Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Recently I came across a journal named ETC! There was one very interesting story in it based on catch-22 phenomenon. Here it goes...


THE SUPREME COURT decided in 2002 that it’s unconstitutional to execute a murderer who is retarded. The ruling was in the case of Daryl Atkins of Virginia, who scored 59 on an IQ test in 1998. That state put the cutoff for retardation at 70.

Now for the Catch-22: The case attracted lawyers and others who sought to save his life, but the “intellectual stimulation” of reading and writing and learning about abstract legal concepts caused his IQ to shoot up to 76, so he no longer qualified as sufficiently retarded to avoid the death penalty.

Prosecutors argued that he never was “retarded” because in the case he was able to load a gun, recognize an ATM card, and find a remote area for the killing. Another argument: Should a decision to spare his life be made  according to his IQ at the time of the crime or his IQ now?

Since the Supreme Court decision, dozens of retarded persons have been moved off the death rows of prisons. In a new trial, a Virginia jury found Atkins mentally competent and the judge scheduled his execution!

ETC: A Review of General Semantics is a journal founded in 1943 by the International Society for General Semantics. That organization merged with the Institute of General Semantics in 2003 and the Institute has published the journal since that time.

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