On Tue, 1 Dec 1998 07:43:31 -0800 (PST) Brian D Williams
> Yesterday's Chicago Suntimes ran a half page article against the
> death penalty.
> The article was based on a movement started by the nun who was the
> focus of the book and movie "Dead Man Walking." Apparently some
> 50,000 people have signed a pledge and carry cards in their wallets
> saying they do not believe in the death penalty, and in the event
> they are murdered do not want the guilty party to face the death
> penalty. Actor Martin Sheen and actress Susan Sarrandon were
> Good for them....
> I just composed something I am going to take to the printers, then
> sign and carry in my wallet.
> DEATH PENALTY ADVOCATE
> In the event of my murder, the bearer of this card want's the
> authorities and friends to know that they believe the death penalty
> is the only appropriate punishment for the unlawful, deliberate,
> and malicious killing of a fellow human being. It is my express
> wish prosecutors seek, and the murderer receive, the death penalty.
> Member,Extropy Institute
I actually think that this is a very good idea. I went through a similar internal debate with myself over this issue before I joined ExI when I first encountered "Understanding the Libertarian Philosophy" http://www.libertarian.org/libphilo.html by Joseph Knight. I decided that his formulation was close enought to my own that I began to use it to introduce people to the freedom philosophy. It was the and is now very easy for me to perceive militant libertarianism being in favor of the death penalty. I finally decided that the only way to harmonize the different flavors of Libertarianism on this issue was to place the responsibility of deciding for or against the death penalty in regard to a particular convicted murderer on the shoulders of the victim, victim's family, or those that were closest to the victim. Now since the victim of a murder is, by definition, dead. The only way to have it placed on the victim's shoulders is by the victim somehow making his wishes know before he has been murdered. I was uncertain how this could be done and over the years have drifted into an ever stronger and more resolute pacifism. Although your proposal, that seems to have arisen out of a reaction to an alternative yet opposingly identical (positive v. negative) perspective, it appears remarkably rational and I would like to see this as viable (at least temporary) middle ground. That way each side, both the more militant and the more pacifist, can discuss the issue with feeling threatened (which can make it more difficult to understand that another almost opposite perspective can rationally exist). Although I know that Extropianism and Libertarianism are not exactly equivalent, I do like to think of Extropianism as part of the Libertarian Movement, the Erisian Movement, and the broader Transhumanist Movement. I do not perceive the death penalty as being a particularly Extropian idea, but I think that the middle ground implied by respecting the victim's wishes can and probably should be considered to have enough rational support to justify tolerating the wishes both of more militant individuals (like Brian) and more pacifist individuals (like myself) on this issue (at least for the time being ;) .
In Liberty, for Extropy;