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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just A Number

 The US state of Virginia plans to execute a 41 year old woman named Teresa Lewis on Thursday.

  The grandmother was convicted of hiring hitmen to murder her husband and stepson in 2002 for their life insurance payouts. She had previously tried and failed to have her two family members assassinated before 2 men, one of whom was her lover, successfully carried out the hit. The disgusting stain on humanity even offered sex with her 16 year old daughter as incentive to the assassins. What's more- as her husband lay dying, she rifled through his pockets and waited nearly an hour to call 911.

  All-in-all this should be a cut-and-dry case except for the argument of the defence. According to her attorneys, Ms. Lewis' IQ is too low for her to be given the ultimate punishment for her abhorrent crime.  You see, according to the DSM-IVTR, mild mental retardation is considered to be an IQ of 69 or lower and Teresa Lewis' attorneys claim her to have an IQ of 73. While the Supreme Court has determined that the severely handicapped should not be executed, I believe that relying solely on an IQ test to determine culpability is a serious flaw, and here's why:

  Baseball player Reggie Jackson and movie tough guy Dolph Lundgren have the same IQs as Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Albert Einstein. While I'll never win a Nobel Prize, mine is higher than these men but pales in comparison to that of Johan Goethe and even former bouncer Chris Langan.College dropout Madonna's IQ is higher than Jodie Foster's, and George W. Bush's IQ is 27 points higher than his dad's. Art legend Andy Warhol's number was a mere 86 and people revered him. IQ is quite obviously not the sole determining factor of intellectual capability.

  IQ is less a measurement of knowledge than abstract thinking, and is certainly not a measure of ability to feel remorse, since there are severely retarded folks with an inflated sense of it and highly intelligent sociopaths. Teresa Lewis is in the same intellectual category as Muhammad Ali, Vince Young, and Jeff George- all men who have done well for themselves indeed. One would expect that if Pro Bowler Vince Young were to have murdered someone, nobody would have a problem with executing him.

  Teresa Lewis used sex and money to convince men to kill 2 human beings while they slept in an effort to acquire instant wealth and support her painkiller addiction. She obviously has the capability to be legally married more than once and to formulate a plan to kill not only a man, but also do it in front of his son. She also had the inherent inhumanity to offer her own child up for molestation to see the plan through.

  The websites and petitions do identify Teresa Lewis' addictions and learning difficulties whilst stating that she has also been employed throughout her life.  They whine that her accomplice was given life without parole while Ms. Lewis was given the needle. But they don't detail the savagery and callousness of the carefully calculated actions that resulted in the conviction in the first place. There is nary a word about the worthwhile lives taken before their time, not a pixel to represent her assisting in the abuse of her daughter, not even a single syllable describing the appalling motivation for the early deaths of two citizens.

  Teresa Lewis is a cold-blooded killer and just because someone else got a lesser penalty for the same crime doesn't mean that her sentence is unjust. Her IQ may be low, but there was nothing small about the magnitude of her disregard for her fellow man.

I am personally opposed to the death penalty, but if there is ever a reason for it, this would certainly be one.

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