Everyone has his version of the truth, but seldom share it. Whether it’s the taste, the smell or whatever, the ugly thing can help you lose friends and create bitter enemies. I wonder if it’s because once acknowledged, truth will not leave until you do, or stop doing, a particular wrong. Our criminal justice system is an apt example.
Let’s take the current situation in Missouri. Not that it’s unique. Far cry. But because it is active, makes that a good example, willing to say a textbook case of what leadership is not. Step back with me a bit.
Jay Nixon was a two term democratic governor when Ferguson managed to make world news. That was due to the police killing of Michael Brown and the conduct of the entire criminal justice system in Missouri. As Gov Nixon and Ferguson Mayor Knowles went into hiding for four days, the police were left to “pacify” peaceful protesters. No one could have imagined police management to be that inept, or any criminal justice system be so inbred and corrupted.
The current governor Eric Greitens is a republican. He never went into hiding, but nothing says “I don’t know what to do”, like readying the National Guard to control a relatively small number of cooperating protesters. So far, more than 150 persons have been arrested for petty misdemeanours, especially not moving when told by the police.
Both dealt with protesters as the problem. Neither appeared capable of confronting and addressing the root of the problem. But quite willing to talk tough and use force.
No civic minded person supports lawlessness. So I agree for now, lock them up. Repeat next year and the years after. Finally both the state and protesters would be locked in an increasingly dysfunctional way of life that the state CANNOT win. That would be despite being a police state. Right now, both Blacks and Whites, males and females are being threatened and arrested. How long does the state and local governments think that they can keep this up? I’ll hazard a guess. When you stop seeing truth as the enemy.
No one has the moral authority to kill another human being.
Once we start from that premise and understand that capital punishment rests on a foundation of muck created by men, there’s nothing more that needs to be said. It is legal only because they say that it’s legal. It is legal because of citizens, who ought to be repulsed by shameless lawmakers, who use “tough on crime” to secure votes, permit that. It behooves our electorate to inform ourselves of the history surrounding the subject.
The fact of its immorality means that capital punishment cannot ever be justified and constitutionally acceptable. Running back and forth to the United States Supreme Court, to collectively ponder whether a particular case meets the test, the artificial standard, of “cruel and unusual punishment” is redundant and ridiculous. Being so because the actions of the State create circumstances of suffering that make it cruel and unusual.
But capital punishment extends further in its obscenity, corrupting each individual who facilitates the killing, from the judge who claims she’s only following the law, to the governor whose bloody hand approves the evil, all the way down to the brute that seeks the vein to administer the poison. Each participant, at every stage, makes a personal decision to kill the particular human being. There’s no excuse. Nothing decent can be found in what you chose to do. Stop the barbarity.
I woke up optimistic and went back to bed disillusioned. So I thought the least that I might do is bring attention to the plight of African-Americans caught up in America’s Criminal Justice System. An institution, if not by design, then surely by malice, IS determined to eliminate that particular segment of citizens. A protracted war could not have inflicted more suffering and human destruction. America’s Criminal Justice System is by practice, an evil institution.
One hears grudging admissions such as “well, the system is overwhelmed.” Platitudes about reform and trust building initiatives. If you refuse to believe that America can sort a billion Chinese, to find one prisoner unjustly incarcerated, then vehemently condemn China at international forums, as we do much the same at home, then I’m with you, because it’s truly incredible. So, the attached, though fictional, is worth imagining.
By Leyland A. King
July 7, 2017
No need be alarmed or outraged about the title. It really doesn’t matter anymore whether one chooses to be Democrat, Republican, or apathetic; religious zealot or palpably patriotic. It is too late! The hated Washington big government is no more, and the welfare queen has flown. Yes, government we dismantled. No, it we suffocated. Fact is, it rotted away in plain sight while we called each other vile names and ignored the vile stench of decades long institutional decay.
Now we can run government as a business. A family enterprise. Hooray! It is a person with free speech and all the rights and privileges of a citizen, unconsrained by irritants like the constitution, regulations and such. Who needs voting rights anyway, Justice Scalia almost said. Free the Corporate citizen. They already have their own armies. They, in some countries are called warlords.
Surely, we all heard of the contented frog slow-poached in a pot; about the jealous, happy frogs that prayed for a king to rule over them. The apt, belated comment might well be, they should have known. But there must be a parable somewhere, concerning the day the poor convened a meeting for super rich men to, by goodness of heart, discuss being kind to the poor. I can’t find one fitting but Jonathan Swift’s satirical letter to the British, inquiring how they preferred Irish babies cooked, with what spices and accompanying dressings served, is as close as I got.
Now, like North Korean citizens ruled by a smart cookie, we’ll smile and cheer on sight of Trump, Paul Ryan, Betsie DeVos and so many, many others. Don’t ever stop cheering.
See update on June 25, 2017, meanwhile we’d love to hear from you.
Just imagine the kind of society where this report was not necessary. But what is done is done.
Let’s now imagine a society where, having acknowledged its wrongs and flaws, actually took the report seriously, and went directly to work with the best of human resources and capital focused on fairness and justice, something like the Marshall Plan. Wow, what would America be like today?
Lastly, imagine such a dark report delivered to small, timid men, whose vision for humanity doesn’t rise beyond the walls and ceilings of their commodious offices; their loftiest dream is date-stamped on a pension, and a job held in trust for them by mysterious lobbyists.
Well, hey, time to get out of bed. Look around, nothing is there to imagine. The smell is that of wounds neglected and the body politic fast headed to mass graves. America chose that option as its destiny.