Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Troy Davis

It's twenty-two minutes past midnight and I sit and wait. Does an angel contemplate Troy Davis' fate? Robbie Williams lyrics aside, this is purgatory. I heard about the Troy Davis case a few days ago and have been hooked ever since. I am obsessed by the grotesque, usually manifesting as historical obscenities, but this stretches to the grotesque injustice of the American legal system. Soon to be a historical obscenity. For those of you who have missed the scandal, get educated here:

Hyperbole is all I have right now. The state of this "developed" world really doesn't bear thinking about at this moment. I am utterly flabbergasted: a man who claims to be innocent, has had 7 out of 9 witnesses go back on their word and imply police coersian and has no DNA evidence holding him to the crime is going to be put to death. The Supreme Court is so narrow-minded, they won't even consider seeing these facts as casting reasonable doubt upon the case. This isn't reasonable doubt: this doubt is beyond reason. This is unswerving, insatiable, infallible and irrefutable doubt. If I had this amount of doubt concerning a hair cut, I wouldn't get it. I simply wouldn't fancy my odds.

Tonight, Troy Davis was due to die at 7pm, USA time. Throughout the day, what can only be described as a deluge of opposition has flooded all mediums of social networking. My preferred form of protest has been twitter. To give you an idea of the sheer amount of global revolt, I refresh the page of the hashtag #troydavis and minimise it. In the bottom bar of my screen, the page's name remains with a bracketed number. This number is the amount of new tweets since I last checked. In the time it took me to write that sentence, the number has grown to 200. Had I been writing this two hours ago, in the unbearable run-up to 7pm, that number would be double or triple that. And that's just one hashtag. #thewholeworldiswatching has been trending across the oceans; it makes the hairs on the back of my neck electrify to think I sit here, annexed in my room, square-eyed and tingle-fingered pressing refresh and I am united with hundreds of thousands of civilians. This is the face of modern horror, the one that stares aghast at its computer screen.

The crux of it is this: a potentially innocent man is going to be put to death. To me, it doesn't even matter any more as to his innocence or guilt: that has ceased to be the issue. What is so significant is that we cannot possibly know the answer to that question. That's why I'm horrified. Georgia, America is not a united state. Right now, it is dividing its nation and unifying the world. It is simply absurd how proud the system is, it is a petulant child with the coldest of shoulders against reason and truth and justice. I will admit, I used to have mixed feelings about the death penalty. Part of my mind thought it was potentially a good idea but I think my justification was purely emotive: if you killed my mother, I'd like nothing better than to kill you. I naively attempted to fit this model to the justice system, not realising or caring how flawed and barbaric it was. I can blame such thoughts upon nothing but ignorance; it is situations just like these that reaffirm what I have learnt in the last few years of my intellectual and personal growth. That a life is a life, be that taken from a criminal or a victim and there is not a single person on this planet that could possibly claim to have authority over such untimely ends. I am all for life imprisonment because I think that is worse than death. To kill a guilty person would be to free them: they must be tortured by boundaries and their consciences until their pathetic existence is snuffed out.

It is forty-six minutes past one in the morning. Everything has changed but nothing has. No news. I will be forced to function in six hours but I can't imagine sleeping. If I was a religious person, I'd spend the night praying. Instead, I shall quietly contemplate my faith in justice. I fear it will reap as few results as the former. My faith in mass, outraged and obstinate human tenacity however, is burning and yearns for the powers that be to lend us an ear.

1 comment:

  1. As a purely interesting aside, some states banned the death penalty as long ago as the mid 1800s; far more civilised than us. I am not trying to imply that you said the whole of America was to blame or anything, but just letting you know as an interesting fact.

    I often use the point that a life time in jail (or, as I normally make it more extreme to make the point) a life time of torture is worse than the death penalty, as you still die at the end, but with a load of crap in the middle that is bad. i.e. bad + bad is even more bad. However, I use the point to show people how narrow minded they are being in thinking that the death penalty is the worst punishment.

    But if you genuinely believe it is worse than the death penalty, and you are advocating it, then how can you criticise people that are pro death penalty?