I was thousands of miles away when the state of Georgia went ahead and executed Troy Davis .
But distance cannot keep me from being implicated in his killing. I am implicated because I did not do enough to stop it. Because I did not scream and shout. (I did honk feebly to support a lone man holding a sign at the intersection of Punchbowl and King in Honolulu for a few evenings. His sign invited passing motorists to honk to show their solidarity with Troy Davis. At least he was doing something.)
I am implicated because I did not find a way to amplify my outrage and save this possibly innocent man from death row. Because I pay my taxes and participate in a system of government that says it is OK for the state to kill. It is OK for the state to require its prison officials to take a man, strap him to a gurney and kill him, even when doubts exist about his guilt. Even if he were guilty, I am implicated in a killing I want no part of because I am part of a system of justice that considers it acceptable to empower the state to end a man’s life.
Someday people will look back on what was done to Troy Davis and the hundreds of others who have been executed, whether guilty or innocent, and they will wonder: How did we allow this barbaric practice to go on for so long even as we called ourselves “civilized” and basked in the accomplishments of our “civilization?”
Meanwhile, this past Sunday, congregations were told about imminent changes to the Sunday missal, by order of the Vatican. We would no longer be saying “one in being with the Father” for instance. Instead, the Vatican believes it would be more prayerful and accurate to speak of Christ being “consubstantial” with the Father. Nothing was said about Troy Davis. Or the appropriateness of the death penalty.
Personally, I am finding it harder and harder to feel very “consubstantial” with my Church. I am much more “one in being” with all those wrongly taken lives.
Faith Check: The last time I looked the fifth commandment still said: Thou Shalt Not Kill. And there are no plans to tinker with how that is worded.
You feel more one in being with an unrepentant murderer than your own church? Troy Davis was not innocent. He shot a police officer in the face at close range then stood over him and shot him two more times to viciously end his life. Davis claimed, and some news outlets reported that seven of the 9 eyewitnesses recanted. This is just a boldfaced lie. I have read the decision of the trial review judge (all 147 pages). The review judge referred to Davis’s claims of the witnesses recanting as “smoke and mirrors.” Troy Davis was guilty of the crime of which he was convicted.
Looking into the future, will people say we are barbaric for the death penalty? Remember, our own scriptures advocate the death penalty. The fifth commandment is more accurately translated as “Thou shall not murder” as the book it is written in commands ancient Israel to use the death penalty for actions we would view today as minor transgressions.
Or will they say it is barbaric to forget the murder victim and advocate for the murderer, going so far as to try to convince people he should not be punished in the first place?
Without looking it up, can you recall the name of the man who Davis killed?
Mark MacPhail was married with a 1 year-old daughter and infant son at the time of his death. They were sentenced to a life without their husband and father because Troy Davis decided to kill him.
Here is what Sgt. David Owens, the first officer to respond to the murder scene, described:
“My headlights came over a police officer head down in the parking lot. “Mark still had beads of sweat on his head but his face was covered in blood. I cleared his airway, which was full of blood and bits of teeth from the shot, which we found out later was the execution shot. There’s a video shot of me in the ambulance covered in Mark’s blood. Every time this case comes up, I see that video on television.”
You killed Troy Davis. Do you accept the same responsibility for not preventing the death of a husband and father who was trying to help a homeless man who was being attacked by a thug?
Claiming communion with an unrepentant murderer does not make a convincing argument to end the death penalty. It demonstrates an appalling lack of moral judgement.
I’m “consubstantial” with you!
Such cheap shots from Robinson. Calls to mind the current political discourse where unsupported assertions and clever turn-of-phrases mask honest and sincere discussion and debate.
Sorry – meant Robertson, not Robinson.
I strongly believe that when we “kill” a person with the death penalty, that many more have spiritual deaths due to that one killing. The victim’s family rarely feels vindicated, the folks who watch are witnessing death, and the folks who administer it are feeling responsible regardless of the “correct” rationalization used to kill someone. This affects administrators, guards, other prisoners, and priests, preachers, rabbi’s, and other religious leaders who help the families on both sides. It affects the lab techs who created those “death” drugs and are watching them helplessly used as death cocktails with other things. Kind of begs the question of why not bleach and ammonia……So many folks die a little bit and alot inside. So now we have more deaths out there including the spirit of the family who felt the loss most keenly. The spirit of those related to the murder. And I do not know of a God that advocates killing as a pay back. God didn’t write the old or new testament of the Bible. I don’t advocate letting people go either. I think living a life of pure insanity inside of a small room for years and years is punishment and they will die sooner than later once left there without much human contact. We can hope and pray that they repent. We can hope and pray that everyone can forgive and move on. Never forget. No one can forget and I do not advocate forgetting. No one can let go of that rage and hurt inside unless they ask God to release them of that pain and need for revenge. That is something God has the power to do.
Years ago, I learned as a person who used to lock folks up that even if a person that I deemed to be horrible asks for an aspirin for a headache, you give them the aspirin. Because right consequences are one thing, pure torture, power and control over another human being is not acceptable. If it were, no prisoner would have a toilet or food. Look at prisoners of war. The USA has a history of trying to do the right thing for prisoners of war in all of the wars and over time and trial and error, we come full circle to deciding we should not treat people like animals even if they are locked up and even if we think that they are animals in our heart of hearts. We have to take the higher moral ground to remain civilized and to be examples of human rights treatment across the globe.
This is my simple take on things. A civilized society is barbaric for the death penalty. It serves no purpose such as deterring crime. It saves no money, and it only creates arguments like this one.