Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Taken for Chumps

Now, I know that the principles of rational thought are not popular these days, equally in schools as in parliaments, but one has to wonder at the willingness of so many to have their intelligence, whether real or imagined, so brazenly insulted, and their compassion manipulated, as it is by the abortion lobby in the case of the "rape exception".

The rape exception is the one argument that most irritates me. Not because of its inherent dishonesty - one expects only dishonesty from people conniving to murder helpless infants - but for the blind, drooling stupidity of the people who buy it, normally without the slightest examination. Or perhaps I should say the willing connivance of the marks. It is said that people who go to carnivals with a few shillings to spend on the ring-toss game, actually want to be swindled. Why else would one to go a carnival?

When I am talking to school groups about abortion, naturally after we have painstakingly gone through and demonstrated the existence of a human being in the womb (don't they tell these kids any more where babies come from? What are they doing in all those sex-education classes in kindergarten anyway?) someone in the back of the room will invariably put his (it is always a he) hand up and say "Yeah, but what about rape?"

He says this for two reasons: he has been taught that favouring abortion for rape is a mark of deep sensitivity and that "sensitivity" is a sure fire method of getting girls into bed, and that it is a stumper. He believes, in effect, that because the pro-life position is inherently flawed by its hatred of women and desire to oppress and subjugate them, that this is The Big One that will always end the discussion. This, he believes will establish his feminist political cred...which is also a sure fire method of getting girls into bed.

He expects me to have no answer, and sadly, this is the case with most of the people who consider themselves pro-life. In Britain, I would suggest, because there is no pro-life movement to speak of and those who imagine themselves to be pro-life have not the slightest notion of what it means, it is doubly the case. The British "pro-life" "movement" has failed so absolutely because it is based on warm fuzzy feelings towards cute little babies and depends wholly on a vestigial culturally generated moral sense that can now be found only in the previous generation, who themselves only ever had a hazy grasp of the meaning of the word "principle". Once the little old ladies, cooing gently over the sight of a sweet-faced cherub are gone, even that will vanish. And nothing will replace it. The world will belong to Generation Why. Maybe we could re-name them Generation Why Not?

What is saddest, and most ironic, about the eagerness of most of our progressively minded modern people, as well as many "pro-life" people, to defend the rape exception, is that they love it because it is held up as a model of compassion and toleration towards the victimised. This is especially tempting to pro-lifers who are possibly tired of being called EVIL FASCISTS. They long to be included in the ranks of the tolerant and compassionate. The same people will, with precisely the same earnest expressions, tell you all about the evils of capital punishment. They have such strong feeeeelings, you see, for the downtrodden, the oppressed, the victimised.

But no one stops to wonder who it is exactly that is doing the "holding up". Who exactly, has told them that abortion is a requirement in cases of pregnancy due to rape? And what are their motives?

But these goodthinkful people will not question the motives or origin of the received wisdom. That's why we call it that. When you ask them why they support the death penalty for the children of criminals, they simply look at you with a fullwise goodthinkfully blank expression and you can almost see their grey cells desperately rushing to batten down the hatches and close the sea doors.

"Doubleplusungoodthink. unoft, plusungoodthink or ungoodthink. Oldthink is unwith BB and party. oldthinkers unluv doubleplusgood waylive BB command. Oldthinkers oft is crimethinkers. Oldthinkers oft make crimethink."



When giving talks in schools, I was able to relieve the tedium by setting these sorts of traps and watching the poor chumps dive eagerly into them. (Even more amusing than tripping blind people).

"Hands up everyone who supports the death penalty." Never any takers for that one, especially in Catholic schools.

"Good. It is true that most western progressive countries, those who have been governed for centuries by the rule of law, have abolished the death penalty. Even for serious crimes like treason, murder and rape.

"We do not execute rapists, in the hopes, perhaps, that they will be reformed. Or perhaps only on the grounds that it is simply wrong to kill, even to kill a dangerous criminal."

General agreement, but at the same time a vague sense of discomfort growing...they know something is going on, but haven't the acuity to guess what.

"Now, let's examine a country that does have it. Communist China has more capital offenses [brief pause to explain the terms 'Communist' and 'capital offense'] than any other country in the world. And they carry out more executions than any other country. Even than the United States.

"Let us pretend for a moment that you are an official of China's legal system charged with carrying out executions. Would you consider granting clemency to a rapist?" [pause to explain 'clemency'.]

...nod nod nod...

"What about to the rapist's 18 month-old daughter?"




Anonymous said...

If only we could kill people for being stupid.

dudleysharp said...

For your next visit to a Catholic School.

Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
Religious positions in favor of capital punishment are neither necessary not needed to justify that sanction. However, the biblical and theological record is very supportive of the death penalty.
Many of the current religious campaigns against the death penalty reflect a fairly standard anti death penalty message, routed in secular arguments. When they do address  religious issues, they often neglect solid theological foundations, choosing, instead, select biblical sound bites which do not impact the solid basis of death penalty support.

The strength of the biblical, theological and traditional support for the death penalty is, partially, revealed, below.
Some references:
(1)"The Death Penalty", Chapter XXVI, 187. The death penalty, from the book Iota Unum, by Romano Amerio, 
Thoughtful deconstruction of current Roman Catholic teaching on capital punishment by a faithful Catholic Vatican insider and expert theologian.
titled "Amerio on capital punishment "Friday, May 25, 2007 
 (2)  "Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty", at

 (3)  "Capital Punishment: A Catholic Perspective", by Emmanuel Valenza (Br. Augustine) at
(4) "The Purpose of Punishment (in the Catholic tradition)", by R. Michael Dunningan, J.D., J.C.L., CHRISTIFIDELIS, Vol.21,No.4, sept 14, 200


(7) "God’s Justice and Ours" by Antonin Scalia, First Things, 5/2002

(8)  "A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).

(9) "The Death Penalty", by Solange Strong Hertz at

(10) "Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says", Dr. Lloyd R. Bailey, Abingdon Press, 1987. The definitive biblical review of the death penalty.


70% of Catholics supported the death penalty as of May, 2oo5, Gallup Poll, Moral Values and Beliefs. The May 2-5, 2005 poll also found that 74% of Americans  favor the death penalty for murderers, while 23% oppose.

copyright 1999-2008 Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
Pro death penalty sites 


www(dot) (Sweden)

Anonymous said...

A good answer.

Another way of putting it is to say the girl has been the subject of violence, but that we shouldn't perpetuate the violence by aborting the unborn child.

(I read this in a pamphlet by a Buddhist monk. Then a friend successfully used it in talking to some bikies when we were collecting signatures for a petition.)

Lucille said...

In theory there's a place for the death penalty; but in practice, I'm wary of it. I don't know that adequate standards of proof are always in place This and this are among dozens of cases - maybe hundreds or thousands, globally - where (as in the first example), it's not clear that the offense was proven sufficiently, or, (as in the second case), it's not clear that the offense merited the sentence.

dudleysharp said...


Your concern is merited. However, innocents convicted are more at risk with a life sentence than a death sentence, at least in the US.

The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
To state the blatantly clear, living murderers, in prison, after release or escape, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
Although an obvious truism, it is surprising how often  folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.
No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.
Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
That is. logically, conclusive.
16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.
A surprise? No.
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.
What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is compelling and un refuted that death is feared more than life.
Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
Reality paints a very different picture.
What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
Furthermore, history tells us that lifers have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.
In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.
6 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA evidence. An additional 9 were released from prison, because of DNA exclusion, who had previously been sentenced to death.
The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers, The New York Times,  has recognized that deception.
To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . (1) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.
There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.
If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can reasonable conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.
Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
Full report -All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.
Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request
(1) The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times

copyright 2007-2008, Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Dudley, not that I object to long posts per se, but if you want to write about the liceity of the death penalty in Catholic doctrine,

I'd suggest starting a blog.

This isn't your pulpit; it is mine.

Since you are obviously a professional or quasi professional campaigner on this issue, I would suggest that you will not make friends here by using my commbox as part of your personal crusade.

This is a social occasion, not a conference.

dudleysharp said...

Dear Ms. White:

I have no illusions, re your blog not being my pulpit

My first post was to you and regarded your speaking at schools, re the death penalty. I thought they would be good reseources for you. That was it.

The second post had nothing to do with Catholicism, but was specific to Lucille's concern about innocents sentenced to death.

As you don't oppose long posts, I am not exactly sure why you referred to my pulpit and starting my own blog.

I thought both were, specifcially, relevant to the subject matter.

Lucille said...

The subject matter, however, was abortion: it wasn't about the death penalty any more than it was about the Chinese judicial and penal system.

Lucille said...

By the way, if you're still reading this, here is yet another case to follow - this time involving someone who was actually executed.

dudleysharp said...


I am familiar with the case and believe that the TFSC is, very likely, going to concur with the 2006 report.

But, if the TFSC reports, as I think it will, it is a major concern.

My position is that we have to wait until the full report comes out, inclusive of TFSC and all reviewing all the additional evidence.

Evidently there is a lot of additional evidence supportive of the guilt of Willingham.

Ms. White has already directed that the topic is abortion. Therefore, if you wish to continue this discusion, please email at

Aaron Traas said...


Simply brilliant. I'll add this line of argument to my arsenal. Many thanks.

gemoftheocean said...

Aaron, it's only a "Brilliant" argument if you buy the anti-death penalty gambit...which many Catholics *don't*.

Try "two wrongs don't make a right."