Friday, October 26, 2012

current events

I've been away awhile. How are you? You look well. Really? Sorry to hear that.

It's not all cycling here at Doc Nagel, Inc. No indeed: there's classes to teach, papers to grade, and proposition 30 to vote for and proposition 32 to vote against.

Times are tough for prop 30, which could mean times will become very much tougher at the CSU, at the UC, at the community colleges, and at K-12 schools. Honestly, the only way I can conceive of someone who doesn't make $250,000 a year choosing to vote against prop 30 is stupidity. To me it looks like this: either you can have a bowl of yummy ice cream, or a shiv to the neck, and about half of Californians say they want the shiv.

"Really?" I say to them in my fantasy, "'cuz, ya know, the shiv'll hurt, like, bad."

"I know. Want the shiv," says half of California.

"Look at this ice cream, though," says I. "It's way more delicious than being stabbed in the neck, don't you think?"

"I do," says half of California. "Want the shiv."

"It's a stab wound, you realize that, right?"



This is like a brief conversation I had the other day about prop 34, which would ban the death penalty in California. The pro-34 arguments are as follows: (1) the death penalty costs far more than life imprisonment would, (2) sometimes innocent people are convicted of murder, and so, when we execute those innocent people, our society effectively commits a murder of its own, (3) in states with the death penalty, it's likely that the murder rate is higher, so it does not serve as a deterrent. The student understood all these, but was still against 34. In fact, the student said that a person who has committed murder loses all rights to live -- a position I hear again and again, and which is entirely baseless in our political heritage of natural rights. I suggested that this assumes we only convict the actually and legally guilty, when things like the Innocence Project have determined that many death-row inmates are wrongfully convicted. The student repeated that a murderer has no rights -- completely ignoring my argument.

I offered that the only logical argument I could see in favor of the death penalty is if you assumed the only way to restore justice is with a reciprocal act (Kant argued this). This did not impress, apparently, because the student did not need or want a rational position. The student wanted vengeance. And a shiv.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it a magical shiv made of rainbows and powdered unicorn horn? Because then I might take the shiv.

Also - you are in California with a bunch of health nuts... try trading the bowl of ice cream for organic, locally source cauliflower or something- yo9u might have better luck.