Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do these people know me at all?

Recently, a friend of mine said something about the death penalty that shocked me. She's a defense attorney, so I didn't expect the level of bloodlust that she expressed. I called her on it because, well, that's what I do. She responded that we just needed to agree to disagree on this. Which made me wonder if she knows me at all. Because I can't agree to disagree. Not on the death penalty. Another dear friend that same day suggested I should not be quite so aggressive in my defense of the need for opposition to capital punishment. Sheesh! It's an epidemic.

So let me break it down for you. No, I can't agree to disagree. I can't be less aggressive in advocating for an end to the death penalty. It's kind of been my life's passion to argue against the death penalty. Since about the 5th grade when my jean jacket wasn't just decorated with Garfield buttons, but with buttons that read, "Execute Justice, Not People" and "Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

If you say someone deserves to die, I can't agree that that's an ok opinion to have. It is not in my nature to accept that as a respectable viewpoint. I guess I can respect your right to have that opinion, but I can't respect that opinion. And I can't not do everything in my power to change that opinion. (Especially when the person you're saying deserves to die is my client and you know it.)


Burt Likko said...

When the subject of such an opinion is your client, I would demand of you (as you demand of yourself) that you do exactly that.

For myself, I can't let go of the idea that yes, some people do by virtue of their horrific actions deserve to die. I've become more comfortable with the idea that our justice system does not do a very good job of sorting out the worst of the worst from the "ordinary" criminals who deserve lesser forms of punishment, and I can also sign off on the idea that we aren't really better off as a society for having the death penalty in any way I can objectively point to.

In other words, in theory, I'm not willing to let it go. In practice, it stinks.

Rob Osterman said...

The question, really, is to what extend do you want to allow a disagreement over capital punishment to determine your friendships? The phrase "Agree to Disagree" is often used to say "look, we're not going to agree on this and we're not going to convince each other either way so let's just not talk about it."

The alternative is that your difference of opinion becomes a potentially regular part of your interactions with each other. You meet for coffee and the focus is on convincing her she's wrong about CP. You go out to a movie and afterwards try to convince her she's wrong on CP. Your families bump into each other for brunch and... you try to convince her she's wrong about CP.

At some point either you
A) Accept that she's not changing her mind.
B) Create the potentially endless cycle of trying to convince she's wrong.
C) Terminate the friendship.

I tend to find A the most palatable except when the disagreement is over something so henious that only C is acceptable.

S said...

With a really good friend, I could not agree to disagree if s/he expressed a desire for my client to be killed. Just couldn't and anyone who is a close friend of mine ought to respect that. So that friend would need to keep his or her mouth shut around me on that topic or he or she really would hear about it before the movie and after the movie, etc.

So I guess we can agree to disagree as long as you never say anything. But if you do, don't expect me just to agree to disagree.

Definitely in terms of a dating relationship, there's no way that would go anywhere if he was pro-death penalty and stayed that way.

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