I do try and keep this sort of thing to where it belongs - political pressure groups, private discussion, that sort of thing - but this morning I need an outlet and this is my blog, after all. I'm a member of Amnesty International and an opponent of the death penalty in all cases, but last night was a particularly difficult case to stomach.
Huge doubts remain about Troy Davis' guilt, and he was executed anyway. The method was particularly barbaric - not just lethal injection, with which I have plenty of problems to begin with - but the manner in which it was carried out. To have allowed the execution to progress to the last hours three times previously is bad enough, but last night he was due to be executed at 7pm (EST), and at 7.05 news came that the Supreme Court had delayed it while they considered whether to issue a stay. A little over three hours later, the stay was denied, and at 10.53 the execution went ahead. Who are these people, to toy with a man's life like this? As The Guardian's Ed Pilkington tweeted from the scene, it doesn't matter if he was guilty or not - no human being should ever have to go through that.
Seven out of the original nine eye-witnesses - a precarious basis for evidence anyway - recanted their testimony in recent years. Some of them cited police coercion. No physical evidence linked Troy Davis to the scene. A man died - a husband, a father and a son: his life was taken away from him as he attempted to help a homeless man who was being attacked, and the perpetrator should be punished. Of course he should - life without parole sounds fine with me. We don't need people like that in society. The thing is, if it turns out (as it very well might) that Troy Davis was innocent all along, then there's nothing we can do to reverse what happened last night. I make no bones about it - if anyone hurt or killed a member of my family, I would want to rip them apart with my bare hands just to watch them die. Absolutely I would. Does that mean I should be allowed to? Is it justice or vengeance we're after as a society? Because only one of those is the mark of civilization.