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Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably) 
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Post Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)

Please join us in reading and discussing Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens!

Arguably is a collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens. Each thread in this book discussion forum is named after the title of one of the essays in Arguably. The page number where the essay starts is included in the thread title to make finding it within the book easy.

Read all of the essays in order or jump around and read only the essays that interest you. Please keep your comments in the appropriate threads.



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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
When I first read the title of this essay, I thought it was going to be about the USA sending 18 year-olds off to fight in wars. This is something I have always found perplexing, 18 can be old enough to give your life for your country, to go off to another country and carry a weapon and make life or death decisions, 18 is also old enough to vote, 18 is old enough to get married, but you can't buy alcohol until you are 21. This truly does not make sense.

It also does not make sense that teenages below the age of 18 can be put to death. It is also very sad that so much of the reason those kids/adults are where they are is because of mistreatment, low IQ, and poverty. Legal representation is another area in life where there is such a huge discrepancies between rich a poor.



Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:09 pm
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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
The age to drink/die debate is huge in the military among those that fit that age group. When they ask, everyone agrees with them, and the law remains as it is. Some laws concerning drinking and smoking marijuana confuse me greatly.

Where I live you can't buy alcohol at the store on Sundays but yet you can buy it from restaurants. Kids can sign up to die in war during times of "peace", yet they can't drink alcoholic beverages. The carcinogens in cigarettes make them a health risk but we outlaw marijuana which has no such health concerns.

All of this is social engineering and big brother morality enforcement with the exception of the alcohol age minimum. Maybe lowering the law to 20 and making an exception for those in the military would be a good idea. Education is always preferable to law in my opinion. Drivers education, which is dying in the United States as there isn't the funding for it, is largely tasked with scaring kids straight when it comes to drunk driving. They show videos of kids who chose to drink and drive. The videos are of high school students who are filmed dead at the scene of the accident. The instructors stress how many alcohol related deaths occur during prom night, etc. They bring the message home.

Laws against drunk driving... why are they there, how are they effective, and how effective are they? If they were truly effective there would probably be a lot fewer bars in business, right? The BAC limit is point nothing... you can brush your teeth and fail one of these tests.

The average person who gets a DUI is utterly screwed. They're looking at about a $5,000 process. To someone who has a good job making 250,000 a year the process is a mosquito bite on an otherwise blissful stroll through life. To the man who nets 30,000 a year, 5,000 means a complete lifestyle change (probably involving quality and quantity of food and creature comforts like heating - they'll probably have to get a small loan at a high interest rate as well which will mean they'll have to pay even more than the original 5,000 and be taxed with the burden for longer). Equality before the law? Equal punishment for equal crime? Justice?

I honestly don't know how I feel about children being executed. What kind of a functioning, well adjusted, happy adult comes from a childhood of rape and murder? Does society owe a child who is mentally disturbed, conditioned to be a murderer, who is obsessed with wearing other people's skin as clothing a shot at recovery? For how long?

Data... data tells me a lot of things that are socially unacceptable to even mention. People know, they talk about it in their homes and with their closest friends but that's it. Strange... for a society that talks so much about being "transparent" and honest. Lol.

I'm no robot and I have a heart. I'd want to know IF these kids can be brought back. If they can then the team must make the sacrifice to try and remake them. Can a mentally disturbed individual be made into the kind of adult I described? If not then - bye, bye. I don't want to keep these kinds of people alive just for the sake of keeping them alive. If they're used for study then, fine... If they're nothing but a safety concern for the rest of society then they need to be put to sleep humanely.

I think realizing who we're and why we're killing them is more important than an age. Why would age be important if that person could never be 'right'.

The brain is still puzzling and we haven't figured it out yet but we have improved our knowledge of it. We have psychologists and psychiatrists that study human behavior. Maybe someone on here can tell us if these kids we're murdering can recover.

I think it's important to remember that we aren't killing children because they've stolen a piece of bread or splashed mud by accident on the shoes of a noble-man. We're killing them because they're doing sick, scary stuff.



Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:44 pm
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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:

“A legally binding instrument
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.

Article 37
States Parties shall ensure that:
(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;

Article 38
1. States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child.
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities. “

http://www.unicef.org/crc/

Hitchens says that only the US and Somalia have not ratified this Convention and this is true, so 191 out of 193 countries have signed on, but it should be noted that there are ‘degrees’ of ratification (some have just Accepted or Acceded which is a lesser degree of Ratification) and many countries have made exceptions to certain articles for Sharia law and other national legal and policy matters, which may render the Convention quite meaningless in that country. Clearly the US could not approve this Convention and carry on with executions under age 18 unless it got an exception to article 37a. Or it could just breach the agreement, likely with impunity.

Article 38 talks about ‘child soldiers’. I note that this Article conveniently drops the age to 15 while the rest of the Convention sets the age at 18. Even at 15, I think this is a widely breached provision in many countries and personally I feel this is an ‘old enough to die’ tragedy comparable if not exceeding the death row situation that Hitchens describes. The recruitment of child soldiers is the recruitment of innocent children not known killers, and it is often done coercively or by taking advantage of their naivety or by promising them something better than the grinding poverty they live in.

In the end, these Conventions are only as good as the enforcement regime attached to them and the actual practice of enforcement, so I suspect the Convention is mostly symbolic.



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Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:42 pm
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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
Quote:
Maybe someone on here can tell us if these kids we're murdering can recover.


I know that modern medicine has come along way, and I'm no expert, but I'll go out on a limb here and say that chances for recovery for these dead kids are slim.



Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:19 pm
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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
realiz wrote:
chances for recovery for these dead kids are slim.


That was not Camacho's point. He was observing that children are not executed in the USA unless there is clear proof they are very bad and society is obviously better off without them, even in jail. I personally favor the death penalty in these circumstances, except that I see cost is very high due to the extraordinary processes involved.

http://www.deathpenalty.org/article.php?id=42 is a website about costs, but it looks biased to me. Short term costs are high, but less than long term jail.


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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
"I know that modern medicine has come along way, and I'm no expert, but I'll go out on a limb here and say that chances for recovery for these dead kids are slim."

LMAO!!!! ... very funny realiz ;)



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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
I'm little disappointed - I thought Camacho had discovered an 'elixir for death', but I guess not. Oh well, this would have caused a massive over-population crisis, even worse than what we have !! Dead children are dead. Period. No chance of recovery. Well, unless one believes in 'resurrection' ... ?

I don't buy the 'cost' argument as a defense of capital punishment, children or otherwise. Who decides the cut off line when keeping a prisoner gets too expensive and we just off him? Is there a reasonable dollar value? And why not extend capital punishment to others on the same basis, like sex offenders, nobody likes them and they cost a lot to maintain as well. Slippery slope as the state takes on an ever larger role in killing its own citizens? Of course it costs a lot of money to house people in jails, just like it costs a lot of money to educate or to provide health care. Actually, I suspect that the total cost of keeping murderers in prison for life is dwarfed by the overall cost of our prison system, which is primarily driven by the massive number of inmates in prison for relatively minor offenses.

I suppose this sounds like I'm soft on killers. Well I'm not. I think we should deprive convicted murderers of their freedom until the day the day they die naturally, no parole, no expensive rehab programs. Lock them up and throw away the key. And not is some fancy hotel of a jail either. Yes, we will have to pay the cost of maintaining them for decades but I don't think capital punishment is the solution .. if we are really concerned about this cost, we have to invest more in preventative measures. These are the only measures that will make a real difference to the would-be victims of future murderers.



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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
Arg!!! lol That was a bad sentence but it's made even worse when taken out of context. I really hope you all are messing with me and don't really think I am trying to resurrect the dead.

"...I don't think capital punishment is the answer."

You ask for preventative measures. Ok. But please understand that by saying this you're totally ruling out nature for nurture. What kind of preventative measures do you suggest for these people that can't possibly be helped? I see more of a slippery slope here than the death penalty. The death penalty is less likely to cause tyranny than government intervention inside the home.

Would looking at statistics help? How would using statistical data of murderers help prevent future murderers through intervention? If such data were used, should we also use it in other places of security concern such as airport terminals? What does society think about that?

Preventative measures... I'd be more scared of this than anything else.



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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
PC, your unfortunate sentence gave me a really good laugh in the midst of an otherwise very sombre subject.

Quote:
Preventative measures... I'd be more scared of this than anything else.


This could be really scary. If we started to use statistical data about where criminals are 'bred', lower income, single family households, and decided to move in for preventative measures, the end result could be worse than what we started with. You see how this has happened in residential schooling and family services in the past. Intervention has made a mess.

Or, if we try to predict which young children are at risk, with a more nature over nuture ideology, what preventative measures would be taken once identified? It would all be very experimental, and again, might very well backfire.

I can remember a simple experiment that I had read about predicting the future success of children and had to do with their ability to forego immediate gratification for more or better in the future. There was a particular age to test this, which I think was around three. You sit a child down with a candy (or some treat they love) and tell them they can eat it immediately or if they wait five minutes (a long time for a three-year-old) they can have two. The children that eat the treat right away are destined for less success in life than the ones who will wait, or so the theory goes.

I did try this test formally with my kids, though I could have predicted easily beforehand how each of them would do at that age because I was with them every day. Now, I will have to say, now watching them in their 20's, this test did not acurately predict success, at least so far.

Test like these are very flawed and have too many variables. Can you imagine if the 'state' chose a series of test and administered them to young children and then tried to 'intervene'? What would happen to a young child stamped with 'possible criminal tendencies'. Exactly what would that look like? And, if we didn't do this at a young age, when would it be done?

Quote:
I don't buy the 'cost' argument as a defense of capital punishment, children or otherwise. Who decides the cut off line when keeping a prisoner gets too expensive and we just off him? Is there a reasonable dollar value?


I think that we don't want to admit that cost has to be a factor in everything, but it really does. Any society only has a finite amount of money and difficult choices have to be made about where to spend it. In the next 20 or 30 years as health care cost rise and we having an aging population, we're going to see how value of a life vs cost of that life are going to have to start weighing in the equation more and more. Prisoners who have a life sentence and are considered drain on society might be a good first choice on where to cut costs.



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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
My point with respect to 'preventative measures' has been interpreted in a way I did not intend (which is understandable because I was not clear). I was not referring to 'preventative measures' in the home/family relating to children or character profiling or income levels or anything like that, nor did I allude to these things. I don't believe that family based interventions of this nature would work for many of the reasons that have been stated and the results could be catastrophic .. if we went down that road, we might as well carry on with genetic engineering and prevent the problem before 'it' is born and then we get into really scary territory.

I was thinking about preventative measures in the criminal justice system to deal with repeat offenders and those with escalating patterns of crime. And these might be positive measures, like rehab, but also measures to protect society, like responsible parole conditions. There are criminologists and psychologists and counsellors and others who specialize in these things ..



Last edited by giselle on Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:55 pm
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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
Quote:
I think that we don't want to admit that cost has to be a factor in everything, but it really does. Any society only has a finite amount of money and difficult choices have to be made about where to spend it. In the next 20 or 30 years as health care cost rise and we having an aging population, we're going to see how value of a life vs cost of that life are going to have to start weighing in the equation more and more. Prisoners who have a life sentence and are considered drain on society might be a good first choice on where to cut costs.

Yes, cost is a factor in everything, no question, but it does not follow that capital punishment is the solution to the cost problem. If prisoners with a life sentence are 'first choice' to cut costs, who's second in this cost saving drive? and third? How about people on life support, that costs a fortune. And who is going to sign off the order of death and say that the cost is too high so pull the plug? If the state has the right to kill its own citizens in a rising cost environment, there is no telling where this could lead. Talk about the state having too much power to interfere in people's lives. We have to deal with the upward spiral of costs in health care, justice and elsewhere, but I think there are places to trim costs that do not involve state sponsored death.



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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
Quote:
I was not referring to 'preventative measures' in the home/family relating to children or character profiling or income levels or anything like that, nor did I allude to these things.


No, I realize that you did not, but I was just looking at it from that angle.

Quote:
I was thinking about preventative measures in the criminal justice system to deal with repeat offenders and those with escalating patterns of crime. And these might be positive measures, like rehab, but also measures to protect society, like responsible parole conditions.


I know that this is a great idea, but I don't believe that it has very much success. I don't really know all the much about life in prison, mostly from TV and movies, but it seems to me that the way of life inside does not resemble what is in the rest of society. I would think it would be much better for success, if prisons were set up more to resemble real life: working hard and paying for your keep.



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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
I just read this remarkable essay by Sam Harris on how to escape from violent people, and thought I would post it in this thread, especially for this comment:

Sam Harris wrote:
The only data I could find on prisoner release and recidivism in the United States are out of date, but they are nonetheless shocking. As of 1992, violent offenders in the U.S. served an average of 43 months in jail and prison before being returned to the streets. For murderers the average was 71 months; for rapists it was 65 months. Why genuine murderers and rapists are ever released is a mystery to me—and if we didn’t have to make room in our prisons for graduate students caught selling MDMA, perhaps we could keep true predators off our streets. To make matters worse, a Canadian study found that psychopaths are 2.5 times as likely as ordinary criminals to be released from prison—because they successfully con parole boards. And the re-arrest rate for violent offenders is over 60 percent within three years. This paints a rather terrifying picture of our collective masochism: We do not keep dangerous criminals off our streets; rather, we have turned our prisons into graduate schools for predatory violence, and we release their graduates back into society, knowing that most will continue harming innocent people.


America is too soft. Psychopaths should be executed whatever their age.


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Post Re: Old Enough to Die - (Page 117 of Arguably)
What do you do in Australia? I wasn't aware that Australia goes against the grain of modern Western countries, as the U.S. is criticized for doing regarding cap. punishment. I didn't read Hitchens' essay, but I'm against executing kids who murder. Murderer doesn't equal psychopath, as hard as that may be to accept. The law has to preserve a distinction between the judgment and conduct expected of an adult vs. that expected of a child.


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HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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