This isn’t really a commentary on the death penalty – although, that being said, my views on the death penalty have been, at various times, various things. I’ve been for it, I’ve been against it, I’ve been neutral. A particularly heinous crime, particularly crimes against children, make me long for it; but intellectually, I know what a barbaric and inconsistent practice it truly is. It unfairly discriminates against minorities; 98% of the chief district attorneys in death penalty states are white, and only 1% are black; as reported by the Death Penalty Information Center, “since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence . . . From 1973-1999, there was an average of 3.1 exonerations per year. From 2000-2007, there has been an average of 5 exonerations per year.”
“It is far better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man is wrongfully convicted … We know from bitter experience that juries get things wrong.”
And so, with Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis’ death by lethal injection looming in less than 24 hours, I’ve had a watershed moment. I watched protesters outside my office building downtown Chicago tonight, protesting Troy Davis’ death . . . in this era of minute physical evidence and DNA evidence, there was none to tie this man to that crime.
The watershed moment, interestingly, was not so much that I became an avid opponent of the death penalty – no, the watershed moment was my sudden realization that at least half of this country – the half that sits on the right side of the aisle in Congress and the half that calls itself the “tea party” and the half that claim the Republican Party as their home – are obsessed, in love with, death . . . and they’re ready, willing and eager to cause it.
The right wing of this country simply want to kill off – passive-aggressively, or, simply, aggressively – all who are not them, who have had bad fortune or were born poor and Black or whose views don’t coincide with the white nationalist views of the right-wingers in this country.
Nothing highlighted that better than the tea party crowd at the last Republican debate – a crowd of people who laughed and cheered and yelled, “yeah,” when Wolf Blitzer suggested that presidential candidate Ron Paul would simply allow an ill, uninsured young man to die.
I’ve suggested in the past that Republicans are sociopathic and heartless – and here they are, on full display, in the form of a very typical tea party crowd . . . “let him die.”
As recently reported by Addictinginfo.org, Andrew Breitbart – that scourge of the earth but darling of the tea party – directly incited violence against liberals at a recent speech in Massachusetts, whining to the audience, “I’m under attack all the time. They call me gay, there are death threats… There are times where I’m not thinking as clearly as I should, and in those unclear moments, I always think to myself, ‘Fire the first shot.’ Bring it on. Because I know who’s on our side. They can only win a rhetorical and propaganda war. They cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns… I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with.”
I’ve suggested in the past that Republicans are careless with peoples’ lives and similar in character to serial killers – and here they are, on full display, in the form of Andrew Breitbart . . . “Fire the first shot.”
Rick Perry, during a speech in Iowa, made a vague threat against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and engaged in rhetoric sure to rile up the crazy right-wing extremists while talking about the Federal Reserve: “I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”
Perry could easily be nicknamed the “Death Governor,” with his obsession with death. 234 executions – and as the Philly Post noted, “Rick Perry likes killing all kinds of people—kid people, innocent people, black people, mentally ill people, and just plain people people. It really doesn’t matter to him.” This 2012 GOP presidential candidate – leading in the race, I might add – doesn’t care about science or scientific evidence or DNA or any of those pesky little details that might be the difference between guilty or innocence or, if you’re in Texas, life and death. Perry also very possibly signed off on the execution of an innocent man – and then took steps to play politics around it. “Perry denied a last-minute request for a stay of execution in 2004 based on new scientific analysis that there was no evidence of arson at the house. And he later removed several members of a state panel investigating the case — a move designed to delay a politically damaging report from the panel, critics charge.”
I’ve suggested in the past that Republicans are heartless and lacking in any sort of a moral center – and here they are, on full display in the form of Death Governor Rick Perry . . . “I’m actually for gun control . . . use both hands.”
In August, Senator Tom Coburn, responding to criticism that President Obama and Ben Bernanke had leveled against Congressional Republicans, told a crowd, “[It's a] good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor.”
I’ve suggested in the past that Republicans are amoral and collectively suffering from a personality disorder . . . and here they are, in the form of Senator Tom Coburn.
The Pima County, Arizona, GOP had the utter, breathtakingly bad taste to raffle off a Glock 23 handgun – the same type of gun that Jared Loughner used to shoot Gabrielle Giffords a short eight months before. As Huffington Post’s Alex Brant-Zawadzki noted: “Let’s see… with 125 tickets, at $10 a ticket, the PCRP could pull in a cool $1,250 – minus whatever their souls are worth, of course.”
I’ve suggested in the past that the right wing of this country are shameless, soulless, completely lacking in human elements . . . and here they are, in the form of the Pima County, Arizona, Republicans.
GOP 2012 presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are all clamoring for the endorsement of one of the meanest, most vicious, cruelest individuals walking the streets today – Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. That any self-respecting GOP presidential candidate would actually seek out – instead of rejecting outright – the endorsement of a man who sweeps up undocumented immigrants and makes them wear pink underwear, live in tents in “broiling summer heat or chilly desert winter”, who feeds inmates green (as in rotten) baloney sandwiches, is indicative of the entire right-wing movement.
I’ve said in the past that Republicans fit the profile of a classic abuser . . . and here they are, in the form of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
This country is in peril – from the death-obsessed right-wing throngs of people who prowl our highways with their confederate flag bumper stickers, who sit on our juries in their righteous whiteness and judge minority defendants, who shop in our stores and buy guns . . . buy lots of guns. With this obsession with violence and death, with their callous disregard for life (except fetal life), it’s not only inmates, like Troy Davis, who are at risk.
I feel a little bit of Sarah Palin’s crosshairs on my back.