An Open Letter to the Legislature
Sen. Boitano and Rep. Rehm,
I would just like to encourage you on behalf of myself and my wife to please do all you can to see that a comprehensive ethics package is passed by the Legislature this session. We all know this has been requested and not passed now for far too many years, and the problems and indictments continue year after year. I dearly love my state but am embarrassed when corrupt officials are hauled off to jail and our status as one of the few states with no ethics reform in place is again brought up.
Assurances from legislators that this is not needed, to me (and many other New Mexicans), appears to be an elitist, "I'm much smarter than they are" type response, while their hands are held out for "paybacks" and under-the-table type deals. I'm very tired of this and fully support prosecution and harsh punishment for offenders. I'm not trying to be offensive, but everyone in the Roundhouse puts their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us, so to think that the rules don't apply to them or that they're much smarter or more well-connected than the rest of us, so that they don't have to play by the rules ... or even make up the rules as they go (like our recently departed White House disappointments) is no longer acceptable! Again, please do all you can do to open up government (open-door committees, cameras, sunshine) and get rid of the thieves and morally bankrupt politicians.
This responds to the article by Simon McCormack, "The End of the Death Penalty?" [Jan. 29-Feb 4]. McCormack reports on New Mexico Democratic Rep. Gail Chasey's bill to replace the death penalty with "life without the possibility of parole."
Chasey's arguments are based on ignorance or lies. She argues, for example, that 14 states without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than the 26 that do. She is either ignorant of, or intentionally ignoring, the well-known scientific principle that correlation does not imply causality. The correlation she quotes is just as consistent with the proposition that states with high homicide rates tend to impose the death penalty more often because they need it more.
“Execution is the only penalty that is guaranteed to deter the perpetrator from ever, ever committing another murder.”
Nevertheless, regardless of its deterrent to others, it is a scientific fact that execution is the only penalty that is guaranteed to deter the perpetrator from ever, ever committing another murder. "Life without the possibility of parole" cannot provide such a guarantee. As long as a murderer lives, he or she can murder again. A murderer can escape (remember the "Texas Seven"?) to murder again. Despite talk of "no parole," there is no guarantee that such a rule will remain in place permanently. Who can guarantee what a judge or another Legislature might decide years from now? Once freed, murderers also murder again, as did murderer Jack Abbott ... a mere six weeks after celebrity Norman Mailer convinced authorities to grant parole, despite the misgivings of prison officials.
The worst problem, though, is that murderers can continue to commit murders in prison. The number of such crimes vastly exceeds even the highest estimates of those wrongfully executed. Remember New Mexico's own John Hovey? Already in prison for murdering his parents, he murdered another paraplegic inmate, a week from release, just to worsen his own reputation. According to the Bureau of Justice, nationwide there about 50 homicides in prison every year (55 in 2006, the most recent year reported), and 3.5 percent of all capital murderers committed their crimes while they were already incarcerated. If Chasey doesn't think execution is a deterrent, how much of a deterrent does she think more prison will be for someone already serving a long prison term?
Well, I heard the claim again this morning, the claim that I have heard so many times during the past six or so months—that marriage has always been between one man and one woman since the beginning of time. The person making the claim is obviously provincial and completely wrong. Marriage as so described is distinctly a European creation and until well into the 20th century has always been the minority form.
Polygamy has dominated the world of personal relationships. Marriage of one man to several (or many) women has been the standard for three-fourths of the world, and for centuries it was the standard form in the Middle East, Southern and Eastern Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. Marriage of one woman to several men has been practiced in several cultures. I saw a Tibetan woman marry five brothers, ranging from 5 to 20-something. Marriage has not even demanded living partners, because women have been married to the dead, to ghosts, to gods, even to trees. There are even two cultures that have never practiced marriage in any form.
The minister used Adam and Eve to justify his claim, but three chapters after their “creation,” their grandchildren were polygamists, and soon Solomon would have 700 wives and 300 concubines. And the minister’s Bible presents an uneasy mixture of monogamy and polygamy without expressing a preference until Paul demoted the marital state, ranking it morally below celibacy. The Shakers tried celibacy, and where did it get them?
So many in the past year have claimed that “marriage” has an absolutely fixed meaning for all time. Not so! The word’s meaning has been quite fluid, changing to include or exclude relationships, ages and groups according to the dictates of society. Wyoming once reduced the age of consent for marriage to 9. The word “divorce,” for instance, definitely changed the meaning of “marriage” for all of us during the last century, and the ridiculous claims that if we allow same-sex marriage, we cannot then forbid polygamy, incest or owner/pet couples. Since cultures have forbidden so many different kinds of marriage in the past, why could we not? Has no one taken a course in elementary logic? Two-thirds of our Western allies have seen the logic, even the necessity, of same-sex marriage, so the United States is further isolating itself from partners such as Canada, Spain, England and even Slovenia.
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