Re: Death Penalty (was Re: Didn't need no welfare state)

From: James Rogers (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 09:16:32 MDT

On Tue, 18 Apr 2000, Zero Powers wrote:
> >From: James Rogers <>
> >
> >While I am very big on individual self defense, I have come to abhor
> >state-sponsored killing in general. As things currently stand in most if
> >not all countries, the state is not held to the same standards of
> >justifiable homicide as the individual. While creating such a standard
> >effectively eliminates the death penalty, in the absence of such a
> >standard I would prefer to explicitly eliminate this ability from the
> >state. Arguably, only individuals can have the right of
> >self-defense anyway, since the government is made up of nothing more than
> >individuals.
> Sounds nice. But the minute you hold the state to the same standard as
> individuals, the state gives up all police power (except in those few
> circumstances were governmental employees or property are harmed or
> threatened) and all prisons must be emptied. That might sound like a good
> thing to you, but the day it happens here is the day I move to Costa Rica.

I am not saying that the state should lose police power and it doesn't
follow that the prisons should be emptied; I am saying that the state
should be held to the same standard of accountability as individuals.
There is a pretty big difference. An easy example is the number of people
who are killed every week in the U.S. by state agents simply because the
state made a "mistake" or had an "accident" that would have resulted in
murder charges had the people involved been private citizens. This, to
me, is unacceptable. I've lost track of the number of times police have
kicked in the door of someone's house, killed some or all of the people
inside, and then determined that they had the wrong address or that the
person they were looking for wasn't even there. The worst that typically
happens is a civil suit paid with your tax dollars, so there is no
incentive for them to change their behavior.

The only protection offered against illegitimate use of deadly force in
the U.S. is to kill the state agents/police at the time the incident
occurs. The majority of the time, the police bring overwhelming force, so
that if they do kill you there is only one side of the story anyway. In
other words, you can either capitulate and hope that you are not killed
anyway (as sometimes happens) or lawfully resist and get killed.
Something is very wrong with that picture. I have a hard time with the
fact that the state can kill an individual with effective impunity for
exercising a legally recognized right. (It is interesting to note that
there have been a few times where a homeowner successfully drove off an
illegitimate police assault with a hail of gun fire. These cases are
essentially always deemed to be justifiable by the courts.)

What I am getting at, is that allowing this type of behavior by the state
as it currently exists gives the state carte blanche to "accidentally"
kill anyone they don't like without any consequences to the individuals
involved in the killing. This is a Bad Thing and can easily lead to a
Disneyland police state.

-James Rogers

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