L.B.: Educational filmstrip

Left Behind, pp. 400-409

An alternative interpretation of these pages …

Slide1

How to Handle a Stalker

You meet someone at a dinner party in a city far from home. He seems pleasant, normal enough. You depart on friendly terms, telling him to give you a call if he’s ever in your part of the country.

The next morning you learn that he has booked a flight to your city. More than that, he has booked a seat on the very same flight you are taking home and, telling the airline that he is your traveling companion, has arranged for the seat next to yours. What should you do? How should you handle this aggressive, frightening development and this man’s increasingly disturbing advances?

In this educational filmstrip, we’ll watch as our young subject — let’s call her “Chloe” — attempts a variety of strategies for coping with her stalker. We’ll call him “Buck.”

Boop. Please advance the filmstrip now.

1. Ignore him and hope he takes the hint.

Do not make eye contact and do not initiate conversation. Use body language to reassert the personal boundaries your stalker is attempting to disregard.

Buck waited until everyone else had boarded. As he approached his seat next to Chloe, her body was turned toward the window, arms crossed, chin in her hand. Whether she even had her eyes open, Buck couldn’t tell. He assumed she would turn to glance as he sat next to her, and he couldn’t suppress a smile, anticipating her reaction and only slightly worried that she would be less positive than he hoped.

He sat and waited, but she did not turn.

Boop.

2. Wait for him to fall asleep, then move to another seat.

Despite her defensive body language and her refusal to acknowledge his presence, Chloe’s unwelcome seatmate is not backing down. She could tell from his manic, disheveled appearance that he had barely slept since she saw him last, so she tries to wait him out.

And now he had a problem. As he warily watched for the change in position that would allow Chloe to see him in her peripheral vision, he was suddenly awash in fatigue. His muscles and joints ached, his eyes burned. His head felt like lead. No way was he going to fall asleep and have her discover him dozing next to her.

Buck gestured to get the attendant’s attention. “Coke, please,” he whispered. The temporary caffeine rush would allow him to stay awake a little longer.

When Chloe didn’t move even to watch the safety instructions, Buck grew impatient. Still, he didn’t want to reveal himself. He wanted to be discovered. And so he waited.

Boop.

3. Take the initiative, establish control.

Her stalker has continued staring at her, unrelenting, all through takeoff and the first 10 minutes of the flight, pausing only to bully the flight attendant into getting him a soda before she’d even given the safety instructions. Chloe is beginning to get scared. Ignoring him isn’t working, so she tries a different tactic, aggressively initiating conversation herself and doing her best to establish control over the situation.

Chloe is aware that stalkers can be unpredictable. Buck clearly has a fantasy of how this scene will play out and might respond violently should her reaction vary from the script in his head. You can never be too careful, even in the public setting of a crowded airplane, so she does her best to play along and humor him.

She must have grown weary of her position, because she stretched and used her feet to push her carry-on bag under the seat in front of her. She took a last sip of her juice and set it on the small tray between them. She stared at Buck’s glove-leather boots, the ones he had worn the day before. Chloe’s eyes traveled up to his smiling, expectant face.

Her reaction was more than worth the wait. She folded her hands and drew them to her mouth. “Oh, Buck,” she whispered. “Oh, Buck.”

“It’s nice to see you, too,” he said.

Boop.

4. Keep him talking, but stick to neutral topics.

As an experienced air traveler, Chloe is well aware of the most-effective, time-tested technique for avoiding unwanted small talk during a flight: just use the magical phrase, “Do you know Jesus as your personal savior?” She employs a similar tactic here, posing as a religious obsessive to keep her stalker off-balance.

Chloe quickly let go of his hand as if catching herself. “I don’t mean to act like a schoolgirl,” she said, “but have you ever received a direct answer to prayer?”

Chloe begins aggressively buffeting her stalker with religious questions, pressuring him to become a born-again Christian and to pray with her right then and there. She has taken the upper hand.

She is now in control of the conversation, but this is still only a stalling tactic. She still needs to find some escape from the immediate situation, to establish a safe distance from which she can plan a way to deal in the long-term with her stalker. Meanwhile, she’s getting a clearer, more disturbing picture of the depth of his obsession. Just yesterday Buck had described himself to her as a secular skeptic, yet now he is saying that he will consider converting to her newfound religion and even to attending her local church, 1,500 miles from his home.

Boop.

5. Call for help.

Be prepared. Plan ahead so that you always have some way of contacting help if you need to do so.

She stopped a passing attendant. “Can I give you a message for my dad?”

“Sure. Is he captain or first officer?”

“Captain. Please just tell him his daughter has extremely good news for him.”

“Extremely good news,” the attendant repeated.

Until he boarded the plane that morning, Chloe had no way of foreseeing that Buck would begin stalking her, but she is not caught unprepared. She and her father had already established a coded communication system. “Good news,” is her code phrase to her father for “I need your help, come quickly.” Her message of “extremely good news” is an emphatic 9-1-1 emergency distress call. By using such code phrases, she is able to summon help without allowing Buck to see her growing discomfort and fear and without causing him to react defensively or unpredictably.

Boop.

6. Go away somewhere safe; do not remain alone

Chloe’s father arrives. He is friendly and polite, but quickly inserts himself in between his daughter and her aggressor.

He shook hands with the writer and expressed his pleasant, but wary, surprise. Chloe reached for his neck with both hands and gently pulled him down to where she could whisper to him. “Daddy, could you and I sit back there for a couple of minutes so I can talk to you?”

The pilot takes his daughter to an empty seat several rows away and sits with her a bit. She is noticeably upset by now, but safely away from her stalker.

A middle-aged couple across the aisle leaned out and stared, brows raised. The captain noticed, straightened, and headed toward the cockpit. “My daughter,” he said awkwardly, pointing at Chloe who smiled through her tears. “She’s my daughter.”

Having removed his daughter from immediate danger and enlisted the assistance of the couple across the aisle to ensure that she is not left alone with her stalker again during the flight, the pilot returns to the cockpit to contact security at O’Hare. They will be there to greet Buck when he arrives in Chicago and to arrange for his return to New York.

Boop. This concludes side one. Please turn the cassette over to hear a different take on these pages from Left Behind. (Which will be posted shortly.)

Endslide

(Note: LaHaye and Jenkins’ disturbingly skewed notion that Buck’s obsessive behavior is charming and romantic is amusing, but please do not regard the above as actual good advice for how to deal with an actual stalker. Real stalkers aren’t funny. Here are some real safety tips from End Stalking in America and some more info on stalking from A.W.A.R.E.)

  • Chris

    I agree that some people are a threat to society and should not be allowed to continue their predations on it. You know, that’s why we have prisons, closed psychiatric treatment, therapy etc.
    I think Tonio may have overstated his case a little (re: he would be no better than Dahmer or Falwell), but I still agree. There are some things in the world that make me angry enough to, well, want to see someone dead. Society should not deign to indulge that impulse of mine.
    The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, appeals to the lowest instincts -revenge- of society, makes a killer of the law and state, sometimes gets the wrong guy/girl, is a virtually pointless alternative of confinement from society in a modern world with maximum security prisons (I can see why Mosaic law demands it for very many crimes, since a nomadic society would have had no scope for secure imprisonment), and has not been proved to be a deterrent (countries that do not practice it are not overrun with murderers). Frankly, any *one* of these reasons should be enough to despise it.
    The only time when I think that death penalty is justified would be in an extreme situation such as a total war, when everything save a firing squad would leave the delinquent a threat to the community. Heck, I don’t even think Saddam Hussein needed to be executed (though I can’t say I shed any tears for him). He was already powerless to commit more atrocities.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    I once saw an interview with the parents of one of the girls murdered by the killer in Dead Men Walking. One of them remarked that their daughter’s murderer still had birthdays and holidays, while they spent Christmas in a graveyard.
    The pain of having your a loved one murdered is unimaginable, and I can only imagine how terrible it must be.
    But I’m not sure that execution helps. I saw a documentary some years ago about life in China, and something stayed with me. A man killed and dismembered a woman, confessed, and was shot shortly after the trial. The next morning the crew interviewed the murdered girl’s family. Here’s what the mother said: her heart was broken, and she didn’t feel any better. He got the death penalty, but it wasn’t enough. Her baby was dead, and nothing could make amends for that, nothing.
    It may be tormenting to imagine your loved one’s murderer still alive, but based on that interview, I don’t think imagining him dead brings any relief from the grief. Ultimately, that mother was crying over what happened to her daughter, not what happened to the man who killed her.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    Unimaginable and I can only imagine? This is what happens when you try to write a post with a purring cat between you and the keyboard demanding attention. Sorry.

  • malpollyon

    I think the arguments in favour of capital punishement are missing the key fact that it costs more money, and WILL exectute innocents. Furthermore EVERY piece of evidence we have suggests that capital punishment kills more innocents than recidivism after life imprisonment. So if you’re bloodthirsty enough to condone the slaughter of innocents, by all means advocate capital punishment, but most of you seem to think that the slaughter of innocents for emotional reasons should be a capital crime.

  • Izzy

    Chris: There are some things in the world that make me angry enough to, well, want to see someone dead. Society should not deign to indulge that impulse of mine.
    Oh, I can agree with that in most cases, and it’s even a reasonable point of view in cases where I don’t. (And I don’t think anyone should kill on *impulse**–Murder 2 makes me even twitchier than Murder 1 sometimes.) It was the whole I’m-as-bad-as-a-serial-killer thing that I was, um, strongly objecting to.
    Malpollyon: So if you’re bloodthirsty enough to condone the slaughter of innocents, by all means advocate capital punishment, but most of you seem to think that the slaughter of innocents for emotional reasons should be a capital crime.
    Killing innocents–and cost–is why I am, in practice, against the death penalty, however I may feel about it in totally abstract principle. As I said above.
    *Which actually is an interesting way of thinking about the why-I-am-not-a-Wiccan-anymore central principle. An ye harm none, do as ye will–if you’re harming someone, you better damn well have a better reason than “because I feel like it.”

  • Tonio

    It was the whole I’m-as-bad-as-a-serial-killer thing that I was, um, strongly objecting to.
    A person who kills another person is effectively saying he has the right to decide who should live and who should die, even when the killer doesn’t consciously think of his actions that way. If I claimed to possess the same right, even if I never acted on it, how would I be any better than the killer?

  • Izzy

    Tonio: Because you’re acting or thinking out of a desire to save more innocent lives, whereas the killer (I’m assuming Dahmer, but we can go with any serial killer, more or less) is acting on a desire for personal gratification at the expense of others. Because you’re not giving people crude lobotomies and getting off on it.
    Sorry, but moral ambiguity stops somewhere. It has to, if we’re going to exist in any sort of sane world.
    You can oppose the death penalty, and that’s fine, and you may even be right on that. But comparing someone who tortured and murdered dozens of people for his own sick idea of fun to the millions of decent people who are relieved that such a menace is permanently gone from society…dude, that’s offensive. Profoundly offensive: to me, to most people I know, and, I would guess, to the friends and family of the killers’ victims.

  • Tonio

    Tonio: Because you’re acting or thinking out of a desire to save more innocent lives,
    I don’t know that. I might believe that motivation. But hypothetically, it might be an unconscious rationalization of a purely emotional motive. I might be motivated by a personal prejudice for the victims and/or against the killer. I might be motivated by pure fear.
    the killer (I’m assuming Dahmer, but we can go with any serial killer, more or less) is acting on a desire for personal gratification at the expense of others.
    That sounds like an assumption, although I don’t know enough about the psychology of serial killers to know their motivations.
    Sorry, but moral ambiguity stops somewhere. It has to, if we’re going to exist in any sort of sane world.
    I thought I WAS arguing against moral ambiguity. I was advocating a moral principle that it’s wrong to judge the worthiness of someone to live or die. One reason for that principle is that human subjectivity and human emotion can never be eliminated as factors in that judgment.
    But comparing someone who tortured and murdered dozens of people for his own sick idea of fun to the millions of decent people who are relieved that such a menace is permanently gone from society…dude, that’s offensive.
    I’m not going to exempt myself from a moral principle out of a belief that my motives are different. When it comes to life and death, none of us can ever be sure that we’re not held hostage by our emotions.
    Dumb question – why do people in capital punishment debates bring up serial killers? Despite the heinousness of their crimes, they constitute a minority among killers, at least in America. What about all the other types of killing – gang violence, drug deals gone bad, domestic disputes, and so forth? The larger cities in my region regularly exceed 200 homicides each year.

  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac

    Not really a dumb question. When the death penalty was abolished in the UK, the penalty of “life means life” replaced it – a sentence which would mean that a murderer who was considered too dangerous ever to release, who had committed crimes too heinous to allow them their freedom, would spend the rest of their life in prison and die there. (The Home Secretary has the Crown’s power to commute the sentence, though, but I don’t know of any instance where it’s been exercised for “life means life” prisoners.) Someone sentenced to “life” will normally be considered for parole after 10 years or so, but this doesn’t mean they’ll be out in ten years: it means that’s the earliest the board will look at their case at all. And out on parole isn’t the same as having served a sentence and being released.
    There are some – a very small number – of murderers who have both committed heinous crimes and who can’t be trusted not to re-offend if they were released: serial killers would certainly fall into that category. So would George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld. Ho hum.

  • McJulie

    “Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.”
    “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”
    Yes, I am a big nerd. Also, against the death penalty.
    I should think that the shocking number of wrongful convictions revealed by the technological wonder of DNA evidence would give pause to anyone pro-death-penalty.
    But there are a surprising number of people who actually oppose releasing individuals who never confessed and are now exonerated by DNA evidence. I can only think it’s because of some twisted aspect of the human psyche, a desire for punishment as an abstract force, never mind if it’s even against the right person.
    cf. Irag Invasion and Occupation, support for.

  • Laima

    I read somewhere (don’t have a cite, sorry) that something in men’s brains makes revenge not only a palatable idea, but they actually get some satisfaction out of (“achieving”) it, but women don’t have that same quirk of brain chemistry (or whatever). I think of/wonder about that whenever I hear about the families of murder victims talking about what fate they’d like for the person who killed their loved ones.
    I was the victim of a violent crime 22 years ago, and while I have sometimes thought about the relief I’d feel if the perpetrator were to die young, it’s not for revenge, it’s because then I could stop looking over my shoulder, worrying that he’s going to show up with a knife or a gun when I’m alone, and finally finish me off (and possibly hurt others in the vicinity). If he never does that, or tries, then I have no interest in *what* he does (outside of hoping very sincerely he has not hurt other people the way he hurt me).
    I’m against the death penalty for many reasons already listed here, and yet, I also feel some people, by their actions, forfeit their humanity. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a way of resolving the tension between those two contradictory inclinations, but I don’t know what it is.

  • Jeff

    why do people in capital punishment debates bring up serial killers?
    Because a serial killer must either be executed or spend life behind bars. We have no way currently of preventing them from killing again.
    If a person is sentenced to life in prison and escapes, and kills while free, that person should be executed. They’ve shown that they can’t be trusted to be locked up — for the good of society, they must be killed.
    That’s about the only application of the death penalty I’d support (and yes, it has happened — in Virginia).

  • Tonio

    I read somewhere (don’t have a cite, sorry) that something in men’s brains makes revenge not only a palatable idea, but they actually get some satisfaction out of (“achieving”) it,
    I desperately hope that’s not true, because it would mean that men have a critical defect that would be used to condemn us as unworthy. It would be like finding out that you’ve been psychotic your whole life and have never known it or have never been told about it.
    t’s not for revenge, it’s because then I could stop looking over my shoulder, worrying that he’s going to show up with a knife or a gun when I’m alone, and finally finish me off
    That’s more my mindset, derived from several incidents with a co-workers more than two decades ago. A story too long and involved to tell here.

  • Izzy

    Tonio: I’ve read more than a few books on serial killers. I’ve written papers on them. Not so much with the assumption, there, but thanks for assuming I don’t know what I’m talking about.
    And so what if you *are* motivated by sympathy for the victims? They deserve sympathy. Or by fear? If you aren’t afraid of serial killers, you’re notably lacking in common sense. These are thoroughly justifiable emotions when faced with a monster; they’re not comparable, on any level, to “it feels good to kill people.”
    Yes, we’re all subject to our emotions. That’s why we have a complex legal system to make sure that we administer justice as impartially, and as much out of the interests of society, as possible. But that doesn’t mean that clear cases don’t exist.
    I’m not going to exempt myself from a moral principle out of a belief that my motives are different.
    Fine. You…do that.
    But realize that, when you do that, you are comparing me, and most people I know, to torturers, rapists, and murderers. Thanks. Thanks a whole lot.

  • Izzy

    In re: why people in death penalty debates bring up serial killers, what Jeff said. And also because we’re talking about a number of vicious, premeditated crimes against innocents, in cases where there’s usually a preponderance of evidence.
    As far as men versus women and revenge goes, that’s…experientially false. There are moral and intellectual reasons why I might *not* track down and kill someone who hurt me or my loved ones, but I’d certainly want to do it, and I certainly think I’d get considerable satisfaction from doing so. (And I do seek social vengeance for considerably more minor things–as do most women I know.)

  • hapax

    Technomad:
    With all respect, Hapax, if self-righteousness were money, you would make Bill Gates look like a pauper.
    Very likely, I’ve been told this before, and I accept it. Nonetheless, I’d prefer to be self-righteous than self-damned.
    Murder is unlawful homicide. There is a difference; otherwise there’d be no such thing as “justifiable homicide.”
    Well, first of all you’re confusing legal terms with moral terms. Clearly the death penalty is legal in the US – whether the way it is currently administered is “cruel and unusual” is up for debate. I’d like it to be illegal, but I recognize that would take a constitutional amendment.
    But I though that you were arguing that it is MORAL. And in that case, the only arguably moral justification for homicide is self-defense. I am puzzled at why people who think that our prison system is so porous as to require pre-emptive slaughter of every dark-complected kid who shot a clerk while robbing a convenience store (look at the stats of who REALLY gets executed in the US) isn’t more focused on the far cheaper and more effective alternative of beefing up security.
    even the Bible recognizes the difference.
    Oh, you so do not want to be playing this game with me. Do you REALLY want to base your support for the death penalty on the technicalities of the incompetent KJV translation?
    People who claim to be Christians should read the Bible with a little more attention to detail, I think…
    Okay. How about Matthew 5:21-22?
    As for unfair trials—I will admit that could happen. However, I don’t think that being sentenced to life-without-parole because I had an incompetent lawyer would make me much happier than being sentenced to death would.
    What makes you think that the point of our criminal justice system is making convicted criminals happy? Personally, I prefer that it focus on some combination of rehabilitation, deterrence, and protecting society at large. But if you’re all about the vengeance, I would expect that you could get more satisfaction of imagining bad people suffering for decades, than in promoting a quick and easy desk.
    As long as they exist, they are a threat to the rest of us, and need to be treated like any other mortal threat.
    Anyone who can equate any other human being to a rabid dog – who thinks that somehow they have the ability to designate other human beings as “forfeiting their humanity” – is a mortal threat to ME. How do I know that I won’t somehow end up on your “little list”? Even as collatoral damager from a system you acknowledge is error-prone and unfair? As you say, “mistakes happen.”
    As for the rest of it – what Jesurgislac, Tonio, and Praline said. Beautifully.

  • Spalanzani

    hapax: “Nonetheless, I’d prefer to be self-righteous than self-damned.”
    I seem to recall that one or two of Jesus’ parables had to with how those two things are pretty much the same.

  • Tonio

    but thanks for assuming I don’t know what I’m talking about.
    My apologies. I was trying to explain the more basic principle that no one can truly know completely is in another person’s head. One can know most of it through observing the other’s actions and words over the years. But some pieces of the puzzle go missing simply because humans aren’t mind readers. And some people work harder than others, often unconsciously, at hiding aspects of their personalities. Have you ever been convinced that you know someone, and then you learn or observe something that casts most of your knowledge about the person in a completely new light?
    And so what if you *are* motivated by sympathy for the victims? They deserve sympathy. Or by fear? If you aren’t afraid of serial killers, you’re notably lacking in common sense. These are thoroughly justifiable emotions when faced with a monster; they’re not comparable, on any level, to “it feels good to kill people.”
    I’m not saying the emotions are not justified. I’m saying they should not be the basis to determine someone’s life or death. Put another way, I do not want to think of someone as a monster, because I would not want anyone to think of me that way.
    Yes, we’re all subject to our emotions. That’s why we have a complex legal system to make sure that we administer justice as impartially, and as much out of the interests of society, as possible. But that doesn’t mean that clear cases don’t exist.
    My point has nothing to do with clear cases. My point is that when the death penalty is an option, human emotion seems to overwhelm the impartiality. That is how I explain the racial disparity.
    when you do that, you are comparing me, and most people I know, to torturers, rapists, and murderers.
    How so? I’m simply arguing for a universal moral principle regarding the inherent value of life. The only person I’m trying to judge according to that principle is myself. I’m trying as desperately as possible NOT to judge others’ worth.

  • Izzy

    Tonio: I can see where you’re going with this. And, where the death penalty is concerned, I can see the argument there–especially because we *do* make mistakes.
    That said, here’s how I see things.
    You say: “If I’m relieved that these people are dead, I’m as bad as they are.”
    I’m not just relieved but actually *glad* that said people are dead. (I wouldn’t have killed Falwell, or sentenced him to death, but I do think the world is a better place without him in it.) And I tend to think that a statement like you just made is meant to apply not just to you but to other people–it’s a general moral statement.
    So my reaction is, pretty much, “The fuck I am!”
    Which, if you meant that as a statement of personal rather than general morality–much as my vegetarian friends think it’s wrong for *them* to eat meat, but don’t, I assume, judge me on my roast beef sandwich–then that’s different, and I don’t get it, but I’m not offended.
    Re: knowing other people, I sort of agree. Sort of. But I also think we can–and should–judge other people by what they do, not their internal monologue. Also, if we’re talking serial killer motivations, there are a number of (extreeeeemely fucking creepy) conversations on record where Bundy/Kemper/Dahmer/etc said basically as much.
    And I think it’s a lot easier to draw the line between decent people (who sometimes do bad things in the spur of the moment, but feel bad about them afterwards and don’t repeat them) and monsters (who repeatedly do horrible things and would, if given the chance, do them over and over again) than you think. But that’s a philosophical point that I think we’ve argued as far as we can.

  • Tonio

    Which, if you meant that as a statement of personal rather than general morality–much as my vegetarian friends think it’s wrong for *them* to eat meat, but don’t, I assume, judge me on my roast beef sandwich–then that’s different, and I don’t get it, but I’m not offended.
    That’s a big part of the point I was trying to make. I cannot allow myself to judge the worthiness of someone to live or die, or to feel relief at someone else’s death. The answer is simple – if these were directed at me, the universe would not be big enough to hold my outrage. Or my terror. So why would I choose to make other people feel that way?
    But I also think we can–and should–judge other people by what they do, not their internal monologue.
    I agree with your general point. I’m suggesting that a person’s worthiness to exist should be off the table when making such judgments.

  • hapax

    Me: Nonetheless, I’d prefer to be self-righteous than self-damned.
    Spalanzani: I seem to recall that one or two of Jesus’ parables had to with how those two things are pretty much the same.
    Mmm. No. I don’t think Jesus gave anyone points for saying the right thing, especially if they were as smug about it as seems likely I am. But I’m pretty sure it’s different (not necessarily superior, but DIFFERENT) from saying, “Yeah, I’m cool with killing possibly innocent people, if it makes me feel safer, you got a problem with that?”
    Of course, that might be my darn self-righteousness coming into play again. I’ll have to live with that.

  • Jeff

    a quick and easy desk
    Would that be a pre-assembled one? Not one from Ikea, that’s for sure!
    (desk == death. But it made for a fun typo. [Although I'm the last one as should be pointing them out, as I'm sure my posts are riddled with them.])

  • Spalanzani

    hapax: Mmm. No. I don’t think Jesus gave anyone points for saying the right thing, especially if they were as smug about it as seems likely I am. But I’m pretty sure it’s different (not necessarily superior, but DIFFERENT) from saying, “Yeah, I’m cool with killing possibly innocent people, if it makes me feel safer, you got a problem with that?”
    It seems that I didn’t understand what you meant by “self-damned”, so now I have to ask what did you mean?

  • Jeff

    Of course, that might be my darn self-righteousness coming into play again.
    If lovin’ you is self-wrong, I don’t want to be sef-righteous! Or something…
    I’ve never found you anymore self-righteous than any other Slacktivista (and a good deal less so than some). Firm in your convictions, yes, but rarely smug (which is the defining characteristic of self-righteousness to me).

  • hapax

    I didn’t understand what you meant by “self-damned”, so now I have to ask what did you mean?
    Well, in the context of this conversation, I mean someone who could say (as Technomad did) that it didn’t matter if people were unfairly convicted, they should be killed anyway, because it made Technomad feel safer, and Technomad has decided that they aren’t REALLY human, and, darn it, all this waiting around to die is unpleasant and stuff.
    If that’s an erroneous characterization of Technomad’s position, then I do apologize. But I wish Technomad would then clarify, so I could understand.
    (To be clear, Izzy, I *think* I understand where you are coming from. I disagree with you profoundly, but I think I understand it. And I’m certainly willing (if you are) to put off the moral/philosophical debate until we agree that we do have a fair and competent system of determining guilt in capital cases)

  • Izzy

    Tonio: I tend to be…on the judgmental end of things, as a rule. But I’m also a pretty harsh judge for myself, when it comes to Things That Are Wrong, so I’m comfortable with that.
    Hapax: Cool with me! Honestly, the only place I’d really feel comfortable implementing the death penalty is where I’d have absolute certainty that we wouldn’t be killing innocents–which means we’re basically dealing with Hypothetical Mercedes Lackey Fantasyland where people have truth spells and stuff.
    So…yeah.

  • Jeff

    Honestly, the only place I’d really feel comfortable implementing the death penalty is where I’d have absolute certainty that we wouldn’t be killing innocents–which means we’re basically dealing with Hypothetical Mercedes Lackey Fantasyland where people have truth spells and stuff.
    Not always. There have been some pretty open-and-shut cases. I’d say less than 10% of those on death row have such cases, but what do you do with someone who was known as a killer, escaped from a SuperMax and killed again?

  • Izzy

    Jeff: I’d say kill him–as I would a lot of open-and-shut cases. But I’ve heard, and don’t have the legal knowledge to say one way or the other, that it would be prohibitively difficult to amend the existing laws so that only such cases were DP-eligible.

  • Tonio

    I tend to be…on the judgmental end of things, as a rule. But I’m also a pretty harsh judge for myself, when it comes to Things That Are Wrong, so I’m comfortable with that.
    While I appreciate you explaining that, I emphasize that the issue is judgments about others, not about one’s self. I’m not talking about judgment of actions, but judgments of worth. As an example, I’ve heard hellfire ‘n’ damnation types excuse their branding of others as sinners by claiming that they see themselves as sinners. They don’t recognize that the branding amounts to a violation of others’ personal boundaries. No one should have to tolerate others questioning his or her inherent worth.

  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac

    I’d say kill him–as I would a lot of open-and-shut cases. But I’ve heard, and don’t have the legal knowledge to say one way or the other, that it would be prohibitively difficult to amend the existing laws so that only such cases were DP-eligible.
    A wealthy, developed country might be expected to run prisons which were well-staffed by well-paid, trained professionals, from which escape was implausible. Evidently the US is not such a country.
    Even the Catholic church acknowledges that there are countries which are so poverty-stricken that it is impossible to say to the governments of those countries “You must keep this dangerous person in jail for the rest of their life” because it is practically speaking impossible for them to afford the necessary security.
    I suppose the US is one of those countries: in some areas, Americans live on a Third World standard, and to health care and disaster relief one may add “prisons”.

  • Izzy

    Tonio: No one should have to tolerate others questioning his or her inherent worth.
    I disagree. But I only disagree seriously–much as I may make hyperbolic statements about my friends’ psycho exes and so forth–when you’ve done horrific, selfish, violent things to other people: rape, abuse, and some kinds of murder. So I’m not sure I disagree *that much*, in the end.
    Admittedly, I don’t honestly believe that people have as much inherent, unalterable worth as a lot of other people seem to think. You have potential worth, and you have a certain amount of starting worth that you can choose to throw away, but you can make yourself worthless, IMO. It just takes a lot of effort and a lot of choice.
    Jesu: Apparently so. Disturbing for those of us who have to live here–but, fuck, what *hasn’t* been in the past eight years?

  • Tonio

    Admittedly, I don’t honestly believe that people have as much inherent, unalterable worth as a lot of other people seem to think. You have potential worth, and you have a certain amount of starting worth that you can choose to throw away, but you can make yourself worthless, IMO. It just takes a lot of effort and a lot of choice.
    While I understand your point, I’m saying that any questioning of anyone’s worth for any reason means that no one has any inherent worth. That may sound like a slippery slope argument, but my point is that any exceptions to a principle involving life and worth effectively nullifies that principle. Personally, I want my worth to be locked in a safe where no one can tamper it.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/Abelardus/ Abelardus

    Personally, I want my worth to be locked in a safe where no one can tamper it.
    How about a bank? That way it’ll gain interest.
    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • Tonio

    How about a bank? That way it’ll gain interest.
    I get your point. I guess I’m saying that I want to avoid ending up like that clueless young skateboarder in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.


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