Liveblogging the Capital Punishment Debate

On April 1, 2009, in Uncategorized, by administrator

9:00: It is morally wrong to kill, as Barry is pointing out.

8:58: The judicial system isn’t perfect, Barry is remarking. Because of that, we should not be applying an irreversible punishment. Even Caitlin Halpern, the moderator is joining in the fun, pointing out to the Republicans just how deep the disparities of capital punishment are. African-Americans are 5x as likely to be executed as whites, even controlling for all other factors.

8:56: Great question from the audience to the Republicans–who determines who to die?

8:55: Barry: “All life is sacred. End of story.”

8:52: There’s no moral distinction between different types of killing, as Barry is explaining to Lauren Salz. If someone kills another person, it’s just as bad if the person is part of a firing squad.

8:48: Our system of laws is based on the idea that it’s better to let 100 guilty men go free than to kill 1 innocent man. That’s why we have the Bill of Rights–it’s meant to protect that 1 innocent person who gets wrongly sucked into the criminal justice system. The Nazi German system was based on the opposite, and they even used the reverse as a motto, that it is more important to get that 1 criminal, no matter what happens to innocent bystanders.

8:47: Will: “Statistics never prove anything.” To Hell they don’t. They might not prove causation, but they definitely show what’s going on.

8:47: Barry and Usha are explaining why the death penalty isn’t a deterrent–states with capital punishment don’t have lower crime rates than states without capital punishment. In 1976, capital punishment was reinstituted, and states with the death penalty have had their crime rates increase more than states without capital punishment. As Barry noted, if it’s a deterrent: “What’s wrong with the South?”

8:40: Will: “Anyone have an idea what justice is?” Clearly, he doesn’t.

8:38: Chuck is saying that the recidivism rate for victims of capital punishment is 0. No duh. Once someone is dead, they are dead. Someone who spends their life in jail also can’t kill someone. Finally, Will is responding to the question of how the death penalty promotes justice: “I can’t answer it.”

8:35: Nick Shea is asking a very insightful question–what is justice that both sides claim to be upholding? Will doesn’t know how to answer and he’s showing it. He’s tossing around Kant and philosophers, demonstrating that he has no clue how the death penalty upholds justice. Usha has a great answer that justice is about delivering the best outcome.

8:34: Chuck, the other Republican, is right, life is the highest value. And Barry and Usha are making the very accurate point that the death penalty defeats that very purpose. Will is just being stupid now, insisting that liberty cannot coexist with prisons. Of course people can have freedom while prisons exist for criminals.

8:30: Having debated against Will on multiple occasions, I’m noticing that he seems to have a consistent method of argument–seeming to not understand the complexity of arguments other than his own. I’ll leave you to judge whether it’s feigned or not. Capital punishment is far different than life in prison because once someone is dead, they are dead, even if they were innocent.

8:28: Will seems to simply not realize that there is a fundamental difference between the death penalty and other forms of punishment.

8:20:Usha just delivered a strong argument against the death penalty–government is meant to protect people and the death penalty does exactly that. Both sides are now arguing and Will (one of the Republicans) seems to not understand that the death penalty cannot be reversed while other types of punishment can always be addressed in some way or another if they are misapplied.

8:15: And we’re off! The Republicans have the opening statement. And they’re making an interesting, and morally reprehensible, case–that the death penalty should be used not because it protects us, but because some people deserve to die. It’s a disturbing argument not just because it does not take into account the benefits or disadvantages to society, but because it plainly advocates killing for the sake of killing.