A time to die or blood on your hands?

This week, men are being sent to their deaths. Yep, there was more than one, but most people are talking about just one man. Troy Davis.

This man, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer, has had multiple stays of execution. But today he was supposed to go to his death – as the jury and courts decided he should.

Now, I’ve said it before, so I’ll simply reiterate – I’m pro-life. I don’t believe anyone should take the life of another person, and my view on abortion is the same as my view on killing any person, guilty or innocent – doubt or no doubt. So my response to this is obvious. Whether he’s guilty as hell or innocent, there is no time to take a life.

It’s been interesting to watch others’ reactions, though. And thanks to Twitter, I’m able to see a full range of conversation with lots of thinking (and non-thinking) people who want to be a part of the conversation. Some believe filling in a petition will work and if they just get another 1000 names, they can stop it. That’s like saying we’ll get a petition to get the court to stop DUI fines. It’s not going to work, but the sentiment is appreciated, no doubt and perhaps it will raise a flag to politicians as a platform for the next election – but I doubt Troy will be saved that way.

There are people who do not believe in the death penalty at all. So they have it easy for once (like me). But most of the reaction appears to be hinging on the fact that they believe there is doubt in the guilty verdict delivered on the man, and in fact they believe he is innocent – something that they’ve decided themselves, with the basis being that people who testified have recounted. (Of course, the fact the man is going to die might have something to do with it? It’s tough to clear a conscience of sending a man to death even if your testimony was factual, I’d suppose.)

One person even said that even if he was guilty, the fact he only killed one person is enough to not send him to death. It should only be for serial killers.

I’m dumbfounded. It would seem that for many people there are levels of guilt. There are times when someone should die, and times when they should not. And the states of the USA which implement the death penalty have judicial systems which recognise the call of the people. That’s called democracy.

Yet these people who are rallying for Troy Davis, who were not in the courtroom – have not (I would guess) read all the court documentation, let alone understood it – are ready and willing to stand up and second guess the very judiciary they themselves have implemented and the one that they said should deliver these verdicts? The judiciary that supports the basic rights, freedoms and decisions the democracy of their country stands for?

And what of the victim?

According to the courts, Troy Davis killed Mark MacPhail. (By the way, the fact that the Sydney Morning Herald describes Davis’s sister’s breast cancer battle and wheelchair is inappropriate). The police officer’s wife and children were left behind, and believe Troy Davis should serve his fate. His wife was in the courtroom during the trial. They know as well as anyone – and better than most – the real story. They’ve lived it for so very long.

If you believe there is a time to die for anyone, in any circumstances, you must also believe there is a system which can implement that time. Pulling the rug out from under it in individual cases shows that you don’t really believe in it.

And should you ever put anyone to death if you ever have doubt in any case?

I think not.

May all involved rest in peace.

Pic: Image by Amnesty International


  • Such a sticky issue. A society made of human beings begets such conundrums and layers of complexities.

    It seems to me that the god of the Old Testament was all about “and eye for an eye” type of justice, and the god of the New Testament focused more on grace.

    I suppose if I had to come down on one side or the other, I’d have to go with grace. But it’s not an easy choice.

  • So well reasoned, Jo. I couldn’t agree more. Either you support the system, or change it. You can’t pick and choose depending on your relation to the accused. And for the person who said one person’s life isn’t enough, that the death penalty should only apply to serial killers? Tell that to the family of the one victim who died – that the life of their loved one isn’t enough to apply the maximum penalty.

    I am also pro-life and against the death penalty. And, if the maximum sentence were life in prison, maybe Casey Anthony would be in prison today instead of walking the streets, and Troy Davis wouldn’t be a story at all.

  • Well written and extremely
    Thoughtful comments. Grace would be wonderful if we didn’t need punishment to deter. The death penalty is NOT in place for the victims family but to serve a larger purpose of deterrence. Not sure it sends that message if there are doubts but in capital cases I see the purpose.

    It is so tough and considering we are one of the few countries with a democratic way of life AND the death penalty, I’d love to see it gone completely. It is so barbaric and after living in other countries you realize how bad it really looks that we still get cheers from crowds of people when a Governor touts how many inmates he haa executed. Sounds so… 18th century.

  • I’m pro-life as well. I understand deterring people and waving the death penalty in front of potential murderers to keep them from killing, but it’s much bigger than that. People who kill have no rational. They don’t think in the moment “oh crap, if i play this out I’m gonna go to jail and could be sentenced to life or the death penalty”. It’s not an option when they’re in the moment (my belief completely). I will let God do the judging, for only He knows what truly happened. Here on earth I cannot judge – which is something that is very difficult to do and I work on every day.

Leave a Reply