Section 1983 and the Death Penalty

We - as a collective "public" and as individuals - kill people.   We go to war.  We make economic decisions that lead to death each day.  Just read some Peter Singer and tell me what your comebacks are.  How many lives could you have saved had you not sent your kid to prep school?  My monthly coffee budget could probably save a few lives each day.  I still pay $3.50 for my Philz Coffee.

Each of us, every day, makes decisions that kill others.  But, man, bring up the death penalty, and watch the righteous feathers flare!  We all suddenly become peacocks for morality.  How dare the State kill in our name!?  Dudes, once you pull the kid out of Andover and into public school and send the rest over to starving children, then we can talk about your moral certainty about the need to save criminals' lives.

Anyhow, in America, a criminal gets a trial.  This is so even when there is 100% proof of guilt.  In Connecticut, for example, two guys broke into a house; tied up some children; raped them; raped a wife; beat a husband nearly to death; burned down the house.  Guilt is 100% certain.

Those guys will still get trials.  And direct appeals to the Connecticut Court of Appeals and Connecticut Supreme Court.  Then those guys - who are 100% guilty - will receive several levels of review in federal court.  Millions of bucks we'll spend to add a few years to their lives.  How many starving children who don't rape and murder could we have saved with that money?

Another way to stop executions is through Section 1983 actions.  In Nooner v. Norris (CA8) (here), some guy who is totally guilty of heinous crimes and who in a State of Nature would already be dead, appeals to civilized society to save him.  Sociopaths always appeal to pity, and the most uncivil always demand the most civil of all legal processes. 

Well, the guy lost. Here's the Clerk's excellent summary:
Death Penalty - civil rights.  Grant of summary judgment that legal injection protocol does not subject inmates to a substantial risk of serious harm is affirmed. Arkansas protocol contains sufficient safeguards to ensure inmate is fully unconscious before pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride are administered. and any risk that the procedure will not work as designated is merely a risk of accident.
Read the whole thing here.  And chill out about the death penalty.

Of course, it's much easier to become outraged over the death penalty, since it allows us to escape blame for our own moral choices.  Hey, I'll spend a few grand a month on luxury sensual indulgences while people are starving.  What's that say about me?  Tough question.  Too tough.  How dare the State kill in my name?!

I've created a narcissistic monument to myself. I call this a child, and spend money on him.  (Well, if I have one, I will.)  I'll send the kid Andover, and then Dartmouth.  How many millions will that cost in 2030?  Well, why shouldn't I send the kid to a decent public school, and send some portion of those millions to starving kids?  Morally, that's the right decision.  Right?  Tough question.  Too tough.  How dare the State kill in my name?!

Most morality exists to distract ourselves from ourselves.  It's so much easier to judge other people than to say: How am I living my life?  What are my moral choices?  So we scream bout the State killing people in our names, never looking inward, asking: Am I killing people in my own name?