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Xeni Jardin at 8:41 am Wed, Aug 8, 2012
I’ll preface this by saying that I of course know many Texans who in no way support this, but….seriously Texas, just secede already. Please. Let the cool, non-homicidal people relocate, and then go off and become the horrifying third world nation you’re clearly so desperate to be.
Granted, you have oil, so unlike other countries that violate basic human rights but have nothing we want, the U.S. will have to invade you and do some “nation building,” but I’m pretty O.K. with that.
Making blanket statements like this about Texas, but with such a polite little phrase does not disarm the hostility of your comment. I would venture a guess that a majority of my fellow Texans disagree with the actions of the Criminal Justice System in this case. Texas is a wonderful place full of the nicest, most sincerely caring people I’ve met in this country. Unfortunately, our legislature (and Governor Hairdo) seems to counteract most of the goodwill normal citizens exhibit every day.
Now, where are you from? So that I can make a blanket statement about your state and ask everyone there to leave the country.
I’m glad my hostility is not disarmed, because this bit of “justice” is making me feel pretty hostile. To be fair, the fact that we haven’t done anything at the federal level to curb this kind of abuse, if not banning capital punishment completely, is pretty shameful, and of course that’s a shame that I share as a voting citizen of the U.S.
I live in Massachusetts, by the way, which has its fair share of problems, but luckily executing the mentally handicapped isn’t one of them.
Dude, Texas’ own travel advertisements use the slogan “Texas — it’s like a whole other country!”
I’m sure that there are plenty of lovely people in North Korea, too. Not really the point.
one less plenty now though.
Serious question. If Texas is full of, ‘nicest, most sincerely caring people I’ve met in this country’, how do these politicians keep getting into power? Are they invaders from Mars? Or do those, ‘nicest, most sincerely caring people I’ve met in this country’, keep voting for them?
Didn’t you see “There will be Blood?” We can just “sip” their oil from a long straw from New Jersey.
I think simply focusing on his supposed IQ curtails a more important conversation about the judicial process. His conviction is based on the plea deal of the other guy involved in the crime, no? Isn’t it more important to be outraged at why he may have received crappy legal representation? Also, if you’re going to base the rights and responsibilities of people in this country based on their IQ, aren’t you slipping back into an ugly area of things like castration based on mental disabilities, of restricting voting rights based on “IQ” tests, etc.? Just because he’s possibly not very smart doesn’t mean he should not receive the punishment the state sentences on him for a crime he may very well have committed. The outrage should be about him not receiving a fair trial in the first place, regardless of his mental capabilities.
I agree. We are kind of arguing about side-effects and totally ignoring disease. See my comment above about the criminal justice system itself.
edited for clarity…
So what exactly did the finally pin on GHW Bush? I thought he’d gotten away scot-free.
This is the kind of case that brings out the folks who make arguments like “if he’s mentally competent enough to commit murder, he’s mentally competent to be executed” as if that kind of reasoning actually makes any sense whatsoever.
Read some of the comments on the linked article, eh? Rancid stuff, that.
I didn’t need to, I’ve been through enough of these discussions to see where they usually go. It’s pretty much the same every time some kid is facing the needle for something he did when he was still in junior high.
I hear you. The predictable bloodlust will be there whether we read it or not.
You do realize that “committing murder” is not the same as killing someone. There is a burden of proof that must be established to demonstrate that conscious thought was used to commit the act. That’s why there are different degrees of murder and manslaughter.
This man wasn’t convicted of killing someone in a rage or without clear thought. He was convicted of murder. When you are convicted of murder you are not just being convicted of killing someone. You are convicted of intentionally killing someone with the understanding of the ramifications of that act. So the reasoning you describe does make sense. Again – the circumstances of his conviction are not the issue. Why he was killed is.
…the circumstances of his conviction are not the issue. Why he was killed is.
If a six-year-old shoots someone out of malice with an intent to kill, it may be said that he committed murder. It is an altogether different issue of whether that six-year-old should be treated the same as a 40-year-old who does the same thing.
When you are convicted of murder you are not just being convicted of killing someone. You are convicted of intentionally killing someone with the understanding of the ramifications of that act.
Like the death penalty?
the circumstances of his conviction are not the issue. Why he was killed is.
You mean why he was murdered by the state (see above).
The whole idea behind protecting the mentally handicapped is to protect those who are not actually in control of their actions, or who cannot understand what they do. According to the article, this man was a drug dealer who murdered a police informant. This clearly shows he understood that his drug dealing was illegal, he knew he would be punished for it, and the murder was an attempt to protect from repercussions of his drug dealings.
And as for a practical question, how do you accurately test my I.Q. if I know a low score will protect my life? I’ve never taken an I.Q. test so I don’t really know what is involved but I’m pretty sure it would be difficult to get me to preform my best on one if I’m facing the death penalty.
Accountability isn’t an either/or proposition, it’s something we assign along a sliding scale depending on individual circumstances. That’s why we hold children to different standards of accountability than adults even when they do something they knew they weren’t supposed to.
Right, but we often do try and convict those under 18 (non adults) as adults because we are able to judge their mental state independently and not according to an arbitrary rule stick such as age. One does not simply move from a child incapable of understanding their actions one night, eat some birthday cake, and then they are a fully functioning adult. Just as one does not change from a mentally handicapped person to a fully functioning adult because their I.Q moves from 69 to 70. It is one of many factors that can be considered (maybe not even should be), but it should not hold more weight over the testing of someone’s ability than a genuine examination of a person’s mental state.
Right, but we often do try and convict those under 18 (non adults) as adults because we are able to judge their mental state independently and not according to an arbitrary rule stick such as age.
One of the many things horribly wrong with our “justice” system IMHO. It’s not like an especially gifted child can earn the privileges of an adult: We won’t let a 14-year-old drive a car on public roads even if he’s been practicing on the family farm since his feet could reach the pedals, and the captain of the high school debate team doesn’t get to vote before the age of 18. But as soon as a tween does something really bad then it’s A-OK to hold him just as accountable as a full-fledged adult. To me, this implies that our society holds itself to a lot of double standards just to justify state-sanctioned revenge.
For the record I oppose all executions since I find them ineffective, counter-productive and dehumanizing all around. But the fact that so many Americans want to apply such a practice to children and the mentally handicapped just makes me weep for my country.
In a world ruled by reason, you wouldn’t have to prove you were stupid to stay alive because you wouldn’t have to protect yourself from a bloodthirsty mob that really, really wanted a lynching, which is basically what the US justice system (not just Texas’) has become.
Scoring high would be really stupid.
At least mildly retarded.
So its a catch-22.
@boingboing-c59c4da559d8dae958242f8a57f409cc:disqus – Sounds less like troll and more like difference of opinion to me. Either way Drawntweets does have a point about one IQ test not being proof of mental impairment, just like one comment from you doesn’t mean your always rude. Inflammatory post, absolutely. But in response to inflammatory post title. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that someone with obvious street smarts might not really ‘try’ to win on a test that it is in his best interest to fail.
@countervail:disqus - DrawnTweets’ original post seems to have been removed, but the reason that it moved me to comment in the way that I did was what I perceived as first a failure to address the issue, and second a lack of simple humanity. This is an interesting topic, and warrants a dialogue – but I felt that the post in question was inappropriate in tone and was not intended as part of any sort of dialogue. I wanted to express both my negative feelings about the tone of the post and my lack of desire to enter into a dialogue with someone who struck that tone.
I’ll go back to lurking…
Thomas Edison was kicked out of school when he was 12 because teachers said that he was too dumb. He was bad at mathematics, had trouble with words and speaking.
He turned out to be quite intelligent despite what the teachers said. I’m not saying this guy was a genius but did anyone bother to read the article.. especially this portion:
“Considering Wilson’s drug-dealing, street-gambler, criminal lifestyle since an early age, he was obviously competent at managing money, and not having a 9-to-5 job is no critical failure,” Marshall said. “Wilson created schemes using a decoy to screen his thefts, hustled for jobs in the community, and orchestrated the execution of the snitch, demonstrating inventiveness, drive and leadership.”
The guy obviously knew how to take care of himself. He thought if he played dumb enough it would get him off the hook. Good thing he wasn’t in MA. They would have just let him out on furlough to go kill again.. oh wait MA has already done that.
…Considering Wilson’s drug-dealing, street-gambler, criminal lifestyle since an early age, he was obviously competent at managing money…
Indeed! I mean, the very idea that a mentally handicapped person could successfully get arrested for dealing drugs on a street corner… sheer lunacy! Those pushers and hustlers won’t recruit just anyone, you know. Crack dealers are celebrated around the world for their impeccably high standards.
Everyone must now think that drug dealing is all like Breaking Bad, with gang leaders like Gus and meth cooks like Walter White. I mean, it’s on TV and all, so it must be reality.
You should do some more research on the specifics of the crime. He was convicted based on a plea deal and testimony from a single witness that said they heard a gunshot approximately at the time when he was with the person murdered. It later turned out that this conflicted with the time of death and an industrial refinery likely made noises. There was no forensic evidence or other witnesses.
His life is literally being taken on the word of another violent drug dealer who gets a get out of jail card.
Ms. Jardin made sure that the topic of this post was that TX executed a mentally handicapped person. Not that he was wrongfully convicted. Those are two different discussions and that is why the circumstances of his conviction were not mentioned. The appeal to save his life was based purely on him being too stupid to be executed. The appeal wasn’t based on overturning his conviction.
Prosecuting attorneys never have alternate agendas. We should just skip the whole trial thing all together and go straight to execution.
All the more reason to oppose execution in general, IMO.
Criminals are not deterred by harsh sentences, because they don’t expect to get caught. Criminals are very deterred by a certainty of capture. And criminals happen a lot less in places where people aren’t treated like garbage.
was it our friend George W?
Can we please use “person with an intellectual disability”?
It’s not like ALL mentally-handicapped people in Texas feel endangered by this - The Texas Board of Education can barely comprehend what it means, let alone be afraid of it.
I wonder if there is more than just a shred of eugenic sentiment in this practice. The eye for an eye mentality is obvious when putting someone to death who is responsible for the death of others, but maybe there is more..? The (subconscious) wish to ‘eradicate’ the erratic/erring elements of society by removing them permanently and making sure they won’t reproduce..? (However flawed the concept may be.)
Although I must say that, if humanity wasn’t so mind-bogglingly irresponsible the concept of self-directed evolution might actually be a sensible one. Thanks to the fascists of the early and mid-twentieth century even discussing the concept of eugenics is now a taboo of course. No one in their right mind wants something like that to happen again.
It should turn into a Vicious Circle of Karma. Everyone involved in this man’s execution were all too stupid to “know” that an IQ of 61 is 9 points under a diagnosis of mental retardation. Ergo…
Let’s see, pretend I’m an alien and explain to me how a person who spends months (maybe years, if you include the time spent devoted to hate and bigotry) planning (read, pre-meditating) a mass killing of citizenry can be deemed and then fall under the purview of “mental incompetence” such that they will avoid government execution? The u.s. continues to be selective with who gets justice, and who gets the gurney. I’m sad most of the time, angry often and ashamed of my country every day. I agree with ‘Book Guy’ who summed up the solution perfectly. Maybe NAFTA could be the basis for a trade with Mexico—you give us your tired, your poor and we’ll give you Texas back.
@DrawnTweets – don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
Cause it’s worked thus far… and by that I mean both the criminal justice system (which has never, ever, ever ever not one single time, possibly maybe executed an innocent person thanks to the entirely even handed and not at all corrupt American criminal justice system) and the death penalty as deterrent. Our murder numbers in this country are way low thanks to that.
FWIW, I’m not necessarily entirely opposed to the death penalty. I am opposed to a deeply racist and classist criminal justice system that far too often kills the wrong people. And yes, I’m one of those goofy people who believes even once is too many. So maybe I am opposed to the death penalty after all.
Also, do you have some citations to the questions about the IQ test you mention?
edited for dumb spelling mistake… :-)
“Once people realize that, then they will understand that there are consequences to their actions.”
Unless, of course, they have an IQ of 61–and lack the political connections to run for senator.
yep, I guess that is why incarceration rates are going down so fast.
Actually, prisons are for rehabilitaion, too. It’s just a general morbid fascination with punishment as revenge that inherent in the American justice system, backed by the will of their voters, of course.
“In their appeal to the Supreme Court, Wilson’s attorneys had pointed to a psychological test conducted in 2004 that pegged his IQ at 61, below the generally accepted minimum competency standard of 70. But lower courts agreed with state attorneys, who argued that Wilson’s claim was based on a single possibly faulty test and that his mental impairment claim wasn’t supported by other tests and assessments over the years. ” -
Thanks. However, it seems like there was all sorts of questions surrounding the case in general. I say that unless you are 100% certain of the murder, then no execution should be allowed. If life is so precious that we are willing to kill those who take the lives of others, we should set the bar pretty high for those we execute.
There’s a lefty-liberal fantasy from the ’70s that prisons are should be for rehabilitation, but the retributivists have essentially won, and functionally speaking these days they’re just holding tanks/murder school.
Sure, they’ve won in the United States. Germany and other European states still uphold rehabilitation as the main goal, even within the prison system. (I agree that it is necessary to limit the freedom of certain people, not even necessarily only convicts.)
I’ll take our fantasy and our numbers, thank you very much.