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Death Row

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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Posts: 139
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:20 pm

Death Row

#1 Post by ranter » November 2nd, 2019, 6:53 pm

Greetings fellow Humanists.
Hope you’re all doing well.
As you know I’ve been absent for a while, mainly to do with family and work commitments as well as other interests, but I do check in occasionally to see what I’ve missed. Jeeeeezo, lots been happening in here and elsewhere since my last visit!
I’m going to share something with you all and I’d like any feedback you care to offer. I’m guessing this will provoke different emotions with different people, assuming that is, my article gets read.
I’ve been corresponding with a death row prisoner for 3 ½ yrs now and what a journey this has been. I’d been considering this for several yrs, but didn’t feel I had the time to fully commit to the requirement of the role. That changed a few yrs ago and I decided to make the time as it was something I felt quite strongly about. This decision was with the full support of my husband although he admitted it wasn’t something he could consider, but he validated my interest and compassion and that was all I needed.
I wrote to the Human Writes organisation of which Jon Snow is the patron, and the ball started rolling from there. I was vetted from a distance and deemed an appropriate person to become a companion but the process took several months. The org appointed me a marvellous woman, Sue, who would become my ‘go to’ person if the need ever arose. She was the co-ordinator assigned to match me up with a compatible companion, and she did a stellar job too.
Daryl (I’m anonymising him) and I have corresponded monthly for the last 3 ½ years. I’ve learned so much from this man and I’ve not regretted a single second of my time by committing my friendship to him. It would be fair to say it’s been a considerable investment of my time, but I knew that from the outset, and have been steadfast in my commitment to him. A couple of hours each month is more than manageable for me and I know I am his window to the world, and that makes it more than worth my while. (it’s sure better than watching crap on the tv).
Daryl has been on DR for 21yrs in Texas, and continues to maintain his innocence, therefore his fight goes on, a stay of executions and the likes. He’s an ex-police officer too, so I can’t even begin to imagine what his life is or has been like in there. His guilt or innocence has never been important to me anyway and of course I have my own thoughts and views, but either way it’s not an issue. My hand of friendship has been, and always will be my only agenda!
I could go on at length here and I do digress well, so I’ll come to the point.
I’m a humanist, therefore by definition, I value all human life. Please feel free to correct me if you don’t agree. I have shared my DR friendship with only 4 close people in my life and I have many people believe me, 1 being my husband and the other 3 being highly valued long term friends. Only 1 close friend has strongly opposed my interest and it remains a bone of contention. Not with me I add. Comments like ‘’ what if one of your children had been murdered’’ and so forth. I’ve spent most of my life soul searching about the impact of murder on bereaved parents, spouses, siblings, children and in spite of not coming up with one single answer, I can recognise ( albeit not popular) that even the perpetrators could be described as victims. Is that simply because I do not believe anyone is born evil? I think it might be. We are all essentially products of our environment, are we not? That could lead to another thread…..
Being incarcerated is the biggest punishment of all- removal of ones liberty. There cannot be anything more punitive than that.
I welcome your thoughts.

Posts: 3446
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: Death Row

#2 Post by Compassionist » November 6th, 2019, 9:42 am

Ranter, I applaud your compassion and your good work. If I had the genes, environments, nutrients and experiences of the prisoner you are corresponding with, I would be him and make his choices and vice versa. We're all victims - from conception to beyond death we are prisoners of causality. None of us choose to be conceived. None of us choose to be born. None of us choose our genes. None of us choose our parents. None of us choose the country of our birth. None of us choose the time of our birth. Genes, environments, nutrients and experiences determine all our choices and all our lives and all our deaths. Even after death, our bodies decay according to causality.

How much control do we have over our thoughts, emotions, perceptions, beliefs, tastes, judgements, preferences and choices? Does everyone have the same amount of control? Does the amount of control change over time? How can we know for sure? A few months ago, I got a parking ticket because I parked where it was illegal to park at the time period I parked in. The reason I parked there at that time is that I did not know that it was illegal to park there during that time period. I saw four other cars parked there and copied them and parked. I could not have chosen differently given the amount of knowledge I had at the time. Since then I have never parked there during that time period because now I know better. However, was it not impossible for me to not have parked there the first time? Are we not all deterministic beings who make inevitable choices determined by our genes, environments, nutrients and experiences? If you had my genes, environments, nutrients and experiences you would be typing these words where and when I am typing these words. If I had your genes, environments, nutrients and experiences I would be reading these words where and when you are reading these words. Are we not deterministic prisoners of causality? Do we not make inevitable choices? Do we not live inevitable lives? Could humans and other sentient biological organisms make a different choice at the point of making the choice than the choice they actually made? As far as I can tell, determinism is true and our choices are determined by our genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. Are humans and other sentient biological organisms culpable for their choices? How can we know with 100% certainty? Please see the following video before replying. The video claims that the mind is separate from the brain but I am convinced that statement is false. The mind is caused by brain activity. Brain activity can change the way the brain functions e.g. if I practice playing darts, I get better at it. Practice makes perfect not because the mind is separate from the brain but because practice makes neural networks grow and strengthen. Holding people accountable for their choices lead to better choices because we are capable of foresight and we prefer to get rewards and avoid punishments. It is entirely deterministic. Thank you. I think Hard Determinism is true. I don't feel free. I don't act freely. I am constantly doing things I don't want to do. I am constantly unable to do things I do want to do.

Things I want to do but can't do due to lack of ability:

1. Go back in time and prevent all suffering and death and injustice.
2. Make all living things equally omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent and be the owner of an infinite number of universes each.
3. End all diseases, health problems, deaths, etc.
4. Prevent all natural disasters.
5. Prevent all accidents.
6. Prevent all violence, killings, rapes, kidnappings, tortures, crimes, persecutions, bullying, bigotry, hypocrisy, selfishness, cruelty, etc.
7. Prevent all malevolence and ignorance.
8. Give everyone the ability to teleport everywhere in an infinite number of universes across an infinite number of timelines.
9. Prevent all poverty.

Things I do (or will do) even though I don't want to do them:

1. Breathe
2. Eat
3. Drink
4. Sleep
5. Dream
7. Pee
8. Poo
9. Fart
10. Burp
11. Sneeze
12. Cough
14. Get ill
15. Get injured
16. Sweat
17. Cry
18. Suffer
19. Die

I am clearly not a free agent with a free will. I am truly a prisoner of causality who does things he does not want to do and can't do what he wants to do. The same applies to you and other prisoners of causality. All sentient biological beings are victims from conception to beyond death because even after death the dead body decays according to causality. We live inevitable lives and make inevitable choices. All our choices are determined by our genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. Only an all-knowing and all-powerful being has free will. All else are victims of having insufficient knowledge and having insufficient power. No one is guilty. Everyone is faulty through no fault of their own. Everything is proceeding inevitably. All sentient biological beings are doomed from conception to suffer and die. All non-sentient biological beings are doomed from conception to die. Every nanosecond brings us closer to our inevitable demise. We are all prisoners of causality through no fault of our own. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that we don't make choices. I am saying that we make choices determined by our genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. We are not free to do what we want to do.

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