Sunday, April 20, 2008

And now a word or two about Capital Punishment

The purpose of this little essay is to make a plea against state sanctioned murder and is not meant to advocate the execution of the president of the United States nor any of his esteemed underlings.

Cool photo, though, huh??
It boggles the mind to ponder the extent to which the United States is so out of step with the rest of the world. It is tempting, I'm sure, for the half-witted flag waivers to shout that we are a step ahead (or several for that matter) of the rest of the planet. But the undeniable fact of the matter is that we're several steps behind. Or, to put it in terms of a tangible timeline: Over half a century behind the rest of the free world. Whether it be health care or gun control, the good old U.S. of A is in a class by itself. Stated more concretely: we're at the bottom of the class. Look at it this way: if our health care system is as good as the plutocracy claims it to be, why then has no other country on the face of the earth bothered to copy it? Why have they all copied the English system? The answer to that question is embarrassingly obvious: health care in this country sucks. No doubt about it: America has much to learn and a long way to go.
No where else is this nasty little truism more crystal clear than in regard to the topic of the Death Penalty. Why did other civilized societies abandon this barbaric practice decades ago? Why are we the last holdouts? Why?? HELLO??? We're Americans! WE LOVE TO KILL!!! When states all over the country abandoned the electric chair a number of years ago for the seemingly more "humane" method of lethal injection, a lot of us got pretty upset. The only thing the needle did was make a victim go to sleep. But all you had to do was strap one of them onto ol' Sparky and those bastards suffered, baby! Oh yeah, we love to inflict pain, don't we? At this very moment your government is in the process of inflicting torture against men they deem as prisoners of war - in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions - and the overwhelming majority of us just don't seem to give a hoot in hell. We're Americans, dammit! We can do anything we want! The rest of the world doesn't dig it? The hell with 'em!
The main problem with capital punishment, in my opinion anyway, is the fact that it is so grotesquely unfair. It is always the poor and uneducated who are executed. Can you remember the last time a multimillionaire Yale grad went to the death house? No, neither can I. Is it because the rich are above murder? Are you kidding me?? The rich kill other human beings all the time! They do it for fun and profit! More often than not, they're able to hire an army of high priced lawyers who then obtain a neat and hasty acquittal.

Not long ago, one of the heirs to the Max Factor fortune was convicted of a particularly grizzly killing. Not only was he not even considered for the death penalty, he was able to escape for a time to Mexico (He could afford the bail). And if you're black??? Cast ye hope to the wind, brother. The reason so many Americans favor the Death Penalty is because so huge a percentage of its victims are African American. That is not merely my own opinion, that is an undeniable fact. If tomorrow, a federal law was passed that guaranteed that anyone convicted of murder would be executed - no exceptions - capital punishment in this country would cease
to exist overnight.
And while we're on the subject, what living American is a more perfect candidate for the noose than our nitwit commander-in-chief? You may find that to be an extreme example but think about it for a minute: The guy ordered the U.S. Military into the sovereign nation of Iraq in order to plunder the second or third largest oil reserves on the planet. As of today, over a million Iraqi men, women and little children (not to mention over four-thousand American troops) have died as a result of this hideous little guttersnipe's greed and incompetence. Sixty years ago, we were sending Nazis and Japanese war lords to the gallows for as much and - in some cases much less!

If and when George W. Bush is found guilty of serious capital offences and war crimes, I'm all in favor of sending the disgusting little twit to the Hague. He won't be put to death there. Then again, maybe we need to put him on trial in this country. The American people would never tolerate the execution of an ex-president - even so vile a cretin as Bush. Maybe his certain demise at the tip of a poisoned-laced syringe is just what this silly country needs to come to its senses. Maybe the very sight of the First Fool on the gallows would force the people to come face to
face with the inhumanity that is capital punishment. On second thought, this could be a great test case. From this day on, all people who believe in justice should demand that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney pay with their lives for their crimes against humanity. What the hell! Let's see what happens.
Some may read this piece and say out loud, "Tom Degan doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. He'd think differently if he ever had a loved one murdered in cold blood!" Well, in fact, I have had a loved one die in that very manner - not to mention a couple of friends. My position is that the killing of people who commit such horrible crimes solves nothing. Why add to the carnage? What earthly sense does that make?
What has always tickled the heck out of me is the position taken by so many "Christians" with regard to the death penalty. They remain totally blind to the obvious contradictions between state sanctioned murder and the teachings of Jesus Christ. John 8:1 tells us of the day a woman (referred to in the scriptures as a "prostitute") was caught in the act of adultery. Mosaic law required that she immediately be stoned to death. Jesus, who was teaching at a nearby temple, told the mob that was descending upon the poor gal:
"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
One by one, they placed their stones on the ground and walked away in shame.
Don't you see what Christ was saying there? He was preaching against capital punishment! There is no room whatsoever for misinterpretation - NONE! So how do we get the practice of state sanctioned murder to conform to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth? It's quite simple, really: It should be mandated - by law - that from now on, the person who "throws the switch" (so to speak) has to be someone who has never committed a sin in his or her entire life! Someone like....Oh....I don't know....Barbara Bush maybe? Or how 'bout Phyllis Schlafly?? You see the utter absurdity of this, don't you? I knew you would. I just knew it!
In 1992, Bill Clinton abruptly left the campaign trail to head back to Arkansas to oversee, in his capacity as governor of that state, the execution of a man who was so severely retarded, he had the I.Q. of a three year old. During his years as governor of Texas, George W. Bush would refuse to commute the death sentences of people of even questionable guilt. The 2000 campaign was just around the corner and he had to prove to the knuckleheads who tend to vote in Republican presidential primaries that he was "tough on crime". In a 1999 interview with Tucker Carlson, he mocked the recently condemned Karla Faye Tucker. Quivering his lips, he jokingly implored, "Please don't kill me, Governor Bush." Both Bush and Clinton are self described "Christians". Go figure.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
In the words of the late, great Lenny Bruce: "Thou shalt not kill means just that!" For the record, Lenny was an agnostic Jew. Yet he had a better understanding of the meaning of Christianity than Dubya and Bubbah combined.
And finally there is the inconvenient truth that in a country where American Idol is valued more than the American Constitution, to say that a jury of twelve, average men and woman is going to be somewhat flawed is kind of an understatement, don'cha think? We'll never know precisely the number of innocent people who have been condemned to death by a jury of their peers - but it is safe to assume that it is an unacceptable number. Historical hindsight tells us that Mary Surratt (photo left) who was the first woman in U.S. history to be executed by the federal government for the part she was accused of playing in President Lincoln's assassination, was more than likely innocent of the crime she was charged with. She was hanged along with three co-defendants on July 7, 1865. The murder of Mrs. Surratt did not bring Abraham Lincoln back from the dead.
"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
Forgive them for what? I think it is worth noting that when Jesus Christ uttered those words, he was being put to death by the enemies of righteousness. Not to worry, though. On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures. NICE!!!
The total abolition of the Death Penalty is an idea that is long overdue. That this inhuman practice is being committed on an almost weekly basis inside the walls of prisons all over the country only demeans us as a people. It is un-American and un-Christian. Or at least that is how my civic and religious upbringing forces me to interpret it. My Jesus was a man flowing with love, mercy and compassion. What was your Jesus all about?
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
The sleeping giant of the Religious Left is awakening from a long and troubled slumber.
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
by Thomas Merton
Penny Per Copy:
Assorted Writings of Dorothy Day and The Catholic Worker
edited by Tom Cornell


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Didn'cha just figure as much?


At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US Supreme Court ruled on lethal injection the day the Pope arrived in the US and when in the White House speech used the phrase "culture of life" a phrase "W" is very fond of.

I found the timing of these two events disturbingly ironic.

I have long believed that the so called "pro-lifers" have co-opted and bastardized the term pro-life of which they really know nothing.

Nor does the Pope or our President.

Dr. Rick Lippin

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous John Harragin said...

A lot of the 'so called christians' are old testamenters at heart. In amazing displays of biblical agility, they can ignore the teachings of Jesus while assigning the harshest judgment that the the old book has to offer. These people miss a main purpose of his message (I think I'm talking about your Jesus here). It was a positive message. Something to do with love. In contrast, the old testament was cast in a negative sense - don't do this, don't do that...or we'll kill you. Kind of harsh. Although it has long been used by government from ancient times to Stalin or our current friends in DC. Maybe it's a plot?

Anyway, Jesus recognized that this wasn't a very healthy way to live. Sadly, the negativity persists in many christian traditions...

New topic: Tom you bastard, I'm working on a tune called 'The Road to Leavenworth', I think your essay has scooped me again - you say exactly what I want to say (although my version is probably 5000 words less - grin).

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, the blood lust of our "civilization" has previously been demonstrated (US government policy towards Native Americans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, on and on...). The "culture of death" continues to spread its vile intent to many others that inhabit this planet (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vuetnamese, on and on...).
Is it not amazing that our own children seek bomb making materials to bring to school, or carry concealed shotguns under their trenchcoats?
For an administration that devises strategies to limit stem cell research utilizing soon to become medical waste, or the choices that women can do concerning their own bodies because they claim to be Pro-LIFE is simply to ironic for further discussion.
Unfortunately, we are doomed to reap that which we have sewn.
A culture of HATE can not and will not endure.

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My goodness! Do you realize it's been almost two years since you started this blog? I read your posts as eagerly as ever and hope you'll never stop!

I too am disgusted with the direction this country is going and the image we portray to the rest of the world. We come across as faith-crazed killers with an attitude that the world must do our bidding and follow our lead or be destroyed by us. I haven't been able to pick up an American flag or fly one for some time now. Do you feel uncomfortable holding the flag when the likes of George W. Bush are using this once revered symbol as a cover for their despicable antics? I just can't bring myself to do it! I can't wait for the rest of flag-waving America to realize how bad we've been "had".

That's why it's OK with me that Obama doesn't wear a flag pin. I like to think he is waiting for the right moment to start doing that, like maybe after he gets elected and opens an investigation into all the crimes committed by this administration.
It's a nice daydream, anyway!

By the way, my father who was a country lawyer from Vermont who also practiced in NY in the 60's and 70's used to remark about how awful the courts in NY were. 75% of the cases he heard were "colored" folks, way disproportionate to the population. God, it makes me wonder why more whites aren't murdered in our sleep in this country for our treatment of others not of our own color. I'm in awe of the generosity of spirit so many blacks show me as a white person. I'm not sure I would be so great of heart if the tables were turned.

I like the way you keep bringing up Jesus' life and his words about forgiveness and peace. I have a hard time listening to others about these things, but I can take it from you.

Peace to you...
fearless flower

At 7:08 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Thank you for the kind words, Fearless Flower. I, too, am touched by the generous spirit of most Black people in this country. I could count on the fingers of one hand (and still have one or two fingers left) the number of times in my life that I have been treated badly by a person of color simply because I am White. It really is amazing. As far as the RANT is concerned, I was thinking about the second anniversary just this morning. How time flies when you're having fun, ay?


At 8:00 PM, Blogger stoney13 said...

OK here's the only kind of death penalty that I could ever even CONSIDER!

If a cop is shown to have falsifyed evidence, extacted a "confession" under durress, or withheld excupotory evidence ina capital case, He gets to be the next one on the slab! Same goes for prosecutorial missconduct, and so-called "dry-labbing" where the lab simply parrots the prosecuters' case with no testing done.

If that were done, there would be no death penalty, because no one would seek it

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Derek Johnson said...

Abolition of the death penalty is as popular an arguement to make as peace in America. We could have been quite close to banning lethal injection recently.
Imagine if the make up of the supreme court were different in light of their recent rulings. Of course lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. I beleive the state does not have the right to murder its citizens and am ashamed I live in one of the few countries that still claims such rights/powers.
Bill Clinton's death penalty behavior has deeply troubled me for some time. I was recently thinking of that case as well as Clinton's expansions of the death penalty and limiting of death row appeals when people talked about what he had done for the black community. We know W's atrocious record. As for American bloodlust,
it makes American
"Christianity"(& vice versa) and both will die hard. A Christian friend of mine once pondered why we wear crosses and why do we condone execution if our lord Jesus was executed by his government. What would he say if he came back to see a follower wearing a cross? He joked wearing miniature electric chairs on necklaces would be the same. Amen Stoney13!
Most black people do not hate white people. Everybody has the same hopes,dreams,fears,and love. They also love their country as much as white people--just see it warts and all.
The realities of our injustice system (addressed here as well) in regards to this whole subject is why I(and many people of color) don't get upset about O.J. Simpson. Two people were brutally murdered. We are not "pro-O.J.",we see the system for how it works. That case exposed for all Americans how to get a "fair" trial in this country. It exposed that the system is broken and has been for some time for minorities.It could have started a dialogue about money,class,and sentencing and how to make it fair for all the innocent black men railroaded to the death house. Instead white people were just pissed he got off and could not understand the lack of rage among blacks. I see hope in the numbers of Americans who are against the death penalty now.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Floyd M. Orr said...

I got a bit disgusted with you over your Hillary bashing, Tom, but I am with you all the way on this point. The only problem I have with your post is that it is unnecessarily long, although I mean this as no disrespect to you. I am referring to the fact that the whole issue is incredibly simple. It has only three parts. (1) We got into this habit due to the blood-simple revenge motive of the Old Testament Christians. (2) It costs less to incarcerate for life than it does to murder. (3) Read this in large, bold text: If even one innocent man is executed by the state, that's one too many!

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Prairie Waif said...

Being a political refugee from Ronald Regean's America and now living in Manitoba, I listen to the three national networks on Cable and I cannot *believe* what takes place "in the name of God."

Just this past year, the state of Missouri fed anti-psychotic medications to a Paranoid Schizophrenic so that he would be "sane" enough to be assassinated by state sanction.

It's not "capital punishment." It is assassination for a political purpose.

The question is whose?


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Thou shall not kill.

'Nuff said?

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

History according to the Tea Party

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey tom
You know I love the way you liberals are so tolerant to drug dealers, poisoners, killers, child molesters, anti establishment persons, terrorists, anyone else looking to harm good people, but conservatives, America loving conservatives you mental midgets (yes midgets) have zero tolerance for. Liberalism will get its ass kicked come November and the next two years that moron in the White House will just get ripped apart for his endless crimes of power... Long live the king Obama oh and if I put I picture of that jerkoff hanging by a noose would I be a racist of just an asshole like those liberals....

At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A liberal uses the bible only when it suits their wacked views, if you pinko commie wack job ever read the good book it also says and EYE for An EYE. I don't believe in capital punishment because it is not enough punishment. Oh F$@k that bull dyke Hillary Clinton after 8 miserable years of the messiah Obama we need real leadership, not a repeat of Benghazi .


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