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Of Murder?

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KinNaoko90
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Posted 03/03/11 - 1:15 AM:
Subject: Of Murder?
As usual, I was inspired to start this topic by something happening in college. We recently read "The Tell-Tale Heart" in my English class. In response to being asked to relate to the stories we've read so far, one person responded:

The story I least relate to is “A tell Tale Heart.” Never have I been so enraged that the thought of murder comes into my head. It is unacceptable regardless of any circumstances.

I'm pretty sure he was referring to the typical murderer, but I pressed him for a debate anyway:

Unacceptable; definitely. Understandable; depends on the circumstances. wink

I take it you are not fan of capital punishment?

At the very least, I'm not. I know it's a bit off-topic, but I want to know exactly how opposed to murder you are. I don't necessarily believe in the sanctity of life, but I'm against capital punishment all the same. To me it is always possible that they are sending an innocent to death.

Do you also believe it is right for suicide to be illegal? Abortion?


So what are your thoughts? Is murder unacceptable regardless of the circumstances? Even with the topics of capital punishment, suicide, and abortion? What about assisted suicide for the terminally ill?
Thinker13
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Posted 03/03/11 - 1:20 AM:

KinNaoko90 wrote:
As usual, I was inspired to start this topic by something happening in college. We recently read "The Tell-Tale Heart" in my English class. In response to being asked to relate to the stories we've read so far, one person responded:

The story I least relate to is “A tell Tale Heart.” Never have I been so enraged that the thought of murder comes into my head. It is unacceptable regardless of any circumstances.

I'm pretty sure he was referring to the typical murderer, but I pressed him for a debate anyway:

Unacceptable; definitely. Understandable; depends on the circumstances. wink

I take it you are not fan of capital punishment?

At the very least, I'm not. I know it's a bit off-topic, but I want to know exactly how opposed to murder you are. I don't necessarily believe in the sanctity of life, but I'm against capital punishment all the same. To me it is always possible that they are sending an innocent to death.

Do you also believe it is right for suicide to be illegal? Abortion?


So what are your thoughts? Is murder unacceptable regardless of the circumstances? Even with the topics of capital punishment, suicide, and abortion? What about assisted suicide for the terminally ill?


What a coincidence! Yesterday I read 'Tell-Tale-Heart' online, just to kill my time, but was somehow compelled to give it up half way.
KinNaoko90
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Posted 03/03/11 - 1:22 AM:

Thinker13 wrote:


What a coincidence! Yesterday I read 'Tell-Tale-Heart' online, just to kill my time, but was somehow compelled to give it up half way.

thumb up Poe is awesome.
henry quirk
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Posted 03/03/11 - 9:46 AM:

"Is murder unacceptable regardless of the circumstances?"

There's a legalistic flavor to the word 'murder', so, I rephrase before I answer...

Is killing another person unacceptable regardless of the circumstances?

...as I see it: the (un)acceptability is entirely a matter of perspective.

I want Joe dead (for whatever reason) and am willing to give 'making him dead' a shot...to me (whether any one else comprehends my 'why'): Joe being dead is a good thing.

Joe, I'm sure, disagrees, views my agenda as bad, and will defend himself against me as he can.

The 'community' may side with me, or, 'it' may side with Joe...it all depends on my 'why'


Capital punishment: I'm against it...if death is what 'you' want for the other (because of some crime) then you should be wiling and able to do the dirty work for yourself.

If you can't: then, obviously, the crime wasn't severe enough to warrant killing the bad guy.
Monk2400
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Posted 03/03/11 - 1:35 PM:

henry quirk wrote:

if death is what 'you' want for the other (because of some crime) then you should be wiling and able to do the dirty work for yourself.

If you can't: then, obviously, the crime wasn't severe enough to warrant killing the bad guy.


Good idea. In our society I think it would be 50/50 whether a capital criminal would get killed or not. Of course, it would have to be spelled out who gets the killin' rights, e.g. spouse, parent, brother...

---

To the OP, I think we are justified in killing others only in self-defense of ourselves or our families. In a struggle for our lives, death is inevitable, and indeed, to end a mortal threat, killing is necessary.

Aggressive warfare, as I see it, is unjustified. Premeditated murder is unjustified. Regardless of what rationalizations are used to excuse.

Abortion is unjustified, unless there is a provable mortal health risk to the mother.

Euthanasia is justified in as much as it involves a personal decision that impacts only your own personal right to life. The injustice of murder is that it violates another's right to life. Euthanasia does not, so I would not place it in the same category.

Capital punishment could be justified in a balanced system, but I am generally in favour of rehabilitation where possible.

8)
henry quirk
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Posted 03/03/11 - 2:08 PM:

"Good idea"

My lord: an accord!

Hell is freezing, I'll wager... wink
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 03/04/11 - 10:06 AM:

henry quirk wrote:
"Good idea"

My lord: an accord!

Hell is freezing, I'll wager... wink



Is there any way to verify that? Seriously. Is there? That would be cool. (god forbid unintended puns)
henry quirk
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Posted 03/04/11 - 10:10 AM:

"Is there any way to verify that?"

I'm spending some time with family this weekend, so: I'll let you know what I find at 'home'... wink
libertygrl
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Posted 03/04/11 - 3:03 PM:

quirk wrote:
if death is what 'you' want for the other (because of some crime) then you should be wiling and able to do the dirty work for yourself.

If you can't: then, obviously, the crime wasn't severe enough to warrant killing the bad guy.

i think it's a good idea as well.

Monk wrote:
Of course, it would have to be spelled out who gets the killin' rights, e.g. spouse, parent, brother...

yes, good idea too.

Monk wrote:
Premeditated murder is unjustified. Regardless of what rationalizations are used to excuse.

it's interesting drawing the line here. i don't know that i disagree, per se, but i do think (as always) there are grey areas where it gets tricky to draw a definite boundary. for starters, what are your thoughts on crimes of passion? (the question is for everyone.) let me give you an example. actually, let me give you a few examples.

in the film, "gone baby gone", casey affleck plays this guy patrick, a private investigator who is investigating a child abduction. he gets a tip that the child, a 7-year-old boy, is being held captive at the home of a known child rapist. patrick enters the guy's home and goes upstairs and finds the guy sitting on the bedroom floor, i think the guy was crying about something, saying "i didn't mean for him to die" or something to that effect (if i remember correctly). patrick goes into the guy's bathroom and sees the dead, bloodied body of the little boy lying in the tub. he is instantly overcome with horror and fury, and without hesitation he comes back into the room and shoots the weeping pedophile in the back of the head. it's quite a disturbing scene.

the other example comes from this news story. i've posted it before here, i think from another news source. this cop sees a guy beating a toddler to a bloody pulp, shoots and kills him.

"to end a mortal threat, killing is necessary," monk said. in this latter example, the cop acted to try to save the child's life. but what about the GBG scene? the child was already dead. i think if i had had a gun in my hand, i could easily have done the same thing. if i ever saw someone being raped, likewise. does it count as a mortal threat?

and then you have other crimes of passion. for example, a man comes home, find his wife having sex with another man, flies into a rage, assaulting the guy and inadvertently killing him.

more examples. a woman who has been locked in the basement by her grandfather and sexually assaulted by him over the course of 17 years finally plots to kill him. or a child prostitute who has been systematically raped and beaten by her pimp does likewise. how do you categorize these? crimes of passion? premeditated self-defense?

Edited by libertygrl on 03/04/11 - 3:18 PM
Zenoplata
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Posted 03/04/11 - 9:46 PM:

As far as premeditated murder, I find nothing wrong with assassinating genocidal dictators or planning to kill pedophiles and rapists as a matter of social justice.

Anyone else read comics? I'm a big fan of the Punisher. And while he goes to the extreme, I can agree with some of his philosophy. At a certain level scum simply needs to be wiped out.

A very similar scene is in Watchmen, lib. It's a good movie if you haven't seen it. Definitely could bring up some awesome discussions.
libertygrl
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Posted 03/04/11 - 10:50 PM:

the fact that innocent people are sometimes executed is reason enough for me not to support the death penalty.

i've seen watchmen, yes. which scene are you referring to?
Zenoplata
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Posted 03/04/11 - 10:59 PM:

Remember the scene where Rorschach finds the little girls' remains in the oven and then while the pedo/killer is chained to the stove yelling, "Arrest me, I need help!" Rorschach kills him with the same weapon the guy killed the little girl with.

It's after he is arrested and is explaining to the shrink the moment when he stopped being a regular guy and his identity became that of Rorschach.
libertygrl
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Posted 03/04/11 - 11:14 PM:

ah yes, i vaguely remember that. i also remember thinking that rorshach was the most likable character in the film.
Zenoplata
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Posted 03/04/11 - 11:57 PM:

I've seen it probably 10 times. Every time I watch it I find myself relating more and more to someone new.

Originally it was Rorschach then the Comedian and now Dr. Manhattan.

Not to derail the thread, as I feel the film is extremely applicable. Themes of death, justice and the value of human life run deep throughout the movie.

In the climax of the film, one of the characters stages a extraterrestrial attack that kills nearly everyone in NYC. He does this in order to unite the world and end the Cold War which in their universe is much closer to reaching the point of nuclear war.

As far as abortion and capital punishment go, one of the arguments is that we do them for the greater social good. I think part of what Kin was asking is, "Is it worth it?" For me, it's easy to say it's worth it to kill a pedophile, or an undeveloped fetus, I'm not sure if I could do what the guy in Watchmen did though.
libertygrl
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Posted 03/05/11 - 12:35 AM:

it's the age old question of whether the end justifies the means. i think in the face of certain imminent dangers, people would instinctively find the courage to do the unthinkable in more cases than they could imagine. some might consider themselves free from bloodguilt if they do nothing, but what if bloodguilt arises from doing nothing? i've heard the argument that there's no point in speculating, because the reality of actual unforeseeable pressures are absent from hypothetical scenarios. i do believe it's possible, though, for certain values to be realized from such thought experiments that could have a bearing on your reaction in an actual life-or-death situation.
Monk2400
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Posted 03/05/11 - 11:26 AM:

lib, drawing the line is establishing the difference between civilization and the jungle.

In the jungle it is kill or be killed, and immediate revenge is often necessary, as is killing an enemy just because they confront you in some way. It is permanent removal of the threat because in the jungle there is no other possible recourse, except to run and keep running each time there is conflict.

That's not to say that drawing a line won't create a grey area somewhere.


To your examples:

The scenes from the films are vigilantism. If we have constructed a society that acts through due process, that seeks rehabilitation, is based on compassion even for criminals, and specifically delegates killing and/or metting out of justice to officially sanctioned parties, then we cannot condone this type of behaviour, as much as we might sympathize with it.

In the cop story, the killing was justified because it was done by a person who has been delegated that authority. Private citizens could only subdue the perpetrator, if they could have. If it were my baby, however, I would be justified in using deadly force.

Crimes of passion are not premeditated and are treated different by the law. Morally, as individuals, we should be responsible for these acts, and take appropriate punishment. However, if the killing is justifiable (which it usually isn't) the sentence might only reflect the thwarting of due process. But most of these crimes are born out of anger and do not need to result in death. Should rape result in death for the perpetrator? That's a tough call. Reverse rape or castration might be more appropriate.

For people systematically abused, killing their abuser, even if premeditated, is justified as an act of self-liberation--killing the jailer. So yes, you could say they fall under self-defense or some special provision thereof.

8)
Monk2400
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Posted 03/05/11 - 11:32 AM:

Zenoplata wrote:
As far as premeditated murder, I find nothing wrong with assassinating genocidal dictators or planning to kill pedophiles and rapists as a matter of social justice.


The problem here is who and by what authority is set up as ultimate judge of what and what is not justification for 'assassination'? All to often this 'means' turns out to be politically motivated and not due to some 'crime of humanity'.

I think of that wise quote of Gandalf from LOTR to Frodo--'There are many that die that deserved life and some that live that deserve death. Can you be the one to give it to them, Frodo?'

What I see in such a society where everyone has the authority to use deadly force at any time is that the life of every person is on the knife's edge. Like how the peasants feared the samurai.

8)

libertygrl
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Posted 03/05/11 - 11:56 AM:

Monk wrote:
then we cannot condone this type of behaviour, as much as we might sympathize with it.

with that i do agree

Monk wrote:
even if premeditated, is justified as an act of self-liberation

you see here how you can go from saying "premeditated murder is never justified" to finding justification in specific cases. and that's not even to say that it's always justifiable even within those acknowledgeable exceptions. it's really complex, this whole topic of whether killing is morally wrong. of course, this is why we have judges and juries in the modern age, because not everything can be made fair to the letter of the law. and even judges and juries fail too. it's the best we have, though. i do agree it's a far better system than vigilantism.

Edited by libertygrl on 03/05/11 - 12:38 PM
Monk2400
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Posted 03/05/11 - 10:33 PM:

Yes. Its my fault for using the phrase loosely. When I think of 'premeditated murder' I think of Agatha Christie murders, where some nerfarious ne'r do well plots to kill some poor gaffer and cover it up or frame somebody else. Of course, there are all types of planning that can be premeditation. Even buying a gun is premeditation.

8)
Zenoplata
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Posted 03/05/11 - 10:37 PM:

Monk2400 wrote:


The problem here is who and by what authority is set up as ultimate judge of what and what is not justification for 'assassination'? All to often this 'means' turns out to be politically motivated and not due to some 'crime of humanity'.

I think of that wise quote of Gandalf from LOTR to Frodo--'There are many that die that deserved life and some that live that deserve death. Can you be the one to give it to them, Frodo?'

What I see in such a society where everyone has the authority to use deadly force at any time is that the life of every person is on the knife's edge. Like how the peasants feared the samurai.

8)



But there are many that die that deserve to die as well.

Obviously not all assassinations are justified, but I see nothing wrong with some. Hitler and Saddam for example.
KinNaoko90
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Posted 03/06/11 - 10:26 AM:

Zenoplata wrote:

But there are many that die that deserve to die as well.


The problem I have with this statement and those like it is who are we to determine who deserves to live and who deserves to die?

We are human beings. Human beings are (more likely than not) imperfect. We make mistakes.

Even in cases like the Holocaust and (what we consider) evil dictatorships, who are we to decide?

Life is a gift given to each of us individually by nature (or God depending on your beliefs). Who are we to take what isn't ours in the first place? I don't know if it's right to take a life in any situation.

Back to the original questions:

Capital Punishment: I am against it - there are too many innocents in jail/prison for me to be for it.

Suicide: I don't think it should be illegal, but I am against it with a few exceptions. -
a) People who have taken lives should be able to commit suicide if they so choose to. I hate to say it this way but jail/prison takes up money and resources.
b) The terminally ill should be able to commit assisted suicide if they so choose to. To deny them this is selfish of us. It is not selfish to want pain and suffering to end.

Abortion: Pro-choice - Only the mother should be able to choose whether she has her baby or not. It is her body, not anyone else's. I do think that there should be a time-limit that she must make the choice before though.

Zenoplata
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Posted 03/06/11 - 1:10 PM:

Life isn't a gift from anyone, it is just a state of matter.

We are members of society with our own interests. If someone else is willing to kill me or my loved ones, I have no problem with killing them first.

If capital punishment ought to be banned on the premise that each person is gifted a life and has the right to their life, how can we make suicide illegal on a conflicting premise?

Either people have a right to their own life or they don't.

www.hackvan.com/pub/stig/li...hopenhauer_On_Suicide.html

Great essay about suicide.

KinNaoko90
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Posted 03/06/11 - 1:45 PM:

I don't think suicide should be illegal either, Z.

And to me your statement:
"life isn't a gift from anyone, it is just a state of matter."
is only one belief out of many in this world.

You seem to me to be an atheist. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. (I am often wrong.) Atheism is a form of a belief system. It doesn't have a higher power, no. But everything within it is not knowledge, but belief. You may believe in the "laws" of physics. You may believe in the "theory" of evolution. You may even state these as "facts". Many theists state 'God exists!' as a fact. Your multiple "proofs" to me is no more solid than their "proofs".

My point is possibilities exist. If the big bang "theory" is accurate, then what caused it? Don't you see? Everything we think we know are but beliefs.
Zenoplata
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Posted 03/06/11 - 2:05 PM:

Atheism is not a form of a belief system. It literally means without God. It just means that someone lacks belief in God.

I don't believe there is anything which disproves God, but I do not see any good reason to believe in him.

Your question is loaded. It implies that linear time is necessary for all things. Many currently believe this to be untrue. Time appears to be relative, and it appears to be a dimension just like any spatial dimension.

I am fully aware we are only capable of beliefs.

You are right, my beliefs are just some out of many. But there is nothing to incline me to believe in a "soul" or that life is a gift from some creator-God or a pantheistic God.

It would illogical for me to act according to a belief system for which there is no evidence.
Monk2400
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Posted 03/06/11 - 9:12 PM:

KinNaoko90 wrote:

Abortion: Pro-choice - Only the mother should be able to choose whether she has her baby or not. It is her body, not anyone else's.


This is the common mantra of the pro-death camp. It is flawed to the core. A fetus is a new individual, with a unique body and DNA and consciousness. It is not a growth like a tumor that one can validly consider a continuity of the mother's body. Quite simply, it is NOT her body. And deciding to terminate it is a decision to terminate a unique lifeform, which is nothing like cutting out a tumor, cutting off an arm, or getting liposuction, all of which the mother has the right to do to herself.

In the case where carrying and delivering a fetus will cause death to the mother, then the choice becomes valid. But it is still not a determination of what to do with one's own body. In that case it is a decision to kill another lifeform to save one's own life, which is justifiable.

IMHO, any other reason is not justifiable.

My $0.02.

8)


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