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Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group Message Board › State-Sponsored Violence - The Death Penalty vs. Humanianity

State-Sponsored Violence - The Death Penalty vs. Humanianity

Bill Van F.
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,440
A stand on the death penalty

The death penalty seems to be inconsistent with the REUEP.
Bill Van F.
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,441
If punishment and revenge are so important, why have we given up stoning people to death??
A former member
Post #: 444

death penalty plus quality of life conditions which are appalling.

Biggest Prison Protest In History Underway In Georgia

When the strike began, prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!” So calls to the warden’s office of the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.

user 5766938
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 111
A person charged with a crime has a right to a speedy trial and the resolution of being found either "not guilty" (no such term as "innocent") or "guilty". Having been found "guilty", the prisoner may linger and languish on death row for years ( unless he is convicted in Texas or Florida!! ) in conditions that are a living Hell. In most states there is no swift justice.
How about this solution: a person found "guilty" of certain heinous crimes ( perhaps an arbitrary list but it would include murder in the first, for example) would always be sentenced by the court to life-long imprisonment. However, at whatever time the prisoner decides he has had enough, he may voluntarily elect to be humanely executed. The prisoner thus incurs the responsibility for a "death penalty" decision, and the state grants his wish, and no one has a guilty conscience. And, philosophically speaking, the prisoner has been given an undisputed opportunity to exercise free-will and self-determination.
Makes sense to me.

Bill Van F.
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,447
I think there is a lot to be said for that idea, as a current move in the right direction.

However, I predict and advocate for a time when we will finally realize the destructive aspects of punishment and abandon it as a method for dealing with non-optimal behavior. The change will begin primarily within our child rearing methods, as we give up the awful, destructive procedure of punishing children.
A former member
Post #: 481

Prison–industrial complex

"Prison–industrial complex" (PIC) is a term used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies.

The term is analogous to the military–industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of in his famous 1961 farewell address.

Such groups include corporations that contract prison labor, construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, lawyers, and lobby groups that represent them.

Activists have described the prison industrial complex as perpetuating a belief that imprisonment is a quick fix to underlying social problems such as homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy.

The promotion of prison building as a job creator and the use of inmate labor are also cited as elements of the prison industrial complex.

The term often implies a network of actors who are motivated by making profit rather than solely by punishing or rehabilitating criminals or reducing crime rates.

Proponents of this view believe that the desire for monetary gain has led to the growth of the prison industry and the number of incarcerated individuals.

These views are often shared by people who fear or condemn excessive use of power by government, particularly when related to law enforcement and military affairs.

California prisoner dies during hunger strike

A 27-year-old inmate passed away while participating in a hunger strike in California this month and the details surrounding his death and the jail’s handling of it are just now surfacing.

Christian Alexander Gomez barely lasted one week while engaged in a fasting protest at the Corcoran State Prison in California.

He’s believed to be one of 32 inmates that participated in the hunger strike, which was the most recent form of protest waged by prisoners.

After thousands of inmates have participated in hunger strike dating back to last summer, Gomez is the first man believed to have died during his protest.

Gomez’s sister tells Democracy Now that her brother braved inhumane conditions at Corcoran, and even feels that he was wrongly imprisoned there.

Up until his death, however, the inmate was confident that eventual changes in the system would soon make him free.

“He was a genuine person that had not lost hope in the system. He knew that he would eventually get out,” says his sister, Y.L.

Despite his persistence, however, things did not get better for Gomez.

“He told me things were a lot different at this prison,” sister.. She adds that Gomez had been incarcerated at a different facility for four years, High Desert State Prison, and has yearned for a return after being transferred to Corcoran

“He didn’t receive the same medical attention he received over at High Desert,” she says.

A former member
Post #: 802

SYNOPSIS: Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment

SYNOPSIS: Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment provides a detailed, critical analysis of the current legal and justice system generally in operation across the planet whilst also providing potential solutions which work on preventing crime and creating a much more socially sustainable society.

The documentary film consists of interviews with various individuals; all of whom provide information on where we are going wrong when we treat offenders, and what we could head towards in regards to the solutions available.

It must be recognised that in order for change to occur in the system of punishment and 'justice', wider societal and cultural issues need to be addressed, as this documentary film recognises that there are inherent flaws in our current social system.

Although most sources of information originate from the United Kingdom, it is reasonable to state that the topics examined will apply to many other nations

A former member
Post #: 1,000
Have we only perfected our prison system and not our ethical systems?

Pinker, Foucault and Progress

What Foucault succeeded in doing in Discipline and Punish was putting the horrific judicial torture of the pre-Enlightenment era and post-Enlightenment policy of mass imprisonment side-by-side.
In doing this he goads us to ask whether the system we have to today is indeed as humane, as enlightened, compared to what came before as we are prone to believe.

This is exactly what Pinker responding to a question on imprisonment does not allow us to do:

Questioner:What about the American imprisonment craze?

Pinker: As unjust as many current American imprisonment practices are, they cannot be compared to the lethal sadism of criminal punishment in earlier centuries

Okay, true enough, but for me, this answer misses the point of the question.
The underlying assumption behind the question seems to be “yes, violence might have declined, but isn’t locking up millions of people – six million to be exact – a number larger than those of Stalin’s gulag archipelago, 80 % of whom are there for nonviolent offenses, a form of violence?
Or perhaps “might the decline in violence be the result of mass imprisonment?”
Admitting either would force Pinker to accept that the moral progress he details is perhaps not as unequivocal as he wants us to believe.

Here, I think, is where Pinker’s attachment to the Enlightenment idea of progress leads clearly to complacency.
Pinker loves graphs, so here’s a graph:

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Bill Van F.
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,796
Excellent data supporting the thesis of the third exponential change.

Let us join the effort to achieve the time of "Homo rationalis" by committing outselves to the religion for everyone, Humanianity. Join our local Humanianity of USA/NC/Charlotte.
A former member
Post #: 1,004
Apparently, we're at times identifying and modelling our behavior on the worst aspects of our societies.

There is a little-known French philosopher called René Girard who has been quietly working away at a social theory that, if correct, has the potential to overturn everything we think we know about ourselves and the world we live in.

In outlining his theory of mimetic desire, mimetic rivalry, and what he calls “the scapegoat mechanism,” Gerard argues persuasively how sacrificial violence is the dark secret underpinning all human cultures.

The scapegoat mechanism is the means by which a group transfers its collective hostility onto a single victim, discharging it and returning the group to unity.

As I’ve tried to outline above, America’s and other dominant groups’ penchant for scapegoating is hardly a secret; but Girard repositions it from being a cultural artifact to being the cultural artifact.

The problem which scapegoating solves is what Girard terms mimesis: an unconscious form of imitation that invariably leads to competition.
Girard describes desire as the most virulent “mimetic pathogen.”
This idea was simply stated, as long ago as 1651, in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan: “if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies.”
We can see this easily enough at the microcosmic level.
If two people share an affinity for each other, they make friends and share their common interests.
The problem, Girard writes, is that this very affinity will eventually lead them to desire the same thing and end up as rivals.
Two best friends fall for the same woman; the affinity quickly turns to antipathy and they end up murdering each other to prove whose desire is stronger.
An even more common example is when two children are playing with toys: one picks up a toy and instantly the other wants to play with it.
A previously harmonious arrangement quickly dissolves into anger and tears.
Mimesis is like an endless dance of unconscious imitation in which people find themselves desiring things because they are desired by someone else.
“Keeping up with the Joneses”: mimetic desire aroused not by the object itself but by the desire of others for the object.
Competition becomes its own end, and the object of desire becomes irrelevant as previously civil neighbors become consumed by rivalry.
They are now locked into a “negative identity” in which each needs the other in order to feel real.
This idea is popular in movies, such as “cop hunts killer” doppelganger narratives, and in comic book characters like Batman and the Joker — opposite sides of a single coin, strengthening and justifying each other through opposition.
It is also seen everywhere we look, only not quite so starkly drawn.

Girard’s theory extends this model to encompass (and explain) entire societies.
It argues that, without the release provided by sacrificial violence, mimetic desire leads inevitably to mimetic rivalry and will finally culminate in mimetic violence.
Humans are so highly imitative that, without the scapegoat mechanism, violent outbreaks within any social group will spread like wildfire and decimate the whole group.
If two people desire the same thing, their desire will soon spread to a third, a fourth, and so on.
Once the object is forgotten, mimetic rivalry snowballs into widespread antagonism.
The final stage of the crisis is when the antagonists no longer imitate each other’s desires for an object, but each other’s antagonism.
Think of Rwanda.

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