Sunday, March 8, 2009

Racism in New Hampshire

Even as I write this, I know that people may read it and be insulted, annoyed, maybe even furious. However, the fact is, in many cases there is a double standard that comes down to skin color. Why can't we judge people based on their merits (or lack thereof) rather than letting something as irrelevant as the way they look come into it?

First and foremost, I have mixed feelings about the death penalty in general. I mean, I think the idea of putting someone to death as a punishment sort of defeats the purpose in that who are we to decide on that ultimate a punishment? In foreign countries, for example, "crimes" such as adultery which are virtually accepted here are punishable by death. Who gets to make that call? Society? Which society is right? Are any?

If you want to follow the Bible as the guiding force here, Jesus Christ taught and lived forgiveness (the guy was crucified yet cried out to God, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do") while the Ten Commandments state explicitly, "Thou shalt not kill", and then there's the whole "eye for an eye" thing.

This is a level of philosophy that I waver on--I am so unsure as to my own views on the death penalty that I can't come down on either side in writing. I'm curious as to what others think, so feel free to comment. I'm open for debate, since it depends on the day with me, in many ways.

A man named Michael Addison was sentenced to death in New Hampshire today. Addison shot a police officer named Michael Briggs and unquestionably deserved severe punishment. The family and friends of Officer Briggs have suffered a loss they will never recover from, and that's a crime that Addison will have to answer to a higher power for no matter what we do to him here on Earth.

My issue is that in August of 1997, another New Hampshire police officer, Epsom's Jeremy Charron, was killed in the line of duty by two men named Gordon Perry and Kevin Paul. Perry, who did the actual shooting, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole while Paul received a 16-50 year prison sentence.

Did I mention that Michael Addison is an African-American?

6 comments:

  1. I have to start by saying that I am ardently dissident toward the death penalty-your point about societies above is a key reason why. Furthermore, having grown up in the witch trial region, I feel the notion of allowing an innocent person to be killed, even if it is only one for every 100 who really are guilty, is inexcusable. Third, there is no provision for anyone exhibiting signs of redemption even if they are guilty. That dude who founded the Crips comes to mind (with his Nobel Peace Prize nominations from death row). Finally, at the risk of looking too much through my own lens, if you locked me in a room at thirty years old and told me that I was never going to be set free, I would beg you to kill me. To paraphrase Mr. Miyagi, "For some, living is an even worse punishment than death". Of course, if someone hurt "Jon" or "Little J", I might do a 180.

    That all said, two issues require highlighting to me.
    1.) I dislike the auto death penalty imposed in so many states for the murder of police officers. It places a higher "value" on one life than another, and that's not right. Am I less valuable to society? Maybe. Maybe not. Is my family's grief less meaningful, and less deserving of "vengeance"? I doubt that.
    2.) A disproportionate number of the people of those on death row are impoverished (and therefore, statistically speaking, are disproportionately non-white) and thus were likely to have been advocated for by a public defender. Most of them are younger and newly graduated, and are overworked/underpaid as compared to private attorneys. They may have far more cases than they can realistically win, even if every defendant was innocent. Oh, and then there's the whole "jury of your peers" thing. Who actually goes to jury duty and serves? Think about it. Also, think about who gets excused. A lot of evidence presented now is very scientific in nature, yet someone like myself-perhaps a bit better than most at interpreting such things objectively-would undoubtedly get bounced. I just think a guilty verdict isn't always air tight...

    Sorry; I've gone and rambled quite a bit

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  2. Yay, I WANT rambling ... that's the purpose of this blog!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!

    I find your point about the law "valuing one life above another" to be especially noteworthy. Police officers make the choice to go into the line of fire every day (and thank God they do), but it does not give them sub-human status, and it should not set an automatic death penalty.

    Part of the reason I fluctuate on the whole death penalty debate is that I don't think there is anything in me that could ever, EVER commit murder. The idea of taking a human life, either through an act of violence or the "humane" lethal injection, is just beyond me. With that said, if anyone fucked with Addie or Belle or Pythagorus or you Jon or "Little Jon" or Mom or someone I adore and worship, they would then have to fuck with me, and it wouldn't be pretty.

    But to take a human life, when someone is breathing in front of you, looking at you with eyes so much like your own ... gahhhhh. Intense!

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  3. By the way, I mean "super-human", not "sub-human". And with this talk about not taking a human life, I feel that I need to self-identify as staunchly pro-choice. That will be a blog for another day.

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  4. Can you put in the absurdity of the whole "I'm pro-life and pro-death penalty" nonsense? I love that. And I know you meant super-human :-) Sidebar: I always get a visual of the description of the Epsilon Minus from Brave New World whenever someone says "sub-human"-I go physical rather than mental with that term.

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  5. Yeah, what's up with the pro-life/pro-death penalty thing? I'm sure the argument involves the innocence of the unborn ...

    Even more, though ... most people that are pro-life/pro-death penalty are also pro-crapping all over people who get public assistance, so they want to save all these unwanted babies but then just hang them out to dry once they're born. (I know that's overly simplified, but hopefully you get me)

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  6. Gordon Perry pleaded out for a life sentence.

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