Death Doesn’t Take a Holiday

September 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm (Uncategorized)

The carrying out of  Troy Davis’s death sentence last Wednesday was certainly tragic, but hardly unpredictable. Davis had been on death row for over twenty years for killing a white cop. And despite the lack of physical evidence and the recantation of many witnesses who identified Davis, there really wasn’t much doubt he would be put to death. Although he had the support of many prominent figures and a 600, 000 strong petition to save his life, Davis was ultimately unable to stop the execution.

It seems that justice must be seen to be done. To whom it is done appears to be of lesser importance. Especially when a poor, non-white or working class scapegoat can be found. The World Socialist Web Site has a good piece on Davis’ execution

And in an ironic moment, if Davis was a good case for the abolition of the death penalty, Lawrence Russell Brewer who was also put to death the same day was not. Brewer, an avowed white supremacist, was convicted of death of James Byrd jr, an African-American who was dragged to death by Brewer and two other from the back of a pick-up truck.  Brewer went to his death apparently unrepentant for his action. Byrd’s son however was opposed to the execution of his father’s murderer.

As if to make the proceedings even more squalid, in the aftermath of Brewer’s execution, Texas, the U.S. leader in executions decided to end the practice of allowing a prisoner to choose his last meal. Brewer apparently ordered a large menu and ate none of it.

 Perhaps, its best to end with Albert Camus’ word on the subject.

Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.

        — Albert Camus Reflections on the Guillotine, 1956



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