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September 17, 2011

NYT Employs Geometric Logic to Argue Against Life Without Parole. [ArthurK]

The Always Awesome BestoftheWeb notices the NYT making an asshat out of itself.

Between 1992 and 2008, "violent crime declined sharply all over the country," the New York Times observes during an editorial. One of the factors contributing to this decline was tougher sentences for criminals: "the number in prison for life without parole tripled from 12,453 to 41,095."

Only that's not how the Times presents this information. Instead, it commits the Butterfield fallacy:

From 1992 to 2008, the number in prison for life without parole tripled from 12,453 to 41,095, even though violent crime declined sharply all over the country during that period.

Even though! The Times opposes sentences of life without possibility of parole, saying that "a fair-minded society should not sentence anyone to life without parole except as an alternative to the death penalty." Needless to say, the Times also opposes the death penalty.

Opponents really do have a slippery slope in mind: Once capital punishment is gone, they'll try to do away with life without parole. If they succeed in that, we'd be surprised if they didn't start arguing that life sentences are too harsh altogether. To our mind, it all amounts to an excellent argument, if an unwitting one, against abolishing the death penalty.

If you think he's exaggerating look at Europe. The Norwegian Mass Murderer (who I won't name) can get a max sentence of 21 years and is eligible for parole. And that's not an isolated case! That's the slippery slope the NYT would travel.

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posted by Open Blogger at 06:35 PM

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