- Atkins v. Virgina and the Execution of the Mentally Retarded. Adnotated.

Tuesday, 06 August, Year 11 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Once again, I appear to be all alone.

...Because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgmenti, and control of their impulses, however, [the mentally retarded] do not act with the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct... [over the past 13 years the] American public, legislators, scholars, and judges have deliberated over the question whether the death penalty should ever be imposed on a mentally retarded criminal. The consensus reflected in those deliberations informs our answer...ii

So opens Atkins v. Virginia, as opined by Justice Stevensiii.
It seems unassailable that the mentally retarded should not be executed. Justice Stevens spoke of a consensus; the APA's amicus brief to the Court stated:

(1) there is a clear and unmistakable national consensus against the imposition of the death penalty on persons with mental retardation, and (2) the American people oppose the execution of individuals with mental retardation because the practice offends our shared moral values. (emphasis mine.)

So once again I am the sole hold out to national consensus.iv Okay. If I am to grant that such a national consensus does exist -- which it most obviously does not -- it is not in small measure due to misunderstanding what mental retardation isv: it isn't Down's syndrome. It isn't a guest spot on the Howard Stern Show, it isn't finger paints and a baseball cap at age 30 moaning, "I wanna eat tato chips!"

If it was this, I'd agree a consensus might even be close to unanimous. Ironically, such a consensus would be irrelevant as such individuals don't commit capital

But this is not what mentally retarded is. Atkins, the above defendant, was determined by the defense expert to be MR because of an IQ of 59. With this IQ, he was able to get drunk and smoke pot (which, FYI, does not diminish responsibility,) drive a car (which he was licensed to do), kidnap and drag his victim to an ATM to force him to withdraw $200, then drive him to an isolated spot and shoot him 8 times -- not to mention be competent to stand trial, cooperate in court and with his attorney, etc. He was also able to pull [off] 16 other felonies in his life. An IQ of 59 allows reading at a 6th grade level -- comic books are 4th grade and Time Magazine is 9th grade.vii

But that was Atkins. A diagnosis of MR is an IQ less than 70. Can someone with an IQ of 70 appreciate that shooting your kidnapping/robbery victim in the chest 8 times and dumping him in an isolated location is really, really, wrong? From 1976-2002, 44 people with "mental retardation" have been executed; all but 2 had IQs at least 58.

So a categorical exemption for the mentally retarded might be sensible if someone could tell me exactly what mentally retarded means. Because the psychiatric definition quite obviously covers individuals well within competency standards. And that's the point.

Here's an example: if the exemption was for "Down's Syndrome" then this would be plausible, because a) we can reasonably agree how Down's impacts the defendant; b) we can identify it. But "retardation" means -- what? Mentally ill, as an exemption, is worse -- does depression count? Only psychosis? Does the presence of only a hallucination count, or do you have to have a thought disorder? "Schizophrenia?" What's that? The John Nash type, or the homeless crackhead type? How about borderline? Narcissism? If you can't be sure of what constitutes "mentally ill", how can you make a blanket exemption for it?viii

We can take this debate up a level, and observe that with every other psychiatric disorder that impacts on legal matters, the question for psychiatrists is simply, "what's his disorder?" or "how does the disorder impact this case?" -- we have an advisory capacity, leaving the ultimate decision of culpability up to the courts. In this way, we put some distance from the outcome. That's what expert testimony is all about. Fair enough. But now, with MR, the diagnosis automatically gets you out of execution. As long as the IQ test comes back 59, the sentence changes. Mental retardation is binary, apparently, and if you are fortunate enough to have it, you live -- regardless of how well you understood the wrongness of your actions, or how egregious were the crimes.

Which is ridiculous. There are practically no valid measures for any psychiatric illnesses -- everything is up for debate and interpretation. MR especially is a continuum disorder. Factors as trivial as which IQ test is used, or when it is taken, can affect the diagnosis. One study finds a 6 point increase using older tests vs. the newer version of the same test.ix

"Our findings imply that some borderline death row inmates or capital murder defendants who were not classified as mentally retarded in childhood because they took an older version of an IQ test might have qualified as retarded if they had taken a more recent test," Ceci says. "That's the difference between being sentenced to life imprisonment versus lethal injection."

But now the law has set an arbitrary and empty, binary cut off for execution. Psychiatrists now actually choose the sentence. Not inform the sentence -- choose it.

I'm fairly certain the APAx didn't think about this when it filed its amicus brief. They never think these things through, because they believe they are an instrument of social change.xi But, like forced medication to render competent to be executed, psychiatrists have now boxed themselves into a corner. It is now solely up to them -- and their "tests" -- to decide who gets executed.

Consider the ethical dilemma for a forensic psychiatrist asked to evaluate for MR: given that the defendant can fake MRxii; and given that finding the defendant does not "have" MR -- or suspecting that he is faking MR -- is exactly equivalent to sentencing him to death, can there be any other medically ethical outcome than finding they are MR? Think well. In other words, an answer is forced, an answer is created, simply by asking the question. The situation here is identical to the judge leaning over and asking, "Do me a favor and decide for me. Should I hang him or put him in prison?" Um, well, gee, it's up to me? um, since you asked...

I know, doctors are going to inwardly smile, pat themselves on the back for their cleverness; after all, the goal is to abolish the death penalty for everyone, one group at a time. And I am sure there are organizations who will actively, openly, exploit this loophole.xiii

Notwithstanding the laudability of this goal, this isn't about the death penalty, it's about who decides the death penalty.

Just remember, when society allows psychiatrists to decide who lives or dies, then psychiatrists will also decide who dies or lives. I want everyone on the planet to take a very deep breath, and think about this.xiv

  1. Leaving aside the obnoxiousness of random words being applied to random concepts -- how the fuck is anything abstract an area ? Here's a simple heuristic : if you can't answer as to acreage in the next pass, do not call something an area in the present pass. Simple as pie area!

    But leaving that aside, what the fuck is supposed to be the difference between "reasoning" and "judgement" that this moron was contemplating in his >2 hectare moronarea of a "brief" that's anything but ? What is he, a woman preparing her wedding dress, "add a little more blue" ? Is the only reason he didn't say "reasoning, judgement, acumen, inference, interpretation, thinking, hasuayeil, barneyeil, verday, heill, alzeyeill, szeyeill, bacapel, zelfayeill, morayeill, borayeill, alpheyeill, arobilin etc" instead is that he didn't have wifi (and never heard of LJH anyway, so wifi wouldn't have helped even if he had it) ? Or what, should "thinking" not be there because it's too... ordinary ? And this dumb cunt writing longs and calling them briefs dun wanna be appear ordinary (precisely because that's exactly what she is) ?

    I really don't like people who use language in the manner of monkeys using man-made tools. It's one thing when they're truckers or whatever, but by the time the pretense is that they're thus earning a living for themselves... []

  2. Holy shit, consensus of "the American public" ? Drop dead. []
  3. Can you believe this shit ?! John Paul Stevens would have readily flunked my Introduction to Philosophy class, but he nevertheless was good enough to opine off the supreme court bench for thirty-odd years. I guess they do what they can with whatever crawls out of whatever barn animals they've got ; it sucks being a rural province, but what can you do. []
  4. Fancy that wonder, APA can invent reality, and just as long as some braying mule somewhere doesn't readily perceive the falsification, all's coming up roses. Well, stable-side roses, you know, like cow patties are patties so these are roses. []
  5. Actually, it's in no small measure due to a concertina of niggers, arms stuffed into ears up to elbow, yelling "nyah nyah nyah consensus". Who the fuck asked a glorified secretary at the APA anything, and why the fuck did they ?!

    More importantly : why does the rural province in question glorify secretaries ? I run into these morons all the time, the "good girls" who "aren't sluts", ready to tell me "what the rules are" and whatever assorted nonsense they came up with "so as to..." bla bla bla. I loudly, and regularly, and publicly shame them for their developmental failure. Why don't the North American plebs ? []

  6. As these nigger-engineered "consensuses" ever work -- take broad agreement on an irrelevant edge case, shave off the edge and call it "consensus". []
  7. To further complicate matters : whathever lofty nonsense Stevens is paying lip service to here, the actual dispositive fact of the matter is that the death penalty is way the fuck better for the perpetrator, and way the fuck more expensive to the system. That's what they're actually doing : not giving some offensive asshole the benefit of the thing they call worse but is actually better, under the pretext of humanism-driven consensus etcetera. This is yet another case of socialism stealing the having stolen : Atkins is not merely given the worst punishment available, but is given the worst punishment available while they claim to be doing exactly the opposite. []
  8. So as to leave wiggle room, the only thing keeping this tall tower of piled-up of nonsense-chairs tottering on the brink of obvious, but so far barely averted, failure. They'll know it when they see it, which begs the question : if your supposedly rational system is ultimately made up of a whole lot of "knowingwhenyouseeit", why even bother with the pretense in the first place ? What, hanging sherrifs can't know it when they see it ?

    They'd be a whole of a lot cheaper, you realise this ? And women would be a whole lot more pleasant for the grinding down, too! God knows they benefit from it a whole lot more than horses do. []

  9. Think about that for a moment -- are the UStardian goatfuckers getting dumber every year, or do their pretenses to "their fair share" of intelligence simply increase in step with food and fuel costs (not part of inflation numbers, mind you) ? []
  10. By which he means, the one glorified secretary working in a building under three letters that have as much to do with practicing psychiatry as they have to do with computer science. All one soap! []
  11. No, they never think these things through because lots and lots and lots of mommy-hos nobody's ever said no to, that's why. It fucks with their heads. []
  12. Think about it -- if intelligence didn't offer the option of being as dumb as you wish up to a certain ceiling, what the fuck good would it be ? Who would possibly want intelligence as a floor ? []
  13. Cuz that's precisely how everything's gotta work, over there in common "law" goatfuckistani lands, a huge pile-up of scammers scamming scammers scamming scammers. And they're so clever with it, too! It's an achievement by consensus! []
  14. Yet precisely nothing has changed : A lunatic with a bloodied axe could be ringing at your door! This is how socialism goes, one bureaucrat or other is going to kill some people. Do you really give a shit if his name is specifically Adolf, or Djugashvilli, or whether the lettering on his desk is QFT or BWU or anything else ? Socialism is socialism is socialism, you already bought all the downstream the day you bought any of it, that's how dealing with the devil goes.

    The spittoon, it's always in one strand. []

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4 Responses

  1. Per Official Truth, 59 is supposed to be squarely in the ballpark of diapers, bedpans, sponge baths. Rather than a fella who e.g. maintains a working pistol, getaway car, etc.

    This is the major weakness of the premise of "IQ test", even in its traditional application (measuring stupidity) -- it is quite unlike e.g. fingerprint, you can get four strong men to hold down a prisoner to get his fingerprint, but who can do this for test with puzzles? If someone doesn't want to solve, he won't. Even when solving doesn't lead directly to electric chair, lol, but simply (like most prisoners, and for that matter children) "can't be arsed."

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 8 August 2019

    There's another angle to this same issue : I tend to ask pretty young things who socially appear to threaten being smart whether they've ever had an IQ test, and what it came out as. They universally come up with a positive followed by some three digit number ; and they universally feel flattered by the... well you know, sudden recognition of what they imagine is their achievement.

    I on the other hand simply mark the cuntlet down as moron-once-removed and move on ; because the important point about IQ tests nobody seems to ever tell the precious cuntlets of great intelligence & evident import is that... it's an industrial fucking measure. Its design domain and intended utility have to do with the mass handling of mass humans, generally for purposes to do with the military-industrial complex. IQ is measured to sort the morons sufficiently moronic to be found interacting with that chumpatron in classes of moronicity, so as to avoid giving rifles to anyone who'll end up shooting your gunnery sgts and to predict what sort of needs a regiment-sized assemblage of them is likely going to present. "Just how fucking stupid are these idiots" is the problem IQ tests attempt to solve.

    Unsurprisingly enough then it's about as meaningful to measure IQ past the hundred as it is meaningful to measure any other healthiness of people -- like persay have a 160 L[iver]Q[uotient] or K[idney]Q[uotient]on the basis of platelet function or creatinine clearing so remarkably average as to be 1.6 times average-er than those of an average sample etcetera. You can't have a liver better than in good working order, and you can't meaningfully have an IQ over 100, irrespective of what the "global warming"-style pseudoscientists misunderstand their numberic method as.

    That said, and thereby bearing in mind that the meaning of two digit IQ is both very well documented and extremely well understood (while the meaning of three digit IQ is entirely imaginary), an IQ of 59 promises you that you'll be dealing with an broadly educable individual who can learn to care for himself, and who can therefore be employed in work with a very high routine factor, as long as direct supervision is available. He's perfect for teamwork and gangwork, such as unloading ships, picking fruit, etcetera. He might do okay cleanning floors, especially in open space plans, selling movie tickets or highway tokens (as one of multiple booths) and so on. He might be able to live alone but will probably do best in some kind of supervised arrangement. There's generally no directly obvious genetic or brain damage causing low intelligence, just "normal variation".

    The individual you have in mind, bedridden and completely dependent, is generally in the 30 and below range -- almost always with abundant co-morbidities which generally make it physically impossible for him to complete tasks even if he were cognitively capable of managing them.

    This said, it is indeed strictly impossible to prevent any individual from scoring anywhere on the scale between 0 and his "actual" (or rather, maximal) IQ, for the obvious fucking reason discussed both by the original article and in footnotes.

  1. [...] Atkins v. Virgina and the Execution of the Mentally Retarded [...]

  2. [...] Here's an example of what I've been talking about. [...]

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