Captain Seafort wrote:
I'll say it again. Which is more humane? The death penalty, or a prison so torturous that the inmate stays there for years and finally starts begging us to kill them?
I've already given the answer - prison because the probability of an individual recovering if it turns out you've lock the wrong person up is non-zero, unlike the death penalty.
So... would you then say any
amount of torture is more humane than killing someone?
Because I'm really having trouble with this. I imagine just how bad the treatment of a human being can get, and I hear you saying "always better to keep them alive on the sliver of a chance that they might possibly be innocent and MAYBE if they were we'd find out."
And I just cannot square the words coming from you with what I know of how miserable and mistreated human beings can be.
By the way, what's your position on elderly people with terminal illnesses deciding they'd rather die of a painkiller overdose now, rather than slowly from Alzheimer's or cancer later?
Not relevant to the discussion.
Why is it not relevant?
I don't agree. I think it's very relevant. Because that decision is all about
the conflict between a quick death versus a long, slow, degrading, painful death stretched out over weeks, months, or years. The problem being that the fast death puts some of the responsibility for a death in our hands. While the slow death lets us say "we did all we could to keep them alive."
And the question again becomes, are we always
doing someone a favor by trying to keep them alive as long as possible? Is living another week always a net positive no matter what your life is like?
If the answer you'd give to that question is "yes, obviously
," or something like that... I'd really like to hear your reasons for saying so.
I wasn't suggesting killing people just because prison conditions aren't perfect. My question is, how horrific would conditions have to be (to hold an otherwise incontainable prisoner) to make death a preferable option? Or just something worthy of serious consideration? Would it be kinder to kill someone than to lock them in solitary forever with no human contact, no chance of appeal or release? Would death not be preferable to Azkaban?
The problem is: HOW do you ever make that distinction? HOW can you justify making ANY such choice? You can't get a little bit pregnant, deeds can't be a little bit illegal and states can't be a little bit killing their citizens. And on a morality/ethics level, it MIGHT be kinder, it MIGHT be preferable. BUT it's still not anybody else's choice but the person's who has to live through it (or not).
Take a prisoner who is essentially mentally healthy. We're talking about prison conditions that will predictably drive that prisoner into suicide. Or into such crippling neurosis that they never really recover inside their head, even if their body is intact.
At some point (say, solitary confinement with no human contact ever, under extremely restrictive conditions like being shackled to a wall), we're getting into territory where that does
become predictable. I can imagine a combination of conditions so horrible to live through that I would say with confidence "yes, it would be kinder to kill someone than to put them through that until the day they die."