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Posts Tagged ‘Death Penalty’

I’ve already confessed that I have very abnormal fantasies. And I have admitted on TV that my fantasies are rarely fulfilled.

But that doesn’t stop me from my dreams. And since I’m in a sharing mood today, here’s my latest fantasy.

You may have followed on the news that the state of Texas just executed a child rapist/murderer. This caused some consternation on the left, and not just from those who are against the death penalty (which is a very defensible position, as I have acknowledged).

Many people, including officials from the Obama Administration and the Mexican government, wanted the execution halted because on an international agreement giving governments certain rights to intervene on behalf of citizens who get in legal trouble in other nations. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not competent to address those issues, but suffice to say that the U.S. Supreme Court was not impressed by the specific argument in this case and turned down a request to block the execution.

My fantasy, however, has nothing to do with the legal argument. I just figured it was important to provide some background information before I divulge my innermost dreams and desires.

What sparked my fantasy was this article, featuring some bureaucrat from the United Nations who is very agitated that Texas officials didn’t acquiesce to “international law.” Here are the important passages.

The United States broke international law when it executed a Mexican citizen, the United Nations’ top human rights official said Friday. The Texas execution of Humberto Leal “raises particular legal concerns,” including whether he had access to consular services and a fair trial, said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. …Texas Gov. Rick Perry also declined to block the execution. Texas, the nation’s most active death penalty state, has executed other condemned foreign nationals who raised similar challenges, most recently in 2008. “Texas is not bound by a foreign court’s ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the treaty was not binding on the states and that the president does not have the authority to order states to review cases of the then 51 foreign nationals on death row in the U.S,” said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Perry. But what Texas did also “places the U.S. in breach of international law,” said Pillay, who visited Mexico this week. “What the state of Texas has done in this case is imputable in law to the U.S. and engages the United States’ international responsibility.” …Pillay also cited a 2004 International Court of Justice ruling saying the U.S. must review and reconsider the cases of 51 Mexican nationals — including Leal — who were sentenced to death. She said those reviews never happened. She said the execution undermined “the role of the International Court of Justice, and its ramifications are likely to spread far beyond Texas.”

Because of my disdain for international bureaucracies and my belief in sovereignty, you won’t be too surprised to learn that Ms. Pillay’s comments rubbed me the wrong way.

So I started thinking about the good people of Texas and how they would react if some pampered, overpaid U.N. bureaucrat started hectoring them about their supposed failure to kowtow to “international law.” And then the fantasy began…

I envisioned a press conference, featuring Texas Governor Rick Perry. He’s answering an important question from the Amarillo Globe-News about the state trap shooting competition, when he is interrupted by a sunken-chested dweeb from the New York Times, who shouts out, “Governor, how do you respond to Ms. Pillay, the U.N. official who says you broke international law by executing the poor, misunderstood child rapist/murderer?”

In this fantasy, the Governor’s expression darkens (sort of akin to the look Clint Eastwood would get in the Dirty Harry movies). He gives the reporter a withering stare, ponders whether to even answer, and then gives an answer that earns Dan Mitchell’s heartfelt admiration.

Boy, why don’t you tell Ms. Pillay to round up a bunch of those blue-helmeted pansies and try to come arrest me. If they can make it past the JV football team from Permian High School, she can have me.

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What a disgusting and sad tragedy. Some nutjob apparently has killed several people, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. [fingers crossed, apparently she's still alive and the NPR report was wrong]

My immediate impulse is that I want the killer to suffer a similar fate. That’s an emotional reaction, I realize, so here are some quick pro-and-con thoughts.

I am very skeptical about the integrity of prosecutors, particularly those that have political ambitions and think high conviction rates make them look tough on crime (I’d much rather they appeal to people based on their pursuit of justice). So I don’t need to be convinced that it’s possible for innocent people to get convicted because of deliberate evil or run-of-the-mill incompetence by government.

But in situation like this Arizona tragedy, where there is zero ambiguity about the identity of the gunman, I fail to see any reason why capital punishment is not an appropriate penalty. I’ve looked over the academic literature and I think the deterrence argument has some merit, but I also think there’s a pure justice argument for the death penalty.

Addendum: I should add that I hope the gunman was a random idiot without a political agenda like global warming, immigration, or healthcare. It is nauseating when the political types in Washington seek to exploit tragedies.

Another addendum:  A couple of friends have said I shouldn’t have posted anything related to the shooting, other than an expression of sadness. Maybe that’s true. I don’t pretend to be overly astute on such matters. Here’s what I sent, as my explanation, in an email after getting chided: “I’m not attacking anybody or making a political point. There have been several spirited debates by commenters about this issue over the past two years, and I got several emails asking about this issue after the news broke. So I did a post describing my own internal thoughts.”

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