Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joseph Edward Duncan III

My heart goes out the the victims and the surviving family members. The picture of Dylan Groene and the description of what was done to him is enough to make the staunchest anti-death penalty person think twice. As one of them, I wish to express my deepest condolences to all those affected by this terrible crime. In commenting on the merits of the death penalty for Mr. Duncan, I intend no disrespect to anyone involved, also to those not directly involved who are passionate about this issue.

CNN reports the story today because the Idaho federal jury in Boise found Joseph Edward Duncan III eligible for the death penalty. His crimes are as bad or worse than other cases we've discussed recently, here and here. Nevertheless, my position remains unchanged. I cannot condone capital punishment, period. It is state sanctioned murder, completely premeditated and exactly what is proscribed in every set of laws from the Ten Commandments of Moses to the Magna Carta to the United States Constitution. The USA in the 21st century should not need to resort to barbaric practices like this to protect its citizens.

So why are we still doing it then? I believe the answer can be seen in this.

The slain boy's father, Steven Groene, and other family supporters embraced after the verdict but seemed to keep their emotions in check.

It's revenge, payback, whatever you want to call it, but I don't believe it's about justice. These "emotions" they held in check are completely understandable to me, at least as understandable as is possible for an outsider who, than God, has never had to face anything like this. I can understand the desire for revenge; I could even imagine committing murder myself in that situation. But what I can't accept is the government doing it and dressing it up as something justified and wholesome and legal.


  1. While I totally respect your stance on this issue (And whole-heartily disagree) I must take issue with this statement you have said again and again on this subject:
    "It is state sanctioned murder..."

    Murder: Noun: "the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought"

    There is a huge reason why many people take issue with the translation of the Sixth Commandment of the old testiment. It translates to "Thall Shall Not Murder" opposed to "...Shall Not Kill."

    Killing is done constantly in the bible...some good, some bad. Of course killing an animal isn't murder, and killing somebody in self defense isn't murder, even killing somebody though negligence may not been seen in the law as murder (rather manslaughter).

    If you end another person's life you are a killer by definition, but to call a killing a Murder as a synonym would be lumping police officers protecting us all, a woman stopping a rape, and monsters like Charles Manson into the same group.

    Like it or not, the death penalty IS legal, and can only be carried out in certain sanctioned ways, with certain methods, and with a conviction that falls under the proper statute.

    It is the FURTHEST thing from murder.

  2. You're absolutely right, Weer'd. I should have written "state sanctioned killing." In fact I don't like it when people use purposefully inflammatory language to make their point. If a person's got a decent point, they should make it without resorting to tricks.

  3. I'm glad you see it that way too, Mike.

    And, Yes, it IS State Sanctioned Killing, no doubt about it. And Personally with the current system I think its MORE fair for the Criminal than the State...or society as a whole.

    I can understand why you'd think it more on Par with Revenge than Justice...I think of it more in terms of this:

    Some people are just too screwed up to ever fix (Weather it was a horrible child hood, or mental illness, or just pure malice is unimportant at this level of discussion) and those people can NEVER be trusted around the innocent for the safety of the individual or society as a whole. Therefore those people should never be allowed into free society...EVER.

    When you get down to this, I'd rather no keep feeding and housing them....simple as that.

    As for "What would be worse" you never find a criminal advocacy group campaigning for the Death Penalty as a better alternative to Life in Prison....

  4. All Law Enforcement eventually comes to "state sanctioned murder" so I don't see where you are coming from.

    If you break a law, you will be at minimum, cited and or fined. If you ignore said governmental actions, you will be arrested and or imprisoned, if one attempts to escape imprisonment the guards are allowed to shoot you.

    Sometimes they skip steps and go directly to state sanctioned murder such as in Waco where the Branch Davidians were thought to be guilty of $10,000US in unpaid firearms registration and transfer taxes. 80 people and 4 Federal agents died over $10,000US. I bet you never thought about it that way.

    All governmental power eventually comes from the barrel of a gun, doesn't matter how you wish to slice and dice it, but it's true.

    At least using the death penalty in capital crimes gets rid of some of the scum of the earth that would likely be inclined towards recidivism anyway.

    When it's all boiled down, all government's authorities are based on the premise of the legality, and they would argue necessity, for legal murder of their citizens.

    It's been the same ever since there has been government, just the methods of murder have varied.

  5. By the way, you should read THIS sometime.

    Pretty well covers "state sanctioned" killing of citizens.

    Thoughts from the other side of your fence that you might find very instructive.

  6. Thomas, Thanks so much for your comments and especially for that link. I did find it very "instructive" and attractive. I have a deep distrust and dislike of the federal government and often revel in the fact that I live in Europe and can watch the madness from afar. Nevertheless, I still consider myself American and (not so proudly) hold the passport. I became very disillusioned during the Viet Nam period and turned my back on all things political. Only in these last few years has my interest come alive again. Then I started listening to the speeches of Obama and, racist Italian-American from New Jersey that I am, began to get excited. I very well may be suffering from naiveté, but I'm hoping he can change things around, world opinion of the US for one thing.

  7. Off topic, But I'm curious: As you can tell from my posts as well, I'm also distrustful of the govenment, and really would like to see it cut down to size (not only for the sake of fiscal responsibility...but also to make the government and the people more on an even scale)

    How do you feel about your nation of residence's involvement in the EU?

    I see that as scary big-government of the worst kind, but then again I'm over here, and you're over there... (Maybe a separate post on the subject so this doesn't become a hijack)

  8. I don't pay much attention to the politics over here. Deep down, I'm American. One thing about Italy's joining the EU is, as I'd heard at the time from people in the know, questionable at best. Some said they must have had to cheat in order to qualify. They had to fudge the numbers concerning inflation and GNP, etc. That wouldn't surprise me since disorganization and corruption is rampant. As you mentioned, the potential for Big Brother abuses is certainly there. Let's see what the next 20 years brings.