For those who don't know, Troy Davis was executed last night after the US Supreme Court refused to stay his execution. The execution is fishy, which I will get to as I write. But my main concern is the public reaction to this.
People were cheering. And Ann Coulter wrote, "For decades liberals tried persuading Americans to abolish the death penalty, using their usual argument: hysterical sobbing. Davis is the media’s current baby seal of death row."
I quote Howard The Duck -- "I'm only going to say this one time -- you are all behaving abominably."
As always, AS FUCKING ALWAYS, this turns into whether or not the death penalty is okay. It's never whether it's okay in that instance.
And THAT is the fucking problem.
I support the death penalty. I know lots of people who do. But here's the key difference between us and people like those cheering at the execution -- we support the death penalty when someone does something 1) sufficiently evil and 2) you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they did it. Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, would have been a great candidate for the death penalty. Wait...why does he just get prison while Troy Davis gets the chair? Could it be because Dahmer is white and Davis was black? Ya think?
This is the reason for the stances we have. The justice system has had a long history of being abused by those in power, used to keep those that aren't as well liked under the thumb while protecting those that should be held accountable. The case of Troy Davis has too many things that just don't add up. There are people who do far worse crimes that don't get what he did, black or otherwise.
Here's my litmus test for whether I would go along with the death penalty in a certain case -- is there any chance I'm wrong about this? Because, if I was actually going to flip the switch, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if he was innocent. More to the point, I wouldn't be celebrating that I had a valid reason for offing another human being. Anyone who looks forward to killing someone, that's psychotic behavior. The correct response to the death penalty is, "It needs to be done," not, "Yay! It's going to be done!"
The opposition to the death penalty has nothing to do with fair justice. It has to do with, "What if you're wrong?" Here in Illinois alone, we've seen several people who were on death row for decades sprung. And not by the system that put them there, but by independent journalists and students. No kidding. Procedural errors. Faults in the evidence. All kinds of things that could have sent an innocent person to the Afterlife.
And I can't prove it, but I know it's happened.
I know that, at some point, an innocent person was killed after being framed up by the police. And any chance to prove otherwise is lost in cold trails and evidence that was mishandled or "we didn't think we needed it anymore." Police who believed they framed a guilty man and are now whistling past the graveyard that they filled.
Davis had too many problems with his conviction. Do I think he did it? Can't say, I didn't review the trial record, so I don't know what evidence was presented, what was denied, and what was spin. But there are enough questions raised by the behavior of the cops and prosecutors that I don't feel killing him is justified.
The death penalty debate is constantly phrased as an all or nothing deal, completely overlooking the dangers such extremism entails. People want blood, and they don't care how they get it. And when I think of the people that try to divert everyone's attention away from, "He might be innocent" to "how can you not support the death penalty," I wonder how they would feel if things were that shaky and the clock on their lives was winding down anyway.