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Re: Old Man
actually

if you read a little more intensively, in some ways their legal system was more fair than ours.

What sticks out to me is "in the mouth of two or more witnesses" principle.  Rules of evidence required the testimony of at least two witnesses, and that their testimony agree.  Even when a confession was acquired, witnesses were required to back it up.

Also towns of refuge -- if a person was accused oa a murder, he could go to a particular town and the victim's family could not touch him in revenge.

It would seem that system was set up to protect the accused from false punishment, at least more than the system in the U.S. today, which just seems in a lot of cases to be an arm of vengeance for relatives of murder victims, with words like "justice" and "closure" being bandied about, which really mean "vengeance".

posted by Xeno-x on June 29, 2008 at 8:31 AM | link to this | reply

Old Man
The Bible never talks about any kind of fair trial. It just gives you a list of people you need to stone to death.  If we really were a society that was based off of Biblical ideas, then each city would just have a pile of rocks ready at all times for all the bastards and other people on the 'stoning list' and we would have witch hunts going on non-stop. Which does seem to be what the modern conservative fundamentalists want to have happen here.  They seem to be wanting to get rid of the whole justice system and not worry if the person is guilty or not.  That just want to have someone to blame and don't care if that person really did commit the crime.
 
Public stonings did not make people less likely to commit crimes nor did it make people less likely to hand out the death penalty. If anything it would have seemed to get people more excited about such things. History does show us to be fairly demented animals when it comes to such things.  I think we have been able to develop better as of late due to public executions no longer be a social activity.  People really did make a day's event out of those kind of things and it most likely made it less real to them.
 
I personally do think there are times when you have to use the death penalty. Northsage mentioned the Manson murders, which is case where they should have been put to death, including Manson himself due to simple fact that he is more guilty of those murders than anyone else, even if he did not commit them. Of course in that case there was no doubt at all those people were guilty and that they were true dangers to society.
 
In all societies justice is not fool-proof.  It does fail at times and there really is no way to make it work perfectly.  All we really can do is try our best and work as hard as we can to make sure it is the guilty who are being punished and not the innocent.  Due to people wanting revenge and some times just wanting to someone they can blame for the crime, you get mistakes made that do end up punishing the wrong person while letting the real criminals run free.  Our system needs to be more about the actual facts and evidence of a case and less about any possible emotional issues.

posted by kooka_lives on June 29, 2008 at 6:51 AM | link to this | reply

Re: Re: actually, zenmom . . .
Xeno...why am I NOT surprised?

posted by ZenMom on June 27, 2008 at 7:48 AM | link to this | reply

Cruelty in any form is bad .

posted by afzal50 on June 26, 2008 at 8:37 PM | link to this | reply

At this time I'll refrain from taking sides on this issue, as I believe such matters should be decided by consensus in a well informed society:

If those who make the judgement have to execute it themselves by a more personal means, such as stoning, I'm sure they'll think about it much harder before making up their minds.  Those who choose to commit such crimes who now may regard the death penalty as an easy way out of a miserable life may also think about the consequences of their actions differently.  There are many more angles of approach and probable consequences than the easy judgement that all forms of violence are bad and if you kill someone in a way that make it seem more distant and less violent it is good.  There is a strong tendency, in the supposedly civilized world, to steer away from all forms of punishment, but the victims of crimes are still punished emotionally for years after the events, especially in cases of life-sentence were murderers may well escape or may get released eventually as society gets more "altruistic' and less prone to think about long term consequences.  Death by injection or gas may not be physically painful, but I'm sure it is as tormenting to those who have to face it (if they are still human enough) as would be any other kind of death.  This reminds me of the way wars are fought now.  If you charged into a building, armed with a blade, that has been earmarked as a target, and you find children in there, you may still think about the consequences before chopping them to pieces.  Now you just fly by and drop a bomb or launch a missile from far away.  You can then easily distance yourself from mistakes (Oops, I had no way of knowing).  Becoming "distant" killers doesn't make us saints, to the contrary, it makes us less prone to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions.


posted by AardigeAfrikaner on June 26, 2008 at 3:08 PM | link to this | reply

Public executions

     I am unsure just how I feel about executions. I thought that I could add to the discourse on the subject, by relating a conversation I had with a coworker back in the sixties about the Manson family. These human animals were clearly guilty of the crimes with with they were charged, they freely admitted to having done it. With that as a given, my friend said that each of the criminals should be securely strapped into a chair and the victim's family members should all file into the room after being each given a pair of pliers and a hat pin, and nothing else. What happened in that room for the next hour would not be public, but he said that this would be justice. In this particular case, I think that I agree.

     When the guilt of the accused is in any degree doubted, I think that we should go with the "Beyond a shadow of a doubt" standard. If the accused is proven to be innocent of the crime, after being executed, how can justice be done? It cannot! I think that the Supreme Court risked erring, on the side of prudence, because of this fact. I agree with this, also.

     The intentionally brutal rape of a small innocent child? I don't know what to think about the death penalty for this crime. Presumably the child has not been murdered. He or she can still live a full life, but can never live a NORMAL LIFE. If child rapists know that conviction for this crime will certainly bring a death sentence, there is little reason to leave the victim alive. Could a sane person do this? I don't know how I feel about giving the criminal a reason to murder the victim. In addition to not wanting to serve on the same court with ("Justice") Scalia, I would hate to have to rule on this question, if I were a Supreme Court judge.

     Guy

posted by northsage_45 on June 26, 2008 at 2:55 PM | link to this | reply

Re: actually, zenmom . . .

posted by Xeno-x on June 26, 2008 at 1:56 PM | link to this | reply

sorry......clicked on this cause my "crazy" eyes saw something about being stoned in public............w/ Xeno saying "it's good".... Faint 





posted by ZenMom on June 26, 2008 at 1:45 PM | link to this | reply

Sadly, the people who would watch would watch because they like it.
And public violence would just get that much more acceptance.

posted by Ciel on June 26, 2008 at 1:26 PM | link to this | reply

Sadly, the people who would watch would watch because they like it.

posted by Ciel on June 26, 2008 at 1:25 PM | link to this | reply

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