Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time of death: 11:08

Troy Anthony Davis has been legally murdered by the state of Georgia.

I was going to write something about the death penalty, this badge of brutality, this symbol of savagery, which has stayed with us even as most of the world has long since left it behind - but I find I'm too depressed.

Depressed not only by the whole enterprise of officially-sanctioned murder, not only by the particulars of this case, where there is at least a fair chance that the man who was killed tonight was innocent, but right now perhaps most of all by the sheer banality of how it was done, the emotionless announcements that "the execution is in progress" and later of "time of death," that being followed - literally immediately - by an explanation of where media interviews would be conducted. All of it presented as equally routine, equally everyday, equally unremarkable.

It was all so neat, so tidy, so clean, so antiseptic, so proper, all according to procedure as we satisfy our blood lust vengeance while doing our best to eliminate any actual blood so we can pat ourselves on the back about how "civilized" and "humane" we are.

That is where the Fellowship of Reconciliation's old line of "Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong," as pointed and poignant as it is, fails: The death penalty is not about showing that killing people is wrong. It's about "getting back at them," about violent revenge, about the emotional satisfaction of causing pain to those you think did you wrong.

"Justice was served," some said tonight. No, it wasn't. Certainly not in Georgia and not even in Texas, where convicted murderer and white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer was killed by the state. There is never justice where the death penalty is concerned.

It seems I have written something; more than I thought I would at the top, less that I would have under different conditions. Whatever; it will have to do for now.

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