Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kill Adam Lanza? (Wednesday LINKS)

If Adam Lanza had not taken his own life, and were sitting in a Connecticut prison right now after killing 26 innocent people, would we be calling for the government to kill him?  For all of our hand-wringing about "mental health", would Adam Lanza's mental well-being be of any concern if he were still available for vengeance?  Would this event reignite an interest in televised executions?

Jared Loughner and James Holmes are still alive, with Loughner waiting out a life sentence and the Holmes trial still on deck.  In both cases, defense lawyers are pleading insanity, suggesting that their clients could not tell the difference between right and wrong when committing their heinous acts.  The victims of the Aurora Shooting have spoken out in favor of imposing the death penalty on Holmes, while others have observed that the failure to use it in a case like this would effectively end capital punishment in Colorado.

If Adam Lanza were alive, would we be scrambling to kill him?

I would say that it is "notable" that this massacre occurred around the same time that Maryland will be considering a full and complete end to the death penalty in our State, but the frequency of large scale shootings have made the context common-place.  To echo the writer from Colorado, if we aren't going to execute Adam Lanza, who are we comfortable killing?  And I wish we would do away with the sterilized words like "capital punishment" and "execution".  Just say "kill".  That's what happens when you take a living person and make them dead.

This case does not present any of the evidentiary or racial concerns that prompt a heavy discussion on the death penalty.  If we are to believe the press, there is no doubt that Adam Lanza committed this crime and no suspicion that his guilt is premised on racial considerations.  Sure, we believe there is a mental health component, but this may be as much of a smoke-screen to take the conversation off guns than it is a honestly held belief.  Can anyone articulate exactly what mental illness brings someone to kill 20 children?  And when our blood is hot, do we find mental illness to be controlling anyway?  Does that make the pictures of victims any easier to look at?

And why just kill him?  If we are to spend much time in Justice Scalia's thoughts on the 8th Amendment, we should be permitted to incorporate all sorts of public torture before finishing him off.  Why settle for poisoned IV's?

We're going to have this discussion in 2013.  Who do we kill and why?  As you can see, the death penalty raises more questions than it can ever possibly answer.


Depending on how the Howard County Council votes on the new Community Enhancement Floating district next month, we may be facing another drawn out legal battle.  According to Blair Ames's article in the Flier, Susan Gray and other zoning advocates have claimed that "the proposed zoning district violates the County Charter by illegally moving rezoning map authority from the County Council to the Zoning Board."  As Blair also points out, the five County Council members also serve as the Zoning Board.

Gov. O'Malley has indicated that he will be submitting a "gun control package" in the next legislative session that will focus on "limiting the type of guns that are allowed in Maryland, restricting access to guns by the mentally ill and looking at ways that the state can make schools safer."  On a similar tact, Howard County Ken Ulman will be forming a Task Force composed of public safety, school, and mental health professionals to address school safety.  When I see the rush to legislate, I can't help but think "All the kings horses and all the kings men..."  We'll see what comes out of it, but the apparent lack of coordination between the federal, state, and local levels is concerning.

Despite high gas prices, AAA is projecting an increase in holiday travel, with most Marylanders on the road.  That will include Jane and I.  Ugh.

Featured Blog Post of the Day:  As WB noted on Monday, CA will be opening a new gym in the Gehry Building alongside Whole Foods.  This is a critical component in maintaining the Columbia Association's position as the main provider of health facilities in Downtown Columbia.  While I understand there is some concern over the prospect of increased fees for use of this facility, this is nothing new.  The stratification of health memberships is part of what allows CA to offer some memberships at below market rates and others at a subsidized cost.  As Columbia moves forward in redevelopment, all residents will note a premium on Downtown shops, goods, and restaurants that may not have been there before.  That is an unfortunate, but expected, by-product of a "City" and the passed-on costs imposed by incremental taxes and developer obligations.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love.