Setting The Bar For An Execution
Some people want to ignore the overwhelming consensus of scientist around the world that human activity is contributing to the phenomenon commonly referred to as global warming. Something like ninety eight percent of the people who work in this area of study believe that to be a fact. Less than two percent of scientist believe otherwise and want to give humans a pass. The fact that many of the scientist exceptions are on the payroll of corporate conglomerates with a vested interest in keeping pollution outputs where they are is supposed to be just a coincidence. So many politicians want to operate under the guise that until we can have a unanimous conclusion, there’s just too much at stake to do anything before we know for sure. There’s a lot of money tied to this issue and we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. While a ninety eight percent on just about anything else is a done deal, in a matter with so much at risk of being lost, caution is prudent.
But by the same token we are supposed to value nothing greater than life. Life is supposed to be worth a lot more than money. So if a human life is at risk then shouldn’t we be even extra, extra careful? If just a two percent exception could prevent the investment in the pollution controls that could help minimize our impact on the global warming factor, would it be fair to say that if two percent of people who believed a human life should be saved get the same kind of consideration?
Yesterday, after almost twenty two years after his conviction for the murder of off duty police officer Mark MacPhail, Troy Davis was executed by the state of Georgia. A lot of people had some doubt about Mr. Davis’ guilt. People around the world were holding vigils to protest what they saw as state sanctioned murder. Amnesty International and People of Faith Against the Death Penalty had people sign a petition to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and had well more than 650 thousand signatures of people pleading for clemency including the likes of Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
A lot of people expressed doubt about the guilt of Mr. Davis. Seven of the nine prosecutor witnesses that testified during his initial trial recanted their testimony. Back in 2009, a three judge panel ordered by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals convened to determine if an application to have Mr. Davis’ death sentence commuted rejected the application by a two to one margin. The lone dissenting judge, Rosemary Barkett, expressed a belief that Mr. Davis might be able to prove his innocence and that it would be wrong to execute him. That translates to a 33.3% rate of dissension. Surely that should’ve been enough doubt to keep a man from being killed. But for the decision makers, the bar used to make sure a human life isn’t mistakenly wasted is far lower than the bar used to save a polluting corporation’s profits.
Whether or not Mr. Davis is guilty or not is not the issue here. Whether or not people are wrong to celebrate or mourn his passing is irrelevant. Honestly, I didn’t have a dog in that fight. I know not the details of his conviction. I don’t know the details of his life. I really don’t know anything about his legal appeals or the court proceedings other than what I read in other people’s article on the subject. Whether or not we come to our senses and do everything we can to clean up the environment is moot as well. If or when it becomes important to us we won’t let a two percent objection keep us from doing what’s necessary. Let’s just hope it won’t be too late for us when it does become a priority.
I simply found it interesting that we could keep factories polluting the air and contributing to the phenomenon of global warming because of the two percent of the population willing to buck the trend and say that they are not convinced that carbon emissions from a factory smokestack is changing our planet’s environment while we sit idly by and watch a potentially innocent man be put to death despite all the people who feel that he was wrongly convicted. If only Mr. Davis was a dollar, somebody might have cared enough to listen to the dissenters.