Re: Re Is the death penalty extropian
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 13:24:02 -0700

Brian writes, in response to my characterizing capital punishment as initiation of force inconsistent with the non-aggression principle:

> The force was initiated by the murderer, so it is not inconsistent.

Force was initiated by the murderer, but since the death penalty is not an immediate and direct response to the murderer's force, it does not qualify as defensive counterforce. Any harm inflicted after the fact is a *separate* application of force, and hence an initiation. Or is there some flaw in my reasoning here?

> As citizens of a government we are subject to legal definitions.

I disagree. Most of us haven't chosen to be "citizens" in the first place, we are simply claimed as such by the nearest gangsters calling themselves "government". "Subject to legal definitions" is somewhat ambiguous, but if you mean we're somehow ("morally" or otherwise) bound to define things the way the powers-that-be tell us to, I'd like to know why.

>> At 07:15 AM 11/24/98 -0800, ChuckKuecker <> wrote:

> Actually I said this...

Oops, sorry about the false attribution. This fetid excuse for a mail tool called Lotus Notes that I have inflicted on me here doesn't know about standard quoting. I cut-and-pasted the wrong line.

In response to my objection that there's no substantive difference between punishment and revenge:

> Revenge: to inflict harm in return for an injury etc.

> Punishment: To undergo pain, loss etc as for a crime.

> (source: Websters New World dictionary.)

OK, I ask again: wherein is the difference? Those definitions look to me like alternative ways of saying the same thing.

> No compensation or restitution is adequate or possible. Only
> justice in the form of equivalent punishment.

Here you're simply assuming that justice equals punishment, or at least implying, without support, that punishment is just. But isn't justice in essence simply fairness? You need to _argue_ for the fairness of punishment, not just assert it in passing, and, as a first step, you should distinguish it from mere revenge, which you have so far failed to do.

> I do not agree that taking these measures ever makes us even
> remotely like them.

>From your point of view, I agree that it does not. I hope you didn't take
my comment as an accusation.

>> Surely we Extropians ought to be in the vanguard of the
>> progress toward true civilization.

> We are in complete agreement here. I too advocate taking
> appropriate measures early in life to try to prevent these things.
> But insist also in proper action when the unfortunate occurs.

I'm with you there, friend. Unfortunately we differ on what constitutes proper action.