So, is this justice?

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No Clemency for Troy Davis

Davis, found guilty of killing an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Ga., in 1989, had his death row case temporarily stayed in three earlier instances, and the majority of witnesses who testified against him have since recanted their testimony.

But despite a case lawyers have for years been arguing was too weak to merit the death penalty, the fourth attempt to save Davis’ life has failed.

Quote NYTimes:

The case has been a slow and convoluted exercise in legal maneuvering and death penalty politics. It has included last-minute stays and a rare Supreme Court decision.

Because Georgia’s governor has no power to stay executions, the parole board was the last hope for Mr. Davis.

“I don’t see any avenues to the Supreme Court,” said Anne S. Emanuel, a law professor at Georgia State University who has formally reviewed the case and found it too weak to merit the death penalty. “There’s nothing else apparent.”

Or, is this final decree much along the lines that Joe Friday might say, "just the facts, m'am"?

From Jacques Ellul's prescient work in 1964: The Technological Society

Quote Jacques Ellul:

Judicial technique is in every way much less self-confident than the other techniques, because it is impossible to transform the notion of justice into technical elements. Despite what philosophers may say, justice is not a thing which can be grasped or fixed. If one pursues genuine justice (and not some automatism or egalitarianism), one never knows where one will end. A law created as a function of justice has something unpredictable in it which embarrasses the jurist. Moreover, justice is not in the service of the state; it even claims the right to judge the state. Law created as a function of justice eludes the state, which can neither create nor modify it. The state of course sanctions this situation only to the degree that it has little power or has not yet become fully self-conscious; or to the degee that its jurists are not exclusively technical rationalists and subordinated to efficient results. Under these conditions, technique assumes the role of a handmaiden modestly resigned to the fact that she does not automatically get what she desires.

(The Technological Society, pp 291-292)

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.ren
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Within 24 hours, a lawful act and grave injustice will be done.

From today's Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/9/20/troy_davis_set_to_be_executed

Quote Howard Zinn:Are we not more obligated to achieve justice than to obey the law?
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Garrett78
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Sep. 3, 2010 8:20 am

Is there no recourse, even now? Well, the President could pardon him, or give him some sort of reprieve, couldn't he. Not that I expect him to step in on behalf of justice...

Here's an interesting case:

"George Wilson: In 1829, George Wilson and an accomplice received death sentences for murder and robbing mail trains. His accomplice quickly took a trip to the gallows, but Wilson had influential friends in Washington. These friends beseeched Andrew Jackson for leniency on behalf of their friend, and Old Hickory relented. In 1830, he pardoned Wilson for his capital crimes; the mail robber would only have to serve a twenty-year term for his other misdeeds.

It sounds like great news for Wilson, but when authorities presented him with the pardon, Wilson perplexingly refused to accept it.

After much legal back-and-forth, Wilson's case came before the Supreme Court, which ruled that since the pardon was a bit of property, there was no legal way to force Wilson to accept it. Like his accomplice, Wilson was hanged."

I want to see a law prohibiting murder by bureaucrats, i.e, the implementation of the death penalty under dubious (not beyond a reasonable doubt) circumstances. At the very least, these officials must be held accountable, perhaps in a lawsuit. I wonder if that's ever been done, a lawsuit brought by a family of a wrongly executed prisoner of the state.

How about this, from the Innocence Project: California case challenges prosecutorial immunity

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..." - U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982)


Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Howard Zinn expresses my sentiments, Garrett, and what what he says drove me to ask questions about our political system, the nature of freedom that so many often told me I was supposed to appreciate when I questioned it. Well. If I can't question, I would ask, how is that freedom? I got varying degrees of negative responses from that all the way to actual physical violence.

Yes, Zoe, I would hope that somewhere in the system there is a stop gap for what so many of us see as a travesty of justice. Obama should be able to make that stay of execution.

Murder by bureaucrats... I like that concept. I think it points to what I see as some serious problems with this system the patriots won't let us question. Wrongful conviction lawsuits might be one way to get our voice back with this increasingly rational and justice impervious system, but how will that help a Troy Davis who is about to be murdered with all this doubt hanging over the case? Will it slow the rush to convict by young and career hungry prosecutors? I can only hope so.

I sense something deeply wrong -- essentially unfair -- with our system. And I'm still searching to understand it after all these years.

These are moments of extreme frustration for me. Many, many are ground up in this system. Our humanity is at risk when we create and support systems that dismiss our deepest felt senses of justice and respect for our individuality, because that is a unique characteristic of our humanity as so many have pointed out when talking about this issue. If we give that away, I fear we are in danger of becoming little more than rational machines, or as Deleuze and Guattari call it in their two volume set, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, bodies without organs.

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.ren
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Another 'out' that might be a consideration in our western society, is the eastern notion of 'saving face'. The concept is rarely mentioned, but it might be an underlying need or cerebral subconscious necessity. That would give a sense of concience a bigger position than it actually occupies. W would never, and now the new cowboy never admits wrong. The people cheering the execution record in TX and the 'it takes balls to execute an innocent man' quote indicate to me less conscience than a civilised society. Surveys showing a 10% wrongful execution [meaning innocent] acceptable, and scalia's notion that the constitution allows the state to execute the innocent as long as they had a trial also shows depravity, at least to me it does. Depraved indifference is celebrated nowadays.

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douglaslee
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I don't know what depravity really is in this scenario you've drawn, doug.

People tend to have reasons for what they think, I find. They may be flimsy to me, but they generally aren't to them. Those reasons are essentially opinions created out of definitions, often their own. And personality differences can be maybe one way of explaining differences in rigidity to holding or questioning opinions, lack of critical thinking training and skill development in that area another. But characterizing these things as depraved or stupid can short circuit our own understanding of what's really taking place. So I try to raise that consideration as well. What's really taking place may be too complex to put in a category and keep nice and neat like a butterfly collection.

In general when I talk to people I find people have some kind of a narrative going in their minds that explains things. Propaganda doesn't work because people are stupid, depraved or other characterizations, it works because people use it to make sense of their world. In anthropology we called learning to make sense of the world according to a culture's definitions of the world, 'enculturation'. What I see that we have now is a society that provides those world view making ingredients that's become divorced from our local, every day 3 dimensional reality, where our narratives make sense on a very real and practical basis, and that's been replaced by a mass media explanation which for most of us is detached and abstract. Now I have great respect for the animals I've had a chance to take care of and spend time with, but as far as I can tell, none of them are capable of creating an imaginary world view out of abstract ingredients they get from the evening news, stories presented daily on television sets, newspapers, magazines and the like. That's one of our gifts, and maybe it's also a kind of curse if we aren't careful to understand what we do with it.

I think what we find in large mass societies is this emulsion of enculturations, each of which may make sense in their settings, but when emulsified become so generalized and homogenized they appear as something else. Unfortunately many of our politicians at the mass national level reflect that. What ever Obama may have been before he became president, as president he is emulsified by this process. And what we as individuals have to work with are out of context snippets that in fact make up mass media, mass media news, and so forth.

"Saving face" as I understand it works well in a close nit, deeply integrated community where networks of relationships rise and fall on sometimes seemingly tiny and trivial details. The world view that goes with that is rich and complex in three dimensional face to face ways that a mass media world is not, because a mass media world is abstracted from that, generalized, and reduced to common denominators of meaning.

I'm not trying to answer you with a solution of any kind, I'm just trying to point out what I see as the characteristics of the problem, and what I try to grope with in understanding how we are losing justice at the humane level, where our humanity as individuals operates, while giving it up to a larger, rational system that thrives on principles of efficiency. There is no one single networked community, for example, to which Obama absolutely has to save face to maintain his status, not in an emulsified mass society. So if he chooses to save face with the rich and the powerful, he will lose nothing by ignoring the justice of this act which we call murder, but the rational, positivistic legal system defines as merely the legitimate law of the land, properly carried out. Scalia is considered by many to be a prototype of that formal legal theory I mentioned on the other thread.

Is this the way the system was designed? In a sense, yes. Because it was set up that way, do we have to continue on as abject slaves to the ideas of the original authorities who set it up? That's one of the underlying debate issues between the originalists of formal legal theory and those who argue for a reading of the law that allows for changing contexts and continuous processes of adaptation to the world. If there's a deeper sense of justice we all are born with, as the Platonists would argue with their "theory of innate ideas", and Jung was a Platonist to that extent while Freud in some ways was not, and it is Freud who helped introduced the idea of programming people through the subconscious that Eddie Bernays used to become the Father of Public Relations and Propaganda, if there is in fact a Platonic sense of justice in us all, then justice would be the lead concept and interpretation of the law would have to follow justice. But you see, in mass society, that creates the potential for disorder, inefficiency, because the rules can be modified. And bureaucratic managers do not like disorder.

The problem with the law that Jacques Ellul raises in that quote I put in my post above, is that "it is impossible to transform the notion of justice into technical elements." But writing and codifying rules is a very technical act. And reading the rules according to their original intent is an act of technicality, if you see where this goes. And that is an issue of fundamentals. So we get a kind of fundamentalism in the law much like the fundamentalism in religion, where people want to rely on the authority of the original writer of Bible passages and believe that the passages must be taken literally on that authority. In that sense there is a distrust in our own, individual ability to make sense of the world, or at least of other peoples' abilities. That implies a distrust in the individual, and on that basis we often see this dividing line where people believe humans in general are good (innocent until proven guilty) or bad (guilty until proved absolutely innocent). And if you can justify putting someone to death under a cloud of doubt, which of those theories of human nature would you be likely to be operating out of?

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.ren
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There is also the understanding of punishment, whether it be to correct and change behaviour toward a positive path, or solely for revenge. Over the last 30 years justice has skewed toward eye for an eye, which I think is revenge. Revenge is emotional, and sells well. Rational doesn't sell, at least not enough to make it as worthwhile as the emotional triggers behind execution.

Here is perry's I'm an American, Americans don't apologize ad.

He says he believes in promises, so that SocSec thing must not be a promise.

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douglaslee
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Well, emotional is not necessarily justice. Nor rational by itself.

Perhaps we need to learn to discover our humanity, embrace it, each and every single human being, and stop being led by voices of authority, whether rational or emotional. Both sell.

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.ren
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I agree. I just read land_of_the_free_home_of_the_turncoats, kind of a coincidence I clicked on it after the post on emotion.

Today, America feels more like 19th-century Germany. Contending interests cannot be brokered. Passions trump reason. Faith overrules science. An ordinary policy difference is a Kulturkampf, casually but vehemently branded as treason. One of our two major parties has turned nihilist, giddily toying with default on the nation’s debt, reveling in the dark pleasures of a fiscal Walpurgisnacht. Government itself is the devil.

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Nihilism is what occurs when one relies entirely on reason while dismissing other human features, and reason leads to circular tautologies of contradiction; the world becomes hopeless because there is, to the thinker of this line of reason, no ultimate authority to rely upon, only the authority of reason, tautological proof, which is the assumption of factuality. In the passion of frustration, you get some really crazy results.

It's a difference of intelligence of the high I.Q. variety on the one hand and the awakening of an intelligence Krishnamurti speaks of: Awakening of Intelligence. They are completely different orders of mind to which the word "intelligence" is applied. A lot of very high I.Q. people have managed to think themselves into a form of neurosis, even insanity. And many in our society tend to have awe and give a certain form of "authority" to a high I.Q.

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.ren
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The movie, And Justice for All came to mind as I was reading through this thread.

I think that movie addresses much of what is being discussed here.

Dominic C
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Jun. 27, 2011 9:39 am

Funny, I just watched it again recently, streaming on Netflix, after all these years. I remembered watching it when it first came out, and it did address some of my concerns at the time.

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.ren
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It is a great movie but I find it difficult to watch after seeing it many years ago because of the sheer intensity and pain that are involved with the plot.

Reading this thread however, brought back memories of this movie...

Dominic C
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Quote .ren:What ever Obama may have been before he became president, as president he is emulsified by this process.

There was so much more to your post, which I don't want to minimize, but I need to think about it more before responding.

As for the above quote, I've been wondering about what accounts for that alleged change in Obama ever since reading the transcript of Hedges's talk with Rev. Wright. Although that was not the first time I wondered about such things. I can't wrap my head around it. Was Obama merely fooling people? Is he sociopathic? If so, was he always? Is everyone who does what it takes to become POTUS and remain POTUS a sociopath? How do you go from community organizing in South Chicago (where I myself once lived) to slaughtering innocent people with drone attacks?

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Garrett78
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Chomsky (such as in the Chomsky Sessions video I streamed on Netflix) often cites survey results to demonstrate how government doesn't do what the people clearly want done. At the same time, it's hard for me to not be skeptical of survey results when you see just how propagandized (some will say stupid or ignorant) the masses are (as I've mentioned recently, look at survey results that show how Americans believe federal dollars are spent--they're very much out of touch with the facts). This feels like using survey results only when they're convenient, which has bothered me. But, if they simply give a glimpse as to how people are making sense of their world, perhaps my concerns over hypocrisy aren't justified.

But does everyone try to make sense of the world? Should we assume that every human being is consciously, or otherwise, attempting to make sense of the world? What exactly does it mean to do so?

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Garrett78
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Quote Garrett78:

As for the above quote, I've been wondering about what accounts for that alleged change in Obama ever since reading the transcript of Hedges's talk with Rev. Wright. Although that was not the first time I wondered about such things. I can't wrap my head around it. Was Obama merely fooling people? Is he sociopathic? If so, was he always? Is everyone who does what it takes to become POTUS and remain POTUS a sociopath? How do you go from community organizing in South Chicago (where I myself once lived) to slaughtering innocent people with drone attacks?

Those are mind opening questions, but do you know any way to answer those kinds of questions beyond a hypothesis, and I mean no matter how well educated the hypothesizer, will it ever be more than that?

If the mind can stop at recognizing it's limits to a conclusion, the whole order of factuality can move to a different Mind set. Can people operate without the sense of knowingness we demand here in our rationality based world view? It seems possible to me. I try to. When I blather away like this it's often with the awareness I don't have much Knowingness to share, but more something along he lines of phenomenon that I've observed, something that has patterns that others might observe as well, and I show how I try to work with it; but here with language that's a very restricted verson of what I actually do. It tends towards a hyper rational direction. I don't want to lead anyone anywhere. I'm not an expert. Mostly it seems to me we go through our efforts at life guessing about a lot of things. I generally try to go with my best guess. And with that in mind, why would an artist like Laurie Anderson write and perform a song like this?

Only an Expert

What is she seeing?

(here are the lyrics)

Quote Garrett78:

At the same time, it's hard for me to not be skeptical of survey results when you see just how propagandized (some will say stupid or ignorant) the masses are (as I've mentioned recently, look at survey results that show how Americans believe federal dollars are spent--they're very much out of touch with the facts).

(applause)

When Chomsky uses survey results I ask him in my mind if he is aware of the problem of surveys that I am. A survey is a sample. When speaking of the U.S. as a whole, survey results, by the very nature of the mathematical technique of doing statistics, are of everyperson and noperson in particular. That's actually the result of a technique developed very recently in human societies, and that technique is a modern, scientific management technique. For social and business managers, these are considered "facts". But it's worse than that to me. When I am put into a category of one of these facts they've "measured" with statistical means, I quickly discover my individuality has disappeared, it's been modified and transformed into a kind of norm. The questions asked are given categorical possibilities that I can seldom answer because for me there are too many qualifiers. I have had graduate level courses in statistics and with what I understand about creating them, I don't like to put much stock in the results of statistics. I don't like being an expert at all, but especially the kind of expert who relies on statistics. I think the reliance on statistics is part of the problem that creates Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.

Chomsky is in a difficult place. By trying to be factual in his effort to deconstruct power, he has put himself in the place of being an expert. I can't imagine how he found any time to do his work in linguistics. I'm awed that he did. It takes a lot of expertise to be an against the status quo expert.

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.ren
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Troy Davis has been murdered.

Quote Howard Zinn:We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.
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This is an example of hope for a healthy society. The victims family don't always want what the state wants.

Re: Obama's emulsification, on the Suskind v Mika thread, talk of how he was gamed or 'slow walked' [I've not heard slow walked enough to know what it means, but gamed I do know] He wanted accountability for the banksters, then just take down CitiBank, he got nothing. He ought to dump Geithner, and have justice follow up on his tax evasions.

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douglaslee
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This segment has the machine like status of the system, as Ren has refered to it, being used to satisfy perry's kill record, I don't know if they've read Ren's posts, but they talk as if they had.

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douglaslee
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Psychopathic politicians and sadists that like to kill is not justice. Dr Ault, a Dean and former warden thinks it's depraved to satisfy their wishes.

In a six degrees framing [six degrees of Kevin Bacon, and my own six degrees of Reagan], a new six degrees of TX, TX just killed another innocent man.

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douglaslee
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If you say you're guilty we won't kill you, has some witch trial similarity.

As far as civil suits for wrongful death or wrongful imprisonment, the pleas offered disallow the pursuit of justice. We will let you out, but don't claim we were wrong.

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douglaslee
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Good quote from Howard, Garrett.

Rich is so eloquent about this issue. His comments about the letter by the people who "execute the machinery of death" illustrates this loss of our humanity I keep trying to speak to with my metaphor to the machine-like nature of a technological society. He said something deep and empathetic about it, referring to the reactions by people, both the left and the right, especially the pro life right as a "wave on the conscience of the people, this is on America's soul," which are words that the rationalist, atheist left may not want to hear, but then what words do describe the sense of wrongful justice that has just occurred? And he includes the dilemma on the pro life right, so this is not an indictment, which we often get, a binary us vs. them, but indication of a larger problem with the sense that we are all struggling to make some human sense of our society. Were some of them cheering at that infamous debate? If so, how does that paradox of pro and anti life work out in the "soul" of these folks?

How do we separate political rationality from our sense of justice built upon what ever way we express our sense of morality, ethics and ultimately fairness to one another? This is not a simple problem that will be fixed by labeling people and setting up sides. This goes deep into the very way we think about things given the tools for thinking we inherit from our cultural baggage. There's a kind of disorder that comes into being when those things don't jive together, and that's the sense of discord that I'm referring to when the law becomes a machine that does not hold justice first. The machine law wants to bring about order by creating rules people must obey, while the justice based law is living, contextual, and creates a different order, an order that goes deep into our being, speaks to those features that are part of our DNA.

Of course, the positivist sciences that created behaviorist psychology believe more strongly in a blank slate version of the human mind. In their version we do not have empathy, fairness and a sense of justice in our bones; whatever we think that might be is just a matter of programming. Well, we have plenty of arguments against that, and Chomsky's theory of universal grammar is one of those, he made BF Skinner look like a fool back in the sixties, but behaviorism didn't die. And people on the left believe behaviorism as an ulimate rational explanation of human behavior too. This is a huge debate, I won't attempt to bring it out here, that's just a reference.

I'm sure there will be a lot of these articles out there.

Troy Davis is Dead

Murder is Good Politics, Bad Justice by Robert Scheer

And the right's dear Ann Coulter, only thing I could find in my daily dose of email headlines from Townhall.com:

Mumia's the Word

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.ren
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-World-reacts-to-Troy-Davis-execution-with-revulsion don't drink coke, and don't fly delta, and turn off cnn

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douglaslee
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From CSM in douglaslee's link.

"Americans seem to be more disgusted with death-row in Saudi Arabia and Iran than they are in our own country. If you murder one person, you get sentenced to jail or death. If you murder millions, it's "mission accomplished" #landofthefree"
Nadine
Palestinan blogger

Can ... open ..... worms ..... everywhere.

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KennyMac
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Quote .ren:
Quote Garrett78:

As for the above quote, I've been wondering about what accounts for that alleged change in Obama ever since reading the transcript of Hedges's talk with Rev. Wright. Although that was not the first time I wondered about such things. I can't wrap my head around it. Was Obama merely fooling people? Is he sociopathic? If so, was he always? Is everyone who does what it takes to become POTUS and remain POTUS a sociopath? How do you go from community organizing in South Chicago (where I myself once lived) to slaughtering innocent people with drone attacks?

Those are mind opening questions, but do you know any way to answer those kinds of questions beyond a hypothesis, and I mean no matter how well educated the hypothesizer, will it ever be more than that?

No. Does power corrupt, or do only the corrupt seek power? Of course, what do I mean by "the corrupt?" I don't have an answer to that.

Once again, I need to think some more about the rest of your post.

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Garrett78
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Kenny, I've heard it said that killing one is murder and killing thousands is foreign policy.

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Garrett78
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Quote Garrett78:

Kenny, I've heard it said that killing one is murder and killing thousands is foreign policy.

Exactly. We lie to ourselves and attempt to justify it with a misplaced sense of 'morality' depending on the situation. No wonder things are f@cked up eh?

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KennyMac
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KenneyMac, haven't seen you in these parts for years. Hope all is well . http://www.newsprism.com was where I went for a variety of feedback on a very strong emotional controversial issue. Could have picked any on the right, but CSM having Christian included in it's name seemed to me a higher calibre link, esp. when it says 'good read' regarding the killing of an innocent man. Lest we forget, 'Gospel' translated is good news.

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douglaslee
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A Machine Made of Words

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douglaslee
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Quote douglaslee:

KenneyMac, haven't seen you in these parts for years. Hope all is well . http://www.newsprism.com was where I went for a variety of feedback on a very strong emotional controversial issue. Could have picked any on the right, but CSM having Christian included in it's name seemed to me a higher calibre link, esp. when it says 'good read' regarding the killing of an innocent man. Lest we forget, 'Gospel' translated is good news.

This is a somber moment for me with this national murder incidence, and I consider these threads about the issue to be somber and I respect them as such. But... always one of those for me, huh? But your link caused me a moment of amusement.

Your link does not go to Newsprism, it goes to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, specifically the Law and Language section. The only reason I attempted to find that out was because you followed that with a few comments about the Christian Science Monitor, which I am familiar with as a fairly respectable news source, and upon finally finding the correct Newsprism site I discovered that Newsprism has the CSM on the "right" side of its prism funnel, lower and towards the center.

Newsprism is an interesting source in that someone or ones has or have attempted to sort news sources out into a left center-right-paradigm. Always a activity to be questioned because of the human tendency to do so, and because of the arbitrariness inevitable in sorting and making judgements. And in a similar vein, KennyMac points to a misplaced sense of morality sometimes abusively used as justification. What I'm saying is that once things are sorted and labeled they tend to provide a system of justification.

Now, that comes back to Jeremy Bentham on your Law and Language link. Jeremy attempted to develop "a radically empiricist theory of the meaning of words, which supported his utilitarianism and his legal theory." Now, what does that mean? The discussion at the link gets to the problem of semantics later, but to start with, empiricism was one of the root philosophies in the development of science over the next couple of hundred years after Jeremy to now. Very powerful philosophy in a utilitarian sense, it harkens back to Aristotle and his views about the world. Upper crust educated people in Bentham's time were exposed to the classics and would be aware of this.

The problem of empiricism is the problem of positivist science that's become a huge argument in the Twentieth Century. It's also the problem of the fallacy of proving a negative. This is the fallacy that Chomsky directed his attention to in his debate with B.F.Skinner concerning the empirist/behaviorist theory of language learning which restricted itself to only what could be observed and considering what could not be observed to be more or less non existent, or at the very least irrelevant. Bentham followed these empirical and utilitarian theory steps in his language theory because "Linguistic acts struch him as respectable empirical phenomenon, and he made them an essential element of his theory of law."

The problem with that is the very fundamental problem with what we hold so dear now, the notion of observable facts. An observable set of words in a grammatical string... speakers produce them, listeners hear them, and then there's the problem of interpretion, which raises unobservable issues like intent and so forth. And that brings up the issues of semantics. We can define words, but definitions do not always lead to the same semantic results when language is in use in real live situations. But with the empiricist theory the attempt was made to solidify meanings about a process that is alive and flexible to changing circumstances. And the difference between awareness of process and ever open and changing flows of experience, and a sense of creating a foundation of solidity is at the crux of the problem.

Chomsky's theory that we come equipped with a pre programmed (as in genetically coded) ability to recognize and therefore develop a grammar that we can employ for ourselves to produce language, as long as the child's exposure is to a language was created out of our genetically based human "universal grammar", was about something that cannot be directly observed. What he did in 1957 was develop a radical theory of grammar that shook the foundations of empiricism. That book was Syntactic Structures, basically it was his PhD thesis, one of the few PhD theses that truly shook the world from a very remarkable young mind.

In his debate with Skinner, that evolved out of his critique of something Skinner wrote in 1957, Verbal Behavior, Chomsky, with his theory of transformational, generative grammar, provided a sophisticated challenge to the behaviorist theory of language learning. More importantly he challenged the positivist science rule of restricting itself to observing phenomenon and interpretation of that as "fact" (Skinner's theory behind that would be called something like "operant conditioning" using positive and negative reinforcement to teach grammar through what he called "verbal operants") while ignoring what cannot be observed. He challenged Skinner to explain how children became full able to speak and creatively use for themselves a language by the age of two to three with minimal exposure to the fundmentals of a language's complete grammar (which we begin to teach children in our culture formally in grade school, in many cultures this is never done). In every example Skinner offered in an attempt to prove his theory, this young upstart, Chomsky, showed how empty and limited those explanations were. He simply used reason to do that, I would add: reason on the level of theoretical physics. Thus somewhere around 1960 Chomsky put a very new and fundamentally theoretical way of looking at language and human learning in general up against B.F.Skinner's then commonly accepted and scientifically standardized behaviorist theory of learning, and as a result we now have new fields of cognitive science that look at language as a very different phenomenon than the empirical phenomenon that Bentham and people of his era conceived it as.

Now, all that blather came into my mind all at once when I saw what you'd done by mis linking your intent to send us to newsprim.com, but instead you actually linked to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, with Jermy Bentham at the top of the Historical note. It was when I read this phrase that my memory of the Chomsky/Skinner debate jumped into my mind:

To many legal theorists, as H.L.A. Hart put it, that approach ‘appeared as a revelation, bringing down to earth an elusive notion and restating it in the same clear, hard, empirical terms as are used in science’ (Hart 1994, 84). The theory supports not only Bentham's empiricism, but also his utilitarianism, because it privileges what he viewed as the ultimate intelligible ‘affections’: the pain and pleasure that utilitarianism treats as the basis for a theory of value and of morality. ‘Pain and pleasure at least, are words which a man has no need, we may hope, to go to a Lawyer to know the meaning of.’ (Bentham 1776, 28)

In his legal theory, this view of language became the basis of an innovative account of law as the expression of the will of a sovereign in a political community. Bentham stated it as follows:

A law may be defined as an assemblage of signs declarative of a volition conceived or adopted by the sovereign in a state, concerning the conduct to be observed in a certain case by a certain person or class of persons, who in the case in question are or are supposed to be subject to his power… (Bentham 1782, 1)

He went on to explain that such a signification of volition must be backed by ‘motives’ of pain or pleasure offered by the sovereign.

I thought, Oh my, Skinner! (operant conditioning, positive/negative reinforcement).

And then I thought, wow, it took nearly two hundred years before someone came along and ripped the foundation out from under that empiricist notion of necessity of pain and pleasure. And that someone happens to be an anarchist social critic.

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

For the record, I despise Ann Coulter in every fathomable away.

But, she does put forth a compelling case (Mumia's the Word) based on - admittedly unsourced facts - that I'm only hearing now for the first time despite having consumed a LOT of information regarding the case from MSM and independent media alike.

I'm been combing the net attempting to find some refutation of her claims - claims which are now serving to execute Troy again in the court of public opinion - but it's mostly unhelpful ad hominim attacks against her and her Adam's apple.

Is all information regarding the case hearsay or have the proceededings and documents been made available to the public?

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rookpsu
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

"This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually" innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged "actual innocence" is constitutionally cognizable. - Justice Scalia

If the Constitution doesn't protect us from being executed even if we are innocent, then, Houston, we have a fundamental problem of human rights in America.

Scalia is considered by some to be a "brilliant legal mind," but there is nothing brilliant about authorizing the murder of innocent people

http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/13033

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

.

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Ren, Chomsky is also viewed as the anti-christ by some, especially those that believe in suffering, so to be rewarded with the grand payoff, the pleasure after death. The passion plays celebrate the same.

I'll put a beautiful eulogy soon, but to not mislink I'll put the text from the same author I have in my copy/paste function. btw, thanks for clearing the link, and understanding what I was trying to link

current

When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and, before we float farther on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are.

dwebster/speeches/adams-jefferson

If it be true that no one can safely be pronounced happy while he lives, if that event which terminates life can alone crown its honors and its glory, what felicity is here! The great epic of their lives, how happily concluded! Poetry itself has hardly terminated illustrious lives, and finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had the power, we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine Providence. The great objects of life were accomplished, the drama was ready to be closed. It has closed; our patriots have fallen; but so fallen, at such age, with such coincidence, on such a day, that we cannot rationally lament that the end has come, which we knew could not be long deferred.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I was an Army Officer and served in a combat zone. I do not believe in killing people, unless they are actively trying to kill you or they are enemy combatants who have already killed.

Even still, there are worse things for killers than lying on a gurney and not waking up, such as spending the rest of one's life in prison... 23 hours of each day in solitary confinement.

In fact, death row prisoners (exonerated, of course) later said they would have preferred to be put to sleep rather than linger in prison.

The Troy Davis case was beyond human comprehension and not fit for our supposedly civilized society. The justice system, especially with regards to capital punishment, is clearly not working. Read John Grisham's "The Confession," which just won the Harper Lee prize for legal fiction. Though fictional, it mirrors the horrors of our current system.

Brian A. Hampton

MAJ INF USAR (ret)

Brian A. Hampton
Joined:
Sep. 23, 2011 1:29 pm

I suspect Troy Davis is (or is it "was?") innocent. But my feelings about the death penalty are the same regardless. It is state-sanctioned murder. It is vengeance, not justice.

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Garrett78
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Sep. 3, 2010 8:20 am
Quote rookpsu:

For the record, I despise Ann Coulter in every fathomable away.

But, she does put forth a compelling case (Mumia's the Word) based on - admittedly unsourced facts - that I'm only hearing now for the first time despite having consumed a LOT of information regarding the case from MSM and independent media alike.

I'm been combing the net attempting to find some refutation of her claims - claims which are now serving to execute Troy again in the court of public opinion - but it's mostly unhelpful ad hominim attacks against her and her Adam's apple.

Is all information regarding the case hearsay or have the proceededings and documents been made available to the public?

Do you really find this characterization of what's being said about this case compelling?

Quote Ann Coulter:

For decades, liberals tried persuading Americans to abolish the death penalty, using their usual argument: hysterical sobbing.

I was directed to read four essays on capital punishment in a philosophy class once, many years ago, just after I returned from Vietnam, two were for the death penalty and two against, and I was assigned to write my own essay on the subject. All of the essays contained compelling, well reasoned arguments. One of the essays was Camus' 1957 extended essay: Reflections on the Guillotine. Would Camus be a "liberal" to Ann Coulter? What are "liberals" in Ann Coulter's lexicon? Do non liberals argue against the death penalty? Do only these "liberals" that Coulter refers to hysterically sob as a form of argument? My father always argued against it; at 90 he remains a steadfast Republican. Is a steadfast Republican a "liberal" to Ann Coulter? I'm just a little confused about where she's headed with this.

On to paragraph two:

Quote Ann Coulter:

Only when the media began lying about innocent people being executed did support for the death penalty begin to waver, falling from 80 percent to about 60 percent in a little more than a decade. (Silver lining: That's still more Americans than believe in man-made global warming.)

"Only when"... only when. Only when. Do you believe that? Only when? Nothing else, only the lying media? Do you believe there's a direct correlation between the media lying (where's the proof for that here?) and a fall in support for the death penalty? In other words, is that a "fact"?

Paragraph three:

Quote Ann Coulter:

Fifty-nine percent of Americans now believe that an innocent man has been executed in the last five years. There is more credible evidence that space aliens have walked among us than that an innocent person has been executed in this country in the past 60 years, much less the past five years.

I don't know if that's true. What I do know is that the argument I and all my friends and relatives use is that people have been executed when there remains doubt about their guilt, not proof of their innocence. Under our basic humane regard for other people, we hold that a person is innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent. Thus if there is doubt, there remains the presumption of innocence. Not "believe" but a presumption of innocence that must be proven false with factual evidence. Which of those formulas would it appear Ann Coulter would hold to?

Let's skip her sarcastic and all too brief characterization of the crime and her failure to bring up any mention of recanted evidence, the lack of a weapon and all that. Let's go to her next broad categorical character assassination of a group she labels "liberals":

Quote Ann Coulter:

Now, a brisk 22 years after Davis murdered Officer MacPhail, his sentence will finally be administered this week -- barring any more of the legal shenanigans that have kept taxpayers on the hook for Davis' room and board for the past two decades.

(The average time on death row is 14 years. Then liberals turn around and triumphantly claim the death penalty doesn't have any noticeable deterrent effect. As the kids say: Duh.)

I don't know who those "liberals" are, do you? But what I do know is that "triumphant claim", as she derisively puts it, is not the argument for failure of the death penalty to act as a deterrence that I'm familiar with.

Quote Ann Coulter:

Davis pulled out a gun and shot two strangers in public. What "physical evidence" were they expecting? No houses were broken into, no cars stolen, no rapes or fistfights accompanied the shootings. Where exactly would you look for DNA? And to prove what?

Did he? Well, now there appears to be some questions about that, there might have been someone else with the gun that shot those two bullets. The physical evidence needed was a gun and a link of that gun to Davis. And along with that there's some indication that the guy didn't have either Ann Coulter's or O. J. Simpson's millions to hire a very smart attorney who might have been able to demonstrate the importance of that lack of evidence at the time of the trial.

About all I see Ms Coulter doing is belittling anyone who might question the justice of the legal system. Her main concern seems to be the unjust cost to American taxpayers of keeping Troy alive for 22 years. How is that compelling?

If there's a question of guilt, is this justice? That's my question.

In 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia to consider whether new evidence "that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis'] innocence". The evidentiary hearing was held in June 2010. The defense presented affidavits from seven of the nine trial witnesses whose original testimony had identified Davis as the murderer, but who had changed or recanted their previous testimony. Some asserted they had been coerced by police. Several implicated one of the original prosecution witnesses, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, in the crime. The state presented witnesses, including the police investigators and original prosecutors, who described a careful investigation of the crime, without any coercion. Evidence that Coles had confessed to the killing was excluded as hearsay because Coles was not subpoenaed by the defense to rebut it. In an August 2010 decision, the conviction was upheld, and the court described defense efforts to upset the conviction as "largely smoke and mirrors", and decided that several of the proffered affidavits were not recantations at all. Subsequent appeals, including to the Supreme Court, were rejected, and a fourth execution date was set for September 21, 2011. Nearly one million people signed petitions urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency.[3] The Board denied clemency[4] and, on September 21, it refused to reconsider its decision.[5] After a last minute appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied, the sentence was carried out on September 21, 2011.[6]

(source)

Quote Ann Coulter:

I suppose it would be nice if the shell casings from both shootings that night matched. Oh wait -- they did. That's "physical evidence."

Yes, but...

No physical evidence from the crime was retrieved, apart from the bullets and shell casings, which were determined to have come from a .38-caliber pistol. Witnesses to the shooting agreed that a man in a white shirt had struck Young and then shot MacPhail.[11]

(source)

do the bullets from the shell casings match? There are lots of 38 caliber pistolas in gun totin' U.S. of A. What makes a case is the bullets and the characteristics that each pistol leaves on a bullet when a bullet is fired from it. Did Troy fire any weapon?

The man who was beating the homeless man over a beer when Mark MacPhail attempted to intervene, who told the police he had seen Troy Davis with a .38 pistol that was never found nor proven to have been the case, Redd Coles, on cross examination at the trial:

On cross-examination, Coles admitted that he also had a .38 pistol, but stated that he had given it to another man earlier that night.[24]

I don't know if any of that, or the rest of the conflicting heresay recounting he said, he saw at the trial is true. I would like to at least be sure, even though I, in principle, don't condone the death penalty at all.

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

Executions are not "murders" or "killings." There are big differences between these homicides.

No one should ever be excuted on the basis of circumstantial evidence or eyewitness testimony, unless there is also ironclad physical evidence and a voluntary confession. Even then, unless the crime was particularly heinous, the convicted should be incarcerated for life, not executed.

The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee anybody "justice." It guarantees a fair trial. Enough convictions have been the product of police or prosecutorial misconduct for the United States to be especially wary before condemning a man to death. Under the right circumstances, however, a convicted murderer can be executed without a single tear of regret falling from my eye.

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Ixtelan
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Ah, the old dictionary ploy, eh? Some things just never get old. Dictionaries, of course, are not substitutes for good judgment.

Persons excuted have had benefit of a fair trial, unlike murder victims who get no attorney, no jury, no cross examination, no subpoenas, no judge, no presumption of innocence, no plea bargains, no appeals, and no mercy. The two are in no way comparable, although both are types of homicide.

Because so many prosecutions for capital offenses and otherwise are the product of police and prosecutorial misconduct, society should apply the most stringent safeguards when contemplating capital punishment. If the crime and conviction warrant it, I say fry the guy.

Ixtelan's picture
Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Jacques Ellul:Moreover, justice is not in the service of the state; it even claims the right to judge the state.

Ah, the old appeal to authority gag, eh? Like dictionaries, that one never grows old, either.

Justice is served on behalf of society, not the state and not even for the victims and their families, although I believe that victims and families deserve justice, too.

I think appeals to authority are okay as long as the appellant knows what the hell the authority meant.

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Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

mur der

1. Law . the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder), and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder).

2. Slang . something extremely difficult or perilous: That final exam was murder!

3. a group or flock of crows.verb (used with object)

4. Law. to kill by an act constituting murder. 5. to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously.

5. to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously.

"5. to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously."
If the state through its codes and laws, including its constitution, defines "inhumanely" or "barbarously", then the state, is pretty much going to be free of the problem of being accused of murder.
Justice is what we human beings are concerned with, not the abstract machinery of state. The state is a set of codes and rules that have to be intepreted and enacted by human beings. Therefore, unless one sees the state as an actor, not the humans intepreting codes and rules carrying out the actions, it doesn't make much sense to see the state as being in a position to guarantee anything, it's just a kind of abstract machine. Someone has to turn it on and direct it. When human beings become involved with the codes and rules, interpretation comes into play, and somewhere in that process justice can be served or not. When there is a dispute about whether justice is served, that's an actual human being's conscience coming to play, and without that conscience a machine does not guarantee justice of any kind. Of course if someone doesn't believe in such things as conscience, then it's pointless to make this argument. Then the machinery of the state and positivist definitions become the norm. But if one does believe in a humanity capable of conscience, then the machinery of state merely makes it possible based on previous humans attempt to create the means through codes and rules.. It is not the state or the state's laws place to determine justice through definition a human conscience. The problem with justice is it cannot be precisely codified. It would be facetious from that perspective to suppose otherwise and to place these imprecisions of definition as an authority of the state. That would be a step towards creating the circumstances of Wolin's "inverted totalitarianism". As I quoted Jacques Ellul above:

Quote Jacques Ellul:

Judicial technique is in every way much less self-confident than the other techniques, because it is impossible to transform the notion of justice into technical elements. Despite what philosophers may say, justice is not a thing which can be grasped or fixed. If one pursues genuine justice (and not some automatism or egalitarianism), one never knows where one will end. A law created as a function of justice has something unpredictable in it which embarrasses the jurist. Moreover, justice is not in the service of the state; it even claims the right to judge the state. Law created as a function of justice eludes the state, which can neither create nor modify it. The state of course sanctions this situation only to the degree that it has little power or has not yet become fully self-conscious; or to the degee that its jurists are not exclusively technical rationalists and subordinated to efficient results. Under these conditions, technique assumes the role of a handmaiden modestly resigned to the fact that she does not automatically get what she desires.

(The Technological Society, pp 291-292)

"Moreover, justice is not in the service of the state; it even claims the right to judge the state." -- Jacques Ellul.

Quote Garrett78:

Troy Davis has been murdered.

Quote Howard Zinn:We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.
.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am
Quote Howard Zinn:It is now up to all of us to take it back.

I wonder who he meant by "us?"

Ixtelan's picture
Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Ixtelan:

Ah, the old appeal to authority gag, eh?

Not very creative. You want to bully with words you'll need to get more creative.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am
Quote Ixtelan:
Quote Howard Zinn:It is now up to all of us to take it back.

I wonder who he meant by "us?"

It would be hard to explain if you don't know.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am
Quote The Narrator:It is not the state or the state's laws place to determine justice through definition a human conscience.

That's right. It is the place of the governed to determine justice for themselves.

Quote The Narrator:The problem with justice is it cannot be precisely codified.

No kidding? Not even in Jacques Ellul's world?

Ixtelan's picture
Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Ixtelan:
Quote The Narrator:It is not the state or the state's laws place to determine justice through definition a human conscience.

That's right. It is the place of the governed to determine justice for themselves.

Quote The Narrator:The problem with justice is it cannot be precisely codified.

No kidding? Not even in Jacques Ellul's world?

Really, what's "the government"?

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am
Quote The Narrator:You want to bully with words you'll need to get more creative.

Please turn away from the mirror, Narcissus.

Ixtelan's picture
Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote The Narrator:It would be hard to explain if you don't know.

Try me.

Ixtelan's picture
Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote The Narrator:Really, what's "the government"?

It would be hard to explain if you don't know.

Ixtelan's picture
Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Ixtelan:
Quote The Narrator:Really, what's "the government"?

It would be hard to explain if you don't know.

I already explained it.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am
Quote Ixtelan:
Quote The Narrator:You want to bully with words you'll need to get more creative.

Please turn away from the mirror, Narcissus.

You appear to have personal issues with me. You'll need to be more creative to provoke me.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am
Quote The Narrator:You appear to have personal issues with me. You'll need to be more creative to provoke me.

I was responding to the thread.

The Narrator star system went white dwarf billions of years ago. Get over yourself.

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Ixtelan
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Currently Chatting

The world we're leaving for today's teens...

Without immediate global action on climate change, today's teenagers will be forced to live with the consequences of our inaction. The World Bank has issued their third report of climate change, and it says that global temperatures could rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius by the time today's teens hit their 80th birthday.

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