Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hang 'em, flog 'em

Capital punishment is back on the Polish political agenda.

Generally the public is very much in support of the death penalty, it is the politicians and other bodies who oppose it. I am quite sure that it will be difficult to reintroduce death penalty but someone has to start work in this direction.

Those are the words of the far-right League of Polish Families, MEP Maciej Giertych, who is launching a campaign to reinstate the death penalty. He’s going to get half a million people to sign a petition demanding a referendum on the subject.

President Lech Kaczynski said last week that the EU should debate reinstating execution EU-wide.

EU establishment’s jaw hits its boots.

Giertych wants to start with the most outrageous killers – predatory pedophiles who murder children.

“The public is afraid of such criminals after they are released from prison.'

Poland formally gave up capital punishment in the late nineties. But nobody had been executed since 1988.

Donald Tusk, Leader of Opposition Civic Platform, a party that tries to appeal to the more ‘liberal’ voter, said that:

“Everyone would be willing to do away with a freak who kills children but on one condition - everyone has to be aware of the repercussions of the reinstatement of capital punishment in Poland. One of the most important for the millions of Poles would be the weakening of this country's position in the EU or even the exclusion from the most vital membership rights.'

One of the conditions of entering the EU is giving up the death penalty.

As usual with Civic Platform this is rather feeble opposition. The only argument they can come up with against capital punishment is that ‘Brussels won’t like it’.

If Tusk wants to oppose capital punishment then he is going to have to make some rational and coherent moral and judicial arguments why capital punishment will not make children any safer from pedophiles, nor will it make Poland a lovelier, happier, place to live.

But why now?
This might be about the EU, sovereignty, but all politics is local. By jumping on the momentum of Kaczynski’s remark, the League’s petition campaign is an attempt to give it some distance from its senior government coalition partner, Law and Justice (PiS). This could well be about pressing the right populist buttons to reinforce the electoral base.

PiS, who in opposition in 2004 tried to get a reinstatement of the death penalty (and lost by four votes!) and will make noises about reinstating it when in government, are still wary of the huge international consequences if they tried

The League couldn’t care less.

Commentator Oskar Chomicki told Radio Polonia:

'The League of Polish Families wants to be recognized as a separate political entity versus the ruling Law and Justice. It is a local issue but it also has some international repercussions.'

League of Polish Families is hovering around 5% in the opinion polls, barely enough to get them members of parliament in an election or many councilors in the local elections later this year.

It’s time to play the hang ‘em, flog ‘em’ card.


sonia said...

Death penalty, not my favorite subject. I am against it. But I am for democracy. If a majority wants it, they should get it. End of discussion.

nobody had been executed since 1988

1988 was also the year Krzysztof Kieslowski released 'A Short Film about Killing', part of his series on Ten Commandments. Coincidence ?

One of the conditions of entering the EU is giving up the death penalty

Ok. So that's why so many Poles want the death penalty back. The abolishion of death penalty was shoved down their throats by the Brussels bureaucrats and the Poles resent it. Worse, they feel like sell-outs for letting themselves be bribed... Just for that, for having so much contempt for democracy, the death penalty should be reinstated, to spit in the face of those arrogant Eurocrats who will not let people decide those things. That anti-democratic contempt is far worse (and dangerous) than the death penalty itself.

steppx said...

not surprising. The death penalty exists in the US....most bloodthirsty of countries....and a culture of punishment will always want sacrificial victims.....especially the most powerless.

That the twin potatos want it was to be predicted.....and I suspect the majority of Poles probably DONT want it....but such discussions are irrelevant. When it was proved *!!!!* that innocent men were executed in the US....the response was apathetic. Such immorality speaks volumes....but then we live in an age with curious barbarious tendencies.

Only the poor end up on death row....and its almost always the poor and marginalized who must be executed. The big criminals continue to bomb poor countries with DU and vacation on the riveria.

Will be interesting to see what happens vis a vis the EU....Lech and Giertych are certainly doing their best to alienate people!!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. The "government" of Poland brings up the death penalty knowing full well it will be slapped down by the association of nations which they of their own free will joined. "Help, I'm being oppressed."

Agnes said...

"But I am for democracy. If a majority wants it, they should get it."

Sonia, on
the one hand democracy means that, indeed. On the other, fortunately, it doesn't: there are democratic institutions involved, and let's hope death penalty won't be back. (Personally I oppose it very much, and don't see it as the triumph of popular will, who knows why)
The majority is very good at wanting bull - we have seen that not once, haven't we. You want democracy in the Middle east and elsewhere: has it occured to you, where would that lead right now in Iran or elsewhere?

Death penalty was abolished in Romania in 90) - later many wanted (voices not so different from the ones Beat writes about)to reintroduce it. There was popular will, so to speak. Fortunately it wasn't, exactly because something we also call democracy functioned.

Beutiful film that. Kieslowski's. I did not know about this coincidence.

Beat, interesting, then when it comes to death penalty people always mention serial killers and such. What is the percentage of those, I wonder?

beatroot said...

I know what you mean, Redwine, but Sonia has a point.

Yes, it is good that the death penalty can’t come back in Poland if it is a full member of the EU. The freedom to work in the UK etc is very popular and they will not risk that.

But that means:

a)The Euro-victims will love it! – Ooo look at the Sodom and Gomorra coming from Brussels; it’s foreign to us, it’s the New Soviet Union blah blah. The EU is fueling nationalism.

b)The stupid idea that capital punishment is going to solve the rare crime of child murder and make everyone feel safe in their beds, is popular here. The only way to fight it is to take it on in debate.

And we can’t do that because we are in the EU!

Not a good way to fight nationalism.

Romerican said...

"Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own."


Anonymous said...

Don't the League of Polish Families folk read their Catholic Catechism? They are a disgrace to the memory of JP2, as are all the other politicos who are going along with such pathetic pandering to people's basest and most primitive instincts. Wstyd.

roman said...

The death penalty for certain grievous offences, when proven without a doubt, is entirely appropriate.
The concern about killing an innocent is understandable but why throw out the baby with the bath water?
Capital crime cries out for capital punishment. An executed murderer will murder no more, I guarantee it.

steppx said...

amazing. "Conern" about killing an innocent? Interesting word. Concern. Dont kill or Ill kill you. Its like telling little kids....dont hit little jimmie or I'll give you such a beating. Same distorted logic.

Crime rates DO NOT GO DOWN because of capital punishment. How many times does this have to be said. Nobody can find a single study suggesting this. Not one. Violent criminals dont pause and think, hey, maybe I shouldnt do this, I might get lethal injection. Ok, forget about it. (actually what it does in some cases is encourage killing to silence potential witnesses). And my pal Ignacy is right.....the contradictions for the League of Polish Families is all too obvious.

And as a final comment....YOU CANT PROVE BEYOND A DOUBT....all the men on death row in Illinois, later proven innocent due to DNA, were convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. So even with DNA now as a prosecutorial aid, the doubt always will. And why the lust for revenge? Curious. It achieves nothing....except more barbarism.

And beat....yes, the debate is needed.....because I often find here, and in the US, a very knee jerk response to this issue...and when confronted with "facts" people will often change their minds.

beatroot said...

It is a 'knee jerk' issue.

What I find interesting is that they start this with pedophiles who murder children.

These are the last type of criminals that the death penalty would have a deterant affect. These people a very rare deep perverts who can;t change their behaviour even if they wanted to.

So this is not about an intelligent call for a better penal system...nor will it reduce the small number of these crimes.

It's a cynical political ploy. Period.

michael farris said...

I have no theoretical qualms about capital punishment. I could gladly pull the switch on Ted Bundy (and a few others) and not lose a minute of sleep.

But I have _lots_ of practical concerns, mostly owing to the fabled and almost infinite power of any government to screw things up and get the wrong person. So in that regard I'd rather not kill lots of scumbags who deserve it so that I can be sure to not kill some poor SOB who winds up on death row because his lawyer was incompetent/asleep.

beatroot said...

But ounishment must be rational, Mike. And I can find nothing rational about injections, electric shocks etc's revenge and other base emotions

michael farris said...

As for base emotions. Yeah, that's another reason to oppose capital punishment, the meta-message behind it is: "It's okay to kill people if you have a good enough reason."

On the other hand, I could pull the switch for some with no malice or ideas of revenge, just, you know, making sure they don't do it again. But that's completely theoretical, and capital punishment is an issue I can argue for and against theoretically till the cows come home. Practically, I don't want the state killing innocent people which is a clear danger in any scenario in which capital punishment exists. That kind of trumps the theoretical arguments for me.

beatroot said...

And I would quite like to pull the switch too on a few I know. Good reason that for not allowing me to!

georgesdelatour said...

Isn't Capital Punishment against the teachings of Jesus - and John Paul II? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone...

georgesdelatour said...

Poland doesn't have jury trials. But in America, where they do, capital punishment creates another problem. People who object to capital punishment (ie about a third of Americians) don't get selected for jury service on capital trials. Its assumed they'd rather find a guilty man innocent than have him executed. But lawyers and judges agree that, in other respects, CP skeptics make excellent jurors. They usually have higher IQs and are more attentive to details in evidence.

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