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Capital punishment a constitutional right?

 
 
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 02:44 pm
If we have the right to safety, pursuit of happiness and life it self. doesn't that mean capital punishment must exist? it aids in these things. less murderers mean that more people are safe, pursuing happiness and living too.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,748 • Replies: 53
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Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 03:02 pm
@OntheWindowStand,
Can I ask what constitution you found these rights in?
avatar6v7
 
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Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 03:53 pm
@Theaetetus,
The USA by the sound of it. Capital punishment was neccersary in earlier more chaotic times, but in modern nations it is positivly barbaric. But of course the very hideous moderness of the methods- electrocution, lethal injection, somehow make the matter all the more terrribly barbarous. Public executions have been stopped in the US not because it has advanced but because people are no longer willing to see the truth about their society.
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OntheWindowStand
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 03:54 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
Can I ask what constitution you found these rights in?

Where you from :whoa-dude:
avatar6v7
 
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Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 04:00 pm
@OntheWindowStand,
OntheWindowStand wrote:
Where you from :whoa-dude:

well there are other countries than the USA. You do realise that don't you?
Also he may well be aware what country you are talking about, but resent your casual assumption that the constitution would altomatically mean the US constitution.
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Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 04:06 pm
@OntheWindowStand,
Considering the US Constitution has no mention of individual rights I figured that one was out. If by the constitution, you mean the Declaration of Independence, then that is out as well because that grants life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
avatar6v7
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 04:18 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
Considering the US Constitution has no mention of individual rights I figured that one was out. If by the constitution, you mean the Declaration of Independence, then that is out as well because that grants life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I don't know, all these obscure American documents kind of merge into one after a while.
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Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 04:52 pm
@OntheWindowStand,
To Americans they should not be obscure. To think that the government teaches students K-12 and they know absolutely nothing about the three most important documents in the country (even if only symbolically) says how incompetent the compulsory education system is.

Not to mention the whole life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is nearly a 250 year old cliche.
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 07:50 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
Considering the US Constitution has no mention of individual rights I figured that one was out. If by the constitution, you mean the Declaration of Independence, then that is out as well because that grants life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


Except that the US Constitution makes mention of quite a few individual rights. You might check out the first ten amendments to said document, the thirteenth, the fourteenth, fifteenth, nineteenth, twenty-fourth, and the twenty-sixth amendments as well.

Of course, these amendments are not always recognized, but they do exist.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 08:08 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Except that the US Constitution makes mention of quite a few individual rights. You might check out the first ten amendments to said document, the thirteenth, the fourteenth, fifteenth, nineteenth, twenty-fourth, and the twenty-sixth amendments as well.

Of course, these amendments are not always recognized, but they do exist.


You are correct on the amendments but I was talking about the Constitution before the Bill of Rights began amending the Constitution. I was not being clear on my divide there. My fault I did not make that clear. Anyway though it is irrelevant because no where does it mention the original rights as posted by the thread starter.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 08:12 pm
@Theaetetus,
Well, the Bill of Right is original to the Constitution. That was the compromise. The Jeffersonians, led by Madison, agreed to vote in favor of the Constitution without the Bill of Rights provided that the immediate next order of business was passing the Bill of Rights. The Federalists agreed.

But, you are right about capital punishment. The Constitution does not guarantee capital punishment. I can't even see an argument, stemming from the Constitution, that would protect capital punishment. If anything, the "cruel and unusual" clause would help give credit to arguments in favor of abolishing capital punishment.
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 08:32 pm
@OntheWindowStand,
Didn't the Bill of Rights come a few years after the Constitution? Anyway it doesn't really matter since the amendment are a part of the U.S. Constitution.

To me capital punishment defeats the possibility of a truly democratic society. I think I agree with you that the "cruel and unusual" would eliminate the possibility that capital punishment could be a constitutional right.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 08:47 pm
@Theaetetus,
They took effect a few years later because the individual states had to ratify the amendments, but they were introduced to the First Congress in 1789.

The "cruel and unusual" clause is a difficult argument. Certainly, capital punishment is cruel, but capital punishment is not unusual. It becomes unusual when society wants it to be unusual. Though, we're on the same page regarding capital punishment. You might laugh, as I often do even thinking about it, but I also go back to something Gandalf said in LOtR: "Not even the wise can see all ends" He said that when the Hobbits (Frodo or Sam, if I recall) suggested that Gollum be killed.
avatar6v7
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 10:44 am
@Didymos Thomas,
It seems to me that what the constitution or any other documents says is relevent only in as much as it teachs us about right and wrong, and in this case we should look to the tradition of amendment- we should change our laws based on morality, not the other way round.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2008 05:57 am
@avatar6v7,
Now that we've fleshed out the documents, perhaps a redirect back to the topic at hand is in oder (or more accurately its intent).

OntheWindowStand wrote:
If we have the right to safety, pursuit of happiness and life it self. doesn't that mean capital punishment must exist?


You do see the contradiction here, don't you? In that first sentence saying, "... we have the right to life" and then "... capital punishment must exist". Unless your basis is that by committing some offense, therein someone gives up their right to life. If I murder someone else, do I no longer have the 'right to live'? If you believe this, you're not alone.

OntheWindowStand wrote:
... it aids in these things. less murderers mean that more people are safe, pursuing happiness and living too.


Quantitatively, I think this is a superficially-correct statement: Take 10 murderers, kill one and now you have 9; all things being equal, you'd have 10% less murders. This is one of the 'justifications' for Capital Punishment; murder the murderer and more people live (I think the other two I've heard have to do with 'deterrence' and 'retribution' - I put these in quotes because both notions are fraught with controversy).

My Opinion: The arguments against Capital Punishment are many and varied. I think that the one that most strikes me is the element of Human Imperfection in administering justice; are we sure that Joe is guilty? Is it better to have 1 in 10 guilty murderers go free or accidentally execute one innocent? What if you (or your spouse, or mother, or father) was that one innocent? How about this: Does anyone believe the U.S. Justice System can even reach a 90% accurate-conviction rate? Ugh.. Trying to numerically quantify human worth, in my opinion, is way-flawed.

No, I don't think capital punishment can ever be justified in human terms. My value system puts human life on a very high plain. Remove them... for sure, but killing the killer is hypocritical and unethical (again, in my humble opinion).

I hope this adds to the discussion well - thanks.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2008 08:24 am
@Khethil,
when you got hanged for stealing a sheep or a lamb then ide murder the law makers but who would judge my actions ? the law makers? the law is not right or wrong its just the law...Morality should be our view not the law..We are or should be law makers we are the moralility that makes the law..
avatar6v7
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Dec, 2008 04:47 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
when you got hanged for stealing a sheep or a lamb then ide murder the law makers but who would judge my actions ? the law makers? the law is not right or wrong its just the law...Morality should be our view not the law..We are or should be law makers we are the moralility that makes the law..

If the law is not measured against an absolute then what is the basis upon which we create laws? What is the justification of law?
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Dec, 2008 09:11 pm
@avatar6v7,
avatar6v7;37530 wrote:
It seems to me that what the constitution or any other documents says is relevent only in as much as it teachs us about right and wrong
That doesn't make any sense at all. The constitution is not meant to be a lesson in morality. It's a document of law -- the necessity of law implies that morals will ALWAYS be transgressed in the absence of rules.
avatar6v7
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Dec, 2008 09:33 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
That doesn't make any sense at all. The constitution is not meant to be a lesson in morality. It's a document of law -- the necessity of law implies that morals will ALWAYS be transgressed in the absence of rules.

Legal systems should be treated instrumentally, but should be wielded in the cause of morality.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Dec, 2008 10:06 am
@avatar6v7,
avatar6v7 wrote:
Legal systems should be treated instrumentally, but should be wielded in the cause of morality.


Turning laws into mediators of morality is a very dangerous endeavor. This can potentially lead to figures like Hitler. Not to mention that the laws never work. Look at the Prohibition movement in the U.S. Or how about the criminalization of marijuana. These are examples of laws that operate at the moral level and did/do not work.

Capital punishment addresses one issue. Is it ok to kill in vengeance of another crime? And then if so, who then is capable of deciding it is ok to kill another human?
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