What better to do on a plane?

Might as well try to condense the last couple of weeks of thoughts into a blog post. I’m presently somewhere between Halifax and Detroit on a fog-delayed Delta flight on my way to the Fuck It Do It Live Tweetup in Arlington, VA tomorrow night. Why I’m going Halifax-Detroit-DC is a function of the fact that I booked this on SkyMiles I’ve accrued over the last ten or so years.

I’m actually looking forward to meeting so many people I interact with via twitter – I’ve only met one long distance twitter connection so this stands to be quite an experience.

It’s been a crazy month and a bit chez moi. I went into bit of a spin on learning a few weeks ago that I would be deploying to Afghanistan this winter. As soon as I got working on deployment preparations the whole thing came to a grinding halt. Or seemed to. Still not clear what’s happening. I hope to have some firm idea this week.

And there is so much going on in the world. Continued instability in markets and the fiscal mess that is Europe (Greece, specifically) is weighing heavily on economies. The problem, of course, is trying to get some manner of a grip on fiscal realities. No one likes the sound of austerity programs, but the reality is that’s what’s needed to a great extent. I often tell people that being Canadian I have some sense of what these are about. Canada endured the same measures in the 1990’s, slaying a pernicious deficit dragon. It was somewhat painful but we reaped the rewards for years afterward. We ran surpluses for over a decade until the 2008 financial crisis forced some deficit spending.

I’ll often point out that Canada was relatively unscathed by that mess. Note I say relatively, not completely. It wasn’t without impact, but we didn’t see a banking sector meltdown or housing market collapse – all thanks to reasonably prudent regulation that still allowed the business to thrive.

I guess that’s why I can be optimistic that things will, as they always do, work out alright.

I was most recently captivated as well by the effort to spare the life of Troy Davis. I won’t bore you with rehashing the story as I’m sure anyone who happens to read this blog knows it anyhow.

I don’t know if Davis was innocent or guilty. Truth is, there’s a good chance he may well have been guilty. But what matters is that I see no way any reasonable person can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was guilty, and for that reason I like most people was appalled that he was executed.

I don’t understand capital punishment. I don’t see what purpose it serves. I find it particularly troublesome that supposedly pro-life evangelical types are so enthusiastic about the idea of killing people, regardless of what justification they manufacture in their minds for it. Either killing is wrong, or it isn’t. Period.

I appreciate the irony of the fact that one of the two careers I have makes me a student of “kinetic effects” which is a fancy sciency sounding term for killing people. But I understand that the world is full of people who need killing, but only under the most careful and judiciously determined circumstances.

If a state is determined to retain the ability to put people to death, I submit that the standard for doing so must be so high as to be almost unattainable. There must be clear, irrefutable evidence – physical evidence, I’d say. Not subjective witness testimony. Something a CSI episode can turn on, I guess you might say. Every effort must be made to exonerate the accused before the sentence is carried out.

Of course, the smarter thing to do is simply abolish what ultimately is an act of revenge and barbarism as a relic of a past era. But I sense we aren’t really past whatever era that refers to – at least not in some jurisdictions.

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1 comment so far

  1. Aleks on

    Death penalty. It’s wrong not because of doubt, such as any in Davis’s case. Brewer was executed to and it seems no doubt existed there. The penalty isn’t wrong because it’s barbaric: Davis was anaesthetised before the lethal drug was administered so he was never in physical pain.
    The death penalty is wrong because it’s the only penalty a state has against it’s own citizens that it can not apply to itself.
    In other words, it’s not justice. The family & friends of the victim that led to penalty don’t get justic, and the state potentially adds another family to grieve.
    The death penalty is wrong because it should always be penalty of last resort, not the first. The functions of prison are to separate dangerous people from civil society, punish the convicted and to attempt reform on convicted. When we remove any of these functions, prison no longer has a role in society.
    The death penalty is wrong because our judgement on what is a deliberate act, usually murder, is arbitary and flawed. You shoot and kill a civilian in the street? Murder. You drive you car, killing a pedestrian? Not murder. For the same outcome the penalties are different. Sure, you’ll argue killing the pedestrian was an accident, and juries will believe you because they can empathise as fellow drivers: that jury won’t empathise if you’re a shooter, though.
    The death penalty is wrong because, and you must forgive an atheist for saying this, the bible on which our justice is based tell us that killing is wrong & vengeance is not a trait that we humans should aspire to. If someone wants to argue “yes, but…” then I simply say this: if you accept that there are circumstances to ignore just one Commandment, then there are circumstance to reject all Commandments, and therefore the is no basis for a civil, just society- we will be living in a societ free to ignore the laws we don’t like and arbitrarily enforce we believe should exist on anyone that offends us.
    This issue is emotive. No amount of reason will ever persuade an ardent support of capital punishment. In part this is why there was support for Davis and not Brewer. Yet if we want to call ourselves a civil society we must argue that if we had wished to spare Davis’s life, then sparing a vicious, hateful, murderous man by the name of Brewer was equally important. Reverse that, if a vicious, hateful murderous man does not deserve clemency to live, then any person who kills anyone for any reason also forfeits their right to live. That being the case the very thing that has made us the most advanced, successful animal to ever occupy this earth; our humanity.


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