2 + 2 = Banana

That’s Rick Perry’s brand of logic: government is incompetent, and the State of Texas death-penalty machinery is infallible.

Rick Perry, who believes that government never does anything right, and that public servants are overpaid parasites, also believes that the State of Texas is infallible in carrying out the death penalty. Perry says he’s never worried about the possibility of executing an innocent person.

The problem is, I believe him. He really hasn’t worried about that. He’s some combination of moral monster and moral idiot.

Footnote And yes, it’s appalling that the “small government” crowd applauded at the mention of 234 executions, as if their team had scored a touchdown. It’s possible to believe in capital punishment, either as policy or as morality. But cheering for it?

Let’s say it clearly: the Republican activist base consists largely of worshipers of evil. The god they believe in accepts human sacrifice. They call him “Jesus,” but the true name of the god they adore, and who accepts their sacrifices, is Moloch.

[Update: From C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle. (“Aslan” is Christ, and “Tash” is a demon). Aslan says,

If any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.

/update]

And if you think that cheering for death is a fringe position within today’s GOP, ask yourself why not a single candidate tonight dared to rebuke that element of the crowd.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

65 thoughts on “2 + 2 = Banana”

  1. To add to that Bux, can you at least accept that people can perfectly, reasonably not consider abortion murder, or even something like human death? Especially if they don’t believe in souls, and see the joining of egg and sperm to simply be a biological process, not much more significant than a bit of skin or muscle cells? I’m in no way suggesting that you ought to feel similarly, but can you at least acknowledge that it is a reasonable sentiment?

    For instance, I think making animals suffer is wrong. Would I equate a hunter with a serial killer? No, that would be idiotic. They have different values than me, yet values that are perfectly reasonable. So do meat eaters. But just because I find their behavior immoral, I don’t get to gin up my arguments with accusations that turn them into moral monsters. They are otherwise compassionate, moral individuals who just happen to have a moral framework based on very different assumptions. I don’t need to insult them.

  2. Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to foreign policy.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to domestic policy.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to race relations.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to economics.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to freedom from religion.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to judicial activism.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to tort reform.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to, yes, a woman’s right to choose.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to class, any kind of.
    Cheering for death is a conservative’s way of life when it comes to life.

    Cheering for death is just how conservatives are.

  3. The real thing to worry about, like Brett always has been, is how he could be certain that Obama was born in these united states when Brett wasn’t physically in the delivery room to see it?

  4. It is refreshing to see the ‘moralists’ of the right identified as who they really are – devotees of what many decent people would call evil. I myself usually refer to them as “servants of Sauron” or “Sauronic” as a melding of Sauron and moron. It is well past time that we challenged their claim to parade their nastiness around as morality.

  5. Bux: “Anyways, I was going to point out exactly what Brett pointed out at the beginning of this post. “Cheering for death” is a liberal’s way of life when it comes to abortion policy.”

    Actually, I had been (half-heartedly) defending Brett because that wasn’t what he said (i.e., he stopped short of making a complete and unwarranted generalization). I am a liberal [1] who has a far more nuanced position on abortion policy than you can possibly imagine, and so does pretty much every liberal I know personally.

    [1] Because the definition of “liberal” has been distorted beyond belief these days (to the point of being the equivalent of “commie mutant traitor” in some circles, away from the original definition of a person who values freedom — Latin “liberalis” = “of freedom”), I may have to explain what I mean by that: I tend to classify myself roughly as what is traditionally called a social liberal.

  6. O.K I’m going straight to Hell for this, but let me suggest a slight twist regarding the outburst of applause.

    But first, this caveat: I am against the death penalty in every case, without exception. It’s not the “death” part as much as the certainty that 100% of the condemned are not 100% guilty.
    *************************************************************

    Many years ago, as a freshman in college (a major football powerhouse) I was a cynical punk, and rejected the obligatory “spirit” we were all expected to embrace. I wore socks with my loafers, refused to wear my beanie, dated upper class girls, and sneered at all the Autumn events organized to instill said “spirit.”

    As it were, my house had voted to volunteer for the placard section at home football games. (for those unfamiliar with placards, that’s where cards imprinted with letters are flipped on cue and display certain supportive slogans.) So, on opening day, disgruntled and mumbling, I shuffled to my seat at the stadium, determined to be a “team player,” albeit it, unenthusiastically.

    Reluctantly, I took my seat at mid-field, and awaited the snap to start the game against our foe…..Notre Dame. We had lost the coin toss, started the game on defense, when, a couple of minutes later, I noticed a slight emotional warmth rising up around my ears as our “D” shut them down on three straight. The stadium crowd was now abuzz with anticipation, as the first series of plays by our defense seemed like catapult being stretched back into its lock ‘n load position.

    Our first play on offense, the quarterback made the obligatory hand off to the full back for what was usually a throw-away play intended to simply wake everyone up, make some contact, and get ”into” the game. Instead, the fullback broke the first tackle attempt, then another, and another, and after a series of slipping ‘n sliding, juicing ‘n jiving, he was off to the races for what was to be an 85 yard touchdown run.

    Now, if you‘ve never been in the midst of 80,000 crazed college football fans on opening day, when all 80,000 explode simultaneously, in the same nano second, into the most ear bursting, decibel breaking, ground trembling roar, you have missed one of life’s greatest miracles. By the time that fullback crossed the goal line my larynx was destroyed, my heart, out of body, and my emotions out of control. I was a crazed maniac, and if asked, would’ve killed anyone, for any reason, if ordered to. To be engulfed, yes, entrapped, into this group dynamics was an experience so unexpected, so involuntary, and so irresistible that it has changed my view on many, many things since.

    We all know that some gangs do awful things, and yet, most of the individuals can be decent, non violent people when alone. So this long tale is simply my attempt to maybe take a little bit of the awfulness of the Perry crowd’s cheering and put it through a slightly more benign prism.

    Cheering at a football game isn’t exactly the same as cheering for an execution, but the dynamics may be not so dissimilar.

    Anyway, just saying.

  7. I am a liberal who has a far more nuanced position on abortion policy than you can possibly imagine, and so does pretty much every liberal I know personally.

    Maybe. (I can imagine fairly nuanced positions on abortion, and actually am familiar with several of the more common ones.)

    But I would be extremely surprised if you don’t think keeping abortion providers in business is a good thing.

  8. “But I would be extremely surprised if you don’t think keeping abortion providers in business is a good thing.”

    Any position on abortion, other than prohibiting abortion in all cases, requires keeping abortion providers in business.

  9. Yeah Eli, I can accept that people don’t consider abortion murder (but not perfectly reasonable people). Anyways, who cares what this or that person considers. Either it is murder or it is not. That’s as ridiculous as me asking you whether you can accept that there are people who don’t consider the death penalty murder. I actually don’t consider the death penalty murder. But who cares what I consider murder, the question is whether or not it is in fact murder.

  10. Bux, it is not true that abortion is either murder or it is not. Likewise with respect to the death penalty. This is because “murder” is a legal term. Under the law, neither abortion or the death penalty is murder. Therefore, to call either one “murder” is to use “murder” metaphorically. It is a strong way of stating that abortion or the death penalty is immoral. Although, under the law, something is either murder or it is not, there are degrees of immorality.

  11. “I was going to point out exactly what Brett pointed out at the beginning of this post…”

    …happily ignoring the intervening 50 comments in which his facile analogy is repeatedly invalidated.

    Yes, of course you were.

  12. SamChevre: “But I would be extremely surprised if you don’t think keeping abortion providers in business is a good thing.”

    Well, unless you completely outlaw abortion, someone will have to perform those abortions that are legal. But I don’t think you can say with a straight face that someone like me who would like to minimize the number of abortions is interested in “keeping abortion providers in business”. Unfortunately, I think US abortion providers are mostly kept in business by conservative policies that are opposed to preventing unwanted pregnancies and make America one of the worst places in the developed world to be a parent.

  13. @ Bux,

    Just as a point of information, the term murder is common-language rather than legal jargon. The legal jargon term is homicide, a perfectly lovely loan word from Latin via Old French.

    A state-run execution results in the issuance of a death certificate (how could it not!) and like all death certificates is shows a cause of death: legal homicide (ICD-10 Y35.5). An abortion generates neither a birth nor death certificate and shows no cause of death, even for spontaneous abortions. Our legal and statistical systems do not recognize abortion as murder.

    Because murder is common-language, it certainly matters what I think constitutes murder just as it matters what you think constitutes murder. Common-language does not admit bright-lines (its either murder or its not), especially if your argument begs the question in a solipsism (I think it’s murder therefore it is murder).

  14. Henry,

    I was unaware that some states had “murder” in the statutes: I was aware of it from the statistical reporting perspective. “Murder” does not exist there, and all states that I’m aware use the ICD coding in their death codings, although the ICD code doesn’t always appear in the certificate.

    I think, however, that we’re saying the same thing. Legal settings draw bright lines, and in disputed cases a finder-of-fact has to determine on which side of the line things fall. Common language (metaphorical, although I think Bux’s use rises above the level of metaphor) usage doesn’t admit that sort of bright line distinction.

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