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» Reaction to the Execution of Saddam Hussein from Pajamas Media
[New items on top] Using the execution as a backdrop, Ray D. wonders whether the amount of European resistance to the death penalty has been exaggerated by the continental Big Media. (Medienkritik) Libya in mourning; Kuwait and Iran, not so... [Read More]

» "To establish the right order of things" from sisu
Tiny goes for the jugular of her Pure Catnip kitty toy -- a hostess gift from Sarah and AJ, who stopped by for good food and conversation yesterday afternoon before heading into town for a date with The Blue Man [Read More]

» Execution Popular in Europe Too from UNCoRRELATED
David's Medienkritik is always a good place to go for the German perspective in particular. While the European media universally condemns the execution, Europeans themselves are much less opposed. The recent results of a poll conducted by Novatris/Harr... [Read More]

» Not As Clear Cut As The Media Portrays It from Blue Crab Boulevard
Davids Medienkritik has a very interesting post about a poll taken in the US and Europe. When asked if people favored the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, majorities both in the US and in Europe favored it. The reporting on the reaction... [Read More]

» special occasions call for celebrations! from Classical Values
I'm loving Barcelona so much that I've been too busy to keep in touch with the outside world, although news like Saddam Hussein's execution is difficult to ignore -- even while on vacation. In all honesty, I did not expect... [Read More]

» Genocidal Dictator Dies, Moonbats Mope from Moonbattery
Unsurprisingly, libs grasp neither the justice nor the absolute necessity of the genocidal dictator Saddam Hussein's execution yesterday. Now at last Iraqis know that even if Democrats manage to impose a premature pullout, Saddam will never be restored... [Read More]

Comments

The death penalty is, indeed, a contentious issue in the United States. Twelve states don't allow it. Death sentences have dropped by 54 percent and executions by 40 percent since 1999. We are not a united people on the issue by any means. I, myself, am a center right conservative and oppose the death penalty. It is easy to understand in some cases, however. And, I have to admit.....I am not upset about Saddam. On the other hand, why oppose the death penalty for murderers and the worlds most vile people....and yet support abortion? The unborn are 'innocent', all. Who gives them a voice?

I think, ideally, the only consistent human compassion should be "no" to the death penalty; and, "no" to abortions.

As you noted, specific case support for the death penalty is very different from the answer to the general question "do you support the death penalty".

64% of Americans support the death penalty (Gallup, 10/05). Five months earlier, it was 74%, of which  53% say the death penalty is not used enough. Catholics showed 70% support.  (Gallup 5/05). Support was 74% in 2003, as well (Gallup 5/03). 74% is within the margin of error of the all time high for general support -- 80% (Gallup, 1994)

Support is actually much higher. 81% of the American people supported the execution of Timothy McVeigh, with only 16% opposed. (Gallup 5/2/01). "(T)his view appears to be the consensus of all major groups in society, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, "liberals" and "conservatives." "81% of Connecticut citizens supported the execution of serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross (Jan 2005).

While 81% gave specific case support for Timothy McVeigh's execution, Gallup also showed a 65% support AT THE SAME TIME when asked a general "do you support capital punishment for murderers" question. (Gallup, 6/10/01).

That wide 16% "error rate", between general support and specific case support, is likely due to the differences in (1) the widespread media coverage of anti death penalty claims ,without the balance of contradicting those false claims, producing 65% general support, and (2) the absence of that influence when looking at individual cases when the public knows the crimes, the guilt of the murderer, and absent the anti death penalty bias factor, producing 81% specific case  support.
 
There doesn't appear to be any other explanation, unless the margin of error is huge - much larger than previously calculated and thus undermining the polling.

22% of those supporting McVeigh's execution are, generally, against the death penalty (Gallup 5/02/01). That means that about half of those who say they oppose the death penalty actually support it under specific circumstances, just as it is imposed, judicially.

This provides firm evidence that death penalty support is much wider and deeper than expressed with the answer to the general death penalty polling question.

Why the reduction in death sentences in the US?
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
 
The evidence supports that the reduction is caused by:
 
--- the dramatic reduction in murders/capital murders
--- prosecutorial frustration
----SCOTUS decisions

 
1. Murders are down nearly 40%. While death sentences are down around 60%, from their all time high, There very well may have been around a 60% reduction in capital murders, since the all time high of death sentences.  I have heard from a number of prosecutors that they have seen a dramatic reduction in the type of crimes that they would consider death eligible. 
 
This is the obvious reason for the large reduction in death sentences.
 
Career criminals, including career juvenile criminals, are being incarcerated much longer, and earlier, thereby curtailing their activities, including committing capital murders.
 
All categories of crime have been reduced. Because capital murders are a special type of crime, primarily murders accompanied by secondary crimes, such as robbery and rape, it is even more likely that capital murders have been reduced even more than murders.
 
2. SCOTUS decisions.  Ring required a re writing of statutes in many death penalty states, causing a substantial reduction. Atkins and Simmons have both had a reduction effect, as well.
 
This is an additional factual reason for a reduction in death sentences.
 
NOTE: There can be anywhere from a 1-3 year lag time between the murders and the death sentences given.  Because of various SCOTUS cases, that lag time may have increased a bit.
 
3.  Many prosecutors now know that appellate judges in their jurisdictions won't allow executions. Some of those prosecutors have become much more reluctant to seek death. I would call that realistic frustration with agenda driven judges  -- such as Federal Judge Rakoff -- - not prosecutors deciding to be more selective on their own.
 
This, likely, has caused some small reduction in death sentences sought.
 
Of course, most prosecutors have always been very selective in pursuing death penalty cases.
 

Some false or speculative reasons for the reduction in death sentences.
 
--  Anti death penalty folks state that all those "innocents freed" from death row have caused prosecutors to be more wary in pursuing the death penalty. This is a false claim.
 
There is no evidence to support that claim. To the contrary, virtually all death penalty prosecutors now know that 70-83% of those anti death penalty  "innocence" claims are false and that prosecutors are 99.7% accurate in convicting the actually guilty in death penalty cases and that the 0.3% actually innocent  are released on appeal. 
 
That will give prosecutors more confidence in prosecuting these cases, not less.

--  Some prosecutors believe the "CSI effect" is responsible for a reduction in death sentences, because jurors are now demanding  more scientific support for death sentences.
 
There is no evidence for this, that I know of. 
 
 --    Some speculate that the crime lab disasters have caused jurors to be more distrustful of lab results and prosecutors and that may explain some of the reduction. I can't say that hasn't happened, but I can't find evidentiary support for it either.
 
During this period of alleged distrust, a May, 2005 Gallup polling shows an increase in support for the death penalty  -- to 74% -- and a majority believe that we don't impose the death penalty often enough. This 74% support is within the margin of error of the all time high for support.
 
An October 2005 Gallup poll showed 64% support - a 10% drop -  even though there had been no major death penalty news to warrant the drop. A January 2005 poll found 81% of Connecticut citizens supported the execution of serial rapist murderer Michael Ross.
 
Historically, I am told, jurors give less than death in 2/3rds of death penalty trials. Is there any evidence that jurors are now even less likely to find for a death sentence? Not that I know of. 

What of the reduction in executions? It is 1) the normal ebb and flow of cases, plus 2) SCOTUS cases, plus 3) crime lab problems.
 
Blind speculation is unnecessary. There are logical, factual reasons for the reduction in death sentences.

Most sincerely, 
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
 
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
 
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
 
Pro death penalty sites
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
www(dot)dpinfo.com
joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.org/
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

We shouldn't forget that a unique set of historical events are a major factor in the great divide in European politics between the European elite and rank-and-file citizens. Europe's elite has blood on its hands to a far greater extent than Europe's rank and file citizens, who were virtually powerless under the Nazi terror. And no U.S. resident, elite or ordinary, was tempted to support mass killing on a European scale. That explains the greater williness to debate this issue in the US.

As Ingo Muller's Hitler's Justice points out, genuine resistance to Nazism among the German judicary was virtually non-existent. He only credits one judge, a member of the Confessing Church, with real opposition. And the occupation led to a similar pattern across Europe. Whether the dates were 1933-1945 (Germany) or 1940–1944 (continental Europe), if you wanted to be successful at high levels in the government or the press, you cooperated with Nazi genocide and terror. Your hands were bloody to a far greater extent than the average citizen. It was probably the 1980s before such people began to leave positions of power and by then the pattern was set. Executing murderers is grounds for executing people like them. They can't let that be morally acceptable, hence their rigid dogmatism.

The pattern is equally true of both the pre and post-war left. Their hands were bloodied by their efforts to condon or cover up all the horrors of Soviet rule, first in the USSR and later throughout Eastern Europe. The blood on their hands is at least as great as that on Nazi fellow-travelers, not even talking into account the "beefsteak Nazis" of Nazi Germany--those brown on the outside and red inside. Since their vocal defense of the USSR didn't really end until there was no USSR, those people will be with us for a long time.

We might call this the Gunter Grass syndrome, after the loudly moralistic left-wing writer who, we recently discovered, voluntarily joined the Nazi SS as a young man. Politics isn't really a line, it's a circle, with the murderous left not that removed from an equally murderous right. It's why secular leftists are now finding common cause with Islamic theocrats. Some people have an instinctive urge to stomp on other people and for that any cause will do, facism, socialism or sharia. And treating as non-existent the pro-capital punishment beliefs of fellow Europeans is a form of stomping on others.

If politics makes strange bedfellows, then a shared blood guilt makes for a very strange shared opposition to punishing the shedding of blood. The anti-capital punishment cause in Germany's constitution, according to the Washington Post, resulted from legislation sponsored by an unrepentant Nazi not wanting to see his friends on the gallows. It was enthusiastically backed by German socialists with their own blood guilt.

In short, at the level of the European elite, opposition to capital punishment is a belief "cemented in blood," as Hitler put it in his infamous remark to Stalin. For them, hanging Saddam is a scary first step toward doing some little something to punish those in the German press who excused the Soviet Union's evil and murderous empire not so very long ago, and, even more tellingly, who recently condoned Saddam's brutal rule in Iraq and attacked the US and Bush for removing him from power. This isn't just about long-ago events. Their hands a being bloodied by their deeds even as a write this.

--Mike Perry, Editor of Dachau Liberated.

I think Mike Perry's analysis comes very close to describing the hidden and little understood psychological dimensions that account for a substantial portion of the gap separating US from European "sentiments" on the critical issue of robustly opposing human rights violations. I am also reminded here of what was written in "Europe, Thy Name Is Cowardice," which was penned by Mathias Dopfner--the CEO of the large German publishing firm Axel Springer--and published in the German periodical Die Welt on 20 November 2004. There is also wide-spread apathy and a disturbing lack of coming-to-the-help-of-others that defines the consciousness of many Europeans (and also Japanese I would add). In fact, narrow and provincial thinking plagues much of humanity.

@ Inkling

"genuine resistance to Nazism among the German judicary was virtually non-existent."

As a law student I can hardly say it would be different today. Telling from the judges, lawyers and students I got to know so far, virtually noone would oppose a system he/she has a comfortable position in. I would never call them Nazis as they are none. But when you see documentaries on the german society in the 1970s and 1980s, you can tell that something has changed until today.

The virtue of standing up against discrimination and an authoritarian government has vanished. This week, a Forsa Poll has found out that 82% of the german people believe that our government governs with no respect to its people. Does this bother anyone? In contrast, the people are affected by the returning of an old german virtue: Accepting fate and adopting to it.

Here's an excerpt from Michiganbrief.org, a website on Michigan law:

" Michigan is one of only 12 states (plus the District of Columbia) that do not have the death penalty (see the exhibit), and it has not since enactment in 1846 of a statute

making Michigan the first government in the English-speaking world to abolish capital punishment for murder and lesser crimes.

It was not until 1963, however, that Michigan’s prohibition was included in the state constitution, although there had been many attempts both to restore the penalty and put prohibition of it in the constitution. In the 1850 and 1867 constitutional conventions, motions to prohibit and permit a death penalty, respectively, were defeated, and in 1929 the legislature passed a death penalty bill that was vetoed. The bill was passed again in 1931, as a referendum, and defeated by a vote of the people.

Since the 1963 constitutional prohibition, there has been no successful legislative attempt to amend the constitution to institute the death penalty—this would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers and a majority affirmative vote of the people. Citizen groups have tried four times—most recently in 1986—to authorize the death penalty by referendum, but none made it to the ballot."

Hmmm, Michigan was the first government in the English speaking world to abolish the death penalty. I was born in and live in Michigan. Obviously, this makes me more moral than the late-to-the-party Europeans, who since 1846 have been world class slaughterers of innocent people, much less rabid murderers. Oops, sorry, I'm not more moral, I support the Death Penalty. I believe the Death Penalty demonstrates the seriousness of taking someones life in murder.

And what do you do with convicts, who murder in prison? They're already in prison. Do you put them in double-dog dare prison? Let's say you're convicted for burglarly and you get murdered in prison. Isn't that the sames as getting the death penalty for burglarly? Where's the justice there?

No, to 99%, the opposition to the death penalty is an effort by narcissistic people to show how much they CARE and how morally superior they are to the rest of the unwashed slubs, who unfortunately are their fellow citizens. It's about the person's feelings, not about having a positive effect on the real world, because obviously keeping rabid murderers alive to murder again has no positive effect on the real world.

Here's an excerpt from Michiganbrief.org, a website on Michigan law:

" Michigan is one of only 12 states (plus the District of Columbia) that do not have the death penalty (see the exhibit), and it has not since enactment in 1846 of a statute

making Michigan the first government in the English-speaking world to abolish capital punishment for murder and lesser crimes.

It was not until 1963, however, that Michigan’s prohibition was included in the state constitution, although there had been many attempts both to restore the penalty and put prohibition of it in the constitution. In the 1850 and 1867 constitutional conventions, motions to prohibit and permit a death penalty, respectively, were defeated, and in 1929 the legislature passed a death penalty bill that was vetoed. The bill was passed again in 1931, as a referendum, and defeated by a vote of the people.

Since the 1963 constitutional prohibition, there has been no successful legislative attempt to amend the constitution to institute the death penalty—this would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers and a majority affirmative vote of the people. Citizen groups have tried four times—most recently in 1986—to authorize the death penalty by referendum, but none made it to the ballot."

Hmmm, Michigan was the first government in the English speaking world to abolish the death penalty. I was born in and live in Michigan. Obviously, this makes me more moral than the late-to-the-party Europeans, who since 1846 have been world class slaughterers of innocent people, much less rabid murderers. Oops, sorry, I'm not more moral, I support the Death Penalty. I believe the Death Penalty demonstrates the seriousness of taking someones life in murder.

And what do you do with convicts, who murder in prison? They're already in prison. Do you put them in double-dog dare prison? Let's say you're convicted for burglarly and you get murdered in prison. Isn't that the sames as getting the death penalty for burglarly? Where's the justice there?

No, to 99%, the opposition to the death penalty is an effort by narcissistic people to show how much they CARE and how morally superior they are to the rest of the unwashed slubs, who unfortunately are their fellow citizens. It's about the person's feelings, not about having a positive effect on the real world, because obviously keeping rabid murderers alive to murder again has no positive effect on the real world.

Oops, sorry about posting twice. It looked like it didn't post the first time.

@Gunter
The virtue of standing up against discrimination and an authoritarian government has vanished.

I'm not sure that virtue was ever a significant characteristic of German society. Read the thread posted here a few days ago "1934: "Why Germany Endures Hitler".

busy day ahead - Gluckliches Neujahr everyone!

@ Pamela

Well at least from 1970-90 there were so many demonstrations, which proved that the people actually cared about their ideals.

Today there are serious demonstrations only when the government plans on reducing financial support for a certain profession.
And even this "evolves": Maybe you have heard of the demonstration of doctors and other employees in the medical sector in front of the Reichstag in Berlin against reforms in their sector? It quickly turned out that there weren´t any employees among the protesters at all. Those were students and umemployed people that were PAYED by a federal association of doctors. The headline was: "Rent a Protest" ;)


Einen angenehmen Jahreswechsel wünsch ich!

Because when I think of people against the death penalty, "Maoists, Leninists, RAF sympathizers" come to mind... They're only against it because they don't run things... IMO, if they ever had any serious power you should be watching your back.

Also, as you mentioned. The use of the all inclusive 'Europe' seems disingenuous as Europe (the majority) seems to not oppose the action.... Europe who?

You may have read it already, but the wonderful Mark Steyn mentions this DMK post in an article for the Jerusalem Post:

Blowing a 'hinge moment' of history

I don't know what the big commotion is about. South Korea and Japan have the death penalty and they're pretty safe countries I might add. This just proves the mush that has become of the European population.

I'm also in favour of his execution. This man made too many terrible things to be alive. Not that I'm bloodthirsty, but he is a criminal #1, and that means a lot.

I do not know what the fuss is about. South Korea and Japan have the death penalty, and they are pretty safe country, I might add. This just proves that the porridge was the European population.
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