I like to keep my classroom material as fresh as possible. Thus, I read a lot of articles related to Business on various internet news sites. It also means I get exposed to some of the news I don’t really care to read – such as articles whining and moaning about the President (and it doesn’t matter which one). Thus, I don’t consider myself to be completely ignorant of current events, just that I don’t spend nearly as much time on the stuff as a lot of other people seem to.
In my Texas Government class — and its been very refreshing and eye-opening to be the student and instead of the professor — the same aspect has been done for class assignments. Most of the material regards educating us (the students) on our state and local governments. However, our last assignment of the past week brought up a subject I have a huge amount of distaste concerning — the death penalty. Texas – the state I unfortunately reside in (yes, I do dislike living here, but its more the people than anything else) — is known as the “death penalty capitol of the world”. If I recall correctly, and my mind is a little fuzzy from all the statistics we’ve had hurled at us in this class, since 1982 Texas has put 480+ individuals to death. I understand that there are a lot of folks that are in favor of the death penalty, I’m just not one of them. I believe in the perspective of second-chances – provided the individual shows that they desire to have that second-chance and will take their responsibilities in it seriously.
So? How do you gauge that level of contriteness in an individual? To be honest, I have no idea. For me, I’m the person that takes someone at their word. For instance, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Michael Vick. He was found guilty of harming dogs through illegal dog-fighting circles. He has demonstrated, at least to me, a strong degree of contriteness concerning what he did. I know there are some folks that aren’t sold…and that’s really their perspective on it. I’m not going to say whether they are right or wrong on the topic — because I’m not them. But my stance on “second chances” even extends to people on death row.
When we were working on the issue in class, I cringed several times during the video (it was a CNN report on the execution of Napoleon Beasley). At one point, the Prison Chaplain and the Public Relations manager for the death row section of the Huntsville prison were asked if being in on the execution process was ever something that “bothered” them (Amanpour was the reporter…and I have a sincere dislike of her so-called reporting method on any story). Both men have been with the Huntsville death row program for over thirty years. The Chaplain stated that he had “moments of crisis in my faith from time to time”. The PR guy, on the other hand, said “Not at all. I provide a service for the state of Texas”. When Amanpour tells him that such a comment will generally be construed as “cold and unfeeling” – he responds that he understood that, but it wasn’t meant to be that way.
Now, I have been accused of being “anti-death penalty” — both before this class, and during this class. That’s further from the truth than many people realize. I do believe that there are circumstances and crimes where execution should be the punishment. However, the examination of the evidence needs to be far deeper, far more detailed than it current is done in Texas. If there’s even a shadow of a doubt — just one chance that the criminal may be innocent of the crime…then I believe that execution should be pulled off the table.
That’s just my perspective on a topic that not only is rather gruesome to consider…but also rather contentious among people. For me, everyone has their own perspective on topics like this – and for their own personal reasons…mine is only a single voice…a single perspective around the fire…pass me an ale if you don’t mind…