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.