Thursday, May 10, 2007


An Overwhelming Response

For his last meal on earth, Philip Workman requested that a vegetable pizza be delivered to Nashville's homeless. The Department of Corrections refused saying they were too focused on the execution procedures. But hundreds of normal people have stepped in and hundreds of pizzas were served last night to Nashville's homeless community in Philip Workman's name. The Tennessean had good coverage of the story and News Channel 5 did a wonderful piece (you can see the video here).

I find myself needing to comment on how much this story functions as an allegory for the death penalty in general. The state is so focused on carrying out an execution that it can't feed one hungry person. Check out the state troopers in the picture below taken at the vigil for Workman last night. And this isn't even all of them. The state can place all of these troopers there, but couldn't have one intern take a pizza down town? What do you think had a more positive impact on Tennessee, Philip Workman being killed, or the hundreds of homeless and hungry individuals who were fed last night? Think of all the homeless people that could have been fed with the more than $10,000 that it took to carry out Workman's execution last night. Think of how many homeless people could have been provided with housing, or the children that could have received better education, with the hundreds of thousands of dollars, probably millions of dollars, spent on the entire process of trying to kill Philip Workman? We need to see where our hearts (and wallets) are as a society, and realize that all the effort that the state puts in to exact vengeance is effort being taken away from caring for the people among us who need to be cared for.

Last night, the regular citizens of Tennessee stepped up and picked up where the state dropped the ball. And they did it in Philip Workman's name. That is a beautiful story. Thank you to everyone who found a sign of hope coming out of a death.

Comments :

Here is a link on CNN to the story about how Philip's last meal request for a veggie pizza to be given to a homeless person stretched across the United States, touching many lives.
I am so touched. Not.

First of all, the prison system is not in the business of spending taxpayer money for stuff like that. So criticism of the prison employees is pretty silly.

Second of all, Workman's gesture was just a publicity stunt. Amazing how you guys get all aflutter about a killer. Wait until Mumia buys the farm . . . . .
I was going to post a response to the above comment, and then I realized that there's really nothing that needs to be said. I'll just stick to the original post's point that our state has spent hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, to kill Philip Workman rather than feed the hungry, provide victims' services, or educate our children. And hope that less angry and more informed and thoughtful heads prevail.
I am scheduled to provide pizza to a group of 40 homeless through one of our organizations in Nashville. The thing that has really touched me about this issue is that Philip Workman left this world helping make so many aware of this plight of our homeless. Whether or not you are for or against the death penalty, no matter what your feelings are about Mr. Workman, the fact is that his last gesture of generosity made hundreds, if not thousands of American citizens aware of our homeless population. This one act did more than most people could do alone through years of advocacy. For that, I am grateful to Mr. Workman.
Dear Travelling Jesuit,

You wrote in your post that: '...Last night, the regular citizens of Tennessee stepped up and picked up where the state dropped the ball. And they did it in Philip Workman's name...'

Could this be a sign that the ordinary decent people of your state (and in your country) are beginning to see that capital punishment is state decreed homicide, and (even if he did commit the deed), it didn't amount to a cancelling out of Mr. Workman's crime - it was just another killing, that's all.
Traveling Jesuit, one thing that I am not is ill-informed, especially about the death penalty.

Yeah, the state has spent lots of money getting Workman dead. Justice sometimes costs. I do note, however, that we don't have to feed a cop-killer anymore (and please spare me the innocence argument--Workman was struggling with two cops, fired in rapid succession, and we're supposed to believe that he got one of them but immediately after the one cop got shot, some other cop shot Lt. Oliver.

I guess it's a good thing that a bunch of homeless people got some 'za. I myself, two days before Workman was executed, donated $1000 to a military charity.
I'm starting to wonder if anonymous isn't, naw it couldn't be,......Phil is that you?
Couldn't resist that one. The truth stands on its own. Folks with so much hate in their hearts need all the love we can give them. Someday the light will enter their dark hard hearts and they'll see the light.
And where is the global outcry...?

Yeah, that's right--those of us who support capital punishment are haters who need light to come into our hearts. Spare me the drivel.
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