Thursday, October 06, 2011

It's Murder, I Tells Ya!

"The executioner's face is always well hidden."

Bob Dylan


See that person in the photograph at the top of the page? His name was George Stinney. On March 23, 1944 he was arrested for the killing of two little girls, Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 8. What evidence did the authorities of Clarendon County South Carolina have for charging George with their murders? That's a no brainer: The victims were white. No white person could possibly have committed such a heinous crime - and young George was the closest available nigger. On June 16, 1944, eighty-one days after the girls' bludgeoned bodies were found in a muddy creek, George Junius Stinney Jr. was strapped into the electric chair and executed by the nice folks of the state of South Carolina.

He was fourteen-years old.

Now listen, folks, I understand that our culture has this positively religious obsession with killing black people, and I've got no problem with that. Honest! I am white. For me, apathy is a cinch! But it would seem to me that we ought to have a second or third look into our sick, dysfunctional love affair with the entire idea of capital punishment....

Okay, I'll level with you. I was just being facetious. I'v
e got a HUGE problem with this.

The recent execution of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia - for a murder he was more-than-likely innocent of - has me thinking once more about this incredibly nasty topic. It was hammered home once again just a few days before Troy's death, at one of the GOP debates, when certain "Christians" in the audience cheered when NBC's Brian Williams pointed out the fact that Governor Rick Perry has pre
sided over more executions that any other governor since the Civil War. There was a palpable blood lust emanating from this mob.

"Blessed are the merciful
For they sh
all obtain mercy."

Jesus of
Nazareth

Indeed.
It's not as if I speak from a position of ignorance. I've had friends and loved ones who were murdered. Screaming for vengeance - and even getting it - would not have done my soul any good whatsoever. I think Christ was onto something there. We could kill Mark David Chapman tonight at sunset. John Lennon will still be just as dead as he was when the white sheet was placed over his face on December 8, 1980. Chapman might be a murderous psychopath (not to mention a First Class asshole) but killing him would have been pointless. Every public statement John ever made tells me that he would have agreed with me on this point.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Lennon? Can you tell me where he's gone?

FLASH! DEGAN PLAYS THE RACE CARD!!!

Well, yeah! That's the card American society has dealt itself. I'm an American. What the hell; I'm gonna play it to win.


But I'm playing more than the race card - much more. With respect to capital punishment. the more appropriate thing to call it would be the class card. Sure, you're much more likely to get murdered by the state if you're African American. They are killed in higher percentages than whites. Don't deny it. But it's more than race that's involved here. In this country they only kill the poor and the middle class. When was the last time you heard of a rich guy being chauffeured down the Last Mile? Come to think of it, I'm not aware of it ever happening. OJ Simpson viciously killed two people - two white people! Despite his obvious and undeniable blackness, he was never even considered for lethal injection! Simpson - although not born into the white power structure - was a "token" member of it. We can't be setting any precedents now, can we? Say, by the way, what ever became of that guy?

And don't come back with the argument that the wealthy don't kill. They do kill. They kill all the time. They kill every day. They kill for sport. They kill for pleasure. They kill for fun. They kill for shits and giggles. And unlike the poor, whom - when they do kill - usually do it one human being at a time; the wealthy kill in astronomical numbers. Have you visited Iraq lately? Let's hear it for the Halliburton and the Bush Mob! An estimated one million Iraqi men, women and little children are dead at their - our - hands. Whoopee.

And remember this: No poor person in the history of humanity has ever been accused of genocide. Think about it.


It would seem to me that the only time black people are spared the death penalty in this sick country is when they kill other black people. That's different, That's cool. Can you see the murderous hypocrisy here?

Every other country in the western world has done away with this barbaric, medieval practice. (Although there is a cabal of extremists in merrie olde England who have started a movement to bring it back. There are a heck of a lot of brown people living in London, you know!) Why the hell are we the last holdouts? What the hell is the matter with us? You want to cut back on
spending? ELIMINATE THE DEATH PENALTY! By doing so, we would save the states untold billions per decade. How much do you think it cost the state of Georgia to keep Troy Davis on death row between 1989 and 2011? I don't have the numbers in front of me but it had to be a couple of million - maybe even more than a couple. Now multiply that number by twenty-three hundred, which is roughly the current number waiting to be put to death. By doing away with the death penalty we would save a fortune. Cut back on spending? Can we talk???

But maybe there are some things, expensive as they may be, that feel too good for some of us to give up. There is a connection here to be made to certain American "traditions" that are ominous and disturbing. Right up until the middle of the twenti
eth century, lynching was perfectly legal - even honored - in certain regions of this country.

It was no
t uncommon for the "gentlemen" of a community to gather 'round some old oak tree on the outside of town to enjoy the spectacle of some poor bastard being strung up by his neck. The crime often involved the violation of some stupid racial taboo. There were a lot of stupid racial taboos in 1955 - north and south. I am reminded of Emmett Till (Photo left) who on August 28 of that year was brutally beaten to death for allegedly flirting with a white woman. He was visiting cousins in Mississippi at the time of his murder. When his body was bought back to Chicago for his funeral, his mother insisted on an open coffin for her son. She wanted everyone - with the stomach for it - to view her boy's bruised, bloated and bloodied face. She wanted the world to behold what hate had done to her child.

By the way, like George Junius Stinney, Emmett Till was all of fourteen-years-old. Isn't that sweet?

Lynchings are no longer legal. But at least an execution gives certain people the pleasure of gathering outside the death house, awaiting the executioner's light signaling
that the condemned man (or woman - remember Karla Faye Tucker) has been killed. It's not nearly as much fun as watching a fellow human being's eyes bulging out if their sockets, desperate for breath - But hey! - it's all they've got!

But seriously folks....

It's not very likely that the death penalty is going to be abolished any time soon - not with the Roberts Court anyway. If the next president is a Republican and is allowed two or three more appointments to that body, it will be decades before it is gone forever from the American legal system. The recent case of Troy Davis has caused many of us to pause for a moment of reflection. Most of the "eyewitnesses" who testified against him later recanted their testimonies, saying the police coerced them into identif
ying Troy as the man who murdered Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. He was probably innocent - but the state went through with his execution anyway. People of conscience - on both sides of the capital punishment debate - are troubled by what was done to Troy Davis.

Maybe this is the beginning of the end. Maybe.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

The Sermon on the Mount
by that guy Jesus

AFTERTHOUGHT:

In m
emory of Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Not sinc
e Thomas Edison or Henry Ford has another human being changed our world as he did - for good and ill - mostly good. A tip of the hat and a raising of the glass to him.

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

"The Money Masters"

Special thanks to my friend Jacqueline Janecke for making me aware of this very important - and riveting - documentary. It's a bit long (a little under three-and-a-half hours) but worth every minute of your time - and then some. It's title says it all. No further explanation from me is needed. Here's a link to watch it on You Tube in its entirety:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXt1cayx0hs
"You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

William Jennings Brian

BREAKING NEWS, 10/12/11:

Hey everyone in England! On Saturday the fifteenth the people will be occupying the London Stock Exchange. READ ALL ABOUT IT!
http://occupylondon.org.uk/

Don't even THINK about trying to stop it. This movement is unstoppable. The line it is drawn. The curse it is cast.
For more recent postings on this positively reprehensible, French-loving, lefty-leaning, latte-swirling, cheese-eating, commie-kissing site, please do go to the following link:

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Cheers!

16 Comments:

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Rubye Jack said...

I also have a HUGE problem with the death penalty, and that's regardless of whether the person is innocent or guilty. The worse part of it is how the thinking of a people who actually enjoy the death penalty is so sick and so erosive to our entire country. I'm surprised we don't televise executions. Yet.

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger Rain said...

I used to support the idea and use of a death penalty based on no doubt and for particularly heinous crimes not committed in passion. I say used to because I've changed my mind based on how it's actually used, how each state can basically lynch if they so choose, and then this summer my experience of being on a felony jury trial where I got a first hand experience of what it's like to have to come to a verdict based on partial evidence or even maybe tainted evidence and lies. Where it comes to life and death, we have to imperfect a system to allow it even in the case of where the original criteria I was thinking would apply. I am in agreement. We should end it nationally because if it's not done on a Constitutional and federal level, the South will never give it up nor stop applying it as we have seen recently and in your example.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Ronni said...

I've been in favour of the DP for a long time, thinking that people who murder put themselves outside the rules of humanity, and need to be permanently removed from the gene pool. However, that attitude did not take mistakes into consideration. After I had been following domestic abuse murders for several years, I began to see that it might not be a good thing. First, because of the cost. All those appeals...which cause the convicted to be on Death Row for decades, at rates more expensive that housing them in the general population of the prison. However, when SCOTUS stated that a person could be executed even in the face of possibly exonerating evidence, I realized that we have gone truly nuts. The idea is to punish the correct criminal, not just to pat ourselves on the back for following the letter of the law.

I have backed way off my original stance on this. I'm not sure I'm ready to totally eliminate the DP, but my mind seems to be leaning that way.

 
At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Mary Jo Welch said...

Strange Fruit
Composer: Lewis Allan (aka Abel Meeropol)
Recording Artist: Billie Holiday
1939



Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves
Blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
The scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
for the rain to gather
for the wind to suck
for the sun to rot
for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop


Meeropol and his wife later adopted Robert and Michael, sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of espionage and executed by the United States.

The country insists it is founded upon "Christian" principles and yet refuses to follow its core tenets.

I hear the volumous shout, "Barabbas!"

I'm with Ghandi, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Just the Facts! said...

Yes I agree, the death penalty should be stopped on born and unborn humans!
Like Ronni said, "the idea is to punish the correct criminal",both born and unborn criminals, but under our system how can we be 100% sure that is happening 100% of the time?
I agree with Rubye Jack when she says she's surprised we don't televise executions. I believe the reason we don't is because if the execution of both born and unborn humans were televised, the overwhelming demand from all Americans would be to stop executions, death penalty's now.

 
At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom,

When are you going to comment on what Rick Perry carved on that big stone at the entrance to the family camp? Maybe you should contact Dan Rather to see if he has any incriminating documents.

 
At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Mary Jo Welch said...

If life begins at conception, and that is what I am attributing to my Roman Catholic education, and you consider abortion execution, do you, in your continuum, include IVF clinic where "conception" has taken place and these lives are frozen until no longer needed and then incinerated as medical waste?

Pro-natalists amuse me. Most often they do not want to increase social assistance rates to even MEET the standard of poverty let alone surpass it. Is not living with a life-long sentence of poverty equal to a "living death?"

Ah, it is so true, a society that would rather kill them than review the cost, if you cannot shame them into humanity. Then, if you can keep life you starve it of food, dignity, pride, respect, humanity. And what is better than being bereft of all of that? DEATH.

 
At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Just the Facts! said...

Mary Jo Welch

I agree with your position that it is wrong to increase social assistance rates to avoid having to live a life-long sentence of poverty. It's awful to starve life of food, dignity, pride, respect, humanity. So let's keep the death penalty for those humans who have been found guilty of a crime worthy of that penalty. Sure will save society a lot of money to not have to take care of those criminals the rest of their lives, don't you agree?

 
At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom,

I think Mark David Chapman has served his time and should be set free. If he knocks off another Beatle, when can always put him back in jail.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Rain thoughfully suggests that capital punishment is legalized lynching. It is mere blood-lust revenge at best.

It is not a deterrent. It costs more than a life sentence. Yet we still lynch the guilty and the innocent.

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Anonymous....

I agree with you. Chapman has served his time. Releasing him, however, would be problematic.

I have noticed there are a lot of homicidal Lennon fans out there who refuse to get the message.

All we are saying is....Never mind

Tom Degan

 
At 2:01 AM, Blogger Catharine said...

Anonymous --

It's too risky. We're running out of Beatles. Besides, if we let Mark David Chapman out, and he kills another Beatle, but lets Hootie and the Blowfish live, maybe the death penalty isn't such a bad idea after all.

(I'm kidding. You know that, right?)

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger Rick Staggenborg, MD said...

The death penalty is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the perversions of justice and political use of the "justice" and penal systems.

Here is a link to a podcast on the topic of these problems,from the racist aspects to the use to promote the war on drugs/poor people to the privatization of the prison system: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sfpiradio/2011/08/13/soldiers-for-peace-international

This just in: Georgia want to fire public fire fighters and replace them with prisoners who can provide "free" (actually slave) labor to fight fires. Would you want convicted criminals in your house when you had to be outside?

SFPI Radio is the voice of Soldiers For Peace International on the worldwide web. Please hit the "follow" button to receive automatic notices of upcoming shows.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger killing Mother said...

I love your recommended reading for this one. Jesus is not the first, nor will he be the last peacekeeper whose name is uttered on the lips of those intent on killing. The problem is, of course, Western civilization, which thrives on the killing and exploitation of all the living and non-living entities on earth. The arbitrary lines we draw as a culture to delineate which killing is "good" and which killing is "bad" simply illustrates the inherent pathology.

 
At 2:35 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household."

-Matthew 10:34-36 (words of Jesus)

 
At 4:34 AM, Blogger Sheria said...

@ Harley A.: Words of Matthew from a book filled with contradictions. If only Jesus had a laptop, perhaps we would have an accurate record of exactly what he said rather than interpretations from men who were products of their culture and time period.

Matthew 10:34-36 is absurd and hanging one's belief on such absurdity is irresponsible and dangerous. According to the Bible, if "thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out" Funny how no one gives that directive a whole lot of merit.

 

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