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Supreme Court Gets It Right, But I Don’t Like It

Electric-Chair.jpgI’m not a death penalty advocate whatsoever; in fact, I’m pretty set against it, so long as I’m not actually privy to the facts of a particular case (throw in the gruesome details, and my conservative “give ‘em the chair” streak runs wild). So today’s Supreme Court ruling gives me mixed emotions.

By a 5-4 margin, in an opinion written by Justice Kennedy (as of this writing, I don’t know all of the details, but it’s safe to say that Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and the new guy are in the minority), the Supreme Court ruled that it is not constitutional to impose the death penalty on those who have been convicted of raping a child.

It makes sense, and I suppose that the punishment is not proportional, since it’s less of an “eye for an eye” thing and more of an “eye for the loss of your childhood and likely life debilitating trauma” thing. So, bully for the Sups.

But on the other hand: If you had to give out the death penalty, wouldn’t it feel good to fry the bastards who raped children? I’m just sayin’, you know?

| Comments (15)


Isn't Roberts more the "New Guy" than Alito?

yes. that sounds about right.

and death to the fuckers who poison dogs in parks. this week, 2 dead, 6 critically ill in toronto's biggest park. last year, someone put poison into hot dog bits and placed them in another toronto dog park, killing one and sickening many others.

oh yeah, and death penalty to people who steal dogs and sell them to laboratories or use them as "bait" in dog fight training. this was a big problem in chicago a couple of years ago. i could go on...

One point of contention is whether, if you make child rape a capital offense, the perpetrator would be more likely to kill the victim. From a cost-benefit analysis, it simply makes sense (more likely never to be caught, no added punishment if you are indeed caught).

From what I have read of the opinion so far (I have quite a bit to go), it looks like Kennedy set down a categorical rule that unless you kill someone or intend to kill someone you can't get the death penalty.

Can't we just castrate them and be done with it?

I think I'd rather be killed after a raping than have to live with it the rest of my life (actually i'd prefer to be murdered first). child touching and rape are the only crimes I condone the death penalty for. And I'd include a heavy dose of orifice and genital related torture before-hand.

Celery, I hear you but I feel like that's the reasoning behind getting rid of the death penalty for all horrific-but-not-quite-intent-to-kill crimes.

janaynay, i wasn't being serious - not that i wouldn't like to torture/eliminate animals abusers.

perhaps the police could release the names of the dog killers/stealers and let people like me deal with them, old west style.

on a more serious note, i'm not sure that raping a child is terribly worse than raping an adult. i'm not trivializing child abuse - it's heinous - but i wish the courts and general public would take sexual abuse of adults more seriously. i think there's a general sense (NOT on this webpage, but among the masses) that children will be traumatized for life, and women should just cry for a few days and get over it. prison sentences certainly seem to reflect this.

Yes, of course it would feel good to execute child rapists. However, to my mind, it is permissible for the government to punish, but not to seek vengeance. But I suppose this would be why I oppose the death penalty in all its forms and therefore wholeheartedly agree with you and the big "Bully" for the Supremes.

1:53: Well, there's the entirely logical distinction between and adult and a child in that a child is pretty much always physically vulnerable, pretty much always easily tricked, and absolutely always seriously physically injured by a rape (not necessarily molestation, but rape). In short, sticking an adult penis in an 8-year-old vagina is a hell of a lot more intrusive than doing so to an adult vagina. Indeed, isn't that *why* these sick fucks do it?

Moreover, it is entirely permissible for the government to impose retributive justice - it's one of many reasons for imposing a punishment.

And, everybody - your boy Obama disagrees with the SC on this one.

Yeah, Erica... he's against the ruling, because he thought it was too restrictive in the application of the death penalty only in cases of murder or intent to murder.

If they don't get the death penalty for raping a child, then there's the potential that they get out and offend again. Jessica Lunsford was the victim of a child rapist whose known prior acts involved molestation of children. If he had received a life sentence for the molestations, then that child would be alive today. Child molesters should never see the light of day again. People who rape children should get the death penalty after being made to suffer the crime they committed against the child. The child's psyche is murdered when he or she is raped. What replaces the psyche is damaged and just a thin shell of its former self.

I would be concerned about the effect on reporting the crimes. Mom might report step-daddy for raping her daughter when's he looking at a stiff sentence, but the death penalty? One more thing for the victims to live with.

And, given the stellar "deterrent" factor the death penalty has on homicide, are we really accomplishing anything besides confirming ourselves as a seemingly advanced civilization that still can't figure out what to do with its criminals besides take them out back and shoot them?

Several points:

celery, I agree with you.

I wonder what message this is sending.

Are children inherently more victimized because they are considered more scared, less able to fight back, and generally more innocent than adults that are raped? Are women (and men) considered less than a victim because they really "want it" and have a developed sexuality that leads them to be, at least in part, blamed?

Is it simply because, yes, this country doesn't take adult sexual assault seriously and in a sense, encourages it?

Erica adult rape, can--not always, but can--be just as physically damaging as child rape to the person's body. It's not always just a penis thats used, after all. Just look at the rape epidemic in the DRC.

And are adults not just as vulnerable to STDs and HIV infections? Can adult women not become pregnant as the result of a rape?

I've experienced sexual assault both as a child and as an adult. They both affected me, though luckily the physical repercussions I dealt with as a child were not severe. My reactions to my experiences as a child only really came out in adulthood, affecting my relationships and trust etc. My assault as an adult had a much more obvious, stunning, and immediate effect. I would have a hard time arguing which was more psychologically damaging.

Janaynay, no, you don't kill yourself. You want to--at first--but then you move on.

I don't agree with the death penalty for either adult or child rapists, just for the record, (since i believe that death for them would, quite frankly, be too easy--and find no reason for their family members to suffer) but wonder what message is being sent by calling one worse than the other?

What about all of the preschool cases which turned out to be hysteria but for which some people are still serving life - even though no crime was ever committed? You'd want them executed also?