For those in the U.S. paying attention to the news, and probably many outside of America at this point, in about two hours or so the state of Georgia is about to murder Troy Davis. He was convicted of murdering a police officer back in 1989 on the manufactured evidence of coerced 'eyewitnesses' (thanks to the threats by the police to those witnesses [if you believe those who recanted]). Amazingly, one of the to two remaining eyewitnesses who maintains Troy Davis's guilt is the second murder suspect.
Do I know that Troy Davis is innocent? To be honest, I do not. There is a chance he might have done it, although it seems unlikely.
What I do know is that there is probably not too many prosecutors in the U.S. today who could re-try this case, with what is left of the crumbling 'evidence' that condemned Troy Davis two decades ago, and gain a conviction with any reasonable jury.
Then why would I call such an act murder, if I do not know the man is innocent? For the same reason I would oppose taking the life of the man who murdered James Byrd in Texas. Because we are sinking ourselves to barbarism by killing people who are restrained from violence and unable to harm anyone. We are a society that because of the death penalty, our penchant for violence, which includes cheering throngs at the thought of killing people, even if they are probably innocent. Because at the end of the day, when all else is said and done, while justice dictates that we imprison someone guilty of a serious offense, or set them free if he or she turns out to be innocent, we gain absolutely nothing by physically destroying people as a political statement against the act of the very thing we perpetrate on others.
I understand that makes me an evil doer in league with criminals, according to the law and order fetishists (people who usually vote for a party that allows companies to blow up their employees in a mine and call it commerce, coincidentally). Such is the mentality of so many of my fellow citizens at not being allowed to gain some masturbatory kick out of killing people, which in their mind makes you the moral equivalent of the convicts they want to kill. I understand that there are some decent folk who believe the only way to govern society is through retribution (and who do not give standing ovations to the death penalty in debates), but consider what we have reduced ourselves to. A country with otherwise normal people who become consumed by the desire to take life, the same desire we hypocritically claim to oppose when another filled with such similar passions commits the act of murdering the wrong person. But killing people who are restrained and with no ability to defend themselves (I have yet to see a case where an executed person in this country was anything else), people we deem unworthy of life for a previous act, that is somehow perfectly acceptable.
For any reader who considers him/herself a Christian, imagine your most favored carpenter reacting like this:
That is what a culture of death (not the one you contrive out of concern for the status of the pre-born or a piece of tissue) does to you, to all of us. We have created a system where any honest person in a position of authority has to know there would never be enough to put Mr. Davis on death row today, but cannot own up to the mistake, out of concern for costing the state in a lawsuit, and because deep down too many prosecutors in this country prefer to protect their careers over anyone they have wrongly convicted and/or killed. We pretend to hate bureaucracy in so many ways in this country, but when it comes to that apparently imperfection is the preference of the day. More than anything, that is why Troy Davis should not be killed. His life, even if he is by some chance guilty (and it is more than doubtful that he is), should not be snuffed out by the state but preserved, as we practice what we preach when we lecture the Chinas and Saudi Arabias of the world about the importance of respecting the lives of its citizenry. If we cannot respect the lives of our citizens (and that includes those convicted of criminal offenses), then we have no right or business to expect any peace towards those these same elements the respectables deem worthier of life. In a society in which we allow the state to kill in our name, it makes murderers of us all.