Here’s what I’m thinking today about David Powell—the man the state of Texas will kill on June 15th.
Why is it that the American justice system can’t have you whipped? Or pinch you? Or knock you up side of the head? Or have you caned? Or raped?
But it can KILL you.
I’m being absolutely serious, folks.
Remember Michael P. Fay—the American teenager who was caned in Singapore back in 1994 for vandalism? Remember how the western world recoiled in horror at the thought of the government having the right to enforce corporal punishment against criminals? I mean, even those of us who privately thought that there were a whole bunch of teenagers who’d really benefit from a good caning, held ourselves back, and thought, “Maybe he did deserve to be caned, but we can’t just let the government go around walloping people willy-nilly.” Because that’s a really dangerous concept—especially when you can’t even trust the government to count your vote properly, or calculate your taxes honestly, or clean up an oil spill. I mean, we can’t let the folks who brought us the “hanging chad” decide whether or not to smack us around, for goodness sake.
And aside from being a dangerous concept, it’s also an uncivilized one. Because who would want to live in a country where government bureaucrats had the right to cane or flog our mothers and grandmothers and brothers and uncles?
I mean, they do it in Saudi Arabia. Over there, they’ll even cut off your hands or feet as a punishment for stealing.
And then, of course, we’ve heard despicable stories from all corners of the world—from Bosnia to Somalia—about governments and tribal authorities that actually order women and girls to be raped. Like this article, here, about a tribal council that actually ordered a young girl to be raped in order to punish her brother for taking a stroll with a girl from a higher caste: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/jury-ordered-rape-of-pakistani-teenager-647080.html
Now, something like that could NEVER happen in America for a whole bunch of really good reasons, but one of them is because we like to think of ourselves as a civilized country—where criminals face humane punishments, like going to prison or community service. Not to mention a whole variety of constitutional protections we Americans have—like freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.
But honestly, I want somebody to explain to me why it’s appalling and uncivilized for the state to slap you, or have your pinky-finger cut off—no matter what evil, despicable, vile, child-molesting, unforgivable act you might have committed—but it is appropriate and civilized for the state to kill you?
How is it “cruel and unusual” for the government to pull your hair real, real hard, but not for them to have you strapped down and injected with a bunch of lethal chemicals?
I think that if we rephrased the question—if we stopped asking folks if they believed in the death penalty, and started asking them, “Do you feel that government employees should have the right to kill you?” then we wouldn’t have a death penalty in this country anymore.
Because who in their right mind would ever agree to that?
And in the meantime, David Powell, who murdered Ralph Ablanedo—a police officer, husband, and father of two children—has eight days to live, before he’s poisoned to death by the civilized state of Texas.
And here a clip from a movie about David, featuring his spiritual advisor:
And here’s a website devoted to David’s case:
And here’s a link to Amnesty International’s clemency campaign on David’s behalf: