17 March 2005

capital punishment and the passion to retreat

Typical texas weather today. Yesterday it was rainy and gray. the temperature never got about the mid 50'a. Today, sunshine and 76 degrees. People in other parts of the country get to put away summer clothes when it's winter. Not here. All of my clothes have to be available at all times. When conversing about the weather, someone always gets around to saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait fifteen minutes and it'll change." I think that's supposed to help us all cope with the uncertainty of it all.

I spent the greater part of yesterday watching the various court proceedings online or on television at home. During coverage of the Scott Peterson proceedings, CNN briefly interviewed a couple of the jurors. It appeared that the jurors were taking it all very personally and I guess it would be hard not to do that after sitting through months and months of difficult photographs and testimony.

One guy did a little commercial for a cd he put together about his impressions of the trial. There's a law in California that prohibits jurors from profiting from their jury experiences for ninety days. When you go to the website he ballyhooed, he does make that statement, but he encourages people to sign up to get a copy when the 90 days are over. Apparently he doesn't find it troubling at all to profit from others' misery. it's revolting.

As for the sentence, I'm opposed to the death penalty, but in California it's actually beneficial to the prisoner to be sentenced to death. They get a nice single occupancy cell, as opposed to having to adjust to living in a tiny space with some fucking criminal. No ever actually gets killed there, so why bother? Actually someone did get executed recently, but that was highly unusual. The hillside strangler guy is still alive, for god's sake. Wouldn't you think they'd just go ahead and kill the guy?

If i were to commit some death-penalty kind of crime, I think I'd much rather just go ahead and be killed. Those cells are very, very claustrophobia-inducing. Just looking at them on tv makes me need to take a valium or something.

I generally keep the anti-death penalty position to myself. At some point I just got sick of people trying to talk me out of it. They always seem to think that maybe I haven't thought about it or something and that I'd come around to the right point of view if they just explain the reasonableness of their position. I guess they expect me to say, "Oh man! I was so wrong! Now that you've explained it to me, I see what a fool i've been." How insulting. I don't try to convert death penalty proponents to my way of thinking. I give them credit for having thought about it. On the other hand, we re-elected George Bush so maybe I need to rethink that part of it.

It's particularly difficult being anti-capital punishment in Texas. Everyone knows how crazed we are here about killing people. For a while there, it seemed like we were lethally injecting someone at least once a week. The pace seems to have slowed down for a while now.

I think that killing people is morally wrong. It's morally wrong when an individual does it and it's morally wrong for the state to do it. It's sort of like having someone steal something you own and, as punishment, you go steal something from them. I mean, it's just indefensible.

Killing people is expensive. It's cheaper to keep them alive and suffering than it is to kill them and put them out of their misery. I'm all for extending the misery as long as possible.

Killing people doesn't work as a deterrent . If it worked, we wouldn't still be needing to use the death penalty because everyone would have already learned the lesson. We'd all be too scared to go kill someone.

I'm not expecting capital punishment to be abolished. I'm not that naive. From the looks of things, the country as a whole is getting more punitive. It's like we all woke up with a bad hangover. We're pissed off and we want to punish someone. We've turned into a mean spirited society, which is so amazing considering that we're incredibly powerful and just slathered with abundance in all things.

Recently I decided that it's just a manifestation of millenial anxiety. Before the dawn of the new century, I kept searching for signs that there was some sea change afoot in the world. I mean, on some subconscious level, moving into a new century has got to be a little terrifying for every one of us. It used to be that people had rites and rituals to appease that terror. All we have is television. Because the future is so profoundly uncertain, I think many people are trying to hang on to the way things have been. Or maybe they'd like to go back a bit farther in history.

I know Mr. Moneybags, one of the guys I work with, keeps hoping that white middle aged men will re-gain their ascendancy. He doesn't realize that men still have the majority of the power in this country. He's one of those guys who wakes up every day and checks in on Rush Limbaugh to figure out what he's going to think. I could really help out here and tell him to just cut to the chase. Rush Limbaugh's opinions are rooted in anger and bitterness, which he tries to deny even to himself by ascribing his general level of hostility to his greater intelligence. It's really hard for Rush to have to deal with morons all day. Of course he's cranky.

I think that the fear of change is behind the mounting fervor of both fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. Nothing like some very clear rules about what to do and what not to do. It also helps enormously if, by following your religion, you get to hate a big group of people. that's proof positive of your moral superiority.

This is a topic i could yammer on about all day. Basta.