Saturday, January 12, 2008

From Opportunity to Entitlement

" Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. "
President John F. Kennedy

For me it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. On behalf of two inmates from Kentucky on death row, this week Washington attorney, Donald Verilli, argued before the US Supreme Court that death by lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment if the injection is improperly administered. Such improper administration of the three drug procedure can result in excruciating pain for the prisoner, he asserted.

Commenting on the case, a Rutgers law student notes we should be allowed to die with dignity. We are entitled in other words to die with dignity. I am with Dr. Gregory House (TV Show-"House") on this one. There is pretty much nothing dignified about death. Under the best of circumstances death can be painful, harsh, humiliating and undignified. Did these murderers feel any obligation to commit dignified, pain free murders? The best way to avoid a painful execution is not to murder anyone. How does some unattainable goal transform into an entitlement?

NJ has just eliminated the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole. Do you hear what I hear? I hear the phantom voice of the “lifer” who says he is entitled to a violence free prison.

Then there is the case of the outsourced wombs.

Some Americans are using Indian women to bear their children for a fee. In America, which has made childbearing a market product, we have the sense that because we want children we are entitled to them. Some have the audacity to argue that outsourcing their pregnancy is a way to help these less fortunate women financially. Really? Make a donation. Support the Grameen Bank if you are inclined to help less fortunate women financially. Don’t prostitute them to the risky business of child bearing. On the flip side, being masters of their bodies entitles women to get rid of children that they no longer want to bear. Women may be masters of their own bodies but it does not follow from that that women are the masters of the body they carry. How does what we want become something we are entitled to?

Our American sense of entitlement spills across the border. The influx of Hispanics, a virtual weaponless invasion of sorts, brings with it a new attitude. One not seen in previous immigrants. Some of these folks see no problem with arriving here illegally and partaking of the benefits Americans work hard hours to accrue. They are entitled. They do lot like being reminded they broke the law of the land. What have they done wrong by entering America at will? Why is someone entitled to what another has just because he wants or even needs it?

Our current administration is entitled to disregard international conventions and circumnavigate the Constitution to conduct business as it sees fit. NJ lawmakers in Trenton are entitled to tax further our tattered state coffers with double dipping, pay to play. After all because they have the power, they are entitled to that money. How does the opportunity to serve entitle lawmakers to pilfer and pillage the law and the people’s resources?

Striving to be free of religious, racial and sexual persecution, so much of America is about opportunity. America dreamed of giving those huddled masses yearning to breathe free a hope that without the deck stacked against them through their own labor they could have a shot at a decent life. America never promised anyone a rose garden. It offers the chance of hope through sweat and toil and observing the rules of basic human decency. America promises nothing more. Somehow through its magnificent success, this land of opportunity has evolved into a country inhabited by a people with a sense of never-ending entitlement. Will America break from the strain of the insatiable entitlements we the people are placing on its shoulders?

(The above Links are offered to expand on the ideas mentioned in the paragraphs preceding them. Please feel free to visit them for a fuller understanding of my points.)

Stay tuned.


Betsy said...

What does this have to do with Flemington?

MediumPetey said...

Yes, what does this have to do with Flemington? Are we having a pro-life rally? Is there a Save The Death Penalty event happening here?

MediumPetey said...

So, what is the issue for you in the current death penalty case? The fact that there are people seeking to have the death penalty overturned? Or the fact that the Rutgers law student asserts that we should be allowed to die with dignity? I cannot tell. But I will assume you support the death penalty from your post. You can tell me if I am wrong, and we can debate that later. I, for one, oppose the death penalty. The government should not be in the business of asserting who should live and who should die. If you're the radical libertarian I think you are, I would imagine you'd support that.

NJ has just eliminated the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole. Do you hear what I hear? I hear the phantom voice of the “lifer” who says he is entitled to a violence free prison.

Are you actually asserting through the back door that those in prison do not justify being protected from violence? That somehow in your sort of odd radical libertarianism you think that the government has no authority/right/responsibility to quell violence in prison? That is a strange POV. Please explain further, perhaps I read you wrong.

Now, I read in your bio you are a former philosophy professor. Interesting quoting "Dr. Gregory House (TV Show-"House") to support your assertion on the issue of death with dignity. Is this what you did during classes,too? Quote from TV characters?

Was Aristotle too busy, so you had to quote Ralph Kramden on ethics? Or maybe Fonzie on liberty instead of John Locke? Perhaps Archie Bunker had the wisdom for you on equality.

Once again, I assert [not in need of any TV character to back me up] that your blog is misplaced and misnamed. While your writing does shine, and while I don't agree with much of what you assert, it should not be a Flemington blog.

To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, "Joan, you got some 'splainin' to do."

Peter B. Roepar

Betsy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betsy said...


You just don't understand.

"Life" only matters when it can't survive on it's own. So what if it is just a blastocyst - it must be protected.

Once outside the womb, the hell with that living being.

No health insurance for little junior? Tough. Get a better job.

Hunger? Tough. Send that mother to work.

Wars to fight? Here, take my neighbor's child. S/he is expendable in the quest for world domination.

Raid the local day laborer gathering spot and send those brown people packing - we don't like 'em that color here because they come here and want want want. Never mind the American citizen child waiting at home for daddy to return with a day's meager wages from digging in someone's yard. Daddy isn't coming home tonight honey because he's locked away in the Bushco system without legal representation.

So what if the ban on cruel and unusual punishment is in the constitution. It's just an old piece of paper afterall. How dare those common criminals think it applies to them?

Besides, if she saw it on teevee, it must be true just like everything in the newspaper is true, right?

Courier News Flemington blog said...


I did not realize that US issues were not of interest to Flemington residents…And when I write on Flemington issues, you mightily object to that too…..sooooooooo….moving right along here…

On the off chance that some Flemington residents would like to comment on some national issues, here is a question…

If prisoners are entitled under the US Constitution to a pain free death, what about the rest of the innocent population…Are we also entitled to pain free deaths or is that perk just for convicted murderers? If we are all entitled to pain free deaths, where does that take us as a nation? to state sanctioned euthanasia?

As far as violence free prisons, all that prisoners have to do is stop committing violent acts in prison and they will have violent free prisons. When do we expect prisoners to take responsibility for their own behavior?

Again, to avoid any of type execution, all you have to do is refrain from committing a capital offense.

Name calling is unbecoming in my opinion.


I am mystified...what are you trying to say????

MediumPetey said...

I am not at all sure how you make the intuitive/logistical leap from the supreme court deciding whether or not lethal injection passes muster under the "cruel and unusual punishment" prong of the Constitution to "state sanctioned euthanasia". I mean you can hear the big Huh? up and down Route 31.

I suppose you are a supporter of the death penalty, although I am not sure, since you have never stated as such. However, assuming you are a supporter, would it be safe to say you're also somewhat of a humanist and believe that if there is to be a death penalty, it should at least be administered in a humane and pain-free way? For example, would support death by hanging? Or chopping a head off? or maybe by starvation? That certainly would be the lease expensive, if money is a concern.

I guess I have trouble wrapping my brain around your points; perhaps I am too obtuse to get the irony you try to articulate.

I, for one, oppose the death penalty on a variety of grounds. Moral, for one. And, as a 'rational functional libertarian', [as opposed to an absolutist radical libertarian], I do not believe that the government should have the right or the authority to take someone's life; anyone's life. The standard of 'cruel and unusual' for punishment is academically clear.

Your assertion that Again, to avoid any of type execution, all you have to do is refrain from committing a capital offense is wrong on its face. That assertion assumes that each execution is justified based on an actual murder that has taken place. We all know from the experience of DNA evidence there are far too many people who have been executed or who were on death row who DID avoid the commission of a capital offense, but were scheduled to die anyway. The capital punishment system is not perfect.

And as far as the standards the Supreme Court will use in determining whether or not lethal injection passes Constitutional muster, ----whether or not the sentenced murderer suffers or not has long been an established criteria for determining 'cruel and unusual'. It is the reason why there can be no beheadings or no 'drawn and quartering'.

Courier News Flemington blog said...


I really don’t know what to think about the death penalty. I did a blog on this issue when the death penalty was abolished in NJ this December. Bottom line, were I asked to serve on a jury that would be asked to consider the death penalty upon conviction, I do not think I could serve. On the flip side I think life in prison without parole is no less a cruel punishment, again expecially if someone is innocent.

But regarding the Kentucky case accepting the death penalty is a moot point. So the question is --- what is constitutionally acceptable in states that have the death penalty? Well it cannot be cruel and unusual punishment. Lethal injections were introduced to get rid of more cruel punishments. But the position I am arguing is that death itself is often painful. Americans often have pain when they die. This is the nature of the beast. Let’s say for the sake of keeping this simple we are talking about people who are guilty. DNA exoneration is another can of worms. Killing an innocent person in any manner is cruel and unusual punishment…

You are right. I am taking a leap here making a few moves ahead on the chessboard. If truly guilty people are entitled to pain free deaths, aren’t all Americans entitled to that perk? And if we are all entitled to pain free deaths, will that lead to euthanasia?

My theme on this post was entitlement…I picked three news items I came across in few days time to highlight what I think is an out of control sense of entitlement. We are never satisfied. Will that sense of entitlement become too much for our country to bear?