At 10 a.m. Monday morning of March 3 (2014), while most of Washington, D.C., lay quietly under a blanket of snow, the U.S. Supreme Court rang with nerve-wracking arguments over the fate of Florida death row inmate Freddie Lee Hall.
The question at hand was whether Hall, who in 1978 helped assault and murder a 21-year-old woman, is intelligent enough to merit the death sentence. The court’s decision could set new national standards for assessing the mental capacities of death row inmates. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that executing people who are intellectually disabled qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, which is unconstitutional, but it left individual states to establish their own means of assessing a defendant’s level of impairment.
Since the 2002 ruling, Florida has opted for a strict definition of intellectual disability as having a score of 70 or below on tests that measure a person’s IQ. The state says that Hall’s average score puts him above a “bright line” of 70, and therefore makes him eligible to be executed. But Hall’s lawyers and mental health organizations, including the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association, argue that Hall’s assessment does not include the standard 5-point margin of error built into the design of the test. If that uncertainty is considered, Hall would not be eligible for the death penalty, they argue. (1)
IQ 69. IQ 71. Smart. Stupid. Capable. Not capable…
Small differences can make the difference between death or life.
Categories are based on arbitrary limits.
And we decide those limits.
If we let go, if we stop thinking for one moment, every category of ideas will be lost in an instant.
Our whole structure of philosophy and thoughts will collapse.
Most people would be afraid of something like that.
Great philosophers would simply pray for their house collapsing in a bang…
How about you?
Do you feel comfortable in your house?