It's real if I say it's real, goddammit.
Even when you win, you lose. Megan McArdle laments the execution of a man who was convicted on one piece of evidence--a strand of hair that was eventually found to belong to the victim, not the accused.
But DNA tests completed this week at the request of the Observer and the New York-based Innocence Project show the hair didn’t belong to Jones after all. The day before his death in December 2000, Jones asked for a stay of execution so the strand of hair could be submitted for DNA testing. He was denied by then-Gov. George W. Bush.
Then-Governor Bush denied every request for stay of execution except for one, for notorious serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, following all of the Board of Pardon and Parole's recommendations.
I confess, I am opposed to the death penalty for other reasons, but I think that even if you think it's morally acceptable to execute the guilty, the long string of exonerations suggest an error rate in the justice system incompatible with executions. Remember, most cases don't even have DNA evidence, so we're certainly not discovering all the innocent people we've sent to jail.
Forensics is an inexact science, and eyewitnesses are unreliable. We shouldn't hand out penalties that can't be at least partially reversed if we discover that we made a mistake.
Sadly, McArdle's commenters disagree, and are most disappointed with her foolishness. A true conservative/libertarian believes that markets always reach equilibrium, even the market for death. Let's see what they have to say to their gracious hostess, as they refer to her on other, happier occasions.
Megan is always quick to assume the worst about conservatives and Texas death penalty cases, and this seems to be another of her quick assumptions. Calm, down a little on this subject, Megan. These cases take years and decades to play out in the courts, and it's OK to take a few more hours to research them before posting.
Silly poster. Why start now?
Another poster asks the same question that's been taunting us for years:
Yeah, we've seen this picture before with Megan - I remember her post about the arson case where there was some after-the-fact learning about arson. If this is anything like her prior posts on the death penalty, she will not be at all interested in learning additional facts about the case. In that case, she was willing to take a completely one-sided account that perfectly fit with her preexisting attitudes about the death penalty, and ignored contrary evidence. From the bit I have just read about this case, she is so far following a similar pattern here.
I have to admit, her posts about the death penalty undermine my confidence in her posts on subjects like economics and pharmaceuticals (where I agree with her). After all, if she is unduly dismissive of legitimate contrary evidence when discussing death penalty cases, I have a suspicion that she is similarly dismissive of legitimate contrary evidence when discussing other topics.
Yeah! Lying about the facts and deliberately misinterpreting data are just fine when they're in the service of supporting the enrichment of the elite, but McArdle should know better than to use them to support the poor! Not that she is, but these are conservatives, and anyone who doesn't want to see someone else suffer must be a lying liberal. McArdle rarely has this problem but her devoted followers always ensure that they put her in her place when they deem it necessary.
Zosima, whom we have met before, mentions just this point.
Megan does this on most of her posts, y'all just don't seem to mind when she is agreeing with you.
Another commenter tries again to point out the utter lack of intellectual rigor demonstrated by McArdle's commentariat:
FuriousGiorge 2 days ago
It's interesting that, in a reversal of the usual setup, it's Megan's conservative posters that are blasting her for sloppy writing. And they are right - while Cameron Todd Willingham was almost certainly an actually innocent man, there is no evidence to suggest that Claude Jones was innocent, there is simply evidence that the certainty of his guilt was exaggerated.
(Perhaps those of you on the right will think twice in the future before posting your knee-jerk reaction towards those of us on the left who point out the sloppiness of some of Megan's writing.)
Was_Holdfast 2 days ago in reply to FuriousGiorge
I'll try, but it is natural that one will invest the effort into picking apart those arguments that one most disagrees with. For what it is worth, I think precision in arguments and writing is always important - who wants to have their own case undermined by the sloppiness of one of their co-advocates (cough, Al Gore, cough)?
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aMouseforallSeasons 2 days ago in reply to FuriousGiorge
Possibly the key difference here is that she wrote sloppily on issues of fact that can be easily cross-referenced and verified. The most obnoxious of her left-wing opponents tend to pipe up in order to blast her for having wrong opinions, which has the unfortunate side effect of drowning out the occasional legitimate criticism on factual matters.
You would never do such a thing, of course.
And that is why we will never be able to pull the right out of its self-soothing stupor. Like McArdle herself, the commenter simply says a fact is really an opinion when he or she dislikes the fact, and an opinion is really a fact when he or she agrees with the opinion. We can't even agree on what is or is not a fact, we'll never be able to agree on interpretation or implementation of policy. The faith-based reasoning of the authoritarian right has utterly killed any of this nation's ability to face its problems and come up with a working solution.
For now there is little we can do but watch our fellow countrymen, with great deliberation and not a little glee, destroy the country to prove that their Tribe is superior to any other. America believes success is based on merit and merit is based on moral superiority. Since they also believe in American Exceptionalism--the innate superiority of Americans' morality and competence--they will never face facts and work to solve our national problems, and they will never stop insisting and demanding that liberals are not real Americans and that they--or anyone else who is not conservative--has the legitimate right to even exist.