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GreshamGuy
The plural of anecdote is not evidence.
04:10 PM on 11/28/2011
I'm glad I voted for Kitzhaber. He's a man of conscience and he's acting out of a deep sense of morality. He failed to stop two previous executions, but has reflected and changed his position.

It seems to me that the only argument in favor of the death penalty is vengeance. It is a pretty poor reason to end a life - it forces all of us to become that which we condemn. Vengeance reduces us. It is momentarily satisfying, but provides no restoration of what was lost and no real comfort for those who have been bereft.

And, if we're wrong in our condemnation, there is no restitution possible for the life stolen by state sanctioned killing.
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David Protess
06:38 PM on 11/28/2011
Amen, GreshamGuy.
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lainey
Always remember Troy Davis.
06:50 PM on 11/28/2011
I completely agree, especially "it forces all of us to become that which we condemn. Vengeance reduces us." Your words are powerful. Abolish the death penalty now.
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Leto II
Is that my problem?
03:54 PM on 11/28/2011
Some may compliment the governor for his actions. However, I do not.

Gary Haugen has killed 2 people so far. Obviously, he's a horrible person. What happens if he kills another inmate? What happens if he escapes and kills an innocent person on the street? Undeniably, the blood will be on Govenor Kitzhaber's hands. Anti-capital punishment people will argue otherwise but it's the truth.

Capital Punishment is not always about being vengeful. Sometimes it's about extermination. Haugen is one of those people who needs to be exterminated from the human race.

The Govenor better pray that Haugen doesn't kill another inmate if he cares about his political career. And you death penalty opponents should prepare your rebuttals if/when this happens. Haugen could be more motivated than ever to kill again just to make you all look dumber than you already look.
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GreshamGuy
The plural of anecdote is not evidence.
04:20 PM on 11/28/2011
If that happens, it does not make Haugen any more or less guilty - the responsibility is his, not yours, not John Kitzhaber's, nor anyone else's. You are placing the guilt inappropriately. Extermination is not a state function. Punishment and isolation from society are the tools we should use.

He should be isolated 24 hours a day, given time only to exercise alone, never granted the company of any other inmate, guarded by guards who speak only to give him orders, shunned by all.

This can't be about Gary Haugen. Ultimately, it is about us and the society to which we belong.
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DismayedRepub
300Mm/s Not just common sense, it’s the law
01:25 AM on 11/29/2011
So who's going to pay for all of this?
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David Protess
06:48 PM on 11/28/2011
Leto II: I share your concern about Haugen killing another prisoner, but he's unlikely to be placed in a facility or cell where that's possible. When Gov. Ryan cleared death row in Illinois, he found places for the 163 condemned men and four condemned women and none of them has killed again in the eight years they've been there.
Respectfully, I like the idea of extermination even less than vengeance. That's the term the Nazis used to justify killing Jews, blacks and Gypsies. But I'm sure you didn't mean it that way. Gary Haugen is an undesirable human being, as my blog clearly indicates, but he is human -- not an insect.
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Leto II
Is that my problem?
09:10 PM on 11/28/2011
David-"unlikely" means you don't know for sure. You're just being optimistic. Just because the 167 people haven't done anything doesn't mean they won't. Your argument works until someone does die by the hands of one of them. If that happens, blood is on Governor Ryan's hands too.

No David, I meant 'extermination' exactly how I described. Heinous criminals like Haugen should be executed as a means of extermination from the human race. The Nazis exterminated innocent people, which has nothing to do with my argument. Haugen and other murderers aren't human. They forfeited their humanity when they chose to take someone else's life.
10:38 PM on 11/28/2011
Spin, spin, spin. Remember, because someone doesn't agree with your rhetoric, not all need be confronted. You'll change very few minds that have a brain.
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OuterBanx North12
Now with 33% MORE caffeine!
03:25 PM on 11/28/2011
I am against the death penalty, but I am also someone who has never had to endure the murder or rape of a family member. Would I feel differently if I had? It's hard to say. Some people can contain their emotions, others froth at the mouth for the chance to kill the one who did it.

But we are also a civilized nation, and there is something intrisically brutish in the death penalty. But more importantly, the idea that anyone who may be innocent would be executed by a bloodthirsty judicial system is far worse.
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ADuckWalksIntoABar
I forgot the punchline...
05:26 PM on 11/28/2011
Unfortunately, since no one can seem to agree on exactly what a civilized nation actually looks like, we can not be called one.

One look at some of the public comments when Rick Perry allowed an innocent man be put to death will show you that 'civilized' and 'brutal' are far too often the same thing.

The one that comes to mind is, "It takes balls to kill an innocent man."

Civilized, indeed.
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David Protess
06:56 PM on 11/28/2011
Thoughtful post, OuterBanx North 12. Your question is exactly why I wrote this blog: to force us to re-examine what we'd do if we were in the shoes of the governor, or the loved one of a murder victim, or both in the case of Gov. Ryan. Would we kill? Would we want the State to kill someone else? I like your answer.
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Cecelia Nunn Haack
Art saves lives
02:11 PM on 11/28/2011
I am grateful Governor Kitzhaber stopped executions in Oregon. My hope is we will have a vigorous public debate and then a general referendum on the death penalty. It is with horror I admit to having voted for the death penalty -- back then I saw life in black and white, good and bad. I'd like a chance to redo that terrible vote.
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David Protess
07:00 PM on 11/28/2011
Cecilia: Do you really want a majority of voters, who themselves will be a minority of eligible voters in your state, to decide an issue of life or death? Keep in mind that many will vote like you did in the past, before your views evolved. How about a non-binding referendum instead?
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DismayedRepub
300Mm/s Not just common sense, it’s the law
01:31 AM on 11/29/2011
How about a recall?
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naschkatze
A free man creates himself.
12:39 PM on 11/28/2011
I think Kitzhaber wants this to go to the people for a referendum.
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David Protess
01:06 PM on 11/28/2011
I haven't read that. If so, it would be troubling. We don't live in ancient Rome, were people lived or died based on thumbs up or down. What do you think?
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naschkatze
A free man creates himself.
01:36 PM on 11/28/2011
I did read it somewhere. That is why he only put a moratorium on capital punishment for the duration of his term(s). What do I think? I can never remember not being anti-death penalty. Sure, it would be great if one person or a legislature could ban it before putting it before the public. Ultimately, won't it go to the courts?

My guess, as an Oregonian, is that we would abolish the death penalty, but it's only a guess.
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guitargeorge1964
Independent!!!
01:47 PM on 11/28/2011
That's an overly simplistic analogy I think. No, this isn't ancient Rome, and it's not public entertainment. It should go to a ballot where people have the opportunity to vote their conscience in private.
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lainey
Always remember Troy Davis.
12:35 PM on 11/28/2011
I am humbled by the actions of both Governors and their ability to understand that the system is too deeply flawed to protect the death penalty. For every case where guilt is determined and people wish to die, there are others where doubt remained, or still does remain. As the leader of the people of the state,their obligation resides with the latter. Through their courage, I am reminded that while several Member State leaders of the EU had deep sentiment of the population to abolish the death penalty, not all states had public majority. Still, such leaders pressed on, basing their actions on knowing the "inherent dignity of all human beings and on the inviolability of the human person." I work to see leadership-- on the federal level-- abolish the death penalty in these United States. No longer can this be in my name.
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David Protess
01:17 PM on 11/28/2011
And I am grateful for your eloquence and dedication. Governors Kitzhaber and Ryan showed great moral leadership by making unpopular decisions about both the issue and the inmates. Whether we agree or disagree with them, I hope the public will respect their enormous courage. State-assisted suicide would have been the easy choice. They made the difficult one, and in doing so, they moved our country one step closer to the EU model.
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zevon
"He's Just An Excitable Boy"
12:07 PM on 11/28/2011
Since the image of Oregon many people have is one of a "liberal bastion", upon my first reading of this story two days ago, I must admit that I was taken aback that Oregon *had* the death penalty.

There was also, albeit short, change of mind with him. Rather like a scenario of: kill me, relief at the pardon, then the next day hurling invectives and wanting to be killed again. I think this was brought about not by any "courage" (as I see him having none in his life) but by a yardboy peer pressure.

What a paradox that when Hauer dropped all appeals to demand his execution be carried out, he wanted to be seen as a martyr to a cause of "the government killing people". Now he is forced against his will to be an example of the "government not killing people".

I have no sympathy at all for him or his ilk and I think he, himself, pointed out very sagely that he would rather be killed than to reman incarcerated for life and that it "breaks his spirit". Truer words were never spoken, and should give cause also for life terms w/o parole and not the death penalty.
I would rather see more prisons built with my tax dollars to house *violent* criminals so they are forced to truly suffer for their crimes. Clear out Death Row only because a life sentence is truly a death sentence, one day at a time.
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David Protess
12:31 PM on 11/28/2011
Thanks for your post. I appreciate you sharing such heartfelt emotions. One reason that the majority of Americans now favor life without parole over executions is because the former is a more powerful form of vengeance. Personally, I was opposed to Haugen's execution because it would have been state-assisted suicide. Right?
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zevon
"He's Just An Excitable Boy"
05:07 PM on 11/28/2011
In this case, certainly it would be state-assisted suicide and he enjoyed proclaiming it loud and clear to as many media as would print it.

In other executions, it is simply state-assisted murder.
This is a DIFFICULT position (and certainly not popular) that I've come to over my adult life. I could see just too many issues of reasoning on both sides. I've jumped back and forth over the fence, then sat on it until I got too many splinters.

I am a "strange" individual I guess, with opinions that could peg me into two many "camps". I'm not in a camp and I hate labels. I don't consider myself a liberal or a conservative, but rather a person that can think on their own with their own persnal moral convictions. Maybe more people should be a "party of one". That's their own choice.

Why did I finally decide to publicly state that I'm against the death penalty? Because in the long history of known civilizations, the taking of a human life in vengeance or crime (even murder) by those in an authoritarian position or government "of the people" should not be done as it is not morally the choice of all the people. The majority perhaps, but not all. State laws are voted on and of course, the majority of voters decide the law. But that doesn't mean I have to agree with the law.
02:50 PM on 11/28/2011
As an Oregonian, I can tell you that it is not quite the "liberal bastion" most people think it is. Portland and Eugene certainly are, but the eastern half of the state is closer to Idaho politically and the rest of the state is pretty evenly divided. There is a reason why Oregon was considered a swing state in 2000 and 2004.

That being said, I'm proud that Gov. Kitzhaber chose to do this. I personally don't prima facie oppose the death penalty, but I have yet to see a system that could use it fairly and without serious abuse and while Oregon's system was set up to prevent the kind of industrialized execution system they have in Texas, there was still plenty of abuse potential there (that Josh Marquis has prosecuted several in relatively small Clatsop County is good evidence of that).

It will be interesting to see if prosecutors still try and pursue the death penalty and how Oregonians will react.
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zevon
"He's Just An Excitable Boy"
05:14 PM on 11/28/2011
Hi brimecow,
I find it truly interesting to read information about individual states and their politics, etc. You've provided me with much facts I didn't know. I never agreed that Oregon was a "bastion of liberalism", but many people express that belief, don't they? For instance, I live in Michigan. And yet anytime I mention this or anytime there is any article from Michigan there are scads of deragotory "Deetrrooooit" type yahoo ones. For heaven's sakes (I think to myself) don't you know the city it was about is Lansing, or Grand Rapids or Marquette?? How many hundreds and hundreds of miles away does someone have to live not to be considered a "Detroiter".

I can tell you that I live in St. Clair County which is quite conservative and the Upper Peninsula is as well. Many districts are, yet people might think that we are also a liberal state. Do we have the death penalty? Actually we NEVER had it, not even when we were a territory.
Nice talking to you, and F'd.
zevon
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David Protess
07:34 PM on 11/28/2011
TheBrimeCow: Interesting post. As for the last issue you raised, I can report that prosecutors in Illinois continued to seek the death penalty even after Gov. Ryan declared a moratorium and cleared death row. When we abolished it earlier this year, there were fourteen condemned inmates, up from zero in 2003. But that number reflects a considerable decline in capital cases, which in turn reflects a change in attitudes towards the death penalty and the realization that the financial costs of prosecuting death cases had become prohibitive. Perhaps Oregonians will learn the same lesson and realize, no matter what part of the state they're from, capital punishment just isn't worth it.
11:27 AM on 11/28/2011
This is a great story and a nice moral victory. I think it's telling that the governor of Oregon called the death penalty system "broken" even though only two Oregonians have been executed in the last 27 years, while other states like Texas continue to execute by the dozens. Very interesting. I'd also like to believe I would have acted the same way Gov. Ryan did regarding Edwards, but am not convinced I would have. The silver bullet that always deflates my anti-death penalty sentiment is, "Well, how would you feel if this crime happened to your family?" It's difficult to counter. Good for him, and good for Gov. Kitzhaber.
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David Protess
12:36 PM on 11/28/2011
Interesting point about Oregon vs. Texas. Thanks for making it. As for Gov. Ryan, he certainly was put to the ultimate test when it came to Danny Edwards. But I think the wisest moral decisions are the ones we make that transcend self-interest, don't you think? And wouldn't Ryan have taken heat if he'd spared 166 and let one die just because he personally offended him?
02:40 PM on 11/28/2011
I agree Gov. Ryan would take heat, but I'm not sure I would care about the heat. If we're talking about transcendence, I'm quite sure healing my emotional pain could transcend making the right decision. That just makes me human, which is what impresses me so much about Gov. Ryan's decision. I don't know if moral decisions are wisest when they transcend self-interest - depends how the decision turns out, I guess!
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YOKEL13
I saw a man pursuing the horizon...
03:16 PM on 11/28/2011
For Gov. Ryan to have allowed the execution of Edwards to go forward while commuting all other death sentences would have stood out as an inherent contradiction, which I am sure Mr. Ryan took account of. He was in the unique position of personally sharing the feelings of the friends and family of other murder victims. Had he not spared Edward's life, there would have been no way of defending the general commutation.