Its a horrible feeling when the last thing you post on Twitter is a possible hooray at the stay of a innocent man’s execution on Death Row, only to wake up and find out he was indeed murdered during the night. I’m not going to pretend I know all the ins and outs of it all but from everything I read it seemed there was no other conclusion than that Troy Davis was not guilty and was going to be killed simply because the state of Georgia was too stubborn to admit its mistakes. Even if they hadn’t killed him, they had put him through so much mental torture leading him to lethal injection before turning him away again that who knows what state the poor man’s mind was in. Someone I know on Twitter pointed out that he’d been in prison for 20 plus years and yet only know were people giving a shit. He referred to it as jumping on the bandwagon. Yes, it does all seem a little too late, but we haven’t had Twitter for 20 years or the level of awareness that the internet has brought, and sadly often these things do only come to light when there’s little hope left and concern has built to a height.
Hopefully what it has done is raise awareness of just how horrendous the death penalty is. No matter how archaic some of the UK’s laws are, punishment by execution was banned here in 1965. Yet it still continues all over the US. Arguments have stated that now, with lethal injection, this is a far more humane was of doing it, but is there ever a humane way to kill someone as a form of penalty? Surely giving a mass murderer a drug into his veins to kill him makes you only as bad as he is? If anything I daresay the death row executioners have killed far more than most serial killers ever have. I severely doubt Shipman ever offed quite as many as Georgia’s Prison State Executioner has. Who has the right to say what crime is severe enough to cost that person their life? And, perhaps the weakest of my arguments, and I’m mentioning it purely to make the most devout religious types think in their own stupid intelligence, with death being so unknown, who’s to say its a worse punishment than being condemned to prison for your entirety of life anyway? Surely that’s a more constant, awful, real hell? And considering most of them are pardoned by a chaplin before they die, surely you’re only confining them to the joys of heaven anyway? I mean really, this hasn’t been thought through.
Ultimately though, as awful as Troy Davis death was, we can hope it wasn’t in vain. World leaders are constantly condemning violations of human rights everywhere and yet never pointing the fingers at the US and its continued use of Death Row. With all the celebrity and political backing of Troy Davis, Obama should be ashamed that he did not once speak allowed about his views on the matter and I pray that this is highlighted and perhaps a stop will be put to, not only innocent, but anyone being killed for their misdemeanours. We are better than that as human beings. Its what separates us from animals. That and tea. And shoes. Oh no wait. Horses have shoes. But that’s aside the point. Troy Davis may now sadly have passed on, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop protesting about what’s happened and what no doubt will continue to happen unless there is some intervention. Sign the Amnesty petitions, join the people like the people last night who I admired and wished I could join outside the US Embassy in vigil against such actions, and generally let it be known that despite being miles away we have our eye on the state of Georgia and the US death penalty law, and that it won’t be accepted anymore.
RIP Troy Davis. Thoughts to your family, friends and all those who fought for your life for 20 years or even a few days. May your death at least be a stepping stone to saving others.
NB: My good friend and excellent comic Keith Farnan’s show ‘Cruel and Unusual’ rather superbly tackled the Death Row issue after his experience of working in law in the US. Hopefully, with this new situation to light he’ll update and tour it again. I may well bully him to do so if he doesn’t. Either way you can see some of it online and if the Troy Davis case upset you as much as it did me, then I recommend watching it. Part one is here: