Give Me Convenience or…

The words come from an unlikely context and from an unlikely man for this blogger. It is an impassioned call to war from a Founding Father who led opposition to the Constitution’s ratification. But I maintain that its sentiment means, specifically, that what’s going on in Georgia tonight is fundamentally un-American.

He is reported to have said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” words credited with urging Virginia into the Revolutionary War. The phrase, though, runs deeper than 1775. It is, I think, the essence of the founding spirit of these Untied States of Amurcka. And it is why I believe that what they want to do in Georgia tonight to Troy Davis runs against the very core of what America is.

If we are truly a country that values liberty more than life itself, then the ultimate punishment the state should possess is that of depriving you of your freedom. Not your life.

There are dozens of reasons to oppose the death penalty. I count highest among them that every execution makes Patrick Henry a god damned liar.

More Mercy Than He Deserved

I’m sure it was utterly coincidental that on the same week my favorite fictional serial killer discovered one of the most horrific pitfalls of his personal regimine of captial punishment, Virginia put John Allen Muhammad to death.

Not the same situation, of course. Once Muhammad and Malvo had been arrested, I often said that I could offer a valid prosecution: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, once these two asshats were arrested, people stopped getting shot. I rest my case. They were guilty, no doubt, but the situation on Dexter this week sure did put the subject of capital punishment right on the front burner.

I would have every reason to want Muhammad shot full of Pentothal, Pavulon, and potassium chloride. It was Malvo, not Muhammad, who was convicted of killing Linda Franklin. But that was MY local Home Depot where she fell, not a 12-minute drive from my house. But I am opposed to state executions for a myriad of reasons. In Muhammad’s case, I simply think it showed him too much mercy.

Muhammad was 48 years old. Life in prison without parole for him would have meant 30 to 40 years sitting in a cell with his own demons, 30 to 40 years of life without liberty, 30 to 40 years of prison life. The good Commonwealth last night spared him that.

It also cut us, the then-terrorized citizens of the D.C. Metro area, off from any chance we might have to answers. Ten years down the road, who knows, this monster might achieve lucidity and offer an explanation. He might even express remorse. He might even, eventually, offer insight into PTSD (Muhammad was a Gulf War vet).

Mostly, though, I object to this execution because it was too lenient. This was a mercy killing, Virginia. All’s you managed to do was to put a miserable, twisted, wounded man out of his misery. Keeping him alive and jailed for the rest of his life would have been a far more severe penalty.

'Humane' My Ass

Court halts Ohio execution, cites injection flaws

CINCINNATI – A federal appeals court on Monday halted the execution of an inmate three weeks after problems with a lethal injection attempt.

A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 2-1 to grant the request of 43-year-old Lawrence Reynolds Jr., who had been sentenced to die for strangling his 67-year-old neighbor during a 1994 robbery.

On Sept. 15, Gov. Ted Strickland stopped the lethal injection of Romell Broom after state executioners struggled for two hours to find a usable vein.

Broom’s execution is on hold while his attorneys prepare for a Nov. 30 federal court hearing. They argue that an unprecedented second execution attempt on Broom violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

I’ve written it here before, and I’m writing it here yet again: There is NO humane way to put a person to death. This country should end the barbaric practice of capital punishment immediately.

Priorities, People!

A leading human rights group appealed to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Thursday to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft and performing supernatural acts.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the kingdom’s religious police who arrested and interrogated Fawza Falih, and the judges who tried her in the northern town of Quraiyat never gave her the opportunity to prove her innocence in the face of “absurd charges that have no basis in law.”

[ SNIP ]

Please take note. This is not being reported to be happening in Iran nor in Iraq nor South Korea. It is happening in Saudi Arabia, where the current president keeps his sometimes home in King Abdullah’s pants.

And, oh, yes. Pakistan now not only has nukes but a missile with which to deliver its payload!

And they invaded what?

Other crap:

  • Speaking of priorities: Dear Arlen. How about letting the National Football League worry about Belichick’s penchant for spying and how about you worry about your president’s penchant for spying? Or at least about former Bushies flouting subpoenas? Stop trying to use your clout to asterisk-ize Super Bowl XXXIX, eh? Nobody cares.
  • Hillary Clinton recently offered up this applause line in Texas: “You have a saying here in Texas, ‘all hat and no cattle.’ After seven years of George Bush, we need a lot less hat and a lot more cattle.” Should Hillary Clinton be using this line, when it would be very easy for the Swift Voters to add the word “futures” to the end of this phrase and make hay of it?
  • Here’s yet another case supporting an immediate national moratorium on the death penalty: “A woman who spent 13 years in prison after being convicted of strangling her 13-year-old daughter has been exonerated by forensic evidence showing she died of a cocaine overdose, a prosecutor in the case said Wednesday.” Please note: Had she been killed to death by the state for her crime, it would be impossible to set her free following her overturned conviction. The death penalty. Is not. Justice. Had it been applied here, it would have been a sad injustice.

Good For New Jersey

There are people in these Untied States who will picket and go to pieces over a zygote who couldn’t care less that there are full grown men and women scheduled to be pumped full of poison and killed on purpose.

I do not understand these people. I actually believe them to be mentally ill.

So, here’s a sentence I thought I’d never in my life put down on paper: Bravo to New Jersey for instantly becoming the most enlightened state in the nation.

With Gov. Corzine’s signature this morning, New Jersey has abolished the death penalty. Bravo to the state for ridding itself of this barbaric, un-American practice.

That’s right. “Un-American.”

We are told when we’re growing up that we are a noble society forged in revolution, and that, as such, many good men and women gave their lives for the ideal of liberty. We are socialized early to the notion that, as Americans, liberty is such a sacrosanct ideal that we should cherish it more preciously than life itself. We are, in fact, now told by our own current president that 3,894 U.S. soldiers have given their lives for the ideal of liberty in Iraq.

The worst, most horrific punishment a society that claims to so adore liberty should be able to mete out should be deprivation of liberty. If liberty truly meant more to us than life itself, then we would consider the ultimate punishment to be life in prison, not death.

A society that practices capital punishment values life more than liberty, by definition. In that society, Patrick Henry’s dramatic pronouncement is no more than myth.

Which America do you want to live in?

New Jersey had more practical concerns. A state commission had found that “…the death penalty was a more expensive sentence than life in prison, hasn’t deterred murder and risks killing an innocent person.”

There are of course many other objections one can find to state-sanctioned killing. It is cruel and has the potential to be unusually so—if, for example, the executioners cannot find a vein, or if the drugs do not have the expected effect, or if the shiny new electric chair instead makes blood spurt out of your body or flames shoot out of your head, for instance, all things which have actually happened during attempted executions. There is no “humane” way to kill a person. None.

The death penalty is racially biased and therefore continues this country’s long history of injustice toward other people based on race. It creates new murder victims, the families of the condemned; it does not actually deter the worst crimes, often committed in the heat of passion; it does not actually create closure for victims; and it actually weakens the stance of the state, morally, ethically. Ending the life of someone you’ve already convicted and incarcerated does not show toughness on crime. Not really. Also: Is it not possible that putting someone to death before they have a chance to feel guilty and tortured and remorseful of their own actions is actually doing them a favor?

No siree bob. New Jersey is right on this one, and it has just become the most enlightened state in these Untied States. And which political party do you think is the one that led them to it? Hmmmmm?