Two Things

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I don’t have time to give either of these the attention they deserve—which they deserve for entirely different reasons. But I’ll leave them here for y’all to ponder, discuss, and dissect.

  • The first is this article, which depicts a story so unbelievably outrageous on so many different levels, it may well shock even the jaded souls who read this site. It’s really astounding.

 

–Radley

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63 Responses to “Two Things”

  1. #1 |  The Late Andy Rooney | 

    I was less than impressed by Goldberg;s column. He made much of the fact that death penalty oppoents pick and choose when deciding which cases to tout as arguments against capital punishment. Don’t advocates for most other causes do the same thing?

  2. #2 |  Andrew S. | 

    (Un)fortunately, Radley, I’m far too jaded for even the first story there to surprise me.

  3. #3 |  Personanongrata | 

    The turd-stains operating under the guise of law over at the Drug Enforcement Agency need to have their pants pulled down and their asses spanked in public in the literal sense.

    Disgusting.

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    The Goldberg column presumes that you are either always for or against the death penalty, and that there cannot be nuance or qualifications. 99% of those sentenced to death are did not commit a premeditated mass killing in front of witnesses, were then caught shortly thereafter, and left a huge trail of evidence. Its entirely consistent to accept the death penalty for Holmes or McVeigh and then consider the death penalty inappropriate for most cases.

    I was interested in his dig at the liberal big cities for their opposition to the death penalty despite lots of murders. Last I checked, the conservative cities and towns also had a lot of killings too.

  5. #5 |  SJE | 

    The DEA story is so disgraceful, I can only hope that a judge will have the balls to find a way to do justice. Not only repair the truck, and recompensate the businessman, but to pay to relocate the family if necessary.

  6. #6 |  Danny | 

    Okay, Jonah, you win: twelve murders or more, and the death penalty applies. Less than twelve, no. Call it the “rule of the dozen.”

  7. #7 |  Chris C. | 

    Like Andrew, I am not shocked by the first article. Pissed off, yes. But when there is seldom any penalty at all for such abuse of both the system and the people these agents are supposed to “serve and protect”, and virtually never a penalty that affects the agents themselves, human nature kicks in. Just as with financial institutions and corporations receiving subsidies from various governments, there is all upside and little downside. And the folks in charge of these organizations are seldom prosecuted, either. Powerful government (in my estimation, nearly all government is covered by that term) fatally distorts the incentives that should apply to any activity with which government is involved. And people wonder why I’m an anarchist . . .

  8. #8 |  MikeV | 

    The truck owner should probably be happy the DEA didn’t decide to seize his truck, since it was used to haul marijuana.

  9. #9 |  jesse | 

    I’d say Goldberg is as close to being right as he’s ever going to get, if the facts about this shooting are as advertised. Still, my concern is that if we allow the death penalty at all, then the government has demonstrated that it will not only try to apply it in the most slam-dunk and egregious cases, but also has no problem seeking it when the questions of guilt and/or culpability are in some doubt. Therefore I’m uncomfortable having that door cracked open even slightly, even for people like Holmes.

  10. #10 |  B Mac | 

    IN: DEA vs ATF, OUT: Star Trek Redshirts vs. Imperial Stormtroopers

  11. #11 |  Chris Mallory | 

    @#6 Danny,

    Ok, how about Jan Michael Brawner who killed his 3 year old daughter, his ex inlaws and his ex wife? Is there any reason why he should not have been executed?
    What about Henry Curtis Jackson Jr. This fine gentleman stabbed 4 nieces and nephews, all under the age of 5, to death. Is there any reason he should be breathing right now?
    How about Michael Bascum Selsor. He robbed 4 convenience stores trying to kill the clerk each time. Luckily he only succeeded once. Should the tax payers still be paying to keep him alive?

    Yes there need to be some changes, but in most cases there is no doubt what so ever about who committed the crime. Here is a listing of every execution in the US since 1976.
    http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/usexecute.htm

  12. #12 |  Danny | 

    Chris: I think under the Rule of a Dozen, those cases would fall short, no?

    Maybe you don’t like the trench Jonah picked to make his stand?

  13. #13 |  Tom Meyer | 

    I’m really not getting what makes the Goldberg piece so awful.

  14. #14 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “And without Patty’s knowledge, the Drug Enforcement Administration was paying his driver, Lawrence Chapa, to use the truck to bust traffickers.”

    It sounds more like the DEA and their snitches do the trafficking
    and bust anyone who comes along for the joyride.
    BTW Are the terms “botched” and “sting” now the most commonly
    joined words in the English language?

  15. #15 |  Danny | 

    synonyms for “facile”: “glib”; “superficial”

    Goldberg is tearing apart scarecrows. Practically no one voices opposition to the death penalty on the basis that it is “undeserved,” in some sense of cosmic justice, by those who commit mass murder.

    The core argument is over how much power to give the government. Just the bare minimum needed to maintain public safety? Or a big increment of additional power to gratify our instinct for vengance?

    If we put the government in the business of giving everybody what they “deserve,” our country would look like a particularly gory chapter from an RR Martin novel.

  16. #16 |  David | 

    Should the tax payers still be paying to keep him alive?

    I don’t know – should the taxpayers be paying more to have him killed? Life in prison is cheap compared to execution.

  17. #17 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I can only imagine Jonah Goldberg’s take on safe sex:

    “Safe sex advocates are fairly mercenary about when to express their outrage. When you’re having sex with multiple partners; when you’re not ready to start a family; when you’re in a monogamous relationship with someone who has an STD: These are just a few of the times when opponents loudly insist unprotected sex must go.

    “But when your partner wants to get pregnant or you’re in a monogamous relationship with a partner who’s had a vasectomy or tubectomy, the anti-unprotected-sex crowd stays silent. If your long-term goal is to abolish sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, you want to pick your cases carefully.”

  18. #18 |  Rojo | 

    Danny gets it just right at #14. And Goldberg’s core premise in his article, “But the simple fact is, if the death penalty is always wrong, it’s wrong in the politically inconvenient cases, too,” is easily answered, yes you are right, that’s what always means. Do you gave actual point? Because the rest of your article poses as if you’ve found some actual logical flaw at the heart of the anti-death penalty argument and, uh, Jonah? You haven’t.

  19. #19 |  Rojo | 

    “have an actual point” no “gave actual point”

    Sigh.

  20. #20 |  Krishan Bhattacharya | 

    “…[A] retributive impulse, based on the idea that each person is the free author of his thoughts and actions, rests on a cognitive and emotional illusion, and perpetuates a moral one.” – Sam Harris

  21. #21 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    One could, of course, loosen the standards of self defense such that swine like James Holmes are unlikely to survive to be arrested. That would, at a minimum, shift the argument away from “do we trust the government to put anyone to death?”.

    One might also mention that if we did away with the War on Drugs, the first article’s problem would not be repeated, and a lot of the ambiguity about the death penalty might go away.

    Lastly, why not add a penalty for clear cases of multiple murder; life imprisonment with a rider such that, should the prisoner ever escape he may be shot on sight by anyone?

    And, no, I don’t know where I am on the death penalty.

  22. #22 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    “Facile” is a great word. What a strawman. And to think many consider him the libertarian that got away. The only argument you need against giving the Colorado shooter the death penalty is the countless hours of expensive attorney time that will be wasted in pursuit of that outcome, which won’t happen anyway.

    A great statistic that you might try to come up with is how many careers — in billable hours, reasonable work-hours per year, typical lawyer career length — on death row inmate provides from arrest to execution. How fricking amazing would it be if one executed criminal consumes 3 or 4 complete careers of people time?

  23. #23 |  EH | 

    CSP: getting rid of the drug war would involve downsizing many, many police departments. When was the last time a city of any repute laid off law enforcement?

  24. #24 |  Lefty | 

    If this guy is schizophrenic then no I’m against executing him. If he wasn’t I’m not sure how I’d feel. Probably against it for the simple reasons that it’s not a deterrent and it puts too much power in the hands of the state.

    If I was directly involved or had a loved one involved I’m sure I’d feel differently.

  25. #25 |  Lefty | 

    Oakland laid off some cops this past year. And that’s one city that needs them

  26. #26 |  J-Ho | 

    @ #13 –

    You’re correct in that it’s a pretty typical Goldberg piece.

    But is it just me or was there a time maybe 6-7 years ago when Jonah Goldberg wasn’t a total partisan hack?

  27. #27 |  Alex | 

    #18 Rojo (and some others): I too am mystified that Goldberg thinks death penalty opponents will balk in this circumstance.

    Yes, he is (allegedly) a really bad guy from whom society should be protected. Does giving the government the power of execution, instead of permanent imprisonment, somehow protect society better?

  28. #28 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    In re the first link: As angry as I am about the truck, I’m much more horrified at what happened to the driver.

  29. #29 |  cthulhu | 

    I’m anti-death-penalty in this case as in all cases. From a book I’ve enjoyed on many occasions (which book is an exercise for the reader – no googling please!), a favorite passage that sums up my views pretty succinctly:

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    I see no reason why this shouldn’t apply to James Holmes, Jared Loughner, the guy who blows away the clerk at the local 7-11 for $8.47, or even the cop who shoots an unarmed citizen who was lawfully going about his business. I would kill in self-defense of my loved ones or myself, but the state – aka Leviathan – has no business executing citizens as “justice”.

  30. #30 |  croaker | 

    Liberal Eco-Fascist: He’s fracking, so f*** him! He’s got it coming!

    In other news: No Facebook? No Friends? You’re a sociopath and quite possible a mass murderer in the making.

    http://activepolitic.com:82/News/2012-07-25c/Facebook_Abstainers_could_be_labeled_Suspicious.html

  31. #31 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    EH;

    If I ran the world, which the Gods forbid, I would call off the drug war, try to redefine how officers were promoted, and then let attrition by retirement do its magic. I’ve never understood the “We have to keep doing this useless or counterproductive work, or we’ll have to fire people.” argument. There are just sooooo many government functions that we would be better off if the functionaries were told “You will be paid until retirement. We don’t give a toss if you get another job. But don’t come in to work, we’re renting the building out or tearing it down.”.

    I know. Never happen. I can dream, can’t I?

  32. #32 |  Dannyp19 | 

    I’ve always said that if we are going to have the death penalty then it needs to be done in public (town square, courthouse, live Tv) and during daylight. Barbarity hidden in a prison and done at mid-night does not put it in the public eye.

    Out of sight out of mind.

  33. #33 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #4SJE: “I was interested in his dig at the liberal big cities for their opposition to the death penalty despite lots of murders. Last I checked, the conservative cities and towns also had a lot of killings too.”

    It is interesting. Southern states always have the highest levels of violent crime, in spite of their fondness for the death penalty and bible-thumping. So much for deterrence, Mr. Goldberg.

  34. #34 |  a_random_guy | 

    “…virtually never a penalty that affects the agents themselves”

    This, of course, is the root of the problem. If you work for private industry, and screw up in some spectacular way, you can expect to be fired. No danger of this if you work for the government; at worst, you may get shuffled off to some other position.

    In this specific case: if the DEA wants to set up a sting operation, they ought to either set up their own shell company, or negotiate openly with the business owner. Using his property, truck and employee without his knowledge is theft of services, plain and simple. Whoever set this up ought to be facing criminal charges.

    That said, the article does exaggerate a bit. It’s unlikely that any drug cartels are coming after this guy. The dealers know perfectly well that they were dealing with an individual driver, who is now dead.

  35. #35 |  Jozef | 

    I work for a company that does mobile communications for truck fleets. The equipment isn’t cheap, but compared to the price of truck and potential insurance cost savings, it’s next to nothing. So far, we’ve been marketing the devices for security (both driver and cargo; instant alerts when the driver leaves a prescribed route or doesn’t show up on a checkpoint on time) and DOT regulations compliance. I think we should begin marketing our service also as a tool against hijacking by government agencies.

  36. #36 |  Matt | 

    I have no need for ambiguity of the evidence or a sympathetic defendant to argue against the death penalty. Simply because we are rather sure we have the right guy in this case does not mean we are sure we have the right guy in all cases. Regardless of how sure you are, you are still giving the state the power to kill someone in their own custody, and the state could and has shown that they have the power to use that power against those who are innocent.

    But let us take that argument away. Lets assume that the state always finds the right person and never puts an innocent on death row. It is still worth it to keep that person alive. He might still be useful to society.

    Lets say that it is revealed years after the fact that there was some evidence that Holmes wasn’t working alone. Or that he had killed in secret before but had never been caught. It would be nice if Holmes was still alive and in prison, he might be able to tell us something useful. If you kill him he won’t be telling us anything.

  37. #37 |  Bergman | 

    If I am hired to drive a truck, and instead of following my assigned route, I drive off to Vegas for the week, I would be charged with grand theft.

    How can the DEA get away with stealing entire trucks?

  38. #38 |  JLA | 

    While the DEA story doesn’t surprise me in the least, I’m very disillusioned by the commenters on that site that don’t think the DEA did anything wrong.

  39. #39 |  Marty | 

    To the DEA, we’re all just cannon fodder in their little war. Dragging people and their property into a drug war, especially without their knowledge, is horrific. I hope this guy and his family stay safe and get a huge payday at taxpayer’s expense. A pox on every single asshole working for the DEA.

  40. #40 |  marie | 

    Commandeered by one of his drivers, who was secretly working with federal agents, the truck had been hauling marijuana from the border as part of an undercover operation. And without Patty’s knowledge, the Drug Enforcement Administration was paying his driver, Lawrence Chapa, to use the truck to bust traffickers.

    I must be a little slow. The DEA was hauling a semi-load of marijuana? Where were they going, and how was the sting going to work? Somehow, the bad guys (the ones who aren’t DEA) learned that the truck was full of pot and they shot the driver? But why were there so many law enforcement agencies involved? A dozen officers from multiple agencies were there when Chapa was shot…how were they all brought in and how many of them understood that it was an undercover op?

    The story, as written, just isn’t very clear. It is clear that the DEA stole the truck and is now refusing to make good with the owner. I want more detail on the DEA operation, though.

    While it might be true that the cartel won’t come after the truck owner, I completely understand why the business owner would worry about it. He has a wife and children, and now his life and business have been smeared with shit by the DEA. Getting smeared with shit–BY LAW ENFORCEMENT–will make a person paranoid. Any confidence that the law will be helpful when you need them is gone.

  41. #41 |  marie | 

    There is much outrage over the DEA refusing to take responsibility for what they did with the truck…as there should be.

    There should be even more outrage over the DEA running the undercover operation.

    As for the death penalty, I can’t disagree that there are people who deserve death for their crimes. However, I fall firmly in the “better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man go to prison” camp. Which sets me against the death penalty, even in cases when it is deserved.

  42. #42 |  Pi Guy | 

    “Many that live deserve death…”

    – Mithrandir the Grey.

    That passage is what convinced me that the death pennalty was wrong. I was 15 or 16 awhen I read it first and I’ve never forgotten it.

  43. #43 |  marie | 

    Thanks, Pi Guy.

  44. #44 |  David T | 

    On the DEA-Truck story, did you note who the truck-owner’s lawyer is? Mark Bennett (“Defending People”, http://blog.bennettandbennett.com/) I feel better knowing he’s on the case. (Bennett is also running for Texas Supreme Court on the Libertarian ticket.)

  45. #45 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    The death penalty is giving the state too much power. It’s something they WILL abuse.

  46. #46 |  Jim | 

    will continue to abuse

  47. #47 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @46 – European. No EU state practices the death penalty, so…

    (Technically some still have it on the books for military personnel for things like cowardice in the face of the enemy, but that’s one of the few special cases I’ll admit…)

  48. #48 |  Deoxy | 

    The Jonah Goldberg piece is a GREAT response to many of the arguments that are made against the death penalty.

    That there is still another argument that is even better (not trusting the state to administer that power in a just manner) does not make his piece any less accurate, or the arguments he was skewering any less commonly advocated.

    You don’t have to like it or even agree with it, but to simply pretend that the arguments he’s attacking aren’t made (and in fact, aren’t the most vocal arguments most people ever hear on the topic) does not help your case or your credibility.

  49. #49 |  Deoxy | 

    However, I fall firmly in the “better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man go to prison” camp. Which sets me against the death penalty, even in cases when it is deserved.

    This argument, as applied, has always struck me as boneheaded stupid.

    “10” is picked just because it sounds nice. In actuality, a system that worked like would be awful to live in – 10 is far too high a number.

    EVERY system will have error. You have to decide what level of error is acceptable – NONE is not possible, unless you have no system at all.

    The objective of our system is to produce the least victimization by crime – punishing the innocent is essentially making another person a victim, thus adding to the total “victimization” level.

    Now, there’s no real way to measure victimization, but we approximate: murder is worse than assault is worse than theft…

    To wrongly imprison the wrong person is to, essentially, kidnap them, which is a pretty serious thing, so yes, it should weigh appropriately.

    But preventing one person being kidnapped by the state is worth 10 kidnappers going free to kidnap again? That’s stupid – they will kidnap 10 more people (ok, maybe fewer, but almost certainly not none).

    I want to live in a society where I have a very low chance of being the victim of a crime. I’d rather live in a society where I have a 2% chance of being the victim of a crime, 1% by criminals and 1% chance of error by the state, than one where I have a 5% chance of being the victim of a crime, even if all the crimes are done by actual criminals.

    Of course, I make no claim that our current system does this (I’d wager that it manages to increase the chance of victimization by both the state AND the criminals), but that can be improved in many ways that don’t resort to, effectively, punishing no one ever (what “better 10 go free…” amounts to, if actually implemented).

  50. #50 |  Deoxy | 

    I should add that punishing the wrong person also leaves the original offender free to offend again, which adds a further weight against punishing the innocent… but still does not make it 10 times worse.

  51. #51 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    USA: pitchfork crowd cheering for the execution of the mentally ill.

  52. #52 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » DEA Uses Truck Under False Pretenses; Refuses to Pay Truck Owner $133,532 in Repairs Resulting from Botched Sting Operation | 

    […] Tip: The Agitator Permalink || Comments (0) || Categories: Dumbasses and Authoritarians,Government […]

  53. #53 |  marie | 

    EVERY system will have error. You have to decide what level of error is acceptable – NONE is not possible, unless you have no system at all.

    The level of error that is acceptable? Zero innocent men incarcerated.

    The purpose of our justice system is justice. The part of the Constitution that prevents you from being a victim is the second amendment.

  54. #54 |  pim FEE | 

    Facile is an uncommon word. It was used by Mr. Balko and twice in the comments section at the KC star. I imagine the Joker being a huge fan of adult cartoons and watching Jon Stewart. I’ll bet he considered himself a progressive.

  55. #55 |  Harry Suit | 

    Economic answer – default punishment for murder is death penalty, unless the guilty can raise enough money to afford to be kept alive (in prison). Those who are against the death penalty can form charities to help those who cannot afford it on their own (I’d imagine the vast majority, since it’s what, over 50K/year?).

    Run out of funds in year 10? Too bad, you enter death row.

  56. #56 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @55 – Ah yes, one justice for the rich, another for the poor.

    “Charities”. Yea, right, “those scum who keep murderers alive”, as the press will call them. They’ll last, maybe, three months.

  57. #57 |  Mark F. | 

    “USA: pitchfork crowd cheering for the execution of the mentally ill.”

    How do you know Holmes is “mentally ill?” And how come “mental illness” never causes anyone to do something good?

  58. #58 |  Jason Kuznicki | 

    When a mental eccentricity causes someone to do something bad, we call it a mental illness.

    When a mental eccentricity causes someone to do something good, we call it a lot of other things: Obsession. Virtuosity. Genius. Sainthood. Anything but mental illness, seemingly.

    But if you were to take the typical person from today and place them in the Renaissance, they might well be called insane. And vice versa.

    I’m not making a blanket endorsement of relativism here, either. I’m just noting that the standards for mental illness seem especially pliable over time.

  59. #59 |  Deoxy | 

    The level of error that is acceptable? Zero innocent men incarcerated.

    The only way to accomplish this is to incarcerate no one.

    The part of the Constitution that prevents you from being a victim is the second amendment.

    So, execution, then? The errors that would still manage to occur would be a whole lot worse…

    Granted, I believe very strongly in the second amendment, and I believe very strongly that our current system has major problems, but let’s be serious for a moment:

    What would your system (one with no prison at all) do with the “judgement proof” (read: completely utterly broke) who commit crimes?

    If I have nothing to pay restitution, and I steal something valuable (say, a car – and I wreck it, so it’s no longer worth anything), what is my penalty? Do you get to kill me?

    If not, what penalty is there for me? Yay, crime sprrreeeeee…..

    And of course, you are also advocating killing people in defense of your stuff, not just yourself or your family – not sure I’d disagree with that, really, but it would be a hard sell with most of the population these days.

  60. #60 |  marie | 

    You are an idiot, Deoxy.

    Putting zero innocent people in prison means only those proven beyond a reasonable doubt would be in prison. Prosecutors have the power now to put defendants in prison without having to prove anything. That’s wrong and that leads inevitably to putting innocent people in prison.

    Do I think it is possible to get to my goal of zero innocent men in prison? Probably not, but that still needs to be the goal.

    I don’t know where your little fantasy about execution comes from. The second amendment gives you the power to prevent your becoming a victim. If you don’t like guns, fine, but do learn how to protect yourself and stop expecting law enforcement to do it for you.

  61. #61 |  Deoxy | 

    I’m not an idiot – I am applying your requirements logically and telling you the result. The idiocy is in the requirement.

    Putting zero innocent people in prison means only those proven beyond a reasonable doubt would be in prison.

    That is ostensibly the system we have now.

    Prosecutors have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt… to a jury. The rules for jury picking are crazy.

    The only way prosecutors can put people in prison without proving anything is the plea bargain… and that only works so badly because getting juries (selected badly) to do what you want is far too easy.

    There are dozens of ways we could improve out system… and there would still be innocent people put in prison at least occasionally.

    I don’t know where your little fantasy about execution comes from.

    “My” little execution fantasy comes, again, directly from you, your requirements, and the direct logical consequences of them. In fact, I quoted them both in just earlier, but I will do so again, just for you:

    The level of error that is acceptable? Zero innocent men incarcerated.

    The part of the Constitution that prevents you from being a victim is the second amendment.

    So, if there is to be no incarceration, and the second amendment is the remedy to victimization, then that leaves execution or NOTHING for those unable to pay recompense for their crimes.

    I laid all this out before; you simply don’t want to think through the consequences of your stated desires. You are fantasizing.

    he second amendment gives you the power to prevent your becoming a victim. If you don’t like guns, fine, but do learn how to protect yourself and stop expecting law enforcement to do it for you.

    And this makes it clear (if the other didn’t) that you didn’t even read what I wrote earlier. I support the second amendment, I think the vast majority of the populace should be armed, and I think you should be able to hold a thief at gunpoint until the police arrive… meaning that you can SHOOT the thief is he tries to run (that’s the only way “holding at gunpoint” actually works).

    But hey, I can point out the ridiculous fallacies in your so-called reasoning, so I must be a gun-fearing idiot.

  62. #62 |  marie | 

    Prosecutors have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt… to a jury.

    That’s just it: prosecutors rarely have to do that. Mandatory minimum sentences make it possible to incarcerate large numbers of people without EVER going to a jury. When someone takes the plea, the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove a damned thing.

    The prosecution says, “We could charge you with X, which has a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, or you can plead guilty to Y, and serve 6 years.” Which would you take?

    THAT is the way it works.

    In the last five years, only 2% of Colorado’s convictions came from a jury trial. Two percent.

    …by threatening the accused with drastically more severe potential penalties if they exercise their right to a trial by jury, prosecutors undermine that right and sometimes compel the innocent to plead guilty.

    I did see that you support the Second Amendment. The bit about learning how to protect yourself even if you don’t like guns may not have been appropriate in your case, but in #49 you had said “The objective of our system is to produce the least victimization by crime.” I think that is foolish thinking. You also said, “I want to live in a society where I have a very low chance of being the victim of a crime.” I was telling you to rely on yourself instead of relying on our system to prevent being victimized.

    Our system victimizes innocent people. Is it better to be “kidnapped” by the system than it is to be kidnapped by strangers? It is still kidnapping, and yet you are willing to let OTHERS be “kidnapped” by the system. If your ass was on the line, your choices would suddenly look a whole lot different.

  63. #63 |  Deoxy | 

    If your ass was on the line, your choices would suddenly look a whole lot different.

    My ass IS on the line. Everyday.

    Just like everyone else in this society – “To live is risk.” Every day, I roll the dice and hope not to be in the .004% of people (or whatever) who will be victimized today. (Yes, there are things one can do to minimize the risks, but you can’t eliminate them.)

    WHO does the victimizing is not really that important. There is X risk of it being the state, and Y risk of it being someone else – the total is Z, and that’s all I really care about.

    The state tends to be more thorough and long-lasting about it (jail, etc) and lot harder to defend yourself against – these add to the impossible-to-properly-quantify “victimization quotient” of the state doing it.

    But, especially when it comes to violent death, well, it doesn’t really matter who does it – it matters that we minimize how much it happens, total.

    I completely understand that the current system only holds public actors accountable on an extremely rare occasion, and that makes such abuses more likely, but that doesn’t change the argument, only the current steps needed.

    I don’t understand why that’s so hard to understand.

    Is it better to be “kidnapped” by the system than it is to be kidnapped by strangers?

    Depends on the state, the state agents involved, and the strangers in question.

    That is, they are both very bad things, and I want the TOTAL of that lowered, not just one group or the other. In fact, I’d go for a little higher of either one if it meant the total was lower.

    To turn your question around, is it better for 12 people to be kidnapped by strangers or 10 by the state?

    Barring other material differences (which vary greatly by the specific event), I’d pick the 10 instead of the 12. EVERY TIME.

    Wouldn’t you?

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