What to do with guilty Jodi Arias and other psychopaths

Yesterday (May 8, 2013), Jodi Arias was found guilty of murdering her boyfriend. Actually, she more than murdered him, she virtually obliterated him. Stabbing him 29 times, shooting him in the face, and slitting his throat almost from ear to ear. She made damned fucking sure he was dead.

That alone should qualify her as a psychopath. However, she's also a pathological liar. She had several versions of her story, finally admitting that she killed him but in, as she termed it, "self defense." She trotted in battered woman syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, and just about everything but the kitchen sink in an effort to beat the rap.

She may get the death penalty, but should she? The syllable "path" in "psychopath" and "pathological liar" indicates a sickness. She's not a mentally healthy person. 

pathology (n.) "science of diseases," 1610s, from French pathologie (16c.), from medical Latin pathologia "study of disease," from Greek pathos "suffering" (source)

As revolting as the murder was, can we separate her guilt from the sickness from which she suffers?

More generally, suppose all crimes could be traced back to some sort of pathology. What would happen to the entire concept of guilt? And suppose that once a pathology was identified, there was a "cure." Could we ethically hold people responsible for their actions before the cure, given their diminished capacity for making proper ethical choices?

Tags: Arias, Jodi, liar, pathological, psychopath

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As a side note, I would rather support therapeutic support for victims instead of pandering to vengeance. 

This is a really difficult topic for me, because my gut reaction in just about every one of these kinds of cases is "let the motherfucker burn". And it's honestly because I 100% reflexively think they deserve it. In my mind, if you willfully, purposefully choose to brutally kill someone/people for no reason other than you wanted to, and you'd do it again if the opportunity arose, to me it doesn't matter if the perpetrator has a mental illness or not. You are responsible for someone's life being taken from them, and saying "oops there went my bipolar disorder LOLZERS" doesn't excuse anything. There's a news story in the US about how a woman literally cooked her infant in the microwave after a fight about its paternity with her boyfriend Why? Who fucking cares, for fuck's sake. 

Granted, I don't think everyone who is found guilty of murder should die (like people who've committed second-degree murder).  I do think that some people can even be rehabilitated. I also think that there are people who kill because they're selfish, miserable assholes who couldn't give two shits about anything other than what they want, and if the death penalty is inflicted on them, I wouldn't raise any ruckus about it. Some of them very well may have extreme cases of psychopathy or sociopathy, but that doesn't make them incapable of understanding what they did. 

However,

whether the death penalty is pragmatically the best route to go,  I don't know. I've heard different opinions about cost, effectiveness, and ethics, including the "well if you're all for killing them then you're no better than they" argument (which doesn't phase me much since I'm not the one actively going out finding people whose throats I can slit just because I fucking feel like it). I just default to being okay with the death penalty, and some days I'll veer a little more towards "eh, life in prison I guess", for whatever random reason. 

Anyway, that's my opinion. I'm not saying it's the right one, and I'm not even fully comfortable with it, but I'm fine not taking a supposed high road on this issue. At least today.

Actually, to add to this, and I have a feeling this sentiment isn't going to be popular:

I don't understand why it's acceptable that a dog who kills a baby or child, or even just bites someone's face, gets put down, but a human who willfully kills another human somehow only deserves life in prison. 

"Well a human isn't a dog. OMG WTF."

Humans are animals the same as dogs. And a dog doesn't even have the same mental capacity as a human, so what does that say about Jodi Arias? If a human is supposed to be placed higher than other animals, then (s)he shouldn't do base, "animal" things. You act like an "animal", you get treated like an animal.

That's assuming there's a general agreement with putting animals down that kill/maim humans. 

She requested to be executed? I say let her have it lol. 

I guess "brutally" meaning "planned", versus it happening in the heat of the moment. Still thinking "brutal" from the 30-ish stab wounds and slit throat deal.

if you willfully, purposefully choose to brutally kill someone/people for no reason other than you wanted to...

This becomes the crux of the matter. What is it that makes some want to murder to the point of actually doing it while most people don't? I do not murder people, but truth be told I don't want to murder people. I don't ever recall choosing not to want to murder people, and I have no motive to do so. Is there really any merit in that at all?

Conversely, for someone who does have the will to commit murder, from whencw did that will arise? Why would anyone choose to be a selfish, miserable asshole who couldn't give two shits about anything other than what they want? At some point the rational aspects fall apart. We hold people accountable for their decisions and actions because there is no one else to hold accountable. I have no issue with that, but are these people worse than us or truly bad, or are they just fucked up, or possibly even just different depending on how they actually violated the law.

This becomes the crux of the matter. What is it that makes some want to murder to the point of actually doing it while most don't? I do not murder people, but truth be told I don't want to murder people. I don't ever recall choosing not to want to murder people, and I have no motive to do so. Is there really any merit in that at all?

I think if you have actually spend the time and effort planning how you're going to kill someone, and then go through with it, it's worse than if you got into an argument with someone, things got out of control, and you killed the person you were arguing with. They're both inexcusable, but for me the forethought makes a big difference, even if the outcomes are the same. That's why there are different levels and types of homicide charges.

Why would anyone choose to be a selfish, miserable asshole...?

Because it's easy, and people are apathetic and lazy lol. I'm not coming from a "people are inherently good" perspective. I think people have to actively choose to be good, and if the desire's not there, then there's not much to be done about it other than enforce laws to encourage people to not be dicks to each other.

I don't think it makes a difference if people who commit premeditated murder are better, worse, or the same as people who don't. It's a moot point. I have no doubt that there are people in the world who want to hurt/kill someone, for whatever reason - but not everyone acts on it. I'm not sure what your issue is here. If it's with me calling premeditated murderers assholes, then.... okay, lol. I have no problem saying I think I'm better than Jodi Arias, because there have been times I've wanted to make someone hurt (which I will not get into), and I've never followed through with it - and not because I was afraid of getting caught.

You are missing the point. People's actions are not random. They are subject to causality. If you trace the line(s) of causality backwards from someone's criminal acts, sooner or later you are going to get to root causes which are not of their choosing.

You can't choose your circumstances or what life you began with, but you can still choose your actions and responses. Or do you not think that free will exists?

You can choose your actions and responses, but how you choose is still governed by objective factors. If you choose based on a certain line of reasoning, what defined that line of reasoning? If it was reason itself, then reason is bound both by reality and by the individual's ability to reason. What defines your ability to reason? Will? 

If the choice is irrational, what sort of choice is that?

Free will which defies causality seems highly improbable.

Unless someone's been living in a box since birth, it's common knowledge that in modern-day USA/Europe/Canada/Take Your Pick intentionally killing someone is considered wrong. If said killer had actually been living in a box by themselves their entire life I might think, "Okay, maybe this box-dweller just didn't know any better. Who would have possibly informed him?". 

Whether or not their line of reasoning, wherever it came from, leads them to agree with society's no-killing rule isn't the issue. If you're a part of a society, you have the choice to either follow the rules, or break them and deal with the agreed-upon consequences. 

If I want to beat the shit out of my neighbor because he keeps letting his dog poop in my yard, I can beat the shit out of him, get arrested, maybe make bond, go to court and get on probation and/or pay some fines (I don't know, I've never beat the shit out of anyone before), or I can not beat the shit out of him, ask him to stop, complain to HOA after taking pics/video of it happening and hope that gets him to stop, and maybe even have to keep putting up with dog poop in my yard. Depending on who you ask, one option might sound better than the other - but regardless, you still understand if you beat your neighbor, you'll probably get arrested etc., and you make your decision accordingly. Any more intricate or semantical than that is to me just a cop-out for someone not owning up to their actions.

This doesn't contrast anything I have said, but the issue remains that a person is going to choose how they are going to choose in a determinate fashion. There is an issue with this approach:

If you're a part of a society, you have the choice to either follow the rules, or break them and deal with the agreed-upon consequences.

That is to say there are two elements involved in this equation: individuals setting laws and individuals breaking them. The same amount of choice exists on both sides. In the strictest sense, nothing is required to be illegal, yet if we allowed laws to be set without some governing sense of reason, the result could easily end up as harmful oppression.

So the question becomes, what is the reason for setting laws? To punish people for doing wrong, or to protect people from harm? If the former, what's the point of that and who defines wrong? If the latter, why should we take any steps further than those which provide protection?

Using the latter, you end up with the aim of preventing harm, and while measures of harm are imperfect, some standard of objectivity can be applied. In the former, what objective factor does society use to determine wrongfulness which warrants punishment? What ethical justification for punishment can there be? What if society's definition or 'wrong' itself is not reasonable? There are many historical cases where it is not.

Society's rules and right to punish are not self-evident, self-justified things. They require evidence and justification in a rational society. Deriving the right to punish others from the sense that they had the choice to be good or bad may very well be fallacious. It rests on the idea that the individual in question could have chosen to not do what they did do, which is nonsense.

On the other hand, if the only goal is reducing harm, then punishment only exists if it serves that goal. You are not punishing people for their choices, but merely taking steps to reduce harm.

So the question becomes, what is the reason for setting laws? To punish people for doing wrong, or to protect people from harm? If the former, what's the point of that and who defines wrong? If the latter, why should we take any steps further than those which provide protection?

Who says it can't be both?

So the question becomes, what is the reason for setting laws? To punish people for doing wrong, or to protect people from harm? If the former, what's the point of that and who defines wrong?

The point of punishment is to try to deter people from breaking laws. Yes, there are people who break laws every day regardless of punishment, but I think it'd be blatantly false to say that there aren't people alive in this world who need those punishments to make themselves "behave". I know people who are already verbally/emotionally abusive to family members, and would be physically abusive if not for the sole reason that being arrested for domestic abuse would be an embarrassment and ruin their reputation. It's completely fucked up, but it does something, at least. These examples are everywhere. And there are fucked up people who need harsh punishment to keep them from committing heinous acts. No, it's doesn't catch everybody. But it still deters some, which is better than nothing. And in this case, where the people who get death sentences are people who bomb hospitals, I couldn't care less. I'm obviously not talking about other societies where you get killed for committing adultery or "witchcraft". I'd hoped that was a given....

[Deriving the right to punish others from the sense that they had the choice to be good or bad]... rests on the idea that the individual in question could have chosen to not do what they did do, which is nonsense.

Still think that's bullshit, but agree to disagree, because this part is obviously going nowhere.

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