Re: Is the Death Penalty Extropian?

Michael Lorrey (
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 14:15:49 -0500

Paul Hughes wrote:

> Simple logic would seem to indicate the death penalty is not extropian. To
> wit:
> Entropy not= Extropy.
> Death = Entropy.

Murder = Death without choice for innocent person = entropy Murderer = individual who maliciously plans and executes a murder =entropic individual
Naturally we want as many extropic individuals living and as few entropic individuals living. Any measure which improves the gene pool to this end is useful.

> Death Penalty = Entropy Penalty.

Not quite. Its a penalty for an entropic act. Entropists seem to understand entropic action much better than extropic action. It is possible that there are entropic acts which benefit extropy, while there are surely extropic acts which benefit entropy. I see a murderer being executed as an entropic act which benefits extropy.

> Death Penalty not= Extropy.
> "Joe E. Dees" wrote:
> > Executing a
> > murderer may not deter anyone else from murdering, but it definitely
> > and absolutely deters the murderer. A dead murderer will never kill
> > again. Joe
> Quite true, it certainly stops any more entropy (murder) from occurring, but
> it doesn't increase extropy either. A more extropic thing to do, once an
> involuntary irreversible entropic act (murder) has been committed, is finding
> out why these people were murdered in the first place. By keeping these people
> alive for study and possible rehabilitation, we increase our chances of
> deterring murder at its source - weather it be bad genes, upbringing, economic
> status, or what have you.

By decreasing the future incidences of entropic actions, we increase the net extropy/entropy ratio, thus accellerating growth in extropic directions. Thus, in the end extropy is increased.

> A perfect example was in 1993 when a 19 year old boy of Texas, who with no
> prior history of sociopathy, mental illness or criminal activity, one night
> decided to murder his next door neighbor with a machete. Not only did he
> commit this gruesome act, but no one, not even himself knows why he did it.
> During the hearings to determining whether he should receive the death penalty
> or not, he sat crying in his lap for the entire 5 days of the proceedings.
> His psychologist, school teachers (where he was a straight-A student), nearly
> his entire family and most of his friends appeared in the court pleading for
> the jury to spare his life. In the end, the gruesome pictures of the corpse
> were enough to turn the jury in favor of the death penalty.

Frankly, if there is no cure for such actions, if they are genetic like some say, then deleting such defective DNA strains from the gene pool is useful. Now, on the other hand, I can also empathize with the kid. I would guess that the kid, being a straight A student, was probably a 'nerd' who was under severe negative peer pressure. I can easily imagine that such a child would go temporarily insane under the stress of such entropic acts. Unfortunately, nerds are not a protected minority. They arent very telegenic and don't have an effective lobby. When several such school yard shootings occured recently, while it annoyed me that the media was focusing on how easy the kids got ahold of guns, a small part of me that remembers being the object of schoolyard persecution was secretly cheering those kids for finally giving the 'good' kids a small taste of what several years of torment feels like.

> On pure Utilitarian grounds, think of the amount we could learn from this
> young man, about why someone would suddenly, without prior warning, turn into
> a violent killer.

I doubt very much that there were absolutely no warning signs. That parents, neighbors and teachers chose to ignore such signs is not the childs fault.

> It's quite possible we could determine through careful
> scientific study, why this boy killed his neighbor in cold blood. Perhaps
> from such study we could gain valuable knowledge about ourselves and our
> society in the process, and perhaps prevent other such people from 'going over
> the deep end' themselves at a later date. This is certainly much more
> extropian and longer-term life-enhancing than killing a prime specimen right
> after his gruesome act.

So you are not talking from a view point of benefitting the victim or the criminal, but your own desire to get inside the head of the perpetrator. Thats about as scientific and extropic as a concentration camp doctor. Nor is using one anecdote a very scientific sampling from which to reach conclusions.

Mike Lorrey