someone; to execute someone then we are no longer capable of the most human of all emotions & virtues - compassion.
Seems to me that a nation (I'm evidently talking about US) that was founded on the Christian principles, a nation where a large segment of the population (if not the majority) that subscribe to the teachings of Jesus Christ - the Personification of Compassion who would forgive his tormentors & executioners and who exhorted his followers to follow his principles - is paradoxically blood thirsty.


Ever Existing, Ever Conscious, Ever-new Bliss
HS Thomas
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This may come as a surprise to many Brits but Amnesty International the human rights movement headquartered in London have conducted some kind of poll/survey . Apparently many Europeans and Canadians would vote for the death penalty if it was put to the poll....Joshua Micah Marshall writes in The New Republic Online
[ December 22, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Mike Curwen
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
After quoting: As for the states I'm not an expert but I know there is a lot of info about how poor/uneducated/black people are more likely to end up on Death Row.

I'm not sure that is an argument for eliminating the death penalty. It sounds more like an argument that we don't execute enough people!

Yah! Let's kill more ignorant poor minorities! That'll show 'em!! (Or did I miss something in translation?) Perhaps you meant just 'more people' regardless of the 3 factors in question. But then you say you're not supporting the Death Penalty as a deterrent. So i'm a bit confused.

Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Is the fact that someone will be wrongly executed a valid justification for never executing anyone?


Variants:
"what about the case where there is absolutely no doubt?"
"what about an uncoerced confession?"

I think on this issue, and many other 'hot button' issues, people tend towards absolutes. It really has a way of apparently destabilising a position. If you're defending one side of an issue and an opposing voice comes up with the 'logical ( sometimes ridiculous ) extrapolation/conclusion', then your position seems to waver when you refuse to give it the solid defense you did a moment ago. (Is this a really old trick or what? It even applies to software development, right?). And if you do give it a full gusto defense, then you run the risk of being passed off as a bit of a fanatic, unable to observe nuance, and unwilling to give, even just a LITTLE, in the face of such an overwhelming and 'obvious' counter-argument.

examples, that can be extrapolated from "never executing anyone":
"surely Hitler deserved death"
"surely Osama deserves death"
"surely Tim McVeigh deserves (desires) death"

My own very humble opinion is that whether or not anyone *deserves* to die is besides the point. It's whether or not any one of us has the right to take it. I've never cottoned to the idea that 'the state' can somehow reserve this 'right', while the rest of us would get arrested, and possibly share the same fate as our vicitim, if we were to perpetrate the same act, regardless of motivation or 'rightness'.

As for the fact that the US Justice system has apparently cleaned up its act, and mistaken executions have been "virtually eliminated", while they've come "close" perhaps a few times, but never *actually* made the ultimate blunder... Well, champagne toasts all around. (Fallacy by heartfelt derision??)
Steven Broadbent
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The guy who jumped out of the window was in France I believe.
Here we don't believe we have the "right to bear arms" or any such nonsense.

Why does anyone want to own sub-machine guns, high powered shotguns and god knows what else? - the reasons will rarely be comforting.
Anyway the UK is much smaller, so it's much harder to set up your own
freedom compound Idaho style!
HS Thomas
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
The guy who jumped out of the window was in France I believe.
Anyway the UK is much smaller, so it's much harder to set up your own
freedom compound Idaho style!

I was unpackig some crockery and happened to read this..
Quoted from a letter to the Times.
" Thank you for including Eel Pie Island as a possible concentration camp for asylum seekers. As chairman of the Eel Pie Island Association I can confirm that the island is not 1500 but a mere 550 metres long , with it's bird sanctuary at each end , four dozen houses, two dozen houseboats, a dozen studios and small businesses , three boatyards, two boating clubs and a footbridge.
It would therefore be a little difficult to accomodate 20,000 refugees, even on a standing-room-only basis though no doubt they would be glad to jump in the Thames on hot days (at spring tides their feet would be covered in water anyway). So not in our backyard thank you - we don't have one.
Dan van der Vat, Eel Pie Island, Middlesex."
Richard Hawkes
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I say burn 'em or bury 'em alive. Why be humane?
Richard Hawkes
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
Why does anyone want to own sub-machine guns, high powered shotguns and god knows what else? - Because its fun to shoot stuff!
Anyway the UK is much smaller, so it's much harder to set up your own
freedom compound Idaho style! - Ever been to Somerset?
Steven Broadbent
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Not wan it be near the zummer zolstis. Don't want to end up as a human sacrifice....( only kidding !!!)
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Mike Curwen:
Yah! Let's kill more ignorant poor minorities! That'll show 'em!! (Or did I miss something in translation?) Perhaps you meant just 'more people' regardless of the 3 factors in question. But then you say you're not supporting the Death Penalty as a deterrent. So i'm a bit confused.

I think you missed the point, Mike. The previous post had suggested that too many minorities were being executed. The obvious solution is too execute more white people, isn't it? Looking at the stats I also noticed that women are woefully under-represented on death row so we will need to execute more women as well.
I do not think the death penalty is a deterrent. I think it is justice.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mike Curwen:


I've never cottoned to the idea that 'the state' can somehow reserve this 'right', while the rest of us would get arrested, and possibly share the same fate as our vicitim, if we were to perpetrate the same act, regardless of motivation or 'rightness'.


Are you saying the state should not have rights to do what individuals do not have rights to do ?
Would this include national defense and other war making functions that involve the taking of life? Remember, a peaceful surrender would save lives and would therefore br the humanitarian thing to do.
From a broader perspective, this view of rights seems to undermine any authority of the state, and therefore even prohibit imprisonment, etc, and logically lead to anarchy.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

I think you missed the point, Mike. The previous post had suggested that too many minorities were being executed. The obvious solution is too execute more white people, isn't it? Looking at the stats I also noticed that women are woefully under-represented on death row so we will need to execute more women as well.
I do not think the death penalty is a deterrent. I think it is justice.

Both sides need to keep an open mind on this sub-debate; if minorities are committing a disproportionate share of murders, it is posssible that executing even more (depending on the numbers) would serve the interests of justice.
 
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subject: call for restoration of death penalty