Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taking Responsibility

The State of Georgia is going to execute Troy Davis today. That means that a man or a woman, employed by the State, is going to kill him. This case has earned legendary acclaim. There are a slew of inconsistencies, witness recantations and questions that lead to an abundance of doubt regarding Mr. Davis’ guilt. Despite that, and appeals from former United States President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, and the Pope of the Catholic Church and countless others, a man or woman working on behalf of the State of Georgia is going to kill Troy Davis.

At the moment the United States is involved in a series of wars and conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Our supposed objectives in these places are to introduce democracy and civil society. It is easy to make the argument that we are hypocritical in purporting that we are the standard bearers of civilization while allowing state sanctioned killing here in the United States. Pointing out hypocrisy; however, to people who support murder as a form of vengeance dressed as justice is ineffective. I argue that supporters of capital punishment should not hide behind false claims of Western Civility and human decency.

If the Governor, who has the unique authority to prevent the killing of a man, chooses not to save his life, then he should be responsible for taking it. If he so supports capital punishment as an element of state justice, then he should demonstrate his core beliefs and publicly shoot Troy Davis himself. He would not hesitate to volunteer for a day to teach a 2nd grade class in support of his belief in education. He surely wouldn’t pause to throw out the first pitch for the Braves in support of his belief in sport as a critical component of society. He should personally bear the responsibility of publicly taking another man’s life. Lead by example and take his support of capital punishment to its logical and literal end.

Doing so would unmask the philosophy so we, as a nation, can be more clear about who we really are. We can align behind our leaders based on their public acts. We would be clear that our government kills people despite questions about their innocence. Regarding immigration, we could be clear that we are a nation that will round up tens of millions of working people based on their ethnicity and deport them in an Idi Amin model.

Pointing out hypocrisy to the zealotry is futile. I would encourage public leaders to simply take on more personal and public responsibility about their beliefs. Their doing so would bring some honesty to the state murder of Troy Davis and some clarity to the rest of us on the meaning of being an American.


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