Disclaimer: I am a democrat. I’ve never voted for a republican and although I remained open to it in 2008, much to the chagrin of the rest of my left-leaning family, I haven’t yet met a republican that didn’t say something I just didn’t jive with. I’ve always been pro-choice (and if you equate abortion with the death penalty we can sit down over a jigger or two of bourbon and discuss why you are just wrong) and I think that gay people should be able to get married and you know, I’m kind of down with taking care of our poor and old folks. All of which puts me out of republican territory. So, now you know – if you didn’t before – which way I lean.
Also, I’m not a journalist. It’s not my job to be objective and report on both sides of the issues and then allow you to make your own determinations. This is my soapbox and I get to say what I want how I want in the manner I want. Although, when it came to writing this post, which is about Rick Perry, the death penalty, and innocence, I did try to find stories that would give me a better perspective on this guy. What I was trying to do is understand why people, during the Republican debate the other night, clapped when it was stated that Texas has executed 234 people under his governorship, more than any other governor in modern history.
In case you missed it, during the ‘debate’, the good Governor from Texas was asked if he lost any sleep over maybe, you know, executing someone who was maybe, you know, innocent. He said no. Absolutely not. Because the State of Texas is infallible. It couldn’t possibly kill an innocent person. Could it? (By the way, if he really does KNOW then fuck yeah vote for him. The man is GOD.)
Look, you may not have a problem with killing people. It seems that most Americans are in favor of capital punishment. I also think most American eat poorly and don’t exercise enough and, in reality, most Americans have more in common with Afghan Taliban than they’d ever care to admit. Someday I will run down a list of similarities but let’s just say the Taliban also believe in capital punishment, clap for it, and think their country should be run by a religious zealot. You sure that doesn’t sound familiar?
And, before I continue (God, a fuckload of disclaimers before I get to my point. I would apologize but I’m actually trying to make this go smoother for you all.) I want to say that if I defend people who kill people it doesn’t mean I’m okay with killing people. I know there are some folks who get easily confused by this difference but I’m hoping beyond hope that you can ferret out a difference between those two things. I think killing is bad. If you kill I’m not going to clap for you. See, that’s the difference here. Are we good? Good.
So here’s the thing. Ready for the point?
Innocent people have been executed. Over 200 of them in fact. In Texas the Death Penalty Information Center states that there may be 9 people executed in Texas who were innocent. Innocent. Do you know what that means? It means – They. Did. Not. Do. It.
Imagine you are arrested, charged, imprisoned, convicted, put on death row. And you are innocent.
Perhaps nine isn’t a big enough number for you. Perhaps 212 isn’t either. I mean, considering all the people we’ve executed, what’s a few hundred lives that have been needlessly lost? And besides, it couldn’t happen to you, or someone you loved. But think about it, every one of these people was someone’s son, mother, sister, brother, father, or cousin. Every one of them had people around them shaking their heads saying they could not believe this had happened to them. How could this happen to them.
A judge in Houston had the balls for five minutes to put a stop to the madness saying that “it can be concluded that innocent people have been executed.” And yet Rick Perry can stand there and say he has no doubts at all. I wonder how he answers to this Judge. How does he answer to those who have been exonerated before they have been killed? I understand he couldn’t rightfully say “I’m not so keen on killing innocent folks. I’m hopeful that the process works and I do worry that we are doing this right, but it’s the right thing to do.” You cannot let doubt creep in when you are talking about killing people.
But see, I was about to write that the only way the good citizens of this country would agree with the death penalty is if they were 100% certain we got it right every time so you’ve got to act like you KNOW you’ve got it 100% right all the time. And then I stopped because that isn’t true. The citizens of this country are okay with killing people that might be innocent because if we weren’t we would stop executions and no one would clap at someone’s death.
I’m asking you, dear reader, if you are a supporter of the death penalty to explain to me in clear, unemotional and logical terms how you have come to the conclusion that it is okay to continue to execute people knowing that we have killed innocent people. This isn’t a matter of opinion, but a true statement of fact. I’m waiting with bated breath.