A man named Troy Davis was killed this week. Many people died in the United States this past week, we are a large complicated society, there were many tragedies I am sure; drunk drivers, illnesses that could have been averted, or the loss of a child to a senseless accident. However those deaths weren’t done in my name. Troy Davis’s death was committed by the State of Georgia, in the name of the people of the United States.
I, for one, refuse to accept this as justice.
I am not a Christian, but I have read Jesus’ teachings. I don’t understand the preaching of Christian values with the blood lust of the death penalty. Didn’t Christ say turn the other cheek and preach forgiveness? The death penalty is about vengeance and Americans love their “vengeance” or more accurately violence. Actually, there are appropriate individuals who should seek vengeance, namely white men, others should allow them to act in their name (women and the side kick/minority male).
Our culture has devolved into synthesized gladiator sport (football and ‘action” movies) while mouthing the virtues of forgiveness and turning the other cheek. Note that most high paid movie actors are action stars who as white men frequently spurn the laws of society to seek vengeance on someone who has “done them wrong”, usually by killing their wife or child or both. They are renegade hero’s who must ‘honor” their loved one, by murdering someone else.
Frequently this display is very black and white and of course white is right. There is no discussion of why the individual killed the wife or child, normally it is just a sadistic exercise by a very “evil” person and the audience can feel good about routing for the hero in his adventure to slay the “evil” because the person is not human, they are dehumanized into a monster. In the end the monster almost always dies, the hero is vindicated and rides off into the sunset with his replacement women and all is well in the world.
However, our society isn’t shot in black and white and rarely is there actual an eye witnesses or cameras catching the murder on film. We have a legal system and police who are over burdened and sometimes take short cuts. Also individuals have rights. Human rights; which include the right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I don’t know if Troy Davis was innocent or guilty, but I know there were questions about the process that convicted him, recanting of testimony from witnesses and little or no physical evidence linking him to the crime. At law we call this “reasonable doubt” and in a criminal case at trial it would result in a verdict of not guilty. Unfortunately for Mr. Davis, this evidence was presented post conviction, and the State chose not to review his conviction or commute his sentence. Vengeance on the march. Mr. Davis was dehumanized by his conviction in the eyes of the State, but what of the virtue of forgiveness?
What if the man is not guilty?
The reality is this society views the Christian "virtues" as weakness and runs toward the Roman Coliseum piped into the living rooms or movie theaters for this week’s installment of violence. That civilization fell -- this one is slowly killing itself as well with the same tools: greed, violence and inhumanity. We view this idealized vengeance as a limit on the violence of our society when in actuality it is a further perpetration of violence.
In such a society can we really fool ourselves into thinking that we can judge someone fairly and put them to death while calling the United States a Christian nation? There are too many contradictions in logic and in our culture for a reasonable person to feel the vindication of vengeance in the death penalty in this country.
We are teetering on the brink of another historic fall of civilization complete with greed, corruption and gladiator sport.
Unfortunately for Troy Davis, and this society, he was thrown to lions this week.