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Ear to the Ground

America Prefers to Execute Men, Apparently

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Posted on Aug 22, 2010
Flickr / World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CC-BY-SA)

Protesters dramatize a lethal injection.

Teresa Lewis is scheduled to be executed this month, the first woman to be officially killed by the state of Virginia in nearly a century. In the five years since a woman was last executed in the United States, the government put 220 men to death, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Alex Hannaford in the Guardian:

On 23 September, 40-year-old Teresa Lewis will become the first woman to be executed in the state of Virginia for almost a century. She’ll also be the first woman put to death in the US since 2005. Considering that, in the intervening five years, around 220 men will have been executed, it puts it into perspective: executing women is unusual. Of more than 1,200 executions carried out since the US supreme court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, only 11 were of women. And each time that happens, it’s stunningly bad PR for an increasingly unpopular facet of the American justice system.

The facts of the Lewis case are fairly gruesome. In 2002, she was convicted of persuading two men to kill her husband and stepson to collect a $250,000 life insurance policy. In return, she promised them a portion of the money, and sex with her and her 16-year-old daughter.

Lewis pleaded guilty. So you might think that this is a cut-and-dried death penalty case. But I don’t think so, and if you look at the facts, and consider the way the death penalty is administered in the US generally, it leaves more than a bad taste.

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By Kath Cantarella, September 21, 2010 at 10:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One further thought on the double standard:

When I was growing up a ‘smart-mouth’ girl I heard a lot of rubbish about how women were supposed to be pleasant, and every time someone said it I realized how unpleasant they were and felt like kicking them in the head.

true story.

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By Kath Cantarella, September 21, 2010 at 5:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Stupid mistake in my former comment: When I wrote ‘Gertrude Stein’ I meant of course Gloria Steinem. Stein died decades before Columbine.

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By Kath Cantarella, September 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This was just a bad judicial decision. With an IQ of 72 Teresa was ‘the head of the serpent’? Yeah, right. So she persuaded 2 men of much higher intelligence to commit murder, huh? Feels like Mr Judge has a thing about women who kill, as opposed to men who do it, which he obviously thinks is much more natural and understandable. You know, all those stats about men who bash their wives for years, finally succeed in killing them, and then get out in a few years for a ‘crime of passion’, well maybe we shouldn’t mention that, some delicate consciences might get offended.
Ted Bundy raped, tortured, mutilated alive what was probably close to 40 women or more. The prosecution offered him a sweetheart deal, which he refused because he wanted to try his own case. The judge wept as he sentenced him to death. A few years later the same court heard the horrible life story of Aileen Wuornos, a woman who had been universally hated since childhood, probably because, as one youth worker put it, she had difficulty ‘accepting the female role’. Aileen was pregnant by a paedophile at 13 and thrown out to sleep in the snow. The only way she could survive was by prostitution, which must feel like rape if you so desperately need the money. A couple of decades later a convicted rapist picked her up and tried to rape her: she shot him. She snapped and shot 7 johns after that. The court sentenced her to death with no such expressions of regret, no deals, nada. She was dirt on the Judge’s shoes.
How much systemic hatred and abuse is the human mind supposed to be able to take before it snaps or fights back? How little is enough for some people?

There are less women executed because women are generally raised to feel underentitled and so commit less violent crimes. Men are raised to feel overentitled, still very much the superior sex, and their violence is culturally accepted, hell, it’s lauded much of the time, so they generally kill and maim (and rape), a lot more people. Gertrude Stein wrote something about this after one of those mass school shootings by boys who felt aggrieved about something or other.

Yeah, I’m losing sleep about how prejudiced the legal system is against men. There’s so much prejudice against men out there, it’s truly staggering. Truly.

Staggering.

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By rollzone, August 23, 2010 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

hello. we are a country of great excesses. the human
nature to covet those excesses overcomes morality in
many individuals, and only distasteful extremes of
punishment are of any help to deter multitudes of
fence walkers from taking the leap into criminality.
less inequality in life is better than deterrent
murder, but the method makes no difference in the
effect of an execution. you could toss this complicit
murderer off an overpass into the path of an oncoming
speeding truck, and threaten to do it for every
conviction:( and it will only deter the same number
of fence walkers. murder is murder, and our state has
no more right than what we give it.

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By Shift, August 23, 2010 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment

Of course.  Far too many American women dutifully attempt to execute their men in a thousand different ways each day.  It is woman’s national sport. It’s totally obvious, just look around, anywhere.  It’s just a few additional steps to the electric chair.  Fortunately I’m in a committed relationship that’s working.  Married women approach me regularly for sex and seem surprised when I turn them down.  It’s just another way to cut their man and I will not participate in it.  I can count the marriages that have held together on one hand.  I would hazard a guess that a majority of women today are man haters.  When is the last time you heard a man say how well his wife is treating him.  It seldom happens anymore.  Most divorced men I know choose not to remarry.  They do not want the pain and grief. Why have women bought into all the negative propaganda.

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By peedeecee, August 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

Um.

Anybody here do simple arithmetic?

I don’t agree with the death penalty, period.

But could we have a little logic here? Why are more men executed than women? Huh?

Could it be that men commit more death-penalty crimes? Huh?

Rocket science, it ain’t.

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By Inherit The Wind, August 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

I’d rather let 50 guilty ones live than kill one innocent.

But the right-wingers would rather kill the innocent one to get the 50 guilty ones.  I’ve even heard them say “Kill them all and let God sort it out”

Well, if you let an innocent die when you could have saved them, if you let them die to get the 50 guilty ones, where do you think your God will put in the sorting?

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By felicity, August 23, 2010 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Americans go into fits of outraged indignation when
‘other’ countries behead or stone to death their
criminals, but when a Brit dares to suggest that
Americans by hanging, injecting with poison,
electrocuting… her criminals they are committing
barbaric acts, we Americans take offense.

Not only are we going around the world flexing our
military muscle, dissing the Muslim religion,
insisting that other countries adopt our cultural,
political and social values, we express profound
displeasure that other countries have not necessarily
adopted the proper way, the American way of killing
their criminals.  God, we’re Ugly.

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By Malcontent, August 23, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

Ones official “moral” position on the death penalty is moot.

Unless and until we can be sure that all convictions are flawless. Or at least competent to a statistical level which doesn’t result in a continuous stream of reversed convictions and people being released years later, we are in no position to be making such decisions.

People can feel free to discuss the “morality” of executing murderers. But it is all academic until we learn how to definitively identify them, without executing innocents.

In articles like this, I try to ignore the authors theory on why the accused might not be guilty, as the information provided is always incomplete. But, one wonders how competent anybody with an IQ of 72 could possibly be.

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By FiftyGigs, August 23, 2010 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

“Clearly, those 220 won’t be committing any more crimes.”

Assuming they all are truly guilty.

Otherwise, what? Oops?

If that’s one’s conclusion, then one believes in an omnipotent government. I’m not sure which political party that would fall under. It couldn’t possibly be Republican, because they know government is the problem. Hummmm….

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, August 23, 2010 at 5:36 am Link to this comment

We really don’t believe in rights for men anyway,so this is not really a surprise. We
routinely deny fathers equal protection under the law, confiscate their property without
due process, and prevent them from working to support themselves. We deny fathers
basic human rights that we give to convicted felons, and congratulate ourselves in the
process. Yet what this woman above has done, is something society not only condones
but encourages in court, by awarding women big paydays in court in divorce
settlements, and child support cases. Awards that loot a man and destroy him
financially, there is no difference in what this women did, and those million dollar
divorce settlements. The only difference is between how fast the man would have died,
either in long years of slave labor, or a hitmans bullet. If the woman In this case would
have had more impulse control she could have gotten the money through legal means,
many do.

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By Inherit The Wind, August 23, 2010 at 3:58 am Link to this comment

Why would ANYONE plead guilty to such horrendous charges unless she was led to believe she’d get a life sentence and not the death penalty?  Is this once again a case of the prosecution promising what it couldn’t deliver: a life sentence?

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By rico, suave, August 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Q: “exactly what has been achieved by the state-sponsored MURDER of 220 men in the last 5 years?”

A: “Clearly, those 220 won’t be committing any more crimes.”

Test grade: A

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, August 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment

So tell me, you who are gung-ho FOR the death penalty, exactly what has been achieved by the state-sponsored MURDER of 220 men in the last 5 years?

Clearly, those 220 won’t be committing any more crimes. But the same result could have been achieved by incarcerating them for life.

I’m about as far from a bible-thumper as you can get but I do vaguely recall something about THOU SHALT NOT KILL. I don’t recall anything about EXCEPT WHEN THE STATE DOES IT.

To answer my own question… what has been accomplished is that the young folks now growing and absorbing the values of the American society have learned that not only is human life NOT SACRED in America, but is actually expendable under certain circumstances, for example, the Administration’s CHOOSING, in just the last few years, to send 4,400 men and women (and counting) TO THEIR DEATHS in senseless, useless WARS.

America waves a lovely FREEDOM and HUMAN RIGHTS banner at the world but it’s an HYPOCRISY of the most odious kind. It is clear to me that in America, the individual is valued ONLY when he/she follows the dictates of society and fulfils his/her role as a CONSUMER. Everyone else is superfluous and expendable… the sooner the better.

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By rico, suave, August 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

“The facts of the Lewis case are fairly gruesome… Lewis pleaded guilty. So you might think that this is a cut-and-dried death penalty case. But I don’t think so…”

OH WELL THEN…

Alex Hannaford, aka, GOD, (and a squishy Anglican GOD to boot) doesn’t “think so”! Sounds like overwhelming precedent for a slam dunk Supreme Court reversal if you ask me.

Please tell me- Where is the story here? OF COURSE more men are fried than women. Men do the vast majority of the heavy lifting of the heinous variety.

Why does truthdig waste its time on such tautologies?

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