Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/21/2018: Bad, Worse, Worst, And Beyond Comprehension…

Good Morning, Everyone!

1 Whew! This guy was almost on the Supreme Court! Retired Harvard Law School Constitutional law prof Lawrence Tribe. whose recent misadventures on Twitter have become the cause of mirth and dismay in the legal world, tweeted this:

The premise of the 2015 post “A Nation of Assholes” was that a President Donald Trump’s crudeness, incivility and boorishness would permanently degrade the culture through the influence the office of the Presidency traditionally has on the young. Bill Clinton, for example, made blow-jobs cool to high school students.  This, Ethics Alarms held, was alone good reason to defeat him. However, I did not see his influence affecting the likes of Larry Tribe, as well as Trump’s adult adversaries in academia, the news media, and the Democratic Party, all of whom have allowed their own discourse to head into Tarentinoville because of Trump Derangement. This, in turn—you morons!-–minimizes and normalizes Trump’s vulgarity.

The President has not, unlike Tom Perez, Senator Kamala Harris and others, used any vulgar words in his public utterances or tweets. The infamous “shithouse” line was used, if it was used, in a private meeting, whereupon CNN took it into the living rooms of America an estimated 200 times.

And by the way, Professor, #SchumerShutdown is accurate, and TrumpShitdown isn’t even clever unless one is about 11.

2. And speaking of assholes… Bill Maher had a blinding moment of clarity, and ranted this yesterday on his HBO show (I have to rely on Ann Althouse for this quote, because I would no more watch Bill Maher than I would chew off my foot):

“I’m down with #MeToo. I’m not down with #MeCarthyism. Something is way off when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand can go unchallenged saying ‘when we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, you are having the wrong conversation.’ Can’t we just be having an additional conversation? Can we only have one thought now? I get it that Al Franken had to become roadkill on The Zero Tolerance Highway — a highway, it seems, only Democrats have to drive on — but do liberals really want to become The Distinction Deniers, the people who can’t tell or don’t want to see a difference between an assault in a van and a backrub by the watercooler? Masturbation is normal and healthy. But not in the park. Giving up on the idea that even bad things have degrees? That is as dumb as embracing the idea of ‘alternative facts.’ I get it when Trump’s side doesn’t want to talk. He only knows 88 words. But we are supposed to be The Conversation People. Justice requires weighing things. That’s why Lady Justice is holding a scale, not a sawed-off shotgun. Senator Gillibrand went on to say, ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay.’ Yes. Agreed. But we can’t walk and chew gum anymore? We can’t agree that groping and rape are both unacceptable and one is worse?…”

Not quite Ethics Hero material, but for a hero of the young Left to make this point can’t be anything but good. Maher isn’t really a progressive, and he’s certainly no feminist (Does Proudly Promiscuous Bill fear the knock on his own door from #MeToo in the middle of the night? I’d bet on it…); he’s a self-serving libertarian who hates Republicans. Nevertheless, he knows, as my father would say, which side of the bread his butter is on, so for him to challenge the witch hunters is, for him, principled and courageous. Quick observations:

  • Did Senator Gillibrand really say that?
  • Why did Senator Franken have to become roadkill, Bill? Because those wild-eyed progressives you pander to are ruthless and obsessed, that’s why.
  • Bill’s periodic virtue-signals during his rant are obvious and undermine the force of his message. “A highway, it seems, only Democrats have to drive on”—what does that mean, exactly? That Republicans should have to drive on the same highway Bill is condemning? No, that makes no sense. That Democrats are being absurd, and Republicans are being reasonable? No, Bill doesn’t want to say that. What then? Oh, Bill has no idea, he just knows that if it sounds like Republican-bashing, that’s good enough for his typical, half-stoned fans.
  • I am about to add the “alternative facts” jibe to my list of misleading comments that I am pledged to correct every time I hear it. This was a live TV gaffe, not by the President but by Kellyanne Conway. Repeating it ad nauseum as if it was an official statement of policy is a lazy cheap shot at this point.
  • In Althouse’s comments, someone claims that Maher’s reference to “88 words” was a coded reference to Trump being a Nazi (H is the 8th letter, so “Heil Hitler” is “88”) Is Maher really that slimy?

3. Why would it be wrong to use the death penalty on the Turpins? My position on capital punishment is that it is an essential tool for society to establish what it regards as the worst possible violations of societal and cultural standards, the crimes that civilization must reject in the strongest possible terms if it is to survive.  Treason, terrorism, mass and serial murder, and kidnapping children for ransom are reasonable crimes to ethically justify death by execution. What David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin reportedly did to their 13 children is arguably as bad or worse than any of these. We just don’t have a name for the crime. It would have to be some combination of torture, imprisonment, child abuse, depravity, and sadism–and even that doesn’t describe it.

I believe the nation, our jurisprudence and civilization would benefit if what the Turpins did henceforth was punishable by death, even if, as I hope, the opportunity to use the law never occurs.  Unfortunately, there is no law on the books now to permit killing them.

Too bad.

4. Combining #MeToo and horrific child abuse, we get…As long as the New York Times avoids national politics, it usually does a superb job. Here, for example, are three recent articles (This, this, and this) covering the proceedings last week against Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the national women’s gymnastics team who sexually molested over a hundred girls and young women. I don’t think the news networks have highlighted the scandal nearly enough. I also theorize that it is because they have a stake in keeping women’s gymnastics popular and profitable, despite its longtime status as a magnet for child molesters and perverts. This week one after another of Nassar’s victims made it clear to all that U.S. gymnastics officials engaged in contrived ignorance while Nassar’s young prey were emotionally and physically damaged, some perhaps permanently.

Nassar is the prime villain, but there are many others.: U.S. women’s gymnastic officials….event organizers…sports journalists…child welfare advocates…government regulators…and high on my list, the parents of these young girls, who entrusted their vulnerable kids into the care of strangers who had been insufficiently and negligently vetted. As with the ugly Hollywood finally exposed by the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, the culture of high stakes women’s gymnastics (and, I’ll bet, ice-skating and swimming) is sick and corrupt.

The sport should be suspended until it is thoroughly investigated and reformed by individuals without a financial stake in its survival. Of course, it won’t be; it makes too much money.

As with professional child actors, I advocate banning these competitions except at the local level. The adults who gravitate to the training of young women cannot and should not be trusted, and the girls’ parents are too often focused on objectives other than their children’s best interests.

5.  Are there ANY institutions victims can trust? From The Detroit News:

Reports of sexual misconduct by Dr. Larry Nassar reached at least 14 Michigan State University representatives in the two decades before his arrest, with no fewer than eight women reporting his actions, a Detroit News investigation has found.

Among those notified was MSU President Lou Anna Simon, who was informed in 2014 that a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician, she told The News on Wednesday.

“I was informed that a sports medicine doctor was under investigation,” said Simon, who made the brief comments after appearing in court Wednesday to observe a sentencing hearing for Nassar. “I told people to play it straight up, and I did not receive a copy of the report. That’s the truth.”

Among the others who were aware of alleged abuse were athletic trainers, assistant coaches, a university police detective and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel, according to university records and accounts of victims who spoke to The News.

Collectively, the accounts show MSU missed multiple opportunities over two decades to stop Nassar, a graduate of its osteopathic medical school who became a renowned doctor but went on to molest scores of girls and women under the guise of treating them for pain.

The most rudimentary ethics alarms would prevent tragedies like this one, which is redolent of Penn State.

60 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/21/2018: Bad, Worse, Worst, And Beyond Comprehension…

  1. 3- What I don’t get is how the Turpins funded their life.

    After being foreclosed in Ft. Worth, they subsisted for 8 years in CA (where housing ain’t cheap) in what appears to be a good sized house in a nice neighborhood.

    Down-payment, mortgage, taxes, upkeep, groceries, transportation, incidentals, etc.; where did they get the dough re mi?

    Did these people work? If they were on the dole, aren’t home visits a part of that?

  2. This from Nancy Pelosi, which is beyond disgusting, even from a sixth grader but evidently “eat shit” is now acceptable in polite society:

    “This is like giving you a bowl of doggy-doo, put a cherry on top and call it a chocolate sundae. This is nothing,” Pelosi charged during her weekly press conference.

  3. Jack, I believe Trump’s vulgarity is not degrading the culture because our culture degraded into vulgarity long before Trump emerged beyond the cover of National Enquirer. Our culture thrives on the salacious. Readers of supermarket tabloids have been lapping up sordid stories of celebraties for decades. The American consumer, especially youthful ones, were Tarrotinized years ago. Crude language has supplanted more specialized and accurate adjectives since the 70’s. F_ _ _ has become the go to adverb, adjective, and verb in our lexicon.

    Trump is often a reflection of ourselves. Long before Trump made is first official verbal gaffe the resistance was using vulgar language to describe him. I know of no male who has never uttered the word pussy when describing either a weak male or female sex oriffice.

    Years ago, SouthPark did an episode in which the word shit was extensively and gratuitiously to discuss banned words. George Carlin had his infamous 7 words you can’t say on TV. The youthful avant garde’ audience of the 70’s saw this as edgy, cool anx funny. And it was because he was lampooning the Victorian hipocrisy of of the broadcast medium. When I was a teen then I loved it but did not really understand the underlying satire. I am too young to remember the contribution of Lenny Bruce to the vulgarizing of our culture but I do remember reading the True Detective magazines my grandmother voraciously consumed – they were filled with gratuitous sex and violence. In recent years 50 Shades of Grey was required reading by women in many social circles.

    Each generation pushes the level of impropriety to new highs which leads to normalization of even more vulgar cultural behavior.

    Just like commercials reflect a changing culture so too is Trump, Perez (both of them), Judd and Maher. The issue isn’t that Trump is degrading society it is that society is normalizing vulgar political speech.

  4. The President has not, unlike Tom Perez, Senator Kamala Harris and others, used any vulgar words in his public utterances or tweets.

    Selective memory, unless you don’t consider him calling Colin Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” vulgar. (I was going to post more examples, but I think the ones I was thinking of were during the campaign, not while he was president).

    • Once again you focus on one specific statement instead of looking at the main point. We created Trump with our own narcissim, viciousness, lewdness and vulgarity. He is us as we look in the mirror.

      • Ruth Marcus, one of the Post’s dimmer left-wing op-ed writers and an embarrassing member of its editorial board, wrote a column this week trying to explain Trump Derangement, concluding that “he’s not like us.” (An admission of bigotry, by the way.) It was rapidly observed in various forums that this was elitist blindness: they hate him because he is too much like us.

      • Ruth Marcus, one of the Post’s dimmer left-wing op-ed writers and an embarrassing member of its editorial board, wrote a column this week trying to explain Trump Derangement, concluding that “he’s not like us.” (An admission of bigotry, by the way.) It was rapidly observed in various forums that this was elitist blindness: they hate him because he is too much like us.

        • Having advanced degrees in both Marketing and Economics I spend a great deal of time studying consumer behavior so I feel fairly confident in my assessment. Obviously, there are many in our society that are not outright narcissistic, lewd or vicious but each of us has the potential to be extraordinarily self absorbed and dowright mean.

          Because the need to belong is a driver of behavior it helps us establish social order. Ideally, it helps us get along with each other. Because we all have different ideas, likes, goals, and tastes we align ourselves into affinity groups; some are professional and some are social. When affinity groups engage in unhealthy competition among themselves we see the emergence of narcissistic behaviors that cause a schism in the social order.

          With respect to personal narcissim, one psychologist categorized such behavior in 3 categories: the exhibitionist narcissist, the closet narcissist, and the toxic narcissist.

          The exhibitionist is one who outwardly is self confident but does not take criticism well – lashing out when they are being challenged or not the center of attention. This is Trump and most other celebraties.

          The Closet Narcissist hates the limelight but is self- absorbed with the concept of self-esteem. They tend to be sychophants to the charismatic Exhibitionist Narcissist. They derive their value by associating with high confidence people. It’s results in confidence by association. These are the brand concious buyers, the Trumpers and those with Trump derangement syndrome. Close association with those who or what they believe will elevate their status is paramount.

          The Toxic Narcissist lacks confidence and resorts to diminishing or marginalizing others. They derive pleasure from making people feel insignificant and instilling fear. If you ever worked for a patronizing boss they often fit into this category. I would characterize them as bigots.

          Polarization requires a signicant number of Closet Narcissists to exist as do most consumer brands.

        • This goes WAY farther back than that. This actually started with FDR, to some extent, but every President since, with the possible exception of Eisenhower (not guaranteed. He DID have a mistress) has contributed to making the Presidency a joke. JFK probably the worst, Nixon a close second, but ALL have considered the Presidency a license to do as they would. Disclaimer: Gerald Ford was probably an honest man, but the Presidency was so far above him, it was funny. Bill Clinton, with his popularity, could have been a GREAT President, but he blew it (pun intended). Both Bushes WANTED to do it right, but simply didn’t have the where-with-all. Obama thought he had been elected King, and Trump is like the Bushes, but worse. He really IS every-man. The lower-class red-necks who, thankfully, only vote every few years.

  5. Jack, I would be interested in your take on whether Lou Anna Simon, president of MSU, should resign or be fired. Seems like about 80% of the state of Michigan thinks she should. I will admit to some confusion over the issue.

    • I’m pretty close to the issue as an MSU alum (and I’d be interested in hearing Still Spartan’s take on this, since one assumes she is too). I’m also torn- it’s an easy truism to say that “the buck stops here,” things went bad under her watch, she should resign. But on the flip side, how much did she actually know (or could she be expected to reasonably know)?

      MSU is a big institution with a big bureaucracy. According to Simon she was briefed on the situation existing- that there were allegations, an investigation, but also that they weren’t panning out and that there was nothing there. Do we expect a university president to personally dig into every report that comes across their desk? To mistrust their subordinates, to go hunting zebras every time they get a briefing that says “we heard hooves, it was horses?” Let’s be honest- many people think so, because there was a Title IX complaint, and as we all know every Title IX complaint is true and valid. The fact that she didn’t immediately fire Nassar when the complaint came in proves that she doesn’t #BelieveTheVictim, so she is evil.

      On the flip side, though, at what point do we say OK, she SHOULD HAVE KNOWN? How many complaints, how many threads have to be started before the boss can say “OK, this needs attention?” An endless stack of bureaucracy layers that serve as insulation from responsibility is a corrupt tactic- everyone can point at someone else and say “HE should have known!” Is this not so heinous of a failure that Simon must go simply because it occurred on her watch?

      For the record I’m no fan of Simon… but I don’t want to embrace the dark side and seize any convenient crisis to elbow her out the door. If this means she should go I’ll shed no tears, but I don’t want her sacrificed on the altar of “every complaint deserves a conviction.”

      • Thanks, Luke – largely my feelings as well. My son graduated from MSU last year, so we are close to this as well. 45000 students at the university and I can’t imagine that the president looks into every single thing, as you said. We will see what happens in the coming weeks – one MSU trustee broke ranks and said she should be fired or resign.

  6. #3 I disagree. We should not be a society that blatantly disregards life in our laws in favor of the ultimate vengeance.

    I am very much pro death penalty in cases that are specifically related to 1st degree murder cases and actual treason in a time of war, I do not agree that the death penalty should ever be used by a civil society for anything other than that – it creates a slippery slope.

    David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin should get life in prison without any chance of parole, let them rot in prison.

    Speaking of the Turpin’s; seeing the way our society has been morally corrupted by innuendo and accusations presented to twist the court of public opinion I can’t wait to see the defense that lawyers concoct to defend them in court. I’ve already been privately speculating about this, but I’m not going to share.

    • That’s part of why I’m anti-death-penalty. It’s not that there’s not any specific cases where I would be OK with it; it’s that once that particular hammer is in the legal toolbox there are more and more problems that start looking like nails.

      • Luke G wrote, “That’s part of why I’m anti-death-penalty. It’s not that there’s not any specific cases where I would be OK with it..”

        Do you realize that you are contradicting yourself? Either you are for or against the death penalty, period. Think about it.

        • No contradiction- I’m saying that, while there may be a specific incident where I would say “yes, OK, I’d be fine with that guy being executed” I’m against it as a policy because don’t believe there’s a way to adequately safeguard against prosecutorial misconduct, errors, or “mission creep” like you lay out above.

          • Luke G,
            Yes it’s a contradiction and you’re repeating yourself.

            You cannot be “anti-death-penalty” or “against it as a policy” and then “be fine with that guy being executed” as the result of some specific incident; anti-death-penalty means the government cannot execute anyone, absolutely none, not even one!

            If you think truly think that you’re “against it as a policy because don’t believe there’s a way to adequately safeguard against prosecutorial misconduct, errors, or “mission creep”…” then fine but you can’t then be “OK, I’d be fine with that guy being executed”; after-all Luke, it could be an error.

            If these things you’ve said about yourself in regards to the death penalty are true then you are truly morally conflicted about it and you need to resolve this issue for yourself. I don’t care which way you choose, but you cannot have it both ways.

            Personally I think you may be a like me in regards to the death penalty, you just haven’t acknowledged it yet.

            • I think you’re missing what I’m saying.

              There exist single, individual cases where I would hypothetically accept the death penalty as a solution IF there were some way to be sure that it would ONLY apply to cases of exactly that particular magnitude.

              The justice system is not perfect enough, and human nature is not rational and consistent enough, for those pre-conditions to be met.

              As a comparable example- Neonazis are useless and their ideas are useless. In the abstract I can say that “sure, if Neonazis didn’t get to have their parade that would be OK with me.” However, there’s no way to institutionalize that where you don’t end up with an ever-loosening definition of what speech falls beyond the allowable realm. Similarly, in the abstract I can say that “sure, THAT guy likely deserves the death penalty,” but I do not see a way to institutionalize that without opening the door for error and for loosening definitions of a capital crime.

              Therefore, although there are *specific* cases where I wouldn’t have an issue with the death penalty *in theory,* in practice I would be against its application even to those cases. In other words, I don’t approve of the death penalty in practice, in spite of seeing how there are cases where it could work in theory. Of course, I can see how one would disagree (I felt about the same as you did for most of my life). Still, no need to accuse me of being a hypocrite just because I’m saying that not every one of my personal inclinations can be written into law.

              • The justice system is not perfect enough, and human nature is not rational and consistent enough, for those pre-conditions to be met.

                This applies to the entire justice system, and is the perfect example of making the perfect the enemy of the good. There are many many cases where there is no doubt whatsoever that a vile criminal is guilty, and yet their executions are still opposed—like the Cheshire home invaders.

                • I understand your point of view, we just are balancing risk differently. Type I errors are incorrectly rejecting the null hypothesis when it should be accepted, Type II errors are incorrectly accepting it when it should be rejected (presumably in criminal justice, the null is innocent/not worthy of death). Any step that makes one less likely makes the other more likely, so it’s all about finding the ideal risk balance. I don’t think we necessarily see the risks any differently, we just have different acceptable levels of the two error types.

                • Here’s a though experiment:

                  1) The death penalty has clear societal value in order to communicate what society considers to be crimes SO heinous, they warrant the only complete separation that death can provide.

                  2) We must maximize the standard to be passed for an execution to ensure that if there are any wrongful or mistaken convictions beyond *reasonable* doubt, those guys only get life imprisonment, and relegating to the death penalty only those who reach a substantially *higher* level of proof of the crime.

                  3) No penalty for any crime has any meaning whatsoever if it is NOT occasionally used. If a punishment is never utilized, then at some point that aspect of the law is essentially empty and no longer communicates to the society the value it is supposed to.

                  4) If there was a level of proof attained so high, that no convictions leading to death occured but once every 100 years, to the point that the society has forgotten what it even means to have behavior so heinous it should be cut off completely (yet that behavior still occurs, clearly, but not with the level of proof necessary to execute):

                  Would it be in society’s interest to slowly lower the bar until there are enough applications of the penalty to be a constant reminder to the community that it does not tolerate *at all* certain heinous crimes.


                  Pretending that meant reducing the number of executions in a community down to 1 every generation…would it be an acceptable risk if that mean every 5th generation someone accidentally gets convicted through a flaw in the system…

              • Luke,
                You are clouding your opinion by piling on generalities and tangents, why not just simply state something like “I’m anti-death-penalty in practice.” and leave it at that, nothing more needs to be said, seriously nothing more.

                Luke G wrote, “…no need to accuse me of being a hypocrite…”

                Point of fact: There are people out there that are clearly being hypocritical about this; I did not call you a hypocrite, I specifically said you were morally conflicted about this and I stand by that 100%.

                • 1) I participate in this comment section because it sparks great conversations- and part of conversation is exposing your line of thought to help explain yourself. If the expectation was to just drop a one-line conclusion and be done, this would be a rather pointless place to talk.

                  2) My mistake. After informing me I was morally conflicted, you said in a subsequent comment that “…they are conflicted because they find reasons to actually support it; it’s rather hypocritical.” If that wasn’t intended to state that the moral conflict you assigned to me is a sign of being a hypocrite, then my apologies for accusing you of calling me that.

                  • Luke G wrote, “After informing me I was morally conflicted, you said in a subsequent comment that “…they are conflicted because they find reasons to actually support it; it’s rather hypocritical.” If that wasn’t intended to state that the moral conflict you assigned to me is a sign of being a hypocrite, then my apologies for accusing you of calling me that.”

                    No apology necessary, I can see how you’d get that impression. Sorry I gave you and others the wrong impression. My bad for not being clearer about who I was referring to.

                    The people I was referring to are clearly being hypocritical, they say out of one side of their mouth they are anti death penalty because, you know, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and then when some heinous act of brutality creeps into their life, or world, and the other side of their mouth reveals their internal conflict and out pours the hypocrisy. I know people that are quite mouthy about their opposition to the death penalty because it’s government sanctioned murder and but they wanted Osama bin Laden dead and cheering ecstatically after the deed was done. I know a someone that’s been anti death penalty her entire life but when violence came to roost and took the life of one of her family members she hypocritically switched gears; side note this same person was opposed to Osama bin Laden being hunted down and killed, I remember something along the lines of “two wrongs don’t make a right” coming out of her mouth.

                    • Note that many liberals are that way except in their personal lives. Modern liberalism is a virtue signalling exercise.

                      Taxes are too low, the Government needs more money! Yet the IRS takes donations, and you never see these liberals sending in extra money.

                      Growing up, I knew those who were for schools disseminating birth control… until it was their kids. Same folks were for Sex Ed, back in the day… and withdrew their kids from the class.

                      Obamacare! Wait, I personally have to pay for that?

                      Virtue signalling a progressive line is easy, until YOU are impacted. Then things are different.

                      Human Nature does not change

            • Luke is not inconsistent here. This discussion has been litigated to death…ahem… on this blog exhaustively. I think most right-wingers here actually are on board with attitude towards the Death Penalty as a result of the discussions.

              The notion is that, as the Death Penalty is currently practiced, most (if not all) of us are against it. But not because of the Death Penalty, but because of the standard of proof necessary for such a sentence to be given.

              I think before the long discussions really played out, most of us were fine with the status quo regarding Capital Punishment, but have come around to the notion, that in the interest of minimizing any mistaken convictions and executions, that the standard for execution must be that the convicted be so beyond ALL doubt. The current standard in practicing states is still beyond a REASONABLE doubt.

              Luke’s issue here is along the same vein as what I think most of us who support the death penalty are. Only Luke is not confident that beyond ALL doubt can ever truly be met.

              • Pretty much, with the caveat that I think there ARE cases where that standard can be met- I just don’t think there’s a way to successfully legislate it (or for that legislation to function in the real world, at least) that results in those and ONLY those cases from ending in an execution.

                • Luke,
                  I just read all your’s and other other comments that just popped up and for clarification let me see if I’m understanding you properly.

                  You’re actually pro death penalty and the only reason you say that you’re anti death penalty is because it’s too hard to guarantee that no errors will ever be made and a person that might not have earned the death penalty, by your standards, was executed.

                  Am I understanding you correctly now?

                  • I think you are, more or less.

                    I’m pro death penalty in theory, in extremely limited circumstances (in other words I don’t stand with those who say “oh, no, nobody ever deserves to die for their crimes”).

                    Based on what I know of the errors and faults that exist in the legal system, I can’t be comfortable that the system is (or likely ever can be) rigorous enough to avoid errors- so in practice, I’m anti.

                    • Luke G wrote, “I think you are, more or less.”

                      Ok, whew, we’re beyond that. 😉

                      Luke G wrote, “Based on what I know of the errors and faults that exist in the legal system, I can’t be comfortable that the system is (or likely ever can be) rigorous enough to avoid errors, I’m anti.”

                      Well humans are humans and “we” do sometime make errors.

                      Consider this; if you take that line of thinking to it’s ultimate conclusion you should actually be anti-punishment. Talk about a slippery road.

                    • As far as that goes, see my reply to Jack above about balancing Type I and Type II errors. There will always be a chance for errors of both type (unless severe measures are taken to make one impossible, which means the other will happen quite often). As the punishment gets less severe, the damage done by inflicting it incorrectly becomes easier to reverse, and the risk of that error becomes more palatable.

                      At opposite ends of the scale: If the death penalty is enacted in error, you can’t reverse it at all. If a $1 fine is enacted in error, you give the guy his dollar back and maybe give him a cup of coffee for his trouble. So it’s not that ANY risk of improper punishment is unacceptable, it’s that the more severe the punishment the more damaging the risk associated.

          • Jack Marshall wrote, “A majority of those who say they oppose the death penalty aren’t really. They’d execute Hitler, Bin Laden, maybe the Cheshire killers, others.”

            That’s what I’ve seen too. It’s like they think they should be against it, so they openly say they are, but deep down they are conflicted because they find reasons to actually support it; it’s rather hypocritical.

    • Zoltar, I agree with you on the Turpins. If their crimes merit death, then to me Larry Nassar’s would also. I would add some War Crimes to the list of crimes warranting the death penalty. I’m guessing that the Turpin’s defense will be NGRI for both or possibly for one of the two with the other claiming dimished capacity due to being under the control of the crazy one. But as you note what we know is very limited at this time and there are a lot of odd things. One thing is that some of the children are actually adults.

        • ”I think child rapists proven beyond all doubt certainly raise to the level of capital punishment.”

          An identifible percentage of those that are sentenced to life are executed behind bars.

          One of the reasons that incarcerated child rapists/molesters/murderers/abusers are dealt with so harshly by other inmates is that many of those inmates experienced pederasty at earlier stages of development.

  7. #4 Jack wrote, “…parents are too often focused on objectives other than their children’s best interests.”

    I completely agree. I’ve seen it WAY too many times. I’ve also personally seen the backlash that happens when a parent does things in their child’s best interest that completely override the short-term objective of a show.

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