Did you watch last night’s GOP primary debate? I almost didn’t, and I still kind of didn’t, because uh, I forgot and leave me alone, I am an adult and I can forget whatever I want whenever I want. But I did watch the last 15 minutes or so, and managed to catch what was clearly the most horrifying moment of the evening. (Congrats, me.) It was the moment when moderator Brian Williams asked candidate Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, about his record when it comes to executing death row inmates. And when I say record, I mean that literally. He holds the record. Under his watch, Texas has executed 234 death row inmates. That is so many! Brian Williams asks a perfectly reasonable question, which is whether or not Rick Perry ever suffers from any feelings of doubt over this. Perhaps, you know, in the quiet darkness of night, away from the pressures of public office, is there ever some minor quiver in Rick Perry’s soul that might suggest that he is a HUMAN FUCKING BEING, and that the full weight of being partially but meaningfully responsible for the death of 234 people, whether that, you know, makes him feel weird. Short answer: no. Nope. Cool. Cool answer. But that wasn’t even the worst part! The worst part was before Brian Williams could even get the question out, the audience erupted into ecstatic applause over the simple stating of the fact that Texas had executed 234 people. EEEEEEEK!

Uh, guys? Guys! Stop doing that! Stop applauding the death of 234 people. It’s gross. You’re being super gross right now. (I do love how Brian Williams has to qualify the statistic with “modern times.” Because you have to. Because shit is straight up Dark Ages. Whatever. Clap clap clap.)

Look, I understand that the death penalty remains a hot button issue somehow. Even democratic politicians tend to feel compelled to say that they are in favor of it, and republican politicians, forget about it. And while Brian Williams’s question about Rick Perry’s reflective doubts and sleeping patterns in the wake of his murder-spree was reasonable on the human scale of things, no one actually expects Rick Perry to hobble himself in an early primary debate by poking holes in and questioning his own record. It’s just politics, baby! Hate the player and also hate the game! (Did I get that right? It’s from the streets, right?) But even if he understandably sticks to his guns, you can understand how some of us might FIND THOSE GUNS TO BE HORRIFYING. The fact of the matter is that there is absolutely no moral defense of the death penalty. There isn’t! We as a society have determined that killing other people is the worst thing you can do, and so to punish you, we are going to do the same thing right back? Didn’t we JUST SAY it was the worst thing you can do? I’m not even arguing for the abolishment of the death penalty. I think there are far more destructive and dangerous things going on in the world at this very moment (wars, mostly, but there’s a lot of gray area full of human atrocities in there that I also dislike. Gabe Delahaye: Against Human Atrocities). If enough people continue to agree that the government should murder people as a punishment for murder, then that’s what will happen. That is called DEMOCRACY. But you can’t say that it’s the “right” thing to do. You can only say that it’s what you’re “going” to do. (This is all assuming that the people we are collectively murdering are actually guilty, which has been proven many times to have not been the case, which is a whole other can of worms. A really sad and disturbing can!*) But here’s a thought: when we do murder people and when we talk about it in public forums, how about we show some fucking respect for the severity and seriousness of what we are actually talking about and SIT ON OUR FUCKING HANDS. Applauding? Where are your manners? Were you raised in a slaughterhouse?!

A friend of mine once suggested a really good solution to the death penalty debate. We would continue to have the death penalty, but the only way it could be carried out is by putting the criminal in a room with the families of the victims, and the families of the victims have to carry out the execution. Obviously, this is a great idea. It’s a bit macabre, yes, but it has the exciting thrill of vigilante justice that made Charles Bronson a household name. Moreover, it would probably actually mean a lot fewer executions. I think if people were actually forced to come to terms with what they thought they wanted, and the violence of it, they wouldn’t want it anymore.

Of course, the most baffling thing about the death penalty issue at a GOP primary debate is the fierce defense of institutionalized murder against the backdrop of having a contest to see who goes to church more. How does THAT work? There is nothing charitable, generous, forgiving, or empathetic about the death penalty. Oh, and then there is the whole, you know, how Jesus was KILLED BY THE DEATH PENALTY thing. Come on, guys. Use your noodles. Oh well. Forget it, Jakes, it’s Christian Death Penalty Town.

In closing, I rest my case.

*The very real possibility that a death row inmate may be innocent, which has happened a bunch of times, is actually a far more powerful argument for the abolishment of the death penalty than the fact that the death penalty is morally wrong. There just shouldn’t be an institutionalized program by which people are put to death for crimes they did not commit. Period. That’s a deal-breaker, ladies.
Comments (172)
  1. There is such an obsession with being number 1 and being the best that we have reached the point where an audience applauds the news that they are the best at killing people. “Woo! We’re number 1! In your face, other states, we murder way more than you ever could. LOOOOOSERS!”

  2. Was the set of this debate designed by Dexter? No wonder the death penalty came up.

  3. Michelle Bachmann looks like the lovechild of the Bride of Chucky and Megatron.

    And Rick Perry is a turd ferguson. I rest my case.

  4. You know what I both like and dislike about this post? I have nothing to add.

  5. How funny that the same political party that got so angry about imaginary healthcare death panels is now applauding the works of ACTUAL DEATH PANELS.

    And by funny, I mean *gunshot*

  6. I don’t understand why they had to execute all of those people when the rapture is right around the corner…

  7. We can call your friend’s idea the “Ned Stark Solution.”

  8. Guys, some people just get excited about clapping alright?

  9. Yeesh, I didn’t make it to the end. Had to turn it off because Rick Santorums’s Gary Busey smile was making me too uncomfortable.

  10. I’ll just leave this here:

  11. This freaked me out. Especially since they’re all supposed to be Christians and the Christian doctrine states you should NEVER kill anyone…this is totally leading into the Roman times where we pay to watch people get killed in a big arena. TOTALLY. Rick Perry IS Commodus!

    • Yeah, I mean one of the ten commandments is not to kill people, but there are lots of other places in the Bible that say TO kill people, so I could see how there’s some confusion there.

      • True. But that’s the Old Testament that has all the killing. The New Testament is what Christians should be putting extra weight on.
        God softened up quite a bit over the years. He was really grouchy and mean and I guess once he had a kid (Jesus) he softened up because those two books are like fire and water.

        • How much extra weight, exactly? Enough to disregard the Ten Commandments? I’m confused.

          • “Confused? Good, now run with it” – The Bible

          • Well it’s an ongoing discussion, but as a follower of Christ you are supposed to live your life as he would have/did -whatever if he really existed. Most theologians would argue that the 10 Commandments follow the Christian path, whereas say all those pesky wars and stonings don’t.

            What a Christian follows from the OT is kind of extremely subjective and arbitrary which leads to a lot of hypocrisy such as mis-interpreting Leviticus to reject homosexuality, but politely ignoring the part about stoning wives for adultery or treating them like property and a whole lot else.

            This is why religion and state should not mix. At all. You cannot interweave magic and policy very well.

        • Word. When was the last time you heard a Tea Partier (or any Republican) mention Jesus? That lovable old hippie wouldn’t stand a chance today. It’s even right there in the name… Christ-ianity, not God-ism!

        • But, the old testament also has that bit about homosexuality that the Religious Right latch onto. As long as it’s somewhere in the Bible, they don’t mind if it’s contradicted or softened later on by God HIMSELF later in the same book. It’s mostly a “there is a lot of stuff in there, so pick what you want to support your views” stuff. I don’t see many Republicans complaining about the lifestyle choices being promoted by the Deadliest Catch.

          • Exactly – although the Leviticus passage very vaguely references homosexuality. The one they cite may not actually be about homosexuality. It just maybe is. So their God may not even not be not down with it. So they should step the fuck off!

      • I believe that it’s commonly translated “thou shall not murder”, which is different than “thou shall not kill.”

  12. “…the most baffling thing about the death penalty issue at a GOP primary debate is the fierce defense of institutionalized murder against the backdrop of having a contest to see who goes to church more. ” Absolutely. Perfection. Nailed it. That is the most accurate summation of the Republican primary that I’ve read on any blog, political or no.
    And, it scares the holy fucking shit out of me.

    • See also: the whole abortion thing. The debate is a fierce desire to implement extremely intrusive government regulation against the backdrop of wanting smaller and less intrusive government. Doublethink is double plus ungood.

      • Exactly. It always confuses me when “conservatives” advocate for overriding a woman’s will to do what she wants with her own body, but in the same breath cry about government attempts at gun control as “unconstitutional,” or whine about how regulations on carbon emissions is “Socialist.” Small government my ass.

        • My theory on the hypocrisy is rooted in the party leaders being old rich white guys and wanting to keep their crown as master decision-makers. So basically, anything where somebody else holds the power or is given opportunity to get what they need to have more power – the ladies deciding about their uteri, gay people getting to do what they want, the poors having access to things that could empower them, the ability for non-white non-rich people to emigrate here if they want – those things are all very bad and they want to have their hands in making sure those things don’t happen.
          On the flip side, anything that affects things the old white rich guys like – shooting guns, money, having the ability to dump their company’s leftover toxic waste wherever they please – then that’s where small government is crucial.
          The funniest part is they’ve gotten people who AREN’T old white rich guys to buy into this scheme! Hilarious! So you end up with Michele Bachman, who is basically the female gender’s equivalent to Dave Chappelle’s old blind guy who hates black people even though he’s black. It’s amazing.

        • There are certainly times when someone’s desire to exercise their autonomy butts against someone else’s autonomy, i.e. murder, assault, drunk driving, etc. This pro-life, pro-choice argument stems from whether or not abortion is infringing on another’s rights.

          Here’s my solution: let’s look at the consequences of abortions becoming illegal.

          If life starts at conception, many lives will be saved.

          If life starts at birth, women would be forced to carry through with the natural outcome of sex.

          Why would making abortion illegal be such a bad thing?

          • So what you’re saying is women should be essentially punished for having sex? The guy who knocked them up can just bounce and the woman should be forced to raise a baby she doesn’t want and probably doesn’t have the means to care for. So what happens when you force thousands of women to have all these babies?
            I’ll tell you what happens. The state has to step in and take care of them. And if there’s one things Republicans love, it’s social welfare and single mothers!

      • Abortion and capital punishment are very different things, as you well know. Capital punishment is a just punishment for someone that has unlawfully killed another person. Abortion is an extremely unattractive way of making someone’s life more convenient. I think comparing the two is tempting at first glance, but ultimately flawed.

  13. Yes, but Gabe? So few of those inmates are Caucasian! You can see how their deaths don’t matter.

  14. Oh no, PoliticsGum. We’re ALREADY going to want this GIF to look at later.

  15. so much for being “pro-life”?

  16. My problem with the death penalty is that the death penalty does not deter anyone from commiting whatever heinous crime they are being sentenced for. It is purely revenge. Most people don’t commit crimes because they are afraid to go to prison. They don’t want to get caught (there is also a moral peice there, but the details aren’t important). Not the case with the death penalty. I don’t think worrying about being put to death prevents a serial killer from doing what they do. I guess I am concerned with sensible public policy where we actually try to effectively solve social problems. The death penalty has no real efficacy component to it. It serves no means to achieve some greater goal (lowering crime, preventing murder). It is really just a big peice of government that is wasteful (Republicans! See the irony there). If there were statistics that it solved a problem I may consider it, but it is really useless and archaic in the modern scheme of public policy.

    • I agree 100%. It solves nothing. Well said.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • And drug addiction/drug-related crimes are much lower in the Netherlands, which has a much more relaxed approach to drugs than us.

      • That’s not true either. Although it is harder to steal if you have no hands. I will agree with that.

      • The rate of recidivism amongst executed inmates is extremely low, that is true. However, the threat of life without possibility for parole vs. death, how much is a deterent really. In either case, you spend the rest of your life in jail. So, other than perhaps the hope of living long enough to ‘see’ your daughter get married (although not being able to attend) or other things, it’s not much difference in the long run. That is, unless you have some elaborate escape scheme planned, which would presumably also be possible with a death sentence (heck, you’d have more chances to escape during the appeal process since you’d be leaving prison more often).

        In general, the crime rates are lower in other countries, because of the huge ammount of drug crime in America. Extremely strict drug laws means there are tons of people in jail.

      • Thanks for the unsupported speculation about statistics!

      • Um, numerous statistical studies in the US between states that do or don’t use the death penalty, when switching between them, showed that DP had no deterrent effect. Your statement is a completely irrelevant anecdote.

    • It’s also more expensive, on average, to execute someone than to imprison them for life. Cool government policy, Republicans who shriek about excessive government spending!

  17. Guilty Murderer being executed: “Well, at least I don’t have to live with the fact that I killed someone.”
    Guilty Murderer in prison for life: “Shit. This sucks. I hate this a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t have murdered that dude/lady.”

    • Also, it is hard to overestimate how incredibly horrifying it is to lose your freedom. Even if it’s for 30 days, it fucking suuuuuuuuuuuucks. I would rather face death by screwdriver than life in prison.

  18. Forget the execution stats–I want to know how many people have been killed by the pollution caused by Perry’s smug.

  19. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I think you’re actually helping to illustrate Gabe’s point; it is a myth that our justice system “pays back the criminals what they dish out,” since many people on Death Row have been exonerated from the crimes they supposedly committed by DNA evidence or other means. In effect, that system robs people of their lives when they’ve done nothing wrong. Not my idea of justice. Also, you are getting played by the Republican strategy when you say things like “liberals are soft on crime.” We’re not soft on crime; we just wish the punishment would fit the crime, instead of killing innocent people.

      • Also, and this is purely opinion here, but I do believe there is an argument to be made that, if our justice system really “paid back criminals what they dished out,” then many corrupt corporate goons and Wall Street bankers should probably be in prison for life right now, instead of gambling America’s wealth, helping sink us into the worst economic crisis in memory, and then being allowed to head on home to 5th Avenue with what basically amounts to a parking fine, while ordinary citizens have been forced out of their homes and have had their entire savings destroyed.

      • Many people? I’d like the rates out of 100,000 death row inmates, please. Also, as several people have pointed out, life in prison is not a cakewalk, so isn’t it just as wrong, judicially, to incarcerate an innocent person? Maybe we shouldn’t have prison sentences at all, only unobjectionable duties that won’t harm the convict in case he turns out to be innocent. Any justice system will have miscarriages. It’s an awful, awful thing, but that doesn’t mean we should not have the death penalty.

        Also, with the advent of DNA technology, those miscarriages should drop drastically.

        • A miscarrage of justice that imprisons a man for life means he has the opportunity of being exonnerated and freed. As far as I know, we can’t bring back people from the dead yet. That should be reason enough.

    • “Perhaps if we had a justice system that paid back to criminals what they dished out, our society might not be such a violent place.”

    • I see your point, but I think you miss two important ones yourself. first, as Gabe pointed out, any state-sanctioned execution program that can not guarantee the guilt of all death-row prisoners is simply immoral, unjust, *insert your own sentiment here*, etc. Maybe 99% of all death-row prisoners are guilty and deserve to die, but that 1% is still far too large a margin of error (ahem, 0%, ahem) to even consider making an argument in favour of the death penalty. Second, this whole “tough on crime results in less crime” argument is a load of BS, specifically concerning the death penalty; states that sanction prisoner executions have far higher murder rates than those that prohibit it. I’m not suggesting a direct causal relationship between the two, but I do feel, as do many academic/scholars/look at me name dropping anonymous sources, that state sanctioned violence has a trickle down effect of sorts onto its citizens. Murder begets more murder, not the other way around.

    • Excuse the dramatic phrasing, but that’s a pretty barbaric philosophy. Harsher punishments don’t reduce crime; identifying common causes of criminal behavior (socio-economic, mental health) and making improvements to reduce or treat those causes reduces crime. Instead of focusing on ‘eye for an eye’, we could dedicate time and money on preventing crime, freeing up space in jail for true sociopathic criminals to sit for life (as the only beneficial argument I’ve ever heard for the death penalty talks about the cost of hosting life prisoners.) Advancement of humanity for the better is supposed to be one of the goals of a first world country, right?

      • Housing criminals for life is actually far cheaper than executing them. Like 1/10th the cost.

        • uberstellar and Mr Plainview:

          Would it sound strange if I told you that I would still support the death penalty even if it was more expensive than life in prison and was proven to not help reduce crime in the slightest?

          I hold this position because a judicial system is in place to serve unemotional justice; and this sort of justice should not be confused with vengeance.

          If someone stole my car, I would go to the judicial system to attempt to retrieve my property. It doesn’t matter if convicted car thieves are three times as likely to steal again, it is still justice to have my car returned to me.

    • As someone who has studied both stats and criminology … woo boy.

      The crime rate is not as high as most people percieve it to be. Gang violence buumped things up n th 80′s and 90′s, but for the most part, the US is back to pre-80′s levels. It still has triple Canada’s rate of murder, and is high for other industrialized nations, but there are deeper things at work. US is a very different place, it was built on revolution, with it’s constitution enshrining gun ownership, and protecting oneself from the government as the rights and responsibility of it’s citizens. Few other industrialized countries are born of violence in the way that the US was. [Not to mention, at least up until Vietnam, America's war record, and the lack of having a war on their own lands for a long time, meant that war was seen in a different light. They won wars, it brought them prosperity, including out of a Depression, and the risk to the mainland was minimal, etc]

      Aside from that: consider the crimes that can result in the death penalty:

      Generally it’s murder of some sort with aggravating factors. Some of these include murder during the course of:

      a) sexual assault
      b) sexual abuse of a minor
      c) arson
      d) robbery
      e) escape
      f) kidnapping
      g) abuse of a minor

      Others include killing a cop, killing for hire, killing another inmate when you already have life without parole. California actually has an interesting one: perjury causing an execution of an innocent person.

      It can certainly be argued that the “kill while you already have life without parole” is pretty much a slam dunk deterent wise … it’s sort of hard to have a real punishement there (other than solitary basically, although that would have prevented the killing in the first place).

      Most aggravating factors mean that, even if the murder wasn’t commited, the person was likely going to be in a lot of trouble anyway. If fact, odds are the murder may have been commited in order to conceal the fact that the initial crime occured. Generally speaking, the murder is commited because they feel they’ll get away with it, not that the cost benefit analysis says it’s worth the risk. Generally speaking, the deterent for those crimes is already there, it’s mostly “conditions that will make the jury want to punish them more”.

      Generally speaking, a homicide occurs either because:

      a) the person thinks they’ll get away with it
      b) the person understands the consequences but doesn’t care
      c) the event occurs without the person having clearly thought about the consequences (a crime of passion, or an escalation in the commission of another crime).

      For example, Gumby could have been executed if he shot and killed someone during his attempted robbery of that 7-11, if he was in a state that executed people, and the jury and judge sentenced him accordingly. While bringing a weapon to a robbery counts as premeditation, the person is likely ‘hoping’ to not kill anyone. They think the worst case scenario is being caught for armed robbery … they don’t consider they may face the death penalty if they end up in a hostage situation, or a shoot out with police, etc. [Speaking of which, it causes some problems in a hostage negotiation situation. Once ONE hostage is killed, it’s pretty much the death penalty at that point, so the insentive for the hostage takers to keep anyone else alive drops a lot. It suddenly removes ‘just surrender now before you get in more trouble’ off the table.

      • Just to add in here the whole socio-economic factor in crime: criminal populations are largely non-Caucasian, as are the populations of death row. Does that seem like an equitable system of justice? If non-Caucasian people, who tend, on the whole in America, to be poorer off than Caucasian people, are bearing the brunt of a system that endorses capital punishment, then it seems obvious to me that there is a socio-economic component (ie endemic poverty in non-Caucasian communities) that is leading to a higher crime rate. Also, I don’t think it comes as controversial to anybody that crime rates are higher among minorities. Is that because we are somehow “too soft” on them? I certainly think not, and am willing to guess it has much more to do with poverty than with not threatening people enough with the death penalty.

        • If i makes anyone feel better, suicide is apparently a “white people problem”. Areas with a large proportion of people who are not statistically disadvantaged has higher rates of suicide. And suicide rates seem to be inversely proportional to murder rates (so, Washington DC has one of the highest murder rates, but also the lowest suicide rates for major cities in the US, and generally, not to mention that cities have higher murder rates, while suicide is more often in rural or suburban areas).

          • I’ve actually read otherwise: for instance, aboriginals in Canada (a very socioeconomically disadvantaged population) suffer from far higher rates of suicide than non-aboriginal Canadians.

    • 3 of these downvotes were from the West Memphis Three.

    • Ray, You’re proposing a ‘revenge’ based punishment system. A reform based system works better. For everybody. Simple as that. Chase some actual facts. Read some actual history.
      Earlier in the thread, you cited Saudi Arabia as an example of tough punishment/low crime success. Do you have any fucking idea what life and the legal system are like in that country?
      And Ray, you are not a liberal, not at all. At ALL.

  20. *cough*

    I’ll just leave this here..

    http://www.snopes.com/legal/desalvo.asp

  21. The death penalty is our generation’s Hammurabi’s Code. You did it, therefore you get it done to you. I’m not surprised, though it does depress me, to hear about this kind of celebratory reaction. These are the same people who took to the streets and cried ‘USA! USA! USA!’ at the news of Osama’s death. And I’m willing to bet many of those same people took to Facebook for some delightful Pearl Harbor slams in the aftermath of Japan’s recent natural disasters. These are the people who cheer death, and I’m willing to bet they don’t give a shit if some of those prisoners were actually guilty or innocent. They don’t think about it, they don’t wanna think about it, they just wanna know ‘justice is being served’ and maybe skip Church on Sunday so they can get to the Wal-Mart early and beat the post-mass rush. They’re horrible people is what I’m saying.

    • I want you to know that I read “they don’t wanna think about it” and I immediately started playing “Little Black Backpack” by Stroke 9 in my head. So, thank you?

  22. I disagree that having the family be the ones to perform the execution is a good idea. It strikes me as a terrible idea, regardless of where you stand on the death penalty.

    A. The family may want revenge, but the law isn’t there to appease the victims family (at least not entirely), it’s there to mete out justice on a national level (again, for better or for worse), and this is the way they saw fit to do it.

    B. Making them do it is heaping on way more trauma to a family that already suffered a tremendous loss. Just because they want (or think they want) something, it doesn’t mean they have to personally do it. Again, it is the law that decided that these people should die, so why should the family have to deal with the psychological ramifications of killing someone on top of dealing with their loss?

    • I think the point is that if they made the families do it, pretty much no families would actually do it.

      • I get that but what do the families have anything to do with it? If they did a selection process like calling people to jury duty and the person who was called had to execute someone, it would probably happen a lot less too.

        But what I’m saying is, saying the families should be the ones to do it makes it sound like the families made the law, decided on the punishment, and therefore need to do it personally, which is just not true. I just don’t see why that specific example makes any sense.

        And the argument is kind of putting these people on trail (so to speak, I know that’s confusing because these things have real trials too) for having extremely complicated emotions that probably none of us could or should ever have to understand. One of their family members was just murdered. Why should they now be called out for having feelings that in no way actually effect how these decisions are made?

        I know this is all a hypothetical scenario, but it just seems like a very ill conceived one and it supposedly makes sense.

    • Yeah, this is right, of course. It’s a matter of law, of punishment of an offense against the state, not an individual. But I think the idea Gabe is talking about still carries some weight because our state-authorized correction doesn’t seem any different than personal revenge through violence. It’s sad that so many people believe implicitly that state-authorized retribution is necessarily just, because it hampers reform and progress toward a more just body of law (and I think we have a long way to go).

  23. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • The Old Testament is not an accurate historical account of anything.

      There are many cases where an innocent person was executed, then exonerated. Here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrongful_execution

      • I used the OT as example of morality of killing. I don’t agree with the OT vengefulness thing. I’m a Christian (that’s right, big surprise) so I believe in the new covenant that frees us from all that legalistic stuff in the OT.

        The OT’s historical accuracy has no bearing on it’s moral teachings upon which millions of people around the world base their world view.

    • I was kind of with you for a second until this bit: “Also, if a state is going to kill convicted murderers they might as well get on with it and get over with instead of keeping people on death row for decades at taxpayer expense. I know that is callous but that’s government sausage making for ya.”

      How does that jive with “keeping his/her constitutional rights throughout the long process”. The reason it takes so long to execute someone is that we need to be 100%, absolutely sure that person is A) guilty and B) his/her constitutional rights are respected. You can’t have it both ways.

      • That’s a fair point. The process is long even when expedited as they do in FL and TX.

        I readily concede that it’s an ugly way of thinking and I don’t really endorse it, but it is a practical argument. As a matter of policy you have to weigh a bunch of factors and today gov’t spending has to be considered. Length of time is not a guarantee of due process. Hell, part of due process rights for the accused is to have a timely trial. The state should not cut corners and the appeals processes are all in place. Following them does not have to take decades.

    • I am actually logging in and leaving a comment on Videogum for the first time because your comment was so remarkably thoughtless and ill-informed?? Congratulations and thank you!

      1) For god’s sake, every browser has a search box embedded into the tool bar at this point. Move your cursor into that, instead of into the comment box on Videogum, and type out “Innocent person executed” and hit enter. You don’t have to defy anyone to give you this easily found information, you can do it yourself!
      2) It costs more to kill someone than it does to keep them in prison forever! This is a pretty much well-known fact!

      You’re right that Gabe doesn’t have a lock on the correct answer about this topic necessarily (though, no, wrong, he is 100% correct just BTW), but it’d be nice if the people arguing with him that we should MURDER PRISONERS had a basic grasp on easily available facts about capital punishment! It doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that your argument has even had a second’s thought before you decided it was just the right thing to do, when you spout easily disproven nonsense.

      • If you read all of my comment you will see that I am in fact against the death penalty. I just cannot justify my position in any way other than based on the moral case.

        I see that you claim many cases but you haven’t named one. A lot of the arguments I’m seeing are “everybody knows this.” Well, how do you know? Also, I’ll ask your indulgence if I don’t hold wikipedia to be a reliable source.

    • I see you spent some time thinking about and drafting your lowest rated comment of the week.

      • The Nancy Pelosi guy below has him beat. At least pcbowen is on topic.

        • People are really going after it hard for the lowest rated comment…. I think this thread has gotten to threat level shit storm…

          • Yeh, is there some kind of big penalty for lowest rated comment? Did I miss a meeting? I’m not really bothered if I get the lowest rating. I’m not a troll, I normally try to keep from jumping into political comment threads because I know I’m not in line with the monster mind on these issues. But I just get a little worked up when people whom I find smart and interesting cannot tolerate the idea that someone may come to a different opinion honestly and not from some deep seated bigotry.

            Chill out folks! I’m trying to be respectful but downvote away, it’s OK. I won’t hold it against anybody and it won’t hurt my feelings.

  24. Not Texas related, and certainly not funny, an innocent man named Troy Davis is set to be executed on September 21st. Sorry to be all videobum(mer).

  25. George Bush 2: Electric Chair Boogaloo. Fuck this guy and the people that applauded.

  26. All I know is that when a pollster asked a focus group about Rick Perry murdering a man who was later shown to be likely innocent, a human being actually responded verbatim, “I like that. It takes balls to kill an innocent man.”

    I rest my case (my case being that this world is made of garbage and needs to be terminated).

  27. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Not at all – It’s like going to a comedy club expecting to have a fun time on topics you approve of, and then being frustrated when a topic is discussed that you don’t approve of.

      Also, your analogy implies a bunch of different sets by different comics. This is the same author. The same writing style. Same sense of humour. Only instead of talking about how men and women are so different he or she took a break to talk politics. Which comedians do all the time. Most comedians eventually get to politics at some point.

      Not to gang tackle. Its just that I spent 40,000 on Analogy academy and if I don’t make corrections like this I’m wasting my education.

      • “I’ve replaced some of your words with more ‘slanty’ words.” – The King of Italicsistan

      • I don’t suppose you are also a therapist? The world’s second “analrapist”?

        • Actually yes, I am the rapist

        • As to your original point, touche, I suppose. Upon a second read, I see that Gabe’s “voice” is still mostly intact. Perhaps my issue was that often times when you read comedy (as opposed to hear or view it), it’s easy to misinterpret that “voice.” You can use all the CAPS and italics you want, but until someone invents a font for sarcasm, intent, and/or inflection, it’s just not the same. Which is maybe why the voice I heard when I read this post as more Bill Maher than Jon Stewart. Which is fine. It’s Gabe’s voice. I just feel there are times where Gabe devotes so much energy to calling out what he deems as racist or homophobic behavior (obviously not a bad thing), but sometimes it’s just distracting (e.g. the over-explanation last week after he said that black people are better dancers than white people). But obviously that’s just me. Case: rested. From here on out, only the (attempted) humorous comments from me.

    • Uh…Is it that hard for you to decipher between a “funnygum” and a “soapboxgum” post?

      You don’t have to read everything, if you so choose…

  28. Lowest rated comment in this post over/under?

  29. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  30. I took the clapping as the audience being happy that Brian Williams asked this question because of the seriousness. I didn’t take it as them clapping for killing people on death row.

    Also, my dad was a Deputy Director of TDCJ (Texas Dept of Criminal Justice) and I actually grew up on a prison unit in Huntsville, TX. I don’t believe in the death penalty but growing up passing the Walls Unit knowing that people were being executed inside was freaky. And sad. The worst was seeing the families of either the victim and/or accused go in and out of the buildings.

    And finally, Rick Perry makes George Bush look like Stephen Hawkings. What a douche.

    • No, the applause was clearly directed at Perry’s record.

    • I wish you were right, Funky Brewster. I wish you were right. But sadly these are the people who think Obama caused all the problems we’re dealing with now and want another ‘Merican hero like GW to put things straight.

      I’m so terrified of Rick Perry that I’m thinking of registering as a Republican in my new state so I can vote against him in the primaries. Everything he does scares the living hell out of me. And now his city is engulfed in a ring of fire after he and his cronies voted down measures to bring in more water to Austin to meet the city growth and to fight wildfires.

      I’m going to stare at this picture for awhile until I feel better…

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    • (By the way, for all of you that think that only pinko liberal commies read Videogum, behold the downvoting on the comment above.)

      • We’re ignoring you, heids, because your comment doesn’t even make sense in the context of this argument.

        • Really? You don’t see the analogy that I’m trying to make? Hm. I’ll have to go back to the drawing board on that one.

          I suppose it would make more sense if I said “I wonder what the reaction would be if a crowd of Democrats applauded when a Democrat governor of a state where abortion was legal said how many procedures had been performed in her state.”

          By the way: I’M NOT GOING TO BE IGNORED DAN.

          • Okay. But while I’ve never heard a governor (or anyone for that matter) cavalierly boast about how many abortions their state has performed, several governors, Perry included, regularly champion extensive lists of executed prisoners.

          • I guess I was just trying to say this was really gross and anyone who would try to defend the applause should think about how gross they would think it would be if the shoe was on another issue’s foot. And with that horrible mixed metaphor, I will take my leave of this discussion because it’s making me a sad puppy.

          • dude, pro-choice people aren’t anti-life or even pro-abortion, but clearly (as seen above) some pro-death-penalty people are actually pro-killing-people, even if they’re not guilty of the crime they die for, so… I guess what I’m trying to say is that your analogy is really poorly chosen, and also you are preaching to the choir?

    • Apparently not, since I got downvoted 13 times. Which makes me a REALLY sad puppy. Who has some kitten .gifs they wanna post?

      • Also, dude, like I said, my analogy wasn’t well-articulated. Perhaps, dude, if this wasn’t an internet commentary space, you might understand what I was trying to say, dude. But dude, since I did a poor job of articulating myself, and my attempts to clarify have only been met with more ire, I think I’ll just let it go, dude.

        • whoaaaa I’m sorry you’re taking this disagreement so personally, and I really think your downvotes are mostly misunderstandings! I think after reading further in the thread, I do get what you’re trying to say, I just downvoted before I read the rest of the comments. That’s my kneejerk internet reaction to people implying pro-choice=pro-abortion, even when that’s not what you actually meant. So. Sorry about that, and here is a kitten, can we be friends now please?

          • Absolutely! Sorry if it did come across as me taking it personally. I engaged in this discussion with others elsewhere and was similarly misunderstood, and my rudely-worded response to what you said was probably residual angst. Sorry.

            OMG I’m going to stare at this for hours, Everything already feels better.

  32. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • “We” don’t prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. In Amerique Nord, A judge and a jury of our peers do. So if you’re confident that everyone in this world is very capable of interpreting facts all the time, then by all means, start practicing knots. We are good at killing each other, this is true, but that’s not an argument to do more of it.

    • The following is a list of countries that allow capital punishment. I would argue that outside of Japan, there’s exactly one modern, industrialized nation on that list. Us.

      * Afghanistan
      * Antigua and Barbuda
      * Bahamas
      * Bahrain
      * Bangladesh
      * Barbados
      * Belarus
      * Belize
      * Botswana
      * Burundi
      * Cameroon
      * Chad
      * China (People’s Republic)
      * Comoros
      * Congo (Democratic Republic)
      * Cuba
      * Dominica
      * Egypt
      * Equatorial Guinea
      * Eritrea
      * Ethiopia
      * Gabon
      * Ghana
      * Guatemala
      * Guinea
      * Guyana
      * India
      * Indonesia
      * Iran
      * Iraq
      * Jamaica
      * Japan
      * Jordan
      * Korea, North
      * Korea, South
      * Kuwait
      * Laos
      * Lebanon
      * Lesotho
      * Libya
      * Malawi
      * Malaysia
      * Mongolia
      * Nigeria
      * Oman
      * Pakistan
      * Palestinian Authority
      * Qatar
      * St. Kitts and Nevis
      * St. Lucia
      * St. Vincent and the Grenadines
      * Saudi Arabia
      * Sierra Leone
      * Singapore
      * Somalia
      * Sudan
      * Swaziland
      * Syria
      * Taiwan
      * Tajikistan
      * Tanzania
      * Thailand
      * Trinidad and Tobago
      * Uganda
      * United Arab Emirates
      * United States
      * Vietnam
      * Yemen
      * Zambia
      * Zimbabwe

  33. Ok. so the applause for execution was horrifying, obviously but as far as the argument against capital punishment on moral grounds I’d have to say that I agree with Danny a little bit on this one.
    I don’t necessarily think that removing child murderers or rapists form the population is a bad thing. The rate of recidivism for sex offenders is quite high and part of me resents the fact that they can get a free education in prison as well as 3 meals a day and free health care while innocent people are sick and hungry and I have 35,000 dollars of student loans and can’t afford a dentist appointment. Also, in Canada, (where I am from) murderers are eligible to collect old age pension in prison. Clifford Olson, a man convicted of killing 11 children receives pension cheques. In another recent case, a man who confessed to killing and dismembering his wife will be eligible for parole in 17 years. So, in my opinion, the correctional system in Canada could stand to be slightly more draconian.

    That said, I don’t believe in the way it is currently carried out, the appellate system seems flawed and there are too many people on death row who are later found to be innocent.

    Anyway, Rick Perry is gross for wearing those executions like a badge of honour.

    • You raise points that are probably good and definitely troubling. The problem with your phrasing is that you can’t say “removing” when you definitely mean “taking the life of”, in my opinion.

    • The thing is, rapists don’t get executed for the most part, unless they happen to murder the kid afterwards (a few states can sentence for extreme cases, like for those that rape extremely young children).

      The rate of recidivism for sex offenders is high, in part because of the life sentence that comes with being branded a sex offender. The National Sex Offender Registry does give people the perception of safety, by knowing where known sex offenders are. However, it’s more likely for someone to be assaulted by someone they know than a total stranger. Also, due to the registry, the person who has served their sentence is encouraged to engage in anti-social behaviour. If people had their way, and the ‘not in my backyard’ philosophy would be brought to it’s fullest, all the ex-cons would just hang out with each other, which is certainly not a formula for avoiding recidivism.

      Similarly, while a free education may stick in the craw of someone that has to pay for it, the goal is to stop recidivism isn’t it? So that, when the person has served their sentence, they can be productive members of society, instead of going back to crime. An education increases the chances the person can go out and get a job, instead of turning to less legal means of making money.

      As for Olson, it’s a case of something applying to all criminals. Either they decide it on a case by case basis (which is ludicrous) or they eliminate all pension for all criminals. Considering he technically has a chance at parole (albeit doubtful), an elderly ex-con is going to have very little in the way of a chance of surviving in the outside world without basic old age pension and the like. Also, the man had a wife, (no idea on children) so presumably she’d be the one benefitting from the pension for the most part. I don’t know if a system that punishes the spouses and children of criminals because their relative was a criminal instead of a productive member of society earning money for their retirement.

  34. I feel like you just reached into my mind and wrote exactly what I would like to say! I read this blog because you’re hysterical (well, the whole staff is hysterical really), but this is awesome. Even better than when Gervais is going to live-blog the Emmys, if that’s even a possible thing because it’s going to be so epic. But seriously this is better.

  35. After reviewing this thread it became clear to me that college kids are definitely back to school.

  36. aaaaaand i’m too late to this thread, so let me just make two points:

    everyone who is remotely interested in the death penalty should read “dead man walking” by sister helen prejean. not just watch the movie, but read the book, which is absolutely amazing and talks about the difficulties with having compassion for murderers, as well as the basic idea that institutionalizing the right to violence and murder within a government is an incredibly dangerous thing. it’s a mind blowing memoir.

    and everyone who is talking about how great healthcare and education is within our prison system is really really really misinformed. healthcare is pretty subpar (which was one of the arguments of the recently decided california supreme court case about how the prison system there is literally cruel and unusual punishment due to how ridiculously overcrowded it is), and most of the adult education programs have been eliminated due to budget cuts and the sheer fact of people griping about how unfair it is that people in jail have access to education. which is so trifling and selfish. i would certainly rather pay for my education (haha, actually since im a socialist i wouldn’t, but that’s a whole other pile of discussion) than be in jail and get free education. jail has serious consequences on someone’s employability, and letting the incarcerated gain education is only a tiny tiny tiny offset, actually.

  37. There’s really no reason to bring religion into this. The whole argument that “killing people to punish them for killing people is wrong” sound great on paper, or in a blog on the internet , but the reality is many people who commit these crimes will continue to commit these kinds of violent crimes if they are not executed. The reason you can sit on your computer , Gabe , and blog about how you disagree with conservative opinion and make ignorant and irrelevant remarks about Christianity is because other people in this world at some point , and in different capacities , were willing to do violent things to make the world safer for everyone else. Everyone on the planet does not benefit the herd to speak. Some people kill other people to get what they want , and it isn’t a matter of religion. If we lived in a world where there was no deterrence for violence, you probably wouldn’t like it very much as you’d probably get shot and killed while you sit and blog in starbucks.
    Deterrence-look it up.

    • Riddle me this, Norman: how come I live in a country with no death penalty (Australia) and one of the lowest murder rates in the world and have never once been shot at in a Starbucks?

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