Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Murder by Any Other Name

So now little Jackson, Georgia is on the national map, with CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC and many more news organizations all converged, just 7 miles from where I write this. They have converged on Jackson not because someone here found a cure for cancer or because a huge industrial complex is being built that is going to help thousands of Georgians get jobs and get off of the welfare and unemployment rolls. Not for any positive reason at all. They all converged to cover a murder.
The death penalty---if ever a sentence could be construed as “cruel and unusual” the death penalty qualifies. It’s been said that war is the lowest form of human behavior, and yet in war, which I heartily am against, there is at least a cause, right or wrong, that is being fought for. Thousand, nay, millions have died in wars over the centuries, for a cause they believed in.
There is no cause being fought for in the death penalty. It certainly isn’t “corrective” or “rehabilitative” except in the sense of making sure that the condemned will never do it again. The simple fact that they are in prison already pretty much guarantees that though, doesn’t it?
I never met Troy Davis, nor would I want to, to be honest. It does not sound like he was a very nice guy early in his life. He probably committed a lot of crimes. I don’t know. At the end of his life his public statements sounded very intelligent and thought out. If he was the one to utter them , then I’d say that he made the most of educating himself while in prison and might have been able to contribute something to society.
With all due respect, the murder that he committed, allegedly, had nothing to do with intentionally killing a cop. The officer in question, Mark MacPhail, was not on duty at the time of his killing. He was moonlighting as a security guard at a Burger King restaurant. A fight broke out in a parking lot nearby and Mark MacPhail left his job at Burger King to intervene. Shots were fired, Mark MacPhail was killed, a tragedy to be sure. In the middle of a fight, things happen in the heat of the moment, and I’m sure that was the case on that night.
In court a lot of people testified against Mr. Davis. Later, 7 of them, whose testimony was key in his conviction, recanted their statements, infusing the case with enough doubt that at the very least the death penalty should have been taken off the table, and Mr. Davis should have been left to live out his days in prison. But it wasn’t, and the masses of reporters and media people converged on our little county.
As I said, war at least has a cause, right or wrong. To walk a man or woman into a chamber, strap them down in a chair, or on a gurney, or to a pole, or to let them stand on a scaffold with a rope around their neck, blindfolded, and to then either pull a switch, or drop pellets into a bucket full of acid, or to signal a group of people to all fire bullets into the heart of the condemned, or to give the word to release the trap door so the condemned can fall until their neck snaps, and they die, or to just inject a lethal cocktail of drugs into a shaking arm, all in front of a group of witnesses…is about as barbaric as it gets. We are a supposedly the most sophisticated of creatures. Last night, in a prison in Jackson, Georgia, we were barbarians.


  1. With all due respect, I call BS on your assessment, Jim, particularly your assertion that the simple fact that they are in prison already pretty much guarantees that the condemned will never commit murder again. I take it you've never heard of of Clarence Ray Allen? Jack Abbott (no relation, I hope)? Surely you've heard of prisoners killing guards? More innocents killed because the death penalty was avoided. Wring your hands all you like, but I'll rest easier knowing that Troy Davis can never murder again. Thank you, Jackson, Georgia.

  2. If he murdered in the first place. Of course guards get killed. ever heard of Willie Bosket? My father, a career CO, was assaulted by Bosket, who ended up in 24 hour solitary for life. If an inmate kills a guard, then someone is not doing their job. The crime that Davis was involved in was not a premeditated murder, but one where MacPhail got himself insinuated in by trying to intervene in a fight. There are plenty of premeditated murderers doing life for much more heinous crimes than what Davis allegedly did. Killing someone in such a ritualistic fashion is barbaric, as I said, and Im not wringing my hands at all. The bible thumping hypocrites here in the south will conveniently ignore the Thou Shalt not kill commandment, wont they? Perhaps you are one of them, hmmm?

  3. I'm not a Bible thumper from anywhere, but I am educated enough to know that the correct translation of the 6th Commandment is "Thou shalt not murder" and that there is a significant difference between killing and murdering. There is nothing hypocritical in believing that one who has murdered an innocent should be killed.
    Your attitude towards prison guards is surprisingly heartless considering your father's experience. So it's ok for incarcerated murderers to kill prisoners and/or escape because "someone is not doing their job". The point is that life imprisonment is no guarantee that a murderer will not strike again. Capital punishment is.

  4. My attitude towards prison guards? What attitude towards prison guards? Remember Donna Payant, who was killed by Lemuel Smith? My father was her sergeant, and gave her her assignment that day. She did not do her job properly and got killed for it.Its not my attitude at all, its a fact.
    as for the death penalty, it is attitudes like YOURS that show how far we still have to come as human beings. Ritualized killing is wrong, and you just seem to like the idea of having the power of life or death over another human being. Never judge a person by the worst day of their life, my friend. And since you are so "educated" in the bible, then you must know that the actual commandments do not even include that phrase, and the 6th one is thus: VI. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
    The death penalty is simply not something that we should be using. Lock them up forever, out of reach of other people, but if you kill just one person in error (and we have killed many more than that in error)then that is enough proof that it should be abolished. Now go forth and dont hurt anyone.

  5. And where is there a "correct " translation of any of that gibberish in the bible?

  6. Jim, I'm at a loss as to how you can accuse your fellow Georgians of being hypocrites due to their belief in a text you believe to be gibberish, particularly when it's painfully obvious that you have no serious knowledge of the Bible.
    As for punishment of murderers, what is not cruel and unusual about locking them up forever, out of reach of other people? Given a choice between that and a relatively quick death, the latter seems more merciful. Unfortunately we don't live in the fantasy world you've conceived where prison guards never make mistakes and convicts never scheme to escape by any means, murdering or maiming anybody who might obstruct them. Here in the real world prison guards do get killed (as do other prisoners) and it its not unheard of for prisoners to escape and murder again. It's your attitude that defines a lack of progress in human morality. Allowing murderers to live simply cheapens human life and renders murder less serious. How criminals are punished reflects society's view of the severity of the crime, so by saying all murderers should be allowed to live you are in essence saying that murder is not so bad. Bernard L. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years and he murdered nobody. If somebody takes the life of an innocent, where is the justice in receiving the same sentence or less? I can only conclude that in your view stealing and murder are essentially the same, and that is a moral failing on your part.

  7. Funny that you would choose death over life, no matter where you live it. Its not as if people in prison are suffering. They are living lives, being as productive as they choose to be. How DARE you to tell me that my attitude defines anything to with morality. I actually do have very serious knowledge of the bible, but the bible has NOTHING to do with this. Its a book. That is all.
    You mention Madoff. I happen to thing his sentence was about 140 yrs too long. But at least he is alive, and can talk to people , see his family, watch tv, movies, read, eat, love..whatever he can do. Human beings have NO right to kill other human beings, not even as punishment. Troy Davis may even have been innocent-the proof was not there. You are so sanctimonious in your attitude that all I can do is pity you.
    Of course prisoners try to escape and people make mistakes. Its more a matter of changing the rules to make sure they dont have the opportunity to actually get near the outside world.
    I pity you, and your lack of humanity.

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  9. Georgians are hypocrites becsuse: they believe that THou shall not kill (As stated in the bible, modified to "murder" in the King james version). And yet, they strapped a man into a gurney, and killed him. And cheered about it.
    Who are you to decide what is more merciful? You have quite an ego, dont you? How criminals are punished has NOTHING to do with how society views the crime. In theory it should but for example, here in Georgia, a guy recently got 30 years for selling marijuana. Bernie Madoff steals that most precious of things; money, sacred money, and gets more time than a child molester. Another guy got 8 years for molesting a child. Its all so random and inconsistent. THAt is the real world, my friend.

  10. Why you continue to dig deeper into ignorance is beyond me, but I'm here to help.
    "Thou shall not kill" was not modified to "Thou shall not murder" in the King James version of the Bible. The Ten Commandments are part of the Old Testament which was originally written in Hebrew. The Hebrew word used in the 6th Commandment is רָצַח (ratsach), which, correctly translated, means murder. Hebrew, like English, has two words to distinguish between "kill" and "murder". So once again, Georgians are not the hypocrites here. If you believe that the Bible is simply a book and has nothing to do with this, why did you reference it to begin with? Being a bit of a hypocrite yourself, eh?

    As for Davis' possible innocence? Not bloody likely:

    I'll offer you one more source, though I doubt your open minded enough to give it any serious consideration:

    It's your kind of humanity that allowed Clarence Ray Allen, Jack Abbott, Willie Bosket, James Ealy, Lemuel Smith and countless others to continue killing innocents. You are very determined to argue for these scum and pleased to have them living productive lives behind bars, able to interact with friends and family in ways their victims never will, yet you offer not one word of condolence for their victims. If that's what you consider humane I consider you beyond pity.
    Remember, there is a way to make sure convicted murderers don't have the opportunity to actually get near the outside world. It's called the death penalty.

  11. You are wrong about the bible, (it was changed to Murder frm King James onwards. but no matter. I didnt reference is for any reason other than that here in bible belt it is where they get their "morals" and yet they will kill people randomly using its very ambiguous text. Not that a bible has any business in matters of state anyway.
    By your skewed logic re executing people instead of a life behind bars---by your thinking then your hero Bernie Madoff should be executed, as should anyone serving a long long sentence, whether they were murderers or not. Life sentences are doled out for other crimes as well as murder. Regarding Troy Davis, its not even about whether he was guilty or not. There was easily enough doubt to not kill him.
    Tis is going nowhere. I have no idea who you are or how you came to my blog. I dont even want to agree to disagree with you on this because you are intractable and seem to have spent too much time in a fantasy world, probably getting all your info from rightwing media (they tend to shoot first and be responsible later) instead of living a little.

  12. While you write fairly well, after reading your comments, you seem to feel that it is my job to offer condolences to the families of murder victims. Certainly I am sorry for their losses, but that is not the point. I also feel sorry for rape victims, mugging victims, assault victims, theft victims, and so on but that is a sad part of life. It still does not give us, as human beings whose society has produced these killers etc to then turn around and kill what we churned out. Doesn't work that way.

  13. BTW--I checked your links there and your credibility and motives became patently clear when I saw the name Ann Coulter. If you are using Ann Coulter for your information, then you have no information at all.

  14. When I last read your reply four comments back I was under the impression that you were letting this go, content with your ignorance, but having just returned I see you still need some schooling. I'm not sure what you won at but it certainly had nothing to do with our discussion.

    Regarding the translation of the the 6th Commandment from the Old Testament, it was mistranslated from Hebrew and a simple internet search will show you that the King James Bible has it as "Thou shalt not kill". Here, I'll do the work for you again:

    I don't know how you came to the conclusion that Bernard Madoff is my hero (wrong again!) - I'm happy to see guilty criminals punished for their crime(s).

    For what it's worth, Charles Lane, the author of the first article I linked to, is a Liberal, which means that my research has been more balanced than yours.

    Your compliment about my writing is appreciated. If yours had a trace of reason and logic to back it up I would gladly return the sentiment. I never stated or even suggested that it was your job to offer condolences to the families of murder victims, but if you are going to devote a significant amount of writing to defending murderers, common decency suggests the appropriateness of a word of condolence. As a typical Leftist, your being kind to the cruel leads to be being cruel to the kind.
    Maybe that's what you meant by winning.

  15. This is a perfect example of what your objection to the death penalty leads to:,0,7076813.story