Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

You'd think that, with the Pope, a former President of the United States and ex Director of the FBI taking up your cause, enough serious doubt would've been raised to at least stay the execution last night of Troy Davis. But then again, I'm speaking of a nation that doesn't exist, one guided and ruled by rational thought, one in which authorities would rather err on the side of life.

But Georgia did what Georgia does and took the heat off Texas, Utah, Kansas, Arizona, South Carolina, Wisconsin and other states that have embarrassed us before the world. After issuing a brief reprieve that bought Troy Davis four hours and eight minutes of life, the SCOTUS allowed the execution to proceed without dissent and the machine had its way and executed an innocent man.

If even the Willingham case didn't qualify as the Holy Grail for which death penalty opponents have been searching, the case of Troy Davis, a man convicted and executed on purely circumstantial evidence, will surely prove to be it. The Supreme Court set the bar absurdly high: Davis's attorneys were required to prove beyond a doubt that he was innocent whereas the state court had to prove guilt beyond a doubt.

Obviously, the prosecution didn't do that but the 12 amateurs in the jury box saw things differently. Now three of them had come forward to say, "If I knew then what I know now..." Seven of the nine witnesses who claimed they saw Davis shoot Officer MacPhail three times had since recanted. And a man admitted while drunk at a party two years ago that he was the shooter.

The police authorities, so desperate to convict Davis and tie him to the scene of the crime, falsified ballistics evidence and claimed the shell casings at the murder scene were fired from the same gun in another crime for which Davis had already been convicted.

Yes, in the United States of America, men and women can and have paid the ultimate price for racism, political zealotry and just plain stupidity, arrogance and a pathological dread of admitting that a tragic mistake had been made. People get convicted all the time on circumstantial evidence, which is really just a fancy legal phrase for elevated coincidence (and sometimes just plain coincidence).

I wasn't this ashamed to be an American even right after we'd invaded Iraq and, before that, Afghanistan. Yet the always backward state of Georgia managed to make me feel more ashamed to be an American, and reluctant to admit that it's part of our nation. I have Georgia on my Mind, namely fantasizing about replacing it with Guam or Puerto Rico or maybe a barren sandbar imported from Dubai.

Anything, God, but a state in which the Board of Paroles and Pardons is as stupid as the one in Texas and is unmoved by curiosity in light of all the troubling questions and reversals regarding Davis's case. Anything but a state in which the Governor, a Tea Bagger psychopath named Nathan Deal, is trying to ram through a proposal whereby a person can be sentenced to death by a mere majority of jurors instead of a unanimous vote.

When a man gets three stays of execution and a reprieve after spending 20 years on Death Row, obviously the machine isn't running smoothly. And despite Davis getting off the hook almost as many times as Dick Cheney, despite the recantations and reversals, the plainly falsified evidence, Georgia is a deep southern state in which a black man was nonetheless executed for killing a white man. Try though they might, there's no way the Georgia penal authorities will ever wipe away the picture that that paints: That of a chemical lynching.

Troy Davis paid the ultimate price for living in a state and in a country where the system takes the place of human thought, mercy and compassion, a system in which the unstoppable machine grinds to its bloody conclusion when even the Governor and the President of the United States don't even qualify as fail safe measures.

Troy Davis' execution at 11:08 last night is now being looked at as the greatest blow to anti capital punishment factions in years but in time, when Davis's innocence is finally established beyond a reasonable doubt, when they catch the real guy and have to execute him, too, for MacPhail's murder, it'll prove to be a very potent weapon


At September 22, 2011 at 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...I'll never go back to Georgia. I'll never go back..." -- Dizzy Gillespie

At September 22, 2011 at 6:27 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

Several years ago the Supreme Court decreed that the nation has no choice but to execute clearly innocent people, because to exonerate or re-try them would cast doubt on the prosecutors and the infallibility of the US justice system.

It makes no difference if there is no evidence, and all the witnesses say they were intimidated into lying by the cops, and DNA proves you didn't do it, and the jury says they wouldn't have convicted if they knew all the facts, and someone else admitted to doing it, and even a retired prison foreman pleads on your behalf, none of that matters on bit because the police and prosecutors can never, ever be proven wrong.

At September 22, 2011 at 6:43 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...


A couple of clarifications: Scalia said something like that in 2009. He said the Constitution was not responsible for trying, or retrying people, fairly.

The DNA evidence didn't prove Davis innocent. The complete lack of DNA evidence, however, certainly did not prove him guilty. Unfortunately, any nitrite test that would've been done on his hand would've showed positive for cordite since we know he was involved in another crime in Savannah (and for which he was arrested) that same day.

But Davis' execution was ass-covering, plain and simple. Better to let some who may be innocent die than to admit to a mistake that can impugn your political and judicial ambitions and credibility.

At September 23, 2011 at 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"By giving the State the power to kill others "legally," we also must realize that the State will kill those whom are politically deemed unfit to live. Plenty of people commit terrible murders for which no one is officially put to death. Only when a killing is deemed politically-incorrect is someone executed, and if politics ultimately is to become the standard of who is to live and who is to die, then we have become people who have passed the Point of No Return."

At September 24, 2011 at 8:06 AM, Anonymous The future is frightening said...

The reich wing in Amerikkka -- which includes much of the political power structure -- has become a death cult. They cheer for death, they lust to kill other people. Madness has enveloped the country. And the same violence that the U.S. has heaped upon other countries from Vietnam to Iraq will eventually turn in on itself. The snake is already starting to eat its own tail, with each mass family shooting or senseless public gunslaughter. Just wait until the Establishment decides it has to unleash the forces of authoritarian smash-down on the general public instead of just the unfortunate crims. The carnage will be astounding; something the Nazis and Josef Stalin could only dream of.

At October 6, 2011 at 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came to Snellville Ga to make a better life for my family. But this state is too backwards for me. Im moving my family to Los Angeles Ca. Sure cali has it's problems but it's better than Atlanta. Its some cool people here but as a blackman I can't deal with this redneck racist mentality in charge here. Y'all better vote these racist out of office.

At October 6, 2011 at 1:46 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Believe me, brother, if I was a Georgia voter, I'd try. All I can do is get the word out.


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