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AmbivalentEye

Treatment of Convicts in Society

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Should a man that has committed murder be hated forever? How does one confront this type of situation ethically and objectively?

Before you respond to this thread, and if you have the time, I ask that you please watch parts 4 and 5 of an Advocate News Special from the hyperlink below:

http://www.logoonline.com/shows/dyn/advoca..._4/videos.jhtml

Another good, informative article on the matter is:

http://www.towleroad.com/2007/01/mother_fe...omment-27385058

This link, has a discussion board on the bottom on which I have expressed the majority of my views on the fate of Paul Broussard, Jon Buice, the other assailants, and Ray Hill's involvement.

For those of you who will ignore the links, I will summarize that this is an issue about a murder which occured in 1991 when 10 young men between the ages of about 16 and 22 where involved in a gay-bashing tragedy that resulted in a fatal wound produced by a young man named Jon Buice, and the death of Paul Broussard.

Initially after the incident, the local authorities refused to deal with an investigation involving hate crimes against homosexuals, so they tried to blow it off, but thanks to radio talk show host Ray Hill, the culprits of the incident were forced to be tracked down and face trial.

Later on, Ray Hill, who heard about a 45 year prison sentence for Jon Buice, spoke up again about the unjust severity of this punishment and has spent the years since trying to reduce the sentence.

15 years have already gone by and several of the 10 culprits involved are already finishing their sentences and on their way out of prison on parole. Now the matter is about how we, as a society, are supposed to respond to these individuals.

I respect Ray Hill for his determination both in LGBT activism as well as in seeking justice for convicts. The morning that I saw the special by the Advocat News Magazine I wrote Ray a letter which goes as follows:

"Dear Ray,

I am a 17-year-old male homosexual writing from Hollywood, Florida. I saw the special by the Advocate Magazine on the Logo Network and felt compelled to write to you. I understand the complexity of the John Buice trial, and though I may never have the full capacity of imagining all of the ramifications it may entail, I can but only submit my own adolescent perspective on the matter with the hope that with enough propriety an sincerity, my words may be heard by an adult in this world, or heeded by the media. Our world has become so technological that even though I can turn off a the LOGO Network and reach you across the country in an instant, my letter is still no more than a click of a mouse away from total extinction.

First, I would like to extend my deepest grief and apologies to the mother of the young man that was murdered, because no human being on earth deserves to have such a thing happen to them. I know that if I lost a loved one, I would be distraught terminally, and perhaps even dead right now from an inability to cope with the matter. It is for this reason that this letter to you seems to me of such controversial importance.

When I saw the special done by the Advocate News Magazine on the John Buice Trial, I, like any other viewer, I am sure, could not help but recall all of the hardships endured by the LGBT community over history, but particularly the events that have taken place within my own lifetime: continuous gay-bashings nationwide, legal preventions of marriage, and the execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz in Iran on July 19, 2005. It is a horrid thing when a human being's life is taken in this way. I'm not sure how exactly I could change such a state of our world but I try my best by remaining true to myself, open, proud, and by taking the time to write letters such as this, or speeches on Gay Rights that I compete with in Debate Tournaments all around my county. I do not know if my voice is heard. All I can guarantee is that I will continue speaking.

On the topic of the John Buice trial, I do believe that any human being that commits murder has a responsibility to pay for such a crime. There is no way I would ever condone an act of murder, nor will I ever forget what happened. But despite this fact, I do have a rooted belief in the doctrine of forgiveness. I do not believe in "death row". I do not believe any human being, whether on the side of the law or not, ever has a right to take someone's life away, but on the point of long term incarcerations, I do agree with you that a convict, or even a murderer is also an individual, and the best that an individual can do is to function rationally and learn to take responsibility for all their actions. I have always admired the quote: "a real man pays all his dues and always keeps his word." It is important for us to remember that. It is important for us to remember that we do not accomplish anything by keeping a man perpetually behind bars, and that doing so does not vindicate their wrongful actions.

I, personally, do not know John Buice or what kind of man he is. I cannot measure the amount of pain he may have inflicted or what should determine the extent of his punishment. But despite that reality, I can state from my own experience being sexually abused at the age of seven, that forgiveness is essential to our lives and essential to the nature of man. Yes, we do hurt, and we mourn, and we seethe from the inability to control every facet of our destinies, but I do accept that we are nothing if we turn our backs entirely on one another and begin to deafen ourselves out of hatred or sorrow. I wanted you to know that I admire what you are doing for John Buice, regardless of the controversial implications. I respect and admire that you do what is RIGHT, regardless of the struggle, and I can only hope to also attribute the same quality to my life from now on. Anne Frank once stood at the peak of a Holocaust and said "Despite all this, I do believe that men are good at heart." Let us all continue believing in that, and fighting for that single premise.

Most Sincerely,

-High School Senior"

Since then, I have also begun to correspond with Jon Buice himself and am awaiting a personal letter from him with his thoughts on this entire matter.

I appreciate any objective commentary you might have...

-J.

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This is one comment I submitted which I believe is really important for you to see in order to understand my position:

"It could have been any one of us. They should be deported. Period. Screw them."

-Anon1 | Jan 5, 2007

>>>When I first saw the Advocate News Special on the Logo Network, this was one of the first thoughts within my head. I began thinking: "If it has happened to Paul, it can also happen to me, and since I am still a minor(17) I am only in greater risk of being harmed by any random hateful, ignorant person." From thinking this, and from hearing the story about what was done to Paul, I became concerned and I will confess that I did feel rage, just as any human being does, at the fact that these kinds of persecutions exist at all, and rage at the police for initially not having cared to do much about it.

I thank Ray Hill for his determination to seek justice for the crime and for his devotion in finding all those participants involved in the attack on Paul.

But this was not the end of the Advocate News Special...

Immediately after, the report showed how each of the culprits recieved their prison sentences and I listened intently to the position presented by Ray Hill that those that are convicted, even for murder, also have a democratic right to be heard, defended, and a chance to mend their own character.

I accept that murder is a one-way street. Once it is done, there is no sugar-coating or evading it. As a rational being, it is one's duty to accept the full severity of the consequences of that action and must duly take responsibility in confronting it respectfully and with integrity to ammend whatever is possible.

But the question here is, WHO HAS A RIGHT TO JUDGE? Does the government have a right to say that a drug-induced 18-year-old boy should be put to death or be given a life sentence for murder? If we are so set against people murdering one another, what gives us any right to murder as a form of justice?

Now I realize that the longest prison sentence was that given to Jon Buice, of 45 years, but 45 years is also the same action of robbing an individual of their life. I wouldn't have any problem with a person being sent to 45 years in prison, if they refused to accept for what they did, refused to apologize, and swore never to change, but THIS IS NOT THE CASE with the culprits of Paul's murder.

Jon Buice himself wrote a profoundly respectful letter to Paul's family apologizing for all the horrendous pain that he caused them. Of course, this letter doesn't fix anything, but AT LEAST JON HAD THE INTEGRITY OF FACING HIS OWN ACTION AND TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT!!! He pays for that action with every single day of his life and he has already been in prison for more than 10 years. Why don't you stop and think what 10 years of your life means to you! Now add the immeasurable guilt of murder to every waking second of your existence and you will only have a slight glimpse of what Jon and the others have been paying for.

Though I do not personally know Ray Hill, I respect him and all of his actions profoundly because he has always stood by his judgments and his ideals to do what is RIGHT. All you people say, "Who is Ray Hill to forgive this murderer that took nothing from him?" But the truth is that when a murder is committed, IT AFFECTS ALL OF US. Murder is a crime against mankind and thus, we are all forced to cope with the effects and the after math. My idol, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, "We must take sides. Sometimes we must interfere. WHEREVER MEN AND WOMEN ARE BEING PERSECUTED, THAT PLACE MUST, AT THAT INSTANT, BECOME THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE."

This whole trial became the center of my universe the instant when I saw the news broadcast by the Logo Network. Upon watrching it, I impulsively ran to my computer and wrote an email to Ray Hill, which I wish all of you had an opportunity of reading. I told Ray many of the same things I have told you here today:

I told him that as a 17-year-old homosexual, I understand the fear of having my own life taken away against my will, and that anyone who commits such intolerable cruelties must be forced to face the reality of that action.

I said that I know, for my age, my opinion may not mean much to most people, but as a rational being, I find it my duty to speak out and also assert my own beliefs and my ideals.

I was raped at the age of seven by a man more than twice my age, and I have spent the past five years wishing I could only speak to him again in person. I, like any other victim of hate, would simply like to be certain that he remembers... and that he never forget how devastatingly he has altered my life. I do not want this man dead, nor do I want him arrested, beaten, or molested. Justice, as has been said many times, is not about "An eye for an eye", it is about realizing that as human beings we are all intrinsically flawed in some manner. Every single one of us is only a single action away from being the most vile and contemptible person on the planet. It only takes a single hand motion to kill, a single act to rob a child of their innocence, A SINGLE WORD to break somebody's heart.

By responding with hate, we can only produce even more hate.

I understand those of you on here that have been lashing out here ignorantly out of your struggles to try to understand and try to cope with the reality of this destruction we see all around us. You have every right to be angry, and to curse, and to desire revenge, but rationally, as well as morally, we must compell ourselves to be the better person and approach this situation in an objective manner. Paul's life is gone. Many more will be taken away in the future. Our job is, not to kill off or hide those that have made mistakes and that have betrayed us, but rather to make them find a way back to righteousness in order for all of us to coexist within this world, or at least just this nation.

I have done my part. I have sent off my own letters to Ray Hill and to Jon Buice himself in his cell. I refuse to be ignorant of reality, and refure to be another person who becomes indifferent to what these culprits have or wish to say for themselves. If they will speak, I will listen. It is the only right thing for any of us to do.

"

"I know Jaime and Javier. They are not homophobic or a danger to anyone."

Okay, Ray, perhaps they are not homophobic. But precisely how many people would someone have to kill before you'd consider him/her "a danger"?

They murdered a man. Gay or straight is irrelevant. They ARE dangerous and have proven it."

Posted by: Damon | Jan 5, 2007

>>>Damon, the fact that these individuals were dangerous on a single night of their lives, when they were drunk and high on drugs, in no way means that they are perpetually "dangerous". Yes, they made stupid choices, and perhaps they weren't raised by the proper ideals, but the fact that they grossly miscalculated what they were capable of doing to an individual, does not suddenly make them serial killers. All of these men have faced their crime and are eternally ashamed of their fault.

To tell the truth, THEY seem less dangerous to me now than YOU do as of now. About them, I know that they have spent nearly 14-15 years analyzing and repenting what happened that night, and seeking to renew their way of being. I'm certain that they have learned their lesson about the effect of alcohol and drugs, and have changed many if not all of their hateful perspectives towards minorities. You, on the other hand, I know absolutely nothing about. All I know about you is that you believe if a person screws up once, they must walk around with a Scarlet Letter on for the rest of their lives. You believe that the answer for violence is simply to either eliminate (deport) or hide and silence (lock-up) those responsible to move on ignorantly and be done with it, but if we were to follow that doctrine now only would our country probably lose more than half its population in the first decade, but it would have more prisons than tourist attractions.

Now, I am not here to defend the culprits who are also illegal immigrants. My belief is that if you come to this country, whether it be legally or out of some vital urgency, one enters exclusively on the terms of Jean Jacques Rousseau's "Social Contract" which states that one may participate as a component of the collective, or the state, so long as one follows said establishment's regulations and respects its standards. Rightfully, if you legally entered a country and abbetted in the murder of an indivdidual, you fully deserve to be deported, but at least I am glad that this deportation is going to be done years after the individuals faced their full trial under a court of law.

"@ Ray:

It sounds to me as if you've developed at Capote-esque infatuation with the killers.

It's funny (weird) that you know one of them is gay. How would you know something like that? Have you slept with them? Regardless of their peripheral role in the murder they deserve to remain where they are because of what they've done. Who's to say they aren't putting on an act and are preparing to kill you as soon as they get out?"

Posted by: Tread | Jan 5, 2007

>>> This is the most IGNORANT and BIASED post (I think) within this entire thread. The fact that you suggested some of these things at all shows only how immature and unintellegent you are.

"The Truth is Paul Broussard would still be alive today if our Immigration laws had been properly enforced!"

Posted by: mark | Jan 5, 2007

>>>That is only "Butterfly Effect Theory". You might as well say that the Holocaust only occured because Hitler was denied entrance to a Jewish Institute of Fine Arts after high school.

"So, Ray, I'm very curious. What do you think is the value of a human life? Or, more precisely, what should be required of someone who takes a life? If I understand your position on this, if a person feels very, very sorry for having committed a murder then he/she should be forgiven. And you think automatic forgiveness will beget more peace?"

Posted by: Damon | Jan 6, 2007 9:35:09 PM

>>>Damon,

Ray can feel free to answer this question himself if he wishes to, but I'd like to give you my own answers to those questions, with which I know Ray generally agrees:

"What is the value of a human life and what is required of one who takes life?"

-Life is ULTIMATE value; it is the most precious thing that we possess and every facet of our existence revolves around the perseverence of this value through selfish, rational means, as is taught by Objectivist Philosophy.

Of the person who takes life, Justice is required, it the manner that I have already mentioned previously:

1.Each individual deserves a trial, 2. A judge/jury, and 3. a DEFENSE.

Each individual has every right to present their perspective of the situation and has a right to defend the FACTS of the matter.

As for punishment: the punishment rests essentially upon the individual who must claim full responsibility for his action. If the individual refuses to take this responsibility or accept the rightful consequences of his action, then, and ONLY THEN can the State determine the appropriate course of action, whether it be a prison sentence, volunteer service, a fine... etc.

Each of us, as rational beings, have a conscience, and the cognitive tools necessary to recognize what is wrong from what is right. If we committed an unjust act, we know the full extent of how we must pay for it, but neither YOU nor ANY OFFICER can tell ME when MY punishment is over. If I punch my sister in the eye, I may choose to lock myself up in my room after apologizing, or I may commit suicide from the guilt of my action. The point is that one alone must pay one's dues, in an honorable fashion, or otherwise submit to the terms and imposed whims of others. Jon Buice has accepted the full severity of his action and thus, must solely seek to vindicate that fault.

It isn't about "automatic forgiveness". It is about giving people a chance to speak forthemselves and at least having the personal decency of listening and considering their apologies. It is not our responsibility to forgive. It is our responsibility to always pay attention.

I respect Ray Hill for stating:

"This case involves 11 families (one of Paul and one each of those charged with the offense)."

Posted by: Ray Hill | Jan 7, 2007

...because at least HE can see the full picture of how this situation has affected society.

Sincerely,

-J"

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Do you think you could state, briefly and clearly, what question or point you are trying to make instead of bombarding us with correspondance between you and other people we don't know? It'd kind of help us figure out what the heck you're talking about.

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Murder is evil and should be punished. The severity of the punishment should be determined in part with reference to the criminal's character, i.e. whether the person is fundamentally evil, or fundamentally good with one bad day. The victim's gayness is completely irrelevant. The description of the deed is not that of an unthinking moment, but of premeditated murder. There may be an argument for prosecuting the local cops for dereliction of duty, but that's a separate issue. I don't understand why the sentence was so light (i.e. not death).

Whether or not any of Broussard's friends or family members can ever forgive Buice is their business, but I cannot see any reason at all why they should. I, on the other hand, who know none of the involved parties, don't hate him or forgive him. I simply think that people like that should be locked away forever, or hung by the neck until dead, as prescribed by law.

The question "who has a right to judge" is the wrong question to ask. That's set by law: the question is, by what criteria? Actual guilt is primary, gravity of crime is second, and threat to society is third. Contrition is irrelevant, because we don't care whether the criminal is remorseful, we care whether he understands the nature of his acts, and we can be certain that he will not repeat them. No other questions are relevant. Did he do it, what did he do, will he do it again?

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For those of you who will ignore the links, I will summarize that this is an issue about a murder which occured in 1991 when 10 young men between the ages of about 16 and 22 where involved in a gay-bashing tragedy that resulted in a fatal wound produced by a young man named Jon Buice, and the death of Paul Broussard.

Why do so many people insist on labeling willful acts of wanton violence as "a tragedy"?

The term implies a lack of responsibility on the part of the perpetrators, or a lack of perpetrators altogether.

If you accidentally run over someone with your car, that's a tragedy. If you're struck by lightning, that's a tragedy. If you slip and break your neck, that's a tragedy. But if you purposefully run someone down, if you purposefully electrocute someone, and if you purposefuly push someone down the stairs, that's murder.

As for the rest, I favor the death penalty for all premeditated murders. I would make a general exception, life in prison without parole, if and when the murderer pleads guilty. Contrition, remorse, apologies, finding Jesus (or Allah), writing children's books, etc should have no effect on the severity of the sentence.

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Ambivalent,

On the face of it, the crusade to reduce this murderer's sentence is a grossly unjust campaign. The approach seems to be that 45 years is just too long to be in prison, regardless of the facts. The implication is that if, 45 years later, this murderer is itching to come out and kill a few more people, he still ought to be released. How is this either wise or just? Why would you, a potential target, be asking for your potential murderer to be set free?

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The question "who has a right to judge" is the wrong question to ask. That's set by law: the question is, by what criteria? Actual guilt is primary, gravity of crime is second, and threat to society is third. Contrition is irrelevant, because we don't care whether the criminal is remorseful, we care whether he understands the nature of his acts, and we can be certain that he will not repeat them. No other questions are relevant. Did he do it, what did he do, will he do it again?

Match, set, game.

AmbivalentEye, I totally disagree with your attitude toward the death penalty. When a murderer recieves justice, in the form of death, for his crime, this is not "murder." Your equivocation of justice and injustice is sickening to me, akin to those who call self-defense "violence" or "murder." Obviously, the death penalty cannot be undone and does require the highest possible degree of certainty before being implemented, but justice absolutely demands it in some circumstances, and I definitely believe this is one of them, no matter how much the sniveling coward apologizes after the fact. He can't un-kill that innocent boy.

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Match, set, game.

AmbivalentEye, I totally disagree with your attitude toward the death penalty. When a murderer recieves justice, in the form of death, for his crime, this is not "murder." Your equivocation of justice and injustice is sickening to me, akin to those who call self-defense "violence" or "murder." Obviously, the death penalty cannot be undone and does require the highest possible degree of certainty before being implemented, but justice absolutely demands it in some circumstances, and I definitely believe this is one of them, no matter how much the sniveling coward apologizes after the fact. He can't un-kill that innocent boy.

Here I was under the impression that Objectivists believed in holding life as the utmost ideal and value. Apparently its suddenly OK for us to take away someone's life because of a wrongful action.

Whatever your beliefs or principles may be, mine still hold that Life is much too precious to be taken away from any individual, regardless of the fault -it is the only security we can hold to in survival amongst others of our own kind (other human beings).

-J.

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Here I was under the impression that Objectivists believed in holding life as the utmost ideal and value. Apparently its suddenly OK for us to take away someone's life because of a wrongful action.
My life is sacred, to me. If you kill me, you deserve to die. This is not sudden; maybe you've gotten Objectivism confused with Catholicism which considers life to be a holy and intrinsic value. A wrongful action? Jesus, man, we are talking about murder. The bloody, awful and gruesome slaughtering of another human being. Not a mistake in a tax form. Killing. Butchery.

Do you have a concept of "justice"?

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I was under the impression that Objectivists believed in holding life as the utmost ideal and value.

Objectivists hold one's own life as his own most fundamental value, that value which makes possible and which is therefore superior to all other values. Firstly, an Objectivist believes in nothing whatsoever. While you may not specifically have meant to invoke knowledge as the opposite of belief, or knowledge as true justified belief, at least say what you mean. Secondly, an Objectivist holds others' lives as very important to his own for a very specific reason: an Objectivist lives as a trader, and he values those with whom he does or can trade because they are, in part, what makes possible his own happy life. Those who does not live as traders but, instead, as parasites, as murderers, are hostile to one's own happy life, and are decidedly not of value to an Objectivist.

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Here I was under the impression that Objectivists believed in holding life as the utmost ideal and value.

Not so much life as living, but essentially correct.

Apparently its suddenly OK for us to take away someone's life because of a wrongful action.

There's nothing sudden about it. And not for "a wrongful action," but for murder.

Click on this link. The cartoon's author is not an Objectivist, but he makes a good point:

Life Is Sacred

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Now I realize that the longest prison sentence was that given to Jon Buice, of 45 years, but 45 years is also the same action of robbing an individual of their life. I wouldn't have any problem with a person being sent to 45 years in prison, if they refused to accept for what they did, refused to apologize, and swore never to change, but THIS IS NOT THE CASE with the culprits of Paul's murder.

It is interesting to note that income ta protester Irwin Schiff was just sentenced to 43 years in prison for ta evasion. He did not commit murder or even rob anyone. Is that fair either?

(Sorry for the typos--the key between z and c is broken on this laptop)

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