Tuesday, July 05, 2011

a person's a person no matter how innocent

seriously can't believe this #whattheheck
Today the verdict was read in the Casey Anthony case and I couldn't have been more surprised than I was when I read Vinnie Politan's tweet. Seriously I thought his Twitter had been hacked and someone was pulling a prank. Then the Facebook statuses started rolling in with everyone sharing in my surprise. For the past few years I, in my infinite young adult wisdom, have been so convinced of Casey Anthony's obvious guilt and even more so after watching weeks of coverage on Headline News... I'm wondering what it was that I missed that so blatantly claims her innocence. I guess this is what "innocent until proven guilty means," in which case, if she is innocent I'm glad that she is free and I really, really hope she'll seek some intensive therapy and not get a reality show.

Even though I was so set on her guilt, I never wanted her sentence to be the death penalty. For that reason, I was somewhat pleased, yet confused at first, with Cindy Anthony's alleged cover up regarding the search history on the computer ("chloroform"). This scenario sparked an interesting discussion today in class about whether it would be acceptable to lie to ensure your child would not be sentenced to death- which I would do 100%. I heard on HLN that Cindy Anthony assumed just enough responsibility for the searches so that Casey  would not necessarily be off the hook from the internet history evidence but rather she would not be convicted of a more serious crime that would result in the death penalty. Not absolutely positive if I got those facts straight but either way, I would have done the same thing to spare my child from the death penalty.

That discussion led me to thinking quite a bit about capital punishment today. I don't like it when people say they are "100% Pro-Life" or when certain political candidates promote themselves as being "100% Pro-Life" or "Pro-all-Life" yet they still support capital punishment. If a politician is Pro-Life regarding abortion and/or regarding end-of-life treatment, then they should clarify that rather than falsely advertise themselves.

I do understand that many organizations within the Pro-Life movement state that they are supporters of the protection of "all INNOCENT human life from conception until natural death" and that if capital punishment were to be included in issues addressed by groups within the movement there would be a (greater) sense of disunity among groups. However, I can't help but feel as if there is a sense of hypocrisy in the movement's negligence towards the persons who are put to death- for the sake of this entry, let's limit this to the U.S.- despite health and will to live.

Some may say that these persons who are being executed by the government (even by firing squad) such as in the case of Ronnie Lee Gardner. Ronnie grew up in a broken home with an absent alcoholic father who openly doubted that he was Ronnie's father. Ronnie was introduced to drugs and alcohol as a child and was sent to a state hospital by age 11. After years of being sexually abused by siblings, removed from his mother's custody, placed into a foster home of a pedophile, and was a father at age 16. Ronnie, in and out of hospitals and state institutions, grew up without a place to call home or people to call parents. Is it any big surprise that Ronnie Lee Gardner would end up doing down the "wrong path" in life?

Although an abusive upbringing is far from justification for his adult behavior, it seems that he was almost conditioned to be a criminal by every failed authority figure that entered his life and every failed government institution, school, hospital that he spent time in. When does a person stop being a person and when does a life lose its value? When is it okay for a nation to kill its citizens? An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Ronnie Gardner's daughter. Photo: Deseret News 
Ronnie Lee Gardner committed some heinous crimes, there is no doubt about that, but his guilt cannot justify his death. Just ask his daughter or his brother or his granddaughter who were all waiting vigilantly outside In a country that has the means to imprison those convicted of crimes and potentially offer them rehabilitative and correctional treatment, why is there still a need to kill? Killing creates problems, it doesn't solve them. Just ask the families of any of Ronnie's victims... or ask Ronnie's brother, daughter, granddaughter, and other family members who held a vigil outside the prison as the murder (yes, I called it murder) was carried out. Ask them about the problems created by killing. Which family deserved the loss more? Neither. No 3 year old deserves to have his father shot to death; no young woman deserves to have her father shot by a firing squad while she stands by, helpless.

The loss of a single human life is just cause enough for the repeal of the death penalty, but according to the Death Penalty Information Center (as of June 30, 2011):
Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.

What did those 130 people do to deserve to die? Nothing. Isn't our justice system setting a hypocritical example by executing the innocent in order to "bring justice" for the innocents lost? Suppose a death row inmate was murdered. Would justice be sought for the killer of the death row inmate if his execution date was set for the next day? If America can kill its citizens, what's left but for us to kill each other? Similarly is the issue of abortion, but that'll be another entry for another day...

I think I just needed to vent a little bit about my frustrations with the pro-"Life" movement. I hate putting quotes around the word "Life" like that, but as Pro-Lifers we are so eager to quote Dr. Seuss and say "a person's a person no matter how small" but you never hear anyone proclaiming that "a person's a person no matter how big" or "a person's a person no matter how innocent." I do acknowledge that there is a far greater number of life lost through abortion and I personally have focused more of my research energy into abortion, which is another unjustifiable evil, but while we are working to protect the voiceless it is as though we have forgotten to also protect those WITH voices.

As for me, I am completely Pro-Life. All life.
Conception until natural death.


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