Shame on you, America. Unless some miracle intervenes, at 7 p.m tonight you will kill Troy Davis, who awaits his death by lethal injection on Georgia's death row for killing an off-duty police officer.
Since being found guilty in 1989, Davis has maintained his innocence and endured three last-minute stays of execution. His last plea for clemency was denied on Monday by Georgia’s pardon board, despite the support of a former FBI Director, a former U.S President, Pope Benedict XVI and a petition with over a million signatures.
America’s shame lies clear for the world to see in a vial, in a box, waiting patiently on death row.
This is not gratuitous America bashing (I'm Irish, we go together like Pooh and honey). I had the privilege of living on its soil for two years and fell in love with the can-do attitude of its people, the strength of its families and communities, the genuine multiculturalism that Europe will take centuries to replicate.
I also admire its constitutional system and understand the anomalies that a federal and state legal system can produce. The state of New York opposes capital punishment and should not be tarred with the same brush as the state of Georgia. But in the eyes of the outside world today, these state nuances will be lost and the American legal system will be seen as backward, barbaric and bewildered.
Here is a list of all the countries in the world whom Amnesty International believe have carried out capital punishments in the last year: China; Iran; North Korea; Yemen; United States; Saudi Arabia; Libya; Syria; Bangladesh; Somalia; Sudan; Palestinian Authority; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Taiwan; Belarus; Japan; Iraq; Malaysia; Bahrain; Botswana; Singapore; Vietnam.
What are you doing on this list, America? It doesn’t make sense.
The America that I know founded its legal system on the premise that it is worse to convict an innocent man than to let a guilty man go free; it spends more hours in its elementary classrooms actively teaching its kids about the principles of justice, freedom and equality than any European country; it is as prepared today to go to the aid of foreign nations who suffer at the hands of suppression as it was when it helped Europe defeat the Nazis.
Instead America is tying itself up in knots. A black man kills a white policeman and ends up on death row; a white woman kills her child and ends up a TV star, free to walk around shopping malls in a Hooters t-shirt.
The evidence in Davis’ case is a hair’s breadth away from the quality of evidence that couldn’t convict Casey Anthony. That’s the thing with murder cases, they are rarely clear cut.
Dealing with those who commit the ultimate sin is a tough, confusing business; no legal system has the perfect answer, even the ones who are not on the list above. But, as my Irish grandmother used to say to me if I ever got myself tied up in a knot of trouble, “Look around you. You are only as good as the company you keep”.
It is time to loosen the knot of capital punishment around your neck, America and come hang with a different crowd.