In the final hours of September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia executed an innocent man. Troy Davis, born 1968, had been wrongfully convicted and subsequently murdered after spending nearly two decades in prison. In spite of cries of protest from former presidents, the director of the FBI, the pope and countless activists, Davis was killed for a crime he did not commit.
Such is our thirst for blood- and it is blood that we’re after.
We might dress it up as “justice” or a “deterrent” or any number of grotesque charades, but make no mistake, it is an emotional drive for vengeance that is overwhelmingly behind this. Christopher Hitchens, complicated man that he was, got it right when he called the death penalty “Human Sacrifice” in his 1997 debate on the subject.
We seem to have, as a society, a twisted sense of justice. We’re happy to serve up a person- any person- for slaughter to convince ourselves that justice as been done. Someone‘s got to pay when a crime is committed, whether or not that person actually did it seems of little consequence to us, as evidenced by the long and still-growing list of innocent men, women, and yes, even children who we’ve sacrificed for our appetites.
For this reason, today we’re going to be addressing the foundations of the arguments in favor of the death penalty. Continue reading