Wednesday, September 21, 2011

One Last Appeal In The Matter of Troy Davis

In one more attempt to bring reason to the case of Troy Davis, and every person The State sees fit to sentence to death, I wrote the following at the behest of Amnesty International UK:

I will not vouchsafe the merits of Mr. Davis' case; to me, they are irrelevant. What is relevant, in his case and the case of every inmate the State seeks to murder in the name of "public necessity," is that by taking such action, you drench your hands and mine in blood that need not be shed.

If we accept the proposition that a living, breathing human has the right to the integrity of their life, whether we are taught this as part of religious teachings or civics lessons, or simply because we enjoy our life and inherently understand the "wrongness" of the purposeful and premeditated ending of such a life, then we cannot, we should not, countenance the taking of life in our name, through the agency of the State, which we brought into existence as an extension of ourselves. If one person has no inherent right to take the life of another person, then we cannot logically conclude that hundreds upon hundreds of us -- in the guise of the State -- somehow has a greater right to do so, nor the implicit right to ignore the admonition against the murder of one person. Execution is a symptom of the hold of Medievalism on our modern society, and it has no place where we consider ourselves an enlightened, just, and fair people.

Do what you know in your heart to be right and end this despicable spectacle.

We cannot countenance murder in our name. Medievalism has no place in the 21st Century. If only each letter, each call, each FAX, each Tweet, each blog post, were a physical poke, like the pecking of hundreds of thousands of birds upon the conscience of everyone involved in this travesty. If only.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Georgia On My Mind

I wrote a letter. I signed petitions. I voiced my opinion wherever I could. I prayed. And I was not alone.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles did not hear. Did not listen. Did not want to listen. Could not accept even the simplest argument against putting Troy Davis to death: it is hypocritical. Hypocritical for a "Christian" nation to stand by the Biblical and moral admonition against the taking of another person's life, and yet have no trouble with allowing the State the power to do what we ourselves have stated we will not, as if the creation of the State imbues it with some form of shield against moral ambiguity, or worse, proclaims it to have some authority capable of overriding even the highest admonition in human society. Apparently, when handed to the State, a soul no longer has any meaning to anyone.

There is nothing of justice in this decision, only the need to quench a thirst for vengeance. One hesitates to pin ulterior motives on those who are left with the weighty responsibility of determining who shall live and who shall die, but even an iota of doubt should be sufficient for anyone to see it reasonable to choose life over death, for the system must always err to the side of conservation and justice. To beat a hasty path to the executioner's chamber in the face of reasonable doubts is the mark of those who would see their power unchallenged and their prejudices confirmed.

One would hope the merest hint of this execution would stick in the craw of a decent person, but if it were to do so only after the fact of a man's death, this would not say much for those who claim aegis over clemency or those who claim to revere life. Execution is a tool of emotion, a hearkening back to the Middle Ages, to the triumph of fear and prejudice over reason and humanity. It is a tool that is best relegated to the shed, abandoned like so many other ancestral barbarisms: stoning, crucifixion, inquisition, etc. A modern society such as ours should not hold on to the egregious behaviors of our past.

One can only hope that there is yet a bolt from the blue, that some reasonable, sensible member of the State moves to terminate this reprehensible act before its culmination. If not, the death of Troy Davis will be another stain upon our American society, heaped upon the many others we have yet to fully wipe away.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Plea For Clemency For The Wrongly Accused Troy Davis

There is a man named Troy Davis, who is in prison in Georgia, and is facing execution on September 21st, unless there is a stay. The simple story is: 20 years ago, Mr. Davis was convicted of killing a police officer, with no physical evidence, and the testimony of several witnesses. Several of those witnesses have come forward to say that their testimony was coerced by the presence of law enforcement officials, and they have recanted their stories. There is a tremendous amount of doubt now, and it behooves the State of Georgia to re-open the case and award Mr. Davis a new and hopefully fairer trial. So far, the government of Georgia has shown no inclination to do so, and so, many individuals such as myself, through the auspices of the Internet, have been involved in a concerted campaign to convince the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant a stay and allow there to be a new trial. As such, after the break, is a copy of the letter I am sending to the board.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Long Roll

One by one
The names waft
Upon the air
Sent aloft in pain
And joy
And sorrow
And remembrance
To take flight
To rise above
To soar over
The huddled masses
To fill that space
Where once stood
Mighty towers
That they might
Rise above
The hate that
Felled them
And fill once more
Hearts with hope

They Fell, We Rise

10 years.

A decade of birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths, new homes, graduations, retirements, that 2,977 people (at last count) have missed, because on an ordinary day, September 11th, 2001, they were going about their business, oblivious to the machinations of nineteen men bent on destruction in the name of their perverted idea of Islam.

There is no singular tragedy of that day. Radiating out from the moment at 8:46 AM when the first plane slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the tragedies moved outward at the speed of information, rippling waves of doubt, uncertainty, pain, and horror. These waves swallowed up and swamped people from New York City, out across the United States, and into the wider world. Some were devastated. Some were elated. Some were confused. Some were numb.

In an oblique way, the Twin Towers were, as the terrorists saw them, representative of America, or more specifically, the core of our values and beliefs. Together, they were tall, strong, elegant, powerful structures, a commanding presence at the lower end of Manhattan, as America had been in the world. They reached upward, pointing the way toward the sky, toward the future, as America has always done. They were filled with a broad cross-section of our society, from the powerful to the poor, the old and the young, from many creeds, and many races, and many places, just as America was (and is). Their collapse -- abrupt, slow, stately, smoky -- represented perfectly the fall of our air of invincibility, the wrenching of our expectations for our nation, the tearing away of blinders from our eyes, and the desolation that would be left behind after the smoke cleared.

10 years.

The rubble may be gone from what was named "Ground Zero," but it has not been cleared from the hearts of many of us. Some think that we are belaboring the tragedy. Some think that we are disturbed. Some think that those of us who were not directly affected that day -- losing a loved one, being a first responder, working on the site -- have no business being upset. So many, too many, have written the day off, pushed it to the side, accepted it as history, and chant the mantra of "it's time to get on with life." But... it's not so simple. Wherever you were that day, whatever you were doing, whoever you were, to be exposed to such a momentous and devastating event was to have to process something inconceivable to the normal, steady mind of the average citizen. Perhaps some have the mental capacity, the intestinal fortitude, the hardened feelings to simply allow such a thing to hit them only a glancing blow. Perhaps some can absorb, process, and deal with the matter.

Some of us are not so lucky.

Call it whatever you like, by whatever yardstick you use, but I still carry pain from that day, pain that does not simply bloom and flower ever September 11th, but lives with me and intrudes on my life in unexpected ways. It may rear up its head when I hear my children fighting in the way siblings do. It may manifest when I have left my home and cannot remember if I told my wife I love her. It may seep from the shadows whenever a plane flies over my house at low altitude. It hides within the folds of memory, and pours forth unbidden. I believe much of it is due to the incredulity of the moment; more of it, I feel, is some pent up guilt I hold, for not running downtown to help. I know, in the light of reflection, that there was little one more person could have done, but I have never been the shrinking violet when there was an emergency around me. To be rendered so immobile, to be held in abeyance by abject fear, is so unlike me that perhaps I have had trouble reconciling it. Others might be willing to overlook it, but I am having trouble doing so for myself.

I will be there on Sunday, along with the throng of others in their various states of grief and memory. I will be looking to perhaps, finally, put aside the worst of the day, to wash off the feelings of horror and despair that have clung to me like barnacles. I can't say if I will be successful. I can't say if it will help. But for the memory and for the hopes of 2,977 people, I must try, for as they fell, I must rise. We must rise.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Take Not A Life Lightly

By now, the tumult has swept over the nation from corner to corner: a Republican Presidential candidate stands before a room as states he has had no trouble exercising the death penalty, and is lauded by the crowd with applause. For a moment, one might have noted the exuberant and keening voices of the Colosseum amid the clapping, for it was a spectacle best suited to that forgotten time when fighting men and condemned souls were made to dance in death for the approval of the crowd, and their Emperor dispensed his own brand of "justice," by making it a sport of blood.

You might think your author hyperbolic, but I report only what sensation comes to me when events transpire before my eyes and ears. It was a singular moment, like so few I have witnessed, that horrified and enraged me. Were I not better prepared for it from the commentary I read prior to watching it, apoplexy might have welled up from within me. For this moment, unlike many of late, sets the tale of this country in the starkest relief, casting a shadow across a nation that prides itself on equality, integrity, faith, and justice.

People Who Don't Belong In Government

  1. Those who think government is evil
  2. Those who think government is incapable of solving problems
  3. Those who think government should not be solving problems
  4. Those who think government has no obligation to support its citizens.
  5. Those who think their form of worship is superior to the works of humanity and want to impose it on all citizens
Government is only as capable as those who run it. Placing people incapable of accepting government for what it is in positions of importance, is the surest way to destroy a nation. We need people who can be open-minded, fair, reasonable, compassionate, and who will compromise to get work done, not party sycophants or fear mongers or power grabbers. America suffers, where it cannot follow the precepts outlined for it by its founders: that each of us is equal and each of us is responsible to ourselves and to our fellow citizens. Those who cannot see themselves as part of a greater whole cannot possibly work toward the greater good.

Friday, September 2, 2011

They Pledge Allegiance...

Of late, we note the spate of candidates for, and holders of, high offices in our nation signing pledges, to groups and organizations, that they will not raise taxes, that they will ban same-sex marriage, that they will repeal the health care law, and so on. They are all in earnest, believing that such pledges make them exemplars of what it means to govern the United States, that they are willing to commit such action to paper and place their name upon it.

Nothing could be further from the truth.