March 07, 2005


why I avoid moral high horsing, an example gratis

So I see this story, which is on the front page for some reason. Mr. BTK (alleged, of course--innocent until proven gitmo--but for the sake of this entry I'll presume guilty. Not like I'm on the jury) is depressed. He's having problems sleeping at night. Family isn't much interested in talking to him since finding out he had a hobby of extroverted future amputation, so to speak.

The most obvious reaction is, of course, the reason why such things get put on front pages. Media knows the reaction all around will be "cry me a river, sicko," chatter is generated--no contest, your honor--circulation increases. Basic marketing. I'm not all that interested in the common reaction--not that I'm above it or anything like that, because I firmly share it. Cry me a river. I'm sorry you're not sleeping as soundly as you did when occasionally torturing someone to death, and hopefully you can get some counseling to work on that self-esteem. Etc.

But it made me mindful of one of those hot-button issues that I just don't seem to have a dog in the fight for, that being the death penalty. I'm basically ambivalent towards it--I'm more or less opposed, but I wouldn't call the grounds involved particularly strenuous. There's a dash of cold-blooded utilitarianism--it simply costs more to eventually electrocute or inject or whatnot a felon, than it does to simply warehouse them out of society's way--but it's not as if I can seriously mount a cost-savings argument given what government budgets--particularly the federal variety--look like these days. What's a few million bucks more per head when I'm assured that trillions and trillions isn't actually a problem (and to be fair, the sky does seem to be staying above our heads)? There's a moral component, I guess, but then again, I think it's a real shame that Mr. BTK didn't vigorously resist arrest, leading to a tense standoff in which he caught a bullet in the brainpan and no others were harmed apart from adrenaline aftershock jitters.

There was a recent high-speed-chase death in my neck of the woods that probably has film clips all over the internets about. Dude kills his wife and another, like he does, and shortly afterwards the police would like to discuss the situation with him. He's not all that enthusiastic about discussing the matter--actually, he's very enthusiastic about going far away very very fast. Cue 100 mph+ chase down a major highway, ending in him rolling his vehicle, getting thrown clear (murderers not being a big fan of seatbelt laws either, I suppose) and having said vehicle actually land on him for an encore. All told, that ended about as well as it could have, given that no one who wasn't a recent double-murder had a vehicle land on top of them.

So it's hard for me to simultaneously get fired up about opposing the government, state or fed, from killing someone like that after quite a few years and quite a few dollars--even though I do--when I feel things like that are, in balance, the world behaving reasonably--which, again, I do. The world needs more runaway trucks with good timing, as I've said even before aforementioned chase.

I guess what I'd be most in favor of is no death penalty, but also no such thing as a suicide watch. It's hard to do believable high-horse moral rhetoric about that kind of position, though, which is why I'll never be in politics.

posted by Gar @ 2:38 AM
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