Friday, May 25, 2007


An Observation

When Sister Helen Prejean visited Nashville a few weeks ago, she presented a lecture at Belmont University which focused upon the various ways that the arts can broaden the dialogue around the death penalty. She shared a story of college students who used the visual arts to begin such a dialogue by erecting large canvasses on campus and asking that supporters of the death penalty sign their names in red paint while opponents of the death penalty sign their names in blue. The students discovered something quite interesting. The majority of those who opposed the death penalty painted their names boldly, in large, blue letters, claiming their position proudly. However, the majority of those who supported the death penalty, tended to write their names in very small, red letters as if to hide their opinions. Perhaps this artistic dialogue demonstrates a fact that I have already observed in other contexts, that though there seems to be much support for the death penalty, supporters are often timid about revealing their opinions publicly.

I find a similar dynamic at work in the fact that we execute people in Tennessee in the middle of the night, at 1:00 a.m., when most folks are in bed and don't have to be exposed to the gruesome ritual which is being carried out in our names. The same dynamic is also in play with the particular chemical cocktail the state chooses to use in the lethal injection protocol, which masks the dying process of the inmate so that the witnesses to the execution are not made uncomfortable. If there is nothing morally wrong with the death penalty, why do we go to such lengths to hide what we are doing?

TCASK hopes to encourage open, constructive dialogue around the issue of the death penalty. Clearly, we have a strong opinion but invite those who want to engage in conversation to do so. Our blog is one of the ways that we encourage the conversation. We do not edit the comments to our blog nor do we require that people identify themselves when they make comments. However, it strikes me that, often, those who have very strong opinions in support of the death penalty want to remain anonymous. Why is that?

I, for one, stand by my convictions and never shy away from claiming my beliefs as my own. Because I am so convinced that the death penalty is not in keeping with my Christian faith, devalues life, and is a complete failure as a public policy, I have dedicated my life to ending it in Tennessee. My hope is that all of us, regardless of where we stand on the issue, can dialogue in constructive, open ways as we struggle with the tough issues of our time.
Comments :
I doubt that's the case. It also follows along the lines of conservative/liberal. Liberals are much more apt to go out and protest and be loud about things whereas conservatives don't.

Typically, liberals tend to be against the death penalty and conservatives against. (again...typically, but I know that's not always the case...there are always exceptions)

I think it really comes down to this...anti-death penalty advocates tend to be more outspoken about the fact that they are anti-death penalty. Those that are for it, aren't as outspoken. I don't think it has anything to do with wanting to hide the fact. It's just the way it is.

I just feel you're reading too much into this.
Texas changed its time for executions a few years ago to around 6 PM, with the reasoning, if I remember correctly, that that made it less stressful for the people working in the prison carrying out the execution.

It doesn't seem to have made much difference in Texas as far as level of awareness of executions. We have protests from 5:30 to 6:30 on execution days. Usually 5-15 people show up, even though they no longer have to wait around till midnight to protest an execution so you would think more people would come protest.

I don't know if media coverage has increased or decreased since they changed the execution time, but I doubt it. There usually isn't much coverage in the media now. I can't imagine it was greater when the executions were at midnight.
Yes, that's right, capital punishment opponents are morally superior creatures who can loudly proclaim their enlightenment to the whole world. Whatever.
I think that I have to disagree with the liberal/conservative statement. Have you ever seen Tennessee Tax Revolt and Tennessee Right to Life? Those groups know how to protest! And I've never found that conservatives were less likely to express their opinions strongly than liberals. Just checking out the comments on this blog there are certainly some strong pro-death penalty statements (like the comment right above mine) but they do all seem to be anonymous.

As for Texas and news coverage, the sad fact is that Texas executes people so regularly, I think that executions have ceased to be news to the media. But, as with most death penalty issues, Texas is an outlier.
I oppose the death penalty and do so because of the glaring facts against all the reasons pro-death penalty proponents always use to support it. That is the main difference I see in the arguments. Those against the death penalty base opinions on facts and faith, while those for it base seem to base their opinions largely on antidotal and emotional arguments. So many times when I express my opposition to those I know who support the death penalty they will say "well, you would not feel that way if your (family member) was murdered" to which I now respond, "I hope I would" Having met many family members of murder victims who oppose the death penalty based on their belief that forgiveness, or at least forgiving the person and not the crime, is better than revenge in honoring their loved one I hope I would have the courage to do the same. Like Stacy, I strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who walked and sat and prayed with sinners and knew that redemption and grace are provided by God for every human being. In the end, justice prevails, although this will not be evident to many of us until we experience our own death.
You know, Ms. Carter, if you're going to put down the cretins who believe in death, you should use the correct words. I believe the word you search for (vice antidotal) is "anecdotal".

As for wishing the death penalty if a member of my family were murderered, damn straight I would. And I would hope that he would feel the KCl.
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