The Death Penalty

Tuesday, the day I write these first lines, President Biden was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, June 1, 2021.

The details of the massacre and of his speech will continue to be recited in assorted forums in assorted ways.  I agree with the tenor of the Pressidents remarks.  Let that suffice.  A still unknown number of people were sentenced to death that awful day, without charges, without trial, without obituary or even name.  Their deaths were apparently deemed unimportant.  A commentary not only for then, but continuing on until even today.

This day I would like to invite you to watch and listen to a discussion of the death penalty at a program I watched two weeks ago, recorded on Zoom.  It was a discussion of the film Just Mercy, which I’d seen a couple of years earlier, and which is still available and well worth your time.

The link to the program is at Go to the video archive, listen to the discussion involving Amy Bergquist of the Advocates for Human Rights and Stephen Rohde of the California ACLU and BendtheArc.  All speakers were very well informed.

As I was watching/listening I got to thinking about the fact that Just Mercy related to a case about a man sentenced to die in 1987, adjudicated under the laws and mores of a state at that time.  Then I thought of another well known film I saw in 1996, Dead Man Walking, same theme.

At the time of our on-line discussion, the George Floyd case had shortly before resulted in a conviction of a policeman for murder in my metropolitan area.  The murder was caught live on video from many angles – a technology only recently available to almost everyone; not so much 25 years ago.

I also thought of other ways of killing we have perfected in recent years, such as killing people by character assassination, particularly on vicious social media, only recently seeming to be reined in at least a little bit.

The death penalty, as it seemed to be discussed on the program, relates to the old way – application of Law to judge, fairly or unfairly, people charged with violating some law or other.

In the aftermath of George Floyd, and many others; and the universality of portable video cameras in the form of iPhones, and all the variations thereof, we are in a new Wild West, or so it seems.  The new technology can be a great force for good, but can as easily be manipulated for evil….

We have a lot to talk about.  Amy and Stephen and moderator Kathya, herself a lawyer, provide a great base for discussion.  I am not sure how long the video will remain available on line.  Best to take a look while you can.

I hope you watch the film as you pay attention to compelling current events.



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