Posted by: Cobb County Liberal | May 20, 2009

Personal evolution on death penalty

I was not always against the death penalty.

My tenth grade American lit class had an assignment to do a persuasive speech. I chose animal testing, mainly due to my veggie-PETA-member sister who had a lot of gory pictures. A friend in the class, Marylou, did hers against the death penalty. I remember asking her questions like, if a person came in and killed your mom, wouldn’t you want him/her to die?

I knew my political leanings in high school. I was a liberal on everything but the death penalty, as I was for it.

That is, until 2001. And the execution that turned me initially against the death penalty was the Tim McVeigh execution for the Oklahoma City bombing. What finally made me against the death penalty was not fears of the death of an innocent person, but the disgust over the media hoopla surrounding the execution at the federal prison in Indiana. New crews were out in full force at the prison, waiting outside, counting down the hours. The entire nation became obsessed with putting this man to death. That was frightening.

In college, I became more liberal. That doesn’t sound too surprising, but I did go to Georgia Tech, which has a pretty conservative campus. One of the issues I became more liberal on was the death penalty. I did research, found cases of probably innocent people put to death, got involved with the death penalty moratorium campaign, and cheered when the Illinois governor declared a moratorium.

Now I am completely against the death penalty, this time for moral reasons…something I never saw coming.

I started out in favor, and then against in disgust over bloodlust, moved to disgust towards innocent death, and have ended up somehow in moral outrage.

No one has the right to kill someone else. Period. And that has become one of my core beliefs.

If I stretch that to the extreme…well…that makes me a pacifist. And I don’t know how I feel about that yet. It war justified to end a genocide? WWII was certainly just, wasn’t it? If I were ever in the situation where it was kill or be killed…I honestly believe that I would still not kill. That just goes against all common sense. But, then again, isn’t that a definition of belief?

Whenever Georgia puts someone to death, which is all too often, its in the papers for weeks with final appeals, and of course the story before, the story day of, and the story post execution. These thoughts have bubbled up once again with Troy Davis.

Most of the witnesses have recanted their testimony. That’s enough to warrant another trial in my book.. Hopefully also in the Supreme Court’s book. But I doubt it. And I bet Georgia will once again kill someone in my name. Someone quite possibly innocent. And I will mourn again.

Bless you to everyone who continues to fight capital punishment – you are heroes.

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