Capital Punishment Logic is So Weird.

Here we have news of the Ohio kidnapping case, in which Ariel Castro possibly faces the death penalty:

Prosecutors said Thursday they may seek the death penalty against Ariel Castro, the man accused of imprisoning three women at his home for a decade, as police charged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the belly.

The allegations were contained in a police report that also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said his office will decide whether to bring aggravated murder charges punishable by death in connection with the pregnancies that were terminated by force.

“Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct,” he said. “The reality is we still have brutal criminals in our midst who have no respect for the rule of law or human life.”

Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, is being held on $8 million bail under a suicide watch in jail, where he is charged with rape and kidnapping.

Michelle Knight is the one who was subjected to abortions by starvation and battery. She was also put on midwife duty for Amanda Berry’s childbirth and—how’s this for mental abuse?–threatened with death if Amanda’s baby died. None of the captives ever saw a doctor or other qualified health professional. Fortunately, Knight knew her MMR and saved the baby.

I’m sure it would be even more interesting—and probably horrifying—to find out why Amanda was allowed to give birth while Michelle was not allowed to continue her pregnancies.

That’s a digression, though. Here’s what I want to point out: the prosecutor is talking about the death penalty, while the prisoner is on suicide watch.

I suggest a different strategy: just don’t bother with the suicide watch. Put him in a cell alone with some razorblades and rope, and let the chips fall where they may.

I don’t agree with the death penalty. The practical argument against capital punishment is that are some suspects who are wrongly convicted and executed. As long as there’s any possibility of wrongful conviction, the death penalty is an atrocity. That’s not an issue with Ariel Castro: we know what he did. But then we have the philosophical issue that the government is using its power to kill prisoners in order to show the populace that killing people is wrong. There’s something inherently fucked up about that. I don’t think the government should give itself permission to kill prisoners.

However, I also think the justice system is not obligated to protect prisoners from themselves. If Ariel Castro wants to die, he should have our permission. It’ll be the most sensible decision he’s ever made.

Further Thoughts on Anti-Choice Consistency

Something that tends to come up in debates over abortion rights is the supposed inconsistency, or hypocrisy, of anti-choicers. Those of us who support a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion have some tricks we like to use to try and chase our opponents into a corner. One of them is the Rape Double Bind: if an anti is willing to make exceptions for rape, she’s a hypocrite. If not, she’s a monster. I think this is problematic, but I’m not shooting my mouth off about it today. Instead, I’m going to comment on another purity test we like to inflict on the other side: the Death Penalty Trap. Specifically, I’m going into the supposed hypocrisy of people who both oppose elective abortion rights and support the death penalty.

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Paging Irshad Manji

Over at Jezebel, Anna North indulges moral equivalency and cultural oversensitivity.

Comparing the case of Sakineh Ashtiani in Iran to Teresa Lewis in Virginia, North first quotes some Iranian new source as if they’re making any sense:

The US and the American media tried their best to make a symbol of human rights out of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani because of the background of their atrocities towards Iran but after seven years, human rights organisations have been silent for Teresa. This shows their double standard in relation to other countries.

Yes, everything is about how the U.S. is so horribly cruel to Iran.

Okay, I won’t argue about how our government policies have treated Iran. You know why? Because it’s a non-issue. The people who are all up in arms on behalf of Mrs. Ashtiani are not the same set of people who advocated for the U.S. to “Bomb Bomb Iran.” In fact I’d be willing to wager that a lot of the same people who are opposed to the execution of Teresa Lewis are also in support of Ashtiani.

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