can death be just a “penalty?”


This is not a story about Troy Davis but he begins it.

His story caused a national furor as it was becoming increasingly probable he was innocent and yet—shamefully—was killed by the state of Georgia anyway.

Meanwhile, that same day, in Texas, another man, a white supremacist—Lawrence Russell Brewer—was also killed by lethal injection. Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory held a prayer vigil outside the prison before Brewer’s execution saying, “Christians can’t cry over the crucifixion of Christ and still be for the death penalty.” Continuing, “It’s never all right to kill somebody intentionally. There are people who kill people. They are not the State. They are not the government.” This, Gregory affirmed even though Brewer (and others) chained James Byrd, Jr.’s ankles to the back of a truck and dragged him to death swerving over two miles of asphalt because. the. man. was. black.

Davis, Byrd and Gregory are all black men but that’s not the story either.

This story is about murder.

2010 Gallup survey: 64% of Americans support the death penalty to punish ‘egregious murder.’ Really?! If Gregory can move beyond a ‘personal’ threat (he has black skin so he’s a potential target for others like Brewer) to the higher principle, why can’t the majority of Americans?

I know people who back the death penalty and argue effectively about the recidivism of child molesters, baby beaters, rapists, torturers, serial killers, ad nauseam and want these criminals dead. We do live in a world of common cruelty; I don’t disagree that there are monsters roaming among us. And yet, I can’t feel fine about a large, abstract glob of ‘authority’ murdering others for…murdering others. Geez, I’m against spanking; don’t ask me to ‘bless’ state murder.

I say murder because if I killed a man for hurting, say, my daughter I would be in jail for 1st degree murder regardless of the heinous nature of what the guy might have done.

A small digression here: I often wonder about meat eaters, how many would continue to eat as much meat as they do (or any) if they had to shoot, skin, drain, de-bone, de-feather, butcher, cook and then eat that slab. Be honest—would you?

So, here’s a thought for all you 64% out there in favor of state sanctioned murder. How about we keep the same court system, trial process and sentencing. When the perp is convicted and given the death penalty YOU have to be the one who kills that man. You give him his last meal/s, you lead him to the table or the chair, strap him down, look him in the face, give him the injection, flip the switch.

Once again—be honest. How many of you would still approve of the death ‘penalty’ then?

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