The quotation, spoken by the wizard, Tim, from Monty Python’s “Search for the Holy Grail” reminds us that death for American prisoners awaits them at the pointy end of a hypodermic needle. Tim is not one of the US Supreme court justices, thankfully.
Our wise and just Supreme Court recently ruled 7 to 9 that death by lethal injection is legal according to our US Constitution. Justice Stevens agreed with the majority that the procedure itself, which was the basis of the court’s ruling, was not unconstitutional. However, the 88 year old justice added to his opinion: "the risk of executing innocent defendants can be entirely eliminated by treating any penalty more severe than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as constitutionally excessive."
To my mind, I a nation that is apparently so strongly turning evangelical Christian, I find it the height of hypocrisy that these same people support the death penalty. But they do in droves. No cute little baby fetuses should die, but those nasty ugly criminals, well, nasty big pointy teeth await you all. Aren’t these the same religious zealots who want the Ten Commandments nailed to the walls of courtrooms? Right, I mentioned hypocrisy already in this paragraph. What would Jesus do? Have them drop their pants and turn the other “cheek”, I guess. Ok Ok, I’ve made my hypocrisy point.
For the rest of us who are not mindless religious drones, our standing in free world as a bastion of justice and liberty should be an embarrassment. The countries with the highest executions for capital crimes in 2007 were (in order) China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, USA and Iraq. And the US numbers were actually down in 2007 as executions were placed “on hold” waiting for the Supreme Court decision. How proud we must be to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on this issue with other freedom-loving countries such as China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When I was a kid, my Mom wouldn’t allow me play with kids like that.
The truth is that the American justice system has had some rather remarkable and increasingly frequent “oops” moments. DNA or other exculpatory evidence is increasingly coming to light forcing the release of incorrectly convicted criminals. It seems like every month or so is yet another story about some guy who served 23 years in prison based on the testimony of a single hop-head spurred on by an overly-zealous prosecutor. It stands to reason that it is highly likely that this country has executed innocent people. Yes, I grant you that some of these innocents are pretty nasty guys; mean, tough, lying SOBs. I won’t any lose sleep over these guys spending the rest of their lives in prison.
Oh, but you say, the death penalty acts as a deterrent. This is the argument of a moron. Criminals in general either have lost, or never have developed, the capacity to project the consequences of their actions. Most are acts of impulse while others either believe, or don’t bother to put in the thought process, that they will ever get caught. Nobody stands there and ponders, “Hey, I better not stab this guy or I could get the death penalty”.
I would rather have the US join the ranks of the “civilized” countries - all of Europe, (including Turkey), Canada, Mexico, parts of South America, Australia; you know, the countries where Democracy rules!!
The fact is that anything we as a Nation say in any world forum is tainted by how we treat our own criminals at home. How can this country be the world spokesman for freedom, justice and equality when we kill our prisoners like totalitarian countries the likes Libya, Qatar, Cuba and Somalia?
The Statue of Liberty should be hanging her head in shame.