Singapore's legal system may be deterring, but it is also ridiculously harsh.

Source: http://www.topnews.in

The concept of a right is fundamental to legal theory. Rights are often classified by their sources. For example, “natural rights” are granted for being human, “citizenship rights” are granted to citizens and so on.  The principle of freedom rests on the fact that natural rights do exist and cannot be removed or ignored by any government. A person thus has more power in those rights than an entire government, and so to say he is “free” is to say that he can use these rights in defense.

I believe this to be a remarkably civilized and comforting principle, and so I am shocked when some would throw it away in a rush to “bring justice.” Last week’s Campus Times  article, entitled “Are U.S. laws too soft?” presents a narrow and uninformed view of the American judicial system, filled with confusion about the idea of rights, guilt and the judicial process.

The article suggests that the purpose of the judicial system is to exact punishment on criminals and that the precious rights we enjoy as Americans are only a hindrance to this purpose. While I would hesitantly agree that the legal system is expensive and complicated, the protection of the accused is far more important than the retribution for any crime.
The article begins with the statement, “Criminals are coddled by ACLU attorneys and activist judges who shower them with rights that are unjust and immoral.” This suggests that the author thinks of “rights” as some kind of legal loophole. Though on occasion an attorney or judge may forget a person’s rights, the sudden reminder of a right’s existence is not a loophole: It is an application of justice. The notion that “ACLU attorneys and activist judges” are “showering criminals” with rights is more than a stretch — it is utter nonsense.
The terms “criminal” and “murderer” are used liberally throughout the piece, often with confusion about the meaning of certain legal terms. For instance, the author mentions that “guilty criminals have rights before they are even in custody.”

Well, yes, I hope the “guilty criminals” have rights before, during and after their trial and sentencing. The author seems to think that a “criminal” is guilty before he is even accused or tried. Guilt is decided by the court and, though it may seem that the man in the defendant’s box is “a criminal on trial,” the reality is that he is a human being accused of a crime.
In discussing Singapore, the author mentions one case in which “one murderer was tried in May 2006 and hanged — yes, hanged — in November 2007.” I don’t doubt the author’s reference, but I have to ask for more information about the case.

Of what murder was the man (or woman) accused? What evidence was used against him or her? How many men and women are wrongfully executed in Singapore each year?
What about in the United States, a nation with an allegedly “soft” judicial system? According to the Innocence Project’s website, there have been 266 post-DNA testing exonerations in U.S. history. Seventeen have had their sentences overturned by DNA testing after execution, and on average exonerees serve 17 years in prison before DNA testing overturns their sentences.

In a country like Singapore, where a wide range of crimes lead to execution in a matter of months, how many innocent men and women are hanged — yes, hanged — every year?
In the case of Coffin v. United States in 1985, the Supreme Court spoke of the “principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused,” calling this “undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.”

I believe this to be the most profound statement of justice in democracy: the idea that it is better for a hundred guilty men to walk free than for one innocent man to face execution. This philosophy prevents fear from removing rights, separates justice from revenge and may one day bring the legal system to its ideal role.

  • Aaron Burro

    This is a well written, thoughtful article. Wouldn’t it be better to just not have published the original article in the first place? The job of a newspaper editorial staff isn’t just to be an open flood gate for every undergraduate with a laptop and a few misinformed, under-researched ideas. I wish there was a bit more thought and, yes, editing, when it comes to what the CT chooses to publish. Op-ed or not, the mere printing of a person’s dull and mindless words is a reflection upon the University community – and it would be nice to not have a weekly reminder that not everyone who is admitted to the University arrives with a wealth of worthy thought.

    • Adam Ondo

      My ideas are not under-researched, I can provide you with all of my sources. It’s not the research that you don’t like, it’s my interpretation of it and my set of priorities/beliefs. Just like the author of this article, you would rather see more rights and less innocent AND guilty people executed; I would rather see a few innocent people accidentally executed and a dozen criminals, and in a fashion like hanging, which sends a message. I want criminals to be afraid. Anything they can do, we should do worse to them, which is why the 8th amendment is so annoying; they torture others, we torture them, they kill others, we kill them – it’s an eye for an eye. You don’t seem to believe in that.

      And you know insulting me isn’t going to help any arguments you make. I’m grateful that the CT is not as narrow minded as you and does not censor everything that goes against your perfect little idealistic set of beliefs. When I read articles like this one, I disagree with it and come to different conclusions than the author, but I don’t insult him because of it.

      You may not think my thoughts are worthy, but I have many people who take my side of the side of people like you. You disgust me. I wouldn’t have said it, but if we’re going to insult one another then I guess I will have to say something in retaliation. “No one insults me with impunity (look it up).”

      With love,
      -Adam Ondo

      • Adam Ondo

        over* (the side of people like you).

  • Aaron Burro

    It’s not that you have opinions that I disagree with. But being published in a college newspaper is a privilege and I (perhaps wrongly) would believe that a college newspaper would have higher standards for discourse that comments like “I would rather see a few innocent people accidentally executed” or “I would rather see a million atrocities happen towards people in Iran than see my comfort in the United States threatened.” It’s not that you can’t hold those opinions – you’re allowed to have all sorts of unkind, selfish and close-minded opinions as you want. But especially on a college campus, it would be nice if sentiments that strongly disagree with the concepts of “We shouldn’t execute innocent people” and “People who live in other countries are as worthy of our respect and kindness as people who live within our borders” were things that wouldn’t be up for repeated publication.

    • Adam Ondo

      Please notice that those quotes were taken from comments, not published articles. They usually don’t allow me to put those in my articles. So those quotes are not evidence. Also, most colleges have sentiments that are too liberal, like the ones you noted, which is why I have to bring reason and conservative values up in public discussion. You would have it so everything was liberal and Un-American and people like me censored.

      Also, there are people on campus who agree with me and actually like to read my articles, though they are the minority. They support me, so I’m their voice. Through me, they have a spot in the newspaper. Jason and Phillip also write sometimes, and people insult them, too. Maybe people like you should just not read our articles if you don’t like them; there are articles in the paper that are more to your liking.

      And, I don’t appreciate personal attacks. Attack my views, not me. I try to be civil, I really do, but I’m not going to hold back if you can’t be civilized.

      • Aaron Burro

        I noted. I referred to them as comments. The fact that there are a handful of students you agree with your views doesn’t mean that the way you express those views is without fault. There’s nothing wrong with having, and expressing, extremely conservative views on a college campus. But it should be done reasonably, respectfully and without resorting to discounting the worth and value of human lives. That’s all. Valuing human lives isn’t a “liberal” stance. It’s a human stance.

        • Adam Ondo

          You act like I want to see people die. I would rather there was no war, no murder, but that will never happen, so we have to make choices. As a nationalist, I support the bombing of Hiroshima, not because millions of Japanese deaths are okay, but because it is better than allowing WWII to go on and lead to more American deaths. Also, sometimes innocent people have to die to better society. Utilitarianism is the right way to go sometimes.

          And I don’t “discount human lives” in my articles, some of my articles are about Asian carp and government spending. The comments you point out are in response to other comments criticizing my views, so I’m allowed to respond openly.

          • Aaron Burro

            Of course you’re allowed to respond openly. And, as an alum, I’m allowed to respond openly questioning the decision of the editorial board in letting you have a consistent platform to have your opinions printed under the University masthead.

          • Adam Ondo

            That’s fine and all, you can call me “mindless and dull” and whatever, that is your right, I merely said I didn’t appreciate it and that I also have the same right. So we both agree that it is open, I was just requesting a little politeness, i.e. less personal insults. You see, I like to be civil when I argue. I would have expected a U of R alum to be a little more mature.

  • Aaron Burro

    To be clear, I called your words mindless and dull – not you. But I’m going to step away from this conversation for the time being. Cheers.

  • Adam Lanman

    Well, this has been quite the discussion.

    I should note that my first draft of this article had about as much ad hominem attack as I’ve seen from Adam in this comment thread, but I cooled my temper and re-wrote my article before submitting. I resisted the urge to write a response to an earlier article of yours, related to Quran-burning. I was much more offended by that one, and thought I wouldn’t be able to write a polite response.

    The following statement bothered me: “they torture others, we torture them, they kill others, we kill them.” Adam, I think you may have missed the purpose of my article. Although I am opposed to the draconian “eye for eye” style of justice, my concern was mostly for the proper trial of the accused. I agree with you on the point that sentences should deter criminals, but the proper execution of justice is not related to the severity of sentences.

    As far as the 8th Amendment goes: The world is not divided into victims and criminals. A person who commits a crime will be punished for that crime, but will maintain the dignity of a human being no matter what they’re action. Give me whatever example you like, I will still stand by this.

  • Adam Ondo

    You have no idea how much I just love how you all try to paint me as the bad guy, when that is clearly, to any outside observer, not the case. I did not issue any personal attacks except for in response to other personal attacks on me. Oh, but I guess you all just overlook all of the attacks on me, because you’re so biased against me already. For the last time, I stick to ideological battles unless someone makes it ad hominem, then it’s no holds barred, just like if it were in person. Insults don’t go unanswered when I’m involved, but I don’t start personal insult battles.

    And you may stand by your views, that’s your right, and I’ll stand by mine, because we both have evidence supporting our views, so we’re both right, it just depends on our priorities and other beliefs. I respect your views, none of my comments were directed at you (until now), so I don’t know why you had to try to make me look like the aggressor, when I did not start any of this mudslinging. The only reason I commented on here was because I felt Mr. Burro’s first comment was rude and blatantly untruthful (as I have proof and evidence for my articles, so they are not under-researched).

    As for my first article: in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other countries, missionaries’ bibles are shredded (that is not misinformed, that’s the truth), so the burning the Qu’ran would be truly an eye for an eye. I don’t think we should kill Muslims who shred the bible, I’m not as extreme as the Muslims that planned to shoot up the Danish cartoon office with submachine guns over a simple cartoon, but equal retaliation seems fine. They shred a bible, we protest and threaten to burn a Qu’ran; South Park shows Mohammad’s face, death threats roll in – see the difference.

  • Adam Lanman

    “You disgust me.”

    “No one insults me with impunity (look it up).”

    “I would have expected a U of R alum to be a little more mature.”

    “I’m grateful that the CT is not as narrow minded as you and does not censor everything that goes against your perfect little idealistic set of beliefs.”

    “You would have it so everything was liberal and Un-American and people like me censored.”

    You were saying? No literally, you were.

    “They shred a bible, we protest and threaten to burn a Qu’ran; South Park shows Mohammad’s face, death threats roll in – see the difference.”

    No. Quite frankly, I don’t see the difference.

    • Adam Ondo

      You just proved my point, quoting all of my RESPONSES to personal attacks. I admitted to insulting people, but all of those were in response to attacks on me first. Also, “No one insults me with impunity” isn’t an attack, it is a warning that I may issue a not-so-nice response, which I did. And he does want me censored.

      And if you don’t see the difference between us peacefully protesting with a book burning and Muslims wanting to kill Americans (and possibly spray them with a submachine gun) over a stupid drawing, then maybe you shouldn’t be challenging the logic of my arguments, because there’s a big difference there.

  • Xiao Yang

    I can’t believe I’m gonna defend Adam Ondo, but here it is:

    1. He didn’t start the ad hominem attacks, at least not in this thread.

    2. I disagreed with Adam Ondo’s article, and I find his reasoning somewhat faulty. That said, his article was much, much more well-researched than this article. He gave statistics, evidence (though mostly anecdotal), and his interpretation based on that; this article spends the entire time making strawman arguments and misguided appeals to emotions. The only sentence that actually pertains to Adam Ondo’s article is this: “I don’t doubt the author’s reference, but I have to ask for more information about the case.” How about googling it instead of dismissing evidence that you haven’t even heard of?

    3. Again, there are various ways you can go to dispute Adam Ondo’s evidence or his interpretation of it. Making arguments against what he never said is not one of it. Your entire article revolves around this, but I’ll just cite one specific example:

    Adam Ondo said this:
    “Guilty criminals have rights before they are even in custody. In Kentucky, Hollis King was arrested and released after police found illegal drugs in his apartment. He does not dispute having the drugs. That should have guaranteed a prison sentence, but the courts found that the police violated his rights by not getting a warrant. ”

    You wrote this:
    “Well, yes, I hope the “guilty criminals” have rights before, during and after their trial and sentencing. The author seems to think that a “criminal” is guilty before he is even accused or tried.”

    Clearly what Mr. Ondo meant was that criminals who were found guilty after the fact should not have certain rights; what you are saying here, that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, has nothing to do with that.

    4. Here are some suggestions if you plan on writing a more serious response to Ondo’s article:

    a) Ondo does not seem to understand the purpose of letting go criminals who were persecuted unjustly. The idea is not to compensate them for the injustice, but to reduce the incentives for further abuse by law enforcement officers. We can agree or disagree on how much of this is the right amount.

    b) Correlation does not imply causation – simply because Singapore’s crime rate is low, and its laws are harsh, doesn’t mean that one caused the other. You could cite some research with control experiments that agree or disagree with this claim. They’re usually very easy to find.

    • Adam Ondo

      Thank you for seeing through your disagreements and looking at the facts.

      And this is for anyone reading this, not just you Xiao: It is a paragraph that they cut out of my article, talking about why I believe police should be held accountable for abuses, but criminals should still be punished if they are truly guilty –

      Giving criminals get-out-of-jail-free cards when the police of prosecution sometimes violate their precious rights is another problem our justice system has. If the cops do anything wrong to a criminal, including talking to them without permission or forcefully detaining them, then a dangerous menace may walk. Now, imagine you are teaching a class of fourth graders, and one of them acts out, so you send him to the corner. Then one of his classmates goes over and bullies him. Do you let both the bully and the original perpetrator go free? No, you send the bully to a different corner and let the original offender serve out the rest of his punishment. If cops actually do something egregious to a guilty criminal, the court should not let the criminal go free, it should just reprimand the police officer, possibly with jail time or a fine. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that defendants had to audibly invoke their right to remain silent, which was a good start to giving policemen some leeway, but there are still many other loopholes for criminals to use to get a case thrown out.

      • Aaron Burro

        Adam, you’ve used this analogy before, and, unfortunately, it has some serious problems. Two main points:

        1) The police are not a “classmate” of the original perpetrator. The police are the teacher/principal. They are the state. So, when a child acts out, if a teacher goes over to him and slaps him in the face, in violation of the standards and ethics of teachers, it is likely that if such abuse is reported to the principal, the principal will deal with the much bigger issue – whether the teacher acted outside the bounds of ethics and rules – rather than step in to ensure that the child is punished. The scenario you describe – where the bully and the original perpetrator are both punished – happen all the time in the law. If you are on probation and someone on the street assaults you, your probation sentence isn’t lifted. Your probation continues, and your attacker would be investigated.

        2) Being sent to “the corner” is significantly different than being sent to jail. Because jail takes away a person’s liberty, the courts, legislators and the Constitution have rightly seen it fit to protect the accused from inappropriate conduct. If a child is mistakenly sent to the corner for punishment, the punishment is over in short order. This is not the case for prison sentences – and this difference in degrees IS significant and pertinent to the discussion. Your analogy doesn’t address that.

        3) Third – police misconduct that affects whether a “criminal” is punished occurs before guilt in determined. Misconduct at the punishment phase (or, in your example, being sent to sit in the corner) does not result in reduced sentences, etc. Misconduct that affects the process of determining guilt or innocence is particularly troubling to most people – especially those who do not enjoy the privilege of being of a certain race, social and economic background that make false accusations less of a real threat.

        • Aaron Burro

          Three main points. Free bonus point especially for you.

        • Adam Ondo

          Your two “problems” are not problems at all:

          1.) The child is out of line, the teacher slaps him, the teacher gets in trouble, but the child is not excused just because the teacher is out of line. Both are still punished. Guilty people must be punished, no excuses.

          Why should victims (past and future) be punished by having their assailant (or future assailant, as 2/3 of violent offenders are repeat offenders) released due to what some police officer did. If letting them go is a disincentive for police officers, as Xiao claims, it is not nearly as effective as just throwing the cops in jail or firing them. If I’m a cop, releasing a bad guy is going to hurt the victim and the public (his next victims) more than it’s going to hurt me. I’d be more hesitant to violate a defendant’s rights if I were afraid of being fired or sent to jail (something harsher in other words).

          2.) We don’t send rapists and murders to the “corner” because they are a lot more dangerous than 4th grade bullies. I thought that people would understand that, but oh well.

          • Aaron Burro

            1) Yes, guilty people must be punished. But when you have misconduct in the investigation of whether people are guilty, the fact that police misconduct results in an aquitall doesn’t mean that a guilty person goes free. It means an accused person goes free. Which is why your statistics aren’t applicable – your recividicm rates are based on people who have been found guilty – we’re talking about people who have been accused of crimes. An entirely different sample set.

            2. It’s not that I don’t understand the magnitude of difference between bullies and murderers – but that you’re not appreciating that the scale and seriousness of being sent to jail IS the issue – there are lower standards for people being separated from their money than the standards for people being separated from their liberty. The severity of a person’s crime doesn’t affect that burdens of proof needed in a court of law. Your analogy misses that distinction.

          • Xiao Yang

            I doubt that throwing cops in jail for abuses is going to be very effective. For one thing, the best source of information comes from fellow policemen, and they tend to be very protective of their colleagues. But regardless of its efficacy, this is probably something we would all agree on – to make police abuses, falsifying evidence, etc. much more costly to do than they are now.

          • Adam Ondo

            Well if the misconduct affects guilt, than that’s different, then that evidence is no good. But if you smell pot, and you kick down the door without a warrant, and there is pot there, then that person is guilty. A stupid piece of paper doesn’t make him guilty or not guilty, the fact that the evidence is in his hand does. In case you forgot, people were still guilty of crimes before warrants were invented.

            That being said, if the evidence is planted, then no, I don’t believe the evidence should be used, that would be ludicrous. I, to the shock of most people that read more stuff, think that the outcome of the OJ Simpson trial was okay, because they did plant evidence. If they had gotten a warrant for the wrong address, found incriminating evidence, but had the evidence thrown out, then I would be upset, because if they evidence isn’t fake, that means a murderer would have been let off.

            Do you see the difference between the scenarios? Planting evidence – bad, not having a proper warrant – okay, having a real warrant – superb.

          • Adam Ondo

            people that read my* stuff

          • Taylor B.

            The problem with your proposal for lawful search reform is the precedent it sets for law enforcement in virtually any situation. The current system that requires probable cause or a warrant to lawfully search private property gives a clear and defined set of standards that police officers must follow. It is protecting the officers as well as protecting the rights of the individual by creating a system for which lawful and unlawful search requirements are defined.

            Consider the consequences of your proposal. Cops smell pot at an old ladies house, they forcibly enter, find no pot. This is repeated several times throughout a community, and suddenly people who previously were relatively trusting and cooperative with the police become hostile and uncooperative. Now who is benefiting from these searches. Not the officers because they dont have the trust of the community, not the community, because they are afraid of their door getting knocked down because an officer smelled pot.

            Yes the current system is flawed, but the alternative you present isn’t any better. I understand that your trying to make the point that evidence found in unlawful searches should not be thrown out, but again, its the precedent that it sets that makes those unlawful searches go unpunished.

          • Adam Ondo

            Yes, the current system is flawed, and you can see that because it is in place right now and the effects are real. Yet you dismiss my proposal by thinking up reasons it won’t work. I’m not saying we should just change the system overnight for the entire country, but maybe implement the change in a city, then see if it is better, worse, or neither. If it worse, then we’ll know your hypothetical problems are real like the ones we’re faced with right now.

            This applies to so many situations. Yes, when changes are made, there are a lot of problems one can think of, but we should at least test new ideas before scrapping them.

            For example, economic theory dictates that free markets and laissez faire work. There is always government involvement, though, because even when Republicans are in office they can’t do away with everything, because people don’t trust “theories”. I’ve always thought that if people that are against abolishing minimum wage, getting rid of price ceilings, and lowering taxes would allow us to remove the government from the economy 100% (something never before done) in a micro-setting, and see the effects, than we’d know who was right. You can’t say something doesn’t work if you don’t test it. And, if you’re right, then the policy will fail in real life, and you can brag about it; on the other hand, if it works, then your problems were just theories.

            Don’t dismiss new ideas before they have been tested.

  • Adam Lanman

    Anyway,

    1) Where did ad hominem attacks begin? I left my examples above. Aaron’s comments were directed at Adam’s article, not Adam himself.

    2) I believe I cited a Supreme Court case from 1885 (incorrectly listed as 1985) and the Innocence Project (which, in my submitted draft, was described in more detail). In the case of the Innocence Project, I actually cite their statistics on exonerations in my article. However, my article was intended as a critique of another, not as a source of original information.

    As far as googling it goes: I have. I wasn’t dismissing his information, but trying to point out that his explanation of the case did not say anything about what actually happened. It was meant to lead into the next paragraph, which I guess failed to come across.

    3) My entire article revolves around what Adam didn’t say? In the case you cited, Xiao, I quoted only the first part because my point was not about his example, but about his language. That “criminals” should not get rights was a constant theme in his article, as demonstrated through three quotations. While he may have been trying to make a separate point, his tone and diction followed the “eye-for-eye” nonsense that has continued through this comment thread.

    I would love to see another example of where I completely miss the point of Adam’s article.

    Anyway, the purpose of search and seizure laws are to prevent police from abusing citizens’ rights to privacy on suspicions of criminal activity.

  • Xiao Yang

    1) We may dispute whether telling the newspaper to censor another person’s “dull and mindless words” is a personal attack, but I think we can pretty much agree that it’s not a very constructive comment.

    I don’t agree with Adam Ondo’s “tit-for-tat” personal attacks either – I think it’s silly and a pretty bad way to convince other people of your rationality. I do hope everyone here can keep on the discussion about facts and content even if the other side falls into ad hominem attacks.

    2) I don’t understand how you can make a convincing critique without original data. When you make a critique, you’re supposed to dismantle another person’s argument and construct an argument of your own. You did none of that here. I think we’re in the same honor math class, so I have some general advice about writing opinions: Put it in mathematical symbols and logical connectives before you actually write it out and add empirical data. That makes sure your argument has substance and is logically sound.

    3) Criticizing the language also isn’t a great way to criticize another person’s argument. We use emotionally-charged words all the time – terrorists, criminals, freedom, rights, justice, etc. Just because a person uses some of these words in a subjective way doesn’t make his entire argument wrong. Adam Ondo’s entire argument was that U.S. laws are too soft; you made it into an argument of language.

    Here is another example of a strawman argument:
    ““Criminals are coddled by ACLU attorneys and activist judges who shower them with rights that are unjust and immoral.” This suggests that the author thinks of “rights” as some kind of legal loophole. ”
    He said “rights that are unjust and immoral”; that implies that he thinks there are also just and moral rights. Clearly he doesn’t mean that all rights are “some kind of legal loophole.”

    And here is an example where you indulged in emotionally-charged arguments, just as he did occasionally (or maybe you are just incredibly naive):
    “I believe this to be the most profound statement of justice in democracy: the idea that it is better for a hundred guilty men to walk free than for one innocent man to face execution. ”
    Societies murder innocent people all the time. When a legislator passes a law allowing 18-year-olds to get drivers licenses, he probably knows that some drunk kid would one day drive a car recklessly and kill a random old lady on the streets. This doesn’t occur that often, but it is a significant possibility. The law is still passed, because society as a whole (or the most powerful segments of society) think that the benefits are greater than the risks. Same thing happens in swimming pool designs; innocent kids get seriously injured by the drains all the time, but nobody would ban swimming pools because that would be extremely detrimental to social well-being as a whole. Why can’t the same argument be applied to justice? If the one hundred criminals go out and murder a hundred more innocent people, would you let them go just to prevent one innocent human being from executed? If you say yes, what about a thousand criminals? A million criminals? And where does the limit end?

  • Xiao Yang

    And here’s an incredibly informative and concise post on the topic from Prof. Landsburg of the Economics Department:

    http://www.thebigquestions.com/2010/11/10/reasonable-doubts/

  • Adam Lanman

    1) Take it up with Aaron. He said it.

    “Criminals are coddled by ACLU attorneys and activist judges who shower them with rights that are unjust and immoral.”
    The idea of “showering” criminals with rights suggests that he thinks of rights as a means of evading the law. This is not a strawman attack, this is an example that shows a misunderstanding of how the law works.

    “Societies murder innocent people all the time. When a legislator passes a law allowing 18-year-olds to get drivers licenses, he probably knows that some drunk kid would one day drive a car recklessly and kill a random old lady on the streets. This doesn’t occur that often, but it is a significant possibility. The law is still passed, because society as a whole (or the most powerful segments of society) think that the benefits are greater than the risks.”
    The law isn’t killing random old ladies on the streets; No, I understood the analogy, thank you. The law isn’t there to prevent crimes, but it is responsible for bringing justice for crimes. Suppose that drunk kid crashed into another car, and then escaped before the police got there. Now Dave was driving the other car and is still there, and gets blamed for the crime. Maybe Dave had a glass of wine with dinner an hour before, and the police smell it and assume he’s drunk. The whole town’s upset that old Milly got killed so horribly, and wants swift justice. So they hang Dave, within months, and justice is served. What is the net benefit to society? The fact that the law catches the right guy 9/10 doesn’t justify punishing the wrong man that 1/10 of the time.

    “If you say yes, what about a thousand criminals? A million criminals? And where does the limit end?”
    I disagree with your slippery slope. A million criminals don’t “slip through the cracks,” and if they do then the system is designed to correct itself from that. The reverse does have a history (see, Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch trials, lynchings in the South). Personally, and this is why I put this in a personal emotional statement at the end of my article instead of in the main content, I would rather see a million criminals set free than one innocent man executed. You disagree; fine.

    Please forgive my poorly-researched and emotional argument. The purpose of my article was to criticize the simple and frankly barbaric view expressed in the other article, not its underlying argument. I wrote this in one weekend among five problem-sets, astronomy-research and teaching, so forgive me if I stuck in only one reference to support my point that the legal system already “gets the wrong guy” pretty frequently. I resent your condescension, however, and so I end my responses here.

    • Adam Ondo

      I’m not dumb. I didn’t mean we should take away Miranda rights, the 5th amendment, and the 6th amendment (as you saw, I do support a really speedy trial). I merely meant that a case shouldn’t be thrown out because the defendant did not respond to interrogators, which ACLU attorneys argue mean that the police violated his right to remain silent, when clearly Miranda implies you have to invoke it, which a recent Supreme Court case upheld. And if you smell marijuana and then a lot of bustling, I’m pretty sure that’s just cause to invade an apartment, to attempt to get evidence before it is destroyed.

      And it’s not barbaric to want to see justice and to see innocent people safe. Two thirds of rapists rape again once released. I would rather see a few innocents get 25-life then see two more women raped by releasing rapists after only 10-20 years. Hopefully if someone you know is assaulted or raped, you will change your mind about keeping violent criminals locked up.

    • Xiao Yang

      “Personally, and this is why I put this in a personal emotional statement at the end of my article instead of in the main content, I would rather see a million criminals set free than one innocent man executed. You disagree; fine.”

      This has nothing to do with personal emotions. This is intellectual dishonesty, pure and simple. You claim that you are absolutely fine with one million criminals potentially murdering thousands of equally innocent people, just so you can let one falsely charged man go free. Tell me why you think that one innocent person’s life is more valuable than thousands of other innocent people’s lives.

      “The law isn’t there to prevent crimes, but it is responsible for bringing justice for crimes.”

      This is just silliness. Of course laws are there to prevent crimes; bringing criminals to justice is also to prevent future crimes. Otherwise it’s just mindless retribution, a response to sunk costs. I’d like to hear your elaborate on what you think criminal justice does, besides stopping crimes.

      “The purpose of my article was to criticize the simple and frankly barbaric view expressed in the other article, not its underlying argument.”

      You say that your article is focused on his “simple and frankly barbaric view”, not his argument, and yet you claim that your response was not ad hominem? If you’re not trying to make an counter-argument, you’re focusing on the person. That may not a bad thing – I personally dislike Adam Ondo’s views of the world. But if this is your problem with him, go have a chat with him instead of writing an article pretending that you’re disagreeing with his argument.

      “I wrote this in one weekend among five problem-sets, astronomy-research and teaching, so forgive me if I stuck in only one reference to support my point that the legal system already “gets the wrong guy” pretty frequently.”

      Being busy is not an excuse for being intellectually lazy. Adam Ondo and I don’t slack around all day writing furious articles and comments on Campus Times (though it may seem that way), but when we do, we substantiate it with actual research. If you can’t afford the time, don’t write the article. There are lots of people on this campus who disagree vehemently about Adam Ondo’s views and don’t write poorly researched responses to them.

      • Adam Lanman

        “This has nothing to do with personal emotions. This is intellectual dishonesty, pure and simple. You claim that you are absolutely fine with one million criminals potentially murdering thousands of equally innocent people, just so you can let one falsely charged man go free. Tell me why you think that one innocent person’s life is more valuable than thousands of other innocent people’s lives.
        “The law isn’t there to prevent crimes, but it is responsible for bringing justice for crimes.”
        Personal opinion = intellectual dishonesty? I was under the impression that emotional appeal was an accepted form of rhetoric. I didn’t say that; I said that the life of one innocent man is worth more than the retribution of a thousand other crimes.

        “This is just silliness. Of course laws are there to prevent crimes; bringing criminals to justice is also to prevent future crimes. Otherwise it’s just mindless retribution, a response to sunk costs. I’d like to hear your elaborate on what you think criminal justice does, besides stopping crimes.”
        As I said, bringing crimes to justice. That is meant to deter future crimes, of course, but that doesn’t mean that the occasional failure of bringing a crime to justice justifies the false persecution of an innocent man.

        “You say that your article is focused on his “simple and frankly barbaric view”, not his argument, and yet you claim that your response was not ad hominem? If you’re not trying to make an counter-argument, you’re focusing on the person. That may not a bad thing – I personally dislike Adam Ondo’s views of the world. But if this is your problem with him, go have a chat with him instead of writing an article pretending that you’re disagreeing with his argument.”
        Right, my disagreement was with his personal view expressed in the article. There was no ad hominem attack; I didn’t make claims about him as a person, or stretch my argument on assumptions about his personality.

        “Being busy is not an excuse for being intellectually lazy.”
        Being busy, and having the constraints of an op-ed on me, do justify maybe not putting in sixteen different citations. What’s the minimum cutoff of citations that makes it not lazy?

        I realize this is an appeal to authority, but if the campus times editorial staff had thought my article under-researched, they wouldn’t have printed it, so please take it up with them.

        • Xiao Yang

          “I didn’t say that; I said that the life of one innocent man is worth more than the retribution of a thousand other crimes.”

          The retribution of which could save the lives of many more innocent men in the future, correct?

          Unless you wish to claim that the life of an innocent man who was charged with a crime is for some strange reason more valuable than the lives of a thousand innocent men who aren’t charged with crimes, I can’t see the logical consistency in your argument.

          “As I said, bringing crimes to justice. That is meant to deter future crimes, of course, but that doesn’t mean that the occasional failure of bringing a crime to justice justifies the false persecution of an innocent man.”

          You didn’t say “occasional” – you said you’d let one million criminals go free to save the life of one innocent man. There’s a huge difference there.

          • Adam Lanman

            “The retribution of which could save the lives of many more innocent men in the future, correct?”
            I disagree with your utilitarian view of the law, however. The law is not an economic system trying to score the best balance between failure and success. Law enforcement is responsible for protecting the people, and the rights of the accused are meant to protect people from the law.

            I think Adam made a solid point about the issue of probable cause and search warrants. If police find evidence of a crime, it should be good to use. The purpose of search and seizure rights is to prevent police from bending procedural laws on suspicion of evidence. The law should allow for speedier means of finding evidence, such as by having a wider range of probable cause. The flexibility in obtaining evidence however is not related to the speed or severity of sentences.

            “Unless you wish to claim that the life of an innocent man who was charged with a crime is for some strange reason more valuable than the lives of a thousand innocent men who aren’t charged with crimes, I can’t see the logical consistency in your argument.”
            Right, there is no logical consistency in that argument. I don’t accept the opposite either, that a hundred lives are worth more than one.

            “You didn’t say “occasional” – you said you’d let one million criminals go free to save the life of one innocent man. There’s a huge difference there.”

            There are no situations in which a million criminals would be set free to save one innocent man, hence the “occasional.” I wouldn’t justify the execution of one innocent man with the incarceration of one million criminals.

          • Adam Ondo

            “I disagree with your utilitarian view of the law, however. The law is not an economic system trying to score the best balance between failure and success.”

            This is why you should never be in charge of making policy. You’re too idealistic and naive (I used to be like you); you need to realize being practical is more important. Nothing is going to be perfect, so we have to do what helps the most people (utilitarianism). Because there is never a perfect way of doing things, the best/most effective choice is the right choice. I don’t want to see innocent people accidentally executed either, but I’ll risk that if it means keeping 6 (2/3 of 9, assuming 1 in 10 are actually innocent) repeat murderers/rapists off the street.

          • Aaron Burro

            Adam Ondo, understanding that it’s impossible for people to fully assess utility across the board, especially valuing and quantifying other people’s concepts of utility (rather than just considering that your own utility is a proxy for universal utility) isn’t naive and idealistic. It’s far, far more realistic than you thinking that you, as a privileged college student, can be a grand arbiter of utility across the board. You simply cannot accurately assess the likelihood, costs and values of being wrongfully convicted of a crime vs being the victim of a crime. Your math is make-believe, it isn’t founded in a basic understanding of statistics and it willingly ignores the effects of (a) having wrongful convictions or (b) having criminal acts beyond just those wrongfully convicted/victims of crime. It’s not just the innocent man behind bars that’s affected by police misconduct and ignorance of constitutional rights – – it’s people in the community, who live with the knowledge that there is a more significant likelihood of being wrongfully convicted, and that likelihood is going to be hugely correlated to race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, education, etc.

            Further – you’re ignoring the fact that there is a value to being members of a society that values doing what is right. You clearly don’t agree with that, which is fine (unlike you, I won’t launch into a personal attack here, but rather ask you to prove why there is no value in being a member of society that strives to do good).

            The State killing a person who does not deserve to be killed is an entirely different thing than a criminal killing someone who does not deserve to be killed. They don’t have the same “utility” as you so would claim. We, as society, can work to reduce the likelihood that people will choose to murder through education and rehabilitation. And, if we do so, we can rightly cast aside our collective association with murderers because they’ve acted outside of our rules, despite our best efforts. If we allow, accept and stand by while the State, as a collective representation of ourselves, kills an innocent life, then we all are sullied by that association. It DOES mean more, to us. It isn’t that the life is worth more or less than a victim from a private murderer, but the implication of that murder is different.

            You talk about recidivism like it’s a done deal. We should change our policy to make sure that criminals don’t commit more crimes. You act as if the only way we can do this is by locking up everyone we can, killing some of those people, as quickly as possible. No. That’s certainly not the only way to handle it, and it’s definitely not the best way to handle it. Outreach, education, therapy – all of these things can be accomplished through private and public means and would have a better result than the one you propose. And we would be a better country for it.

            Virtue matters. Morality matters. Ethics matter. They matter most of all when they come from our laws, rules and regulations – laws which reflect our highest aspirations, not our basest desires.

          • Taylor B.

            “so we have to do what helps the most people (utilitarianism).”

            So when people go to a hospital they should be scanned, and if their body parts will save more people and increase overall utility, they should be killed and their body parts distributed? This is in line with your logic, sacrifice few to help many. You can’t honestly believe this and that the concept of the individual in a society is nil, or do you?

          • Taylor B.

            That was poorly worded, but essentially your claiming that there is no value to maintaining the value of the individual in a society, and instead laws and regulations should be focused on whats best for the society as a whole.

            Do you see the irony of someone who claims to speak for the conservatives taking this position?

          • Adam Ondo

            @Taylor: You’re example is not the same as the issue at hand. We are not knowingly killing an innocent person to keep 9 criminals in jail. We are “risking” killing an innocent person. And to put it in medical terms, like you did, vaccines are promoted throughout society to keep people from getting sick, though there is the rare chance that someone actually gets what they are vaccinated for from the vaccine itself. Should we stop giving vaccinations? I think not.

            @Aaron: I don’t feel sullied when the State makes an honest mistake. I feel a lot worse when I hear that I live in a country where federal judges order the release of 1500 violent offenders due to overcrowding and then 1000 of those hurt more innocent people. That judge just sentenced 1000 people to suffer because convicted felons were being put 4 to a cell instead of 2 to a cell. Where is the justice in that? Can you see it? I can’t.

            And dismiss my numbers all you want, but I got the recidivism and wrongful execution rates/statistics from the DoJ’s own website.

            Also, I have news for you – rehabilitation has been tried and the recidivism rates haven’t dropped and violent crime rates have gone up. And John schools were a complete failure when it came to trying to rehabilitate patrons (people who use prostitutes).

          • Taylor B.

            Your example is starkly different than mine. In my theoretical society you could not consent to being used as parts to make others happy, just like you cannot simply claim innocence to get out of jail or not be executed. Vaccines you have the right to refuse the vaccine for whatever reason (It may cost you privilege’s, but you have the right).

            “That judge just sentenced 1000 people to suffer because convicted felons were being put 4 to a cell instead of 2 to a cell.” This is a logical fallacy in several ways. The judge does not contribute to the chance that criminals will be repeat offenders. They are also not responsible for overcrowding nor is there anything they could do to remedy that problem.

            If your true goal is to maximize utility as you say, looking at the root cause of crime such as poverty, neglect, etc. would be better methods to reduce crime and consequently repeat offenders while not killing innocent people.

          • Adam Ondo

            Moral decay is the root of the problem, not poverty. Read “Body Count”, it’s a good book on the issue. I don’t come from an affluent family, and neither do many really decent people, but we don’t go around raping and stealing. And poverty and neglect are not the usual cause for many crimes. Look at Madoff – greed is the cause of evil (radix malorum est cupiditas). White collar crimes don’t happen because of poverty. Murders happen out of greed and jealousy and other things, not usually poverty. Rape happens out of moral poverty, not economic, because being poor may lead you to want to steal, but it can’t make you want to rape or hurt people – only sadistic people do that (and sadism/evil is not based on socio-economic status). Prostitution and drug dealing is more often than not poverty related, I’ll admit that, though some drug dealers are actually rich kids looking to make money without working too hard.

            And the judge may not have caused them to commit crimes, but he knew the probability and risk and followed through with his action. I don’t make lions maul people if I’m a zoo handler, but I know they do, so if I leave the cage unlocked and people get mauled, then I’m still negligent. He also did not cause overcrowding, you’re right, but he could have just declared 4 to a cell was not “cruel and unusual” or a violation of their rights. (College students live 3 to a room sometimes).

  • Aaron Burro

    Luckily, Adam, the Constitution doesn’t provide for warrantless searches being “okay.” If you truly think that it’s “okay” to have a warrantless search, there’s really no point in discussing the matter further. The Bill of Rights doesn’t exist to punish police officers acting outside the scope of their roles, it exists to protect people from the State acting outside the protections of the Constitution. That’s a significant, but subtle, difference I don’t think you’re grasping. That’s why evidence is thrown out – because the Constitution limits the powers of Government acting as the Government – not as individual police officers independently breaking the law.

    • Adam Ondo

      The exclusionary rule and fruit from a poison tree sprung from an 1897 case and Silverthorne Lumber Co., Inc. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 (1920). The Constitution says warrants are needed to invade people’s homes and that warrants shall not be granted without probable cause. It never mentions throwing out evidence. That came way later. So the Bill of Rights, which makes society less safe with the way it has been interpreted in recent decades, does not mention excluding evidence, as you assert. It took over a 100 years before judges began excluding evidence.

      The Bill of Rights was also the creation of anti-federalists, who wanted to weaken the national government and the Constitution, so as a federalist/nationalist, I find it to be more of a hindrance than anything else.

      Also, you should do more research. Your dull, unsupported, mindless comments just make your argument look flimsier.

      • Aaron Burro

        So “over 100 years” is a long time when we’re counting between the signing of the Constitution and the exclusionary rule, but over 110 years is “recent decades”? Hmmm??

        • Aaron Burro

          Also, this goes without saying: I never said that the Constitution directly provides for anything relating to excluding evidence. Please read my comments more carefully.

          • Adam Ondo

            “That’s why evidence is thrown out – because the Constitution limits the powers of Government acting as the Government.”

            You were pretty clear, and pretty wrong, and I read that how you wrote it (word your comments more carefully if you want, but I read it as carefully as I could). You said evidence is excluded because of Constitutional limitations. That is not true.

          • Aaron Burro

            Adam, I’m sorry, are you sure you want to say that it is “not true” that the exclusionary rule is based in Constitutional doctrine? No, it’s not literally in the Constitution, and you wrongly keep trying to pretend that I am saying that it is, but the exclusionary rule is 100% absolutely a Constitutional doctrine. Come on.

        • Adam Ondo

          Recent decades referred to the Warren Court and sometimes the Burger court (Griswold, Gideon, Miranda, Furman, and the list of cases I was referencing). 1920 was the White court, which thankfully was replaced by the Taft court, not the Warren or Burger Courts. It was decades before the list of cases I was talking about, and long after the Bill of Rights was implemented.

          • Aaron Burro

            Hahaha, okay, Adam. Well, as usual, this has been a trip. Again, I implore you to utilize the vast resources at the U of R to your benefit, and with an open mind. I know it bothers you to be categorized as someone who is uneducated by me and others – but, remember, you’re a college student. You’re supposed be “uneducated” in a certain sense – you and your classmates have a lot of resources at your disposal to really become a well-rounded and intelligent person – and the first step is considering that maybe you might have something to learn from others. And that neither intelligence nor knowledge are measured by the number of books you have in your dorm room, or have read. But hey, we were all sophomores once – in the literal and figurative sense of the word.

          • Adam Ondo

            No matter how many intelligence tests I take, or what kind, you’ll never be convinced my arguments are right, because you disagree with them. That’s fine, some people just can’t see the truth. I’m done with this article. Xiao said everything else I could have thought of.

            Be sure to stay tuned for my next two articles on the castle doctrine / stand your ground laws and abortion / abolishing planned parenthood.

  • Adam Lanman

    Thought this might help a little. This is from a comment Adam left on a letter to the editor on January 28th:

    “They are the part, the small majority, who, with help of the ACLU and those type of attorneys, are hijacking our legal system to find loopholes around justice.”

    In my article, I interpret the phrase “Criminals are coddled by ACLU attorneys and activist judges who shower them with rights that are unjust and immoral” to indicate an understanding of due process as a means of finding legal loopholes.

    Though I hadn’t seen his comment before, I would like to point out that perhaps my assessment wasn’t so far from the truth.

    • Adam Ondo

      In that letter, I was referring to Phelps v. Snyder, which was a 1st amendment case, not 4th or 5th, so it was not about due process. But yes, some parts of due process that have been extended further and further since the original Bill of Rights was written do constitute loopholes. I gave an example in an above statement when I said that Miranda and some parts of due process are fine, but that rules like “fruit of a poisoned tree” and being able to invoke your right to remain silent without actually invoking verbally became are just hindrances.



Letter: Don’t criticize attempts at change

After the University’s Commission on Race & Diversity voted in overwhelming support of banning Yik Yak from University Wi-Fi, President Seligman responded by disregarding that democratic choice and keeping the service on campus.


From the athlete’s perspective: Ben Shapiro

Nobody here cares about sports. You’ve probably heard someone on this campus say that before.