Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Media takes a moral stand - When it's Good for Business

I don't want to turn this age into a political battleground, as I'm content with its move towards "Daddy Blog" but I am bothered by the media and popular reaction to the execution of *convicted* cop-killer Troy Davis.

In the 20 years since the murder his side has certainly won the 'battle of the press' and fostered a myth around his actions that day, and the identity of the 'real' killer.

I wasn't there. I also didn't run the investigation and see every bit of evidence, both that which saw light in the courtroom and that which was ruled inadmissible. I didn't sit on the jury and weigh the pros and cons of what was in front of me. I didn't sit on any of the judicial reviews and comb through the evidence again and again.

So I don't know if he was truly guilty, and I never will. Of course, unless your bio reads different than mine, neither do you. So, lacking any personal evidence and unaware of any conspiracy theory that doesn't reek of fiction, I will support the decision made by the judicial process and reaffirmed by it time and time again.

Do I support the death penalty? Yes. I'm not overly keen on it, but I have no moral outrage at the thought of a killer meeting his end at the end of a (legal) rope. On the other hand, having spent the last 37 years in a state without the death penalty, I don't yearn for its expansion.

Is it merely legal revenge? I think that's an overused argument. To some extent all punishment is a matter of vengeance, simply by its nature, but if our system was geared towards that goal alone there'd be a lot more 'tit for tat' sentences out there. The last time I checked battery convictions don't result in a state ordered beatings. It seems to me that the death penalty is, like it or not, what it's advertised to be: a dramatic, supreme penalty for a heinous crime.

But let's switch gears. Put aside Davis' innocence/lack thereof aside. I am appalled - and I do not use that word lightly - at the hypocrisy of the political left. A consistent running theme of this media circus has not been the Davis case itself, but how the death penalty as an institution is a black mark against our society. Any such use of our judicial power, I have read time and again, soils our collective soul.

As I write this, is leading with a story that reads "Troy Davis may be dead, but his execution has made him the symbol for the global movement to end the death penalty." Actor Alec Baldwin has tweeted non-stop on the issue in the last 12 hours, and among his doozies is:

Wonder if the [cop's]family will seek death penalty for US leaders who killed thousands of US soldiers and countless innocent Iraqis

Which leads me to my point. This isn't about Davis. It isn't about race. It isn't about justice, or changing the world. It's all about a blind reflexive devotion to your clique, in this instance the 'cool kids' who believe their primo seat in the cafeteria depends upon their devotion to Davis. (BTW, Alec Baldwin is a smart man. But I would lay down money that most of the celebs yapping about Davis couldn't pick him out of a lineup - no pun intended).

What evidence do I have for this? Well, there's this: earlier in the day, mere hours before Davis met his end, a Texas man was executed. I heard no great media defense of this man, no strong and unwavering devotion to the philosophical notion that state sponsored killing was wrong.

Why not? Because the Texas case wasn't good theater. He was a white man, an admitted racist, who was convicted of the brutal dragging death of a black man fifteen years ago.

Apparently, public objections to the death penalty are decided not by a consistent moral code but by whether or not you can get some good press out of the deal. And a racist white guy just doesn't fit the bill.

I am saddened, not by the death of two human beings who in all likelihood had no compunction about dealing out death themselves, but by a society that seems all the more fragmented and shallow because of the existence of a man named Troy Davis.

That may be his biggest crime of all.

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