Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts on Death and Freedom

Naturally, I am sad and distraught to hear that the land of the free and home of the brave -- also known as "my" home country, the U.S.A. -- has killed another of its citizens, officially and in the name of "justice." Killing in the name of justice is just as terrible as in the name of religion. But we do it. (Well, the executioners do the actual deed -- but there are so many more responsible, like when oil companies, defense department contractors and fictitious presidents are all responsible for the deaths of millions in their awful wars. )

But killing in the name of justice when there is SO MUCH DOUBT as to the convicted person's guilt? That is just pathetic and evil. Any 'tween can tell you the U.S. justice system is supposed to find guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." Not so for Troy Davis.

I saw a tweet from Melissa Harris-Perry suggesting "something to do with the pain": donate $11.08 to the Innocence Project, taking the amount from the time they killed Troy Davis, at 11:08 p.m.

The death penalty is one of the most flawed aspects of the U.S. legal system. The way it is enacted, upheld and applied has been shockingly bad. Innocent people have been exonerated too late. It has been unfairly doled out. It is so thoroughly and essentially problematic that multiple states have got rid of it, investigated it, declared a moratorium on it -- and many countries in the world have done the same. Ended it. Ended the practice of killing citizens.

I am donating to the Innocence Project, a great organization I have learned a bit about over the years. But I wish there was something I could do for the innocent people who have been strapped to a chair or gurney or whatever, to see their government -- the people who are supposed to protect and serve and organize and take care of society -- kill them. I can't imagine anything more frightening then watching people calmly, methodically kill you. But when it is the people you are supposed to count on to protect you, like parents or spouses or your society's government? What can be worse than that?

A bit later, with CNN International still playing in the living room as I got ready to go to work, I saw the jubilant U.S. citizens who have been freed from prison in Iran. They landed in Jordan and bounded down the steps from their airplane. They made a statement to the media expressing their profound thanks to those who helped free them, and their hope for freedom for all of the political prisoners and people unjustly locked up around the world.

What an unsettling moment. Some live and go free. Some die. The world keeps turning. What is each of us doing to make sure the part we play leads to peace and actual justice?

1 comment:

Chad Rector said...

See first paragraph here:

Scalia explains: simply being innocent is not enough to overturn a death sentce