“a kick in the stomach”

On May 18th, 1992 Roger Keith Coleman became the poster-child for death-penalty opponents (literally) when he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

The death penalty has gotten a lot of air space of late – Stanley Tookie Williams went out last month, Kenneth Boyd of North Carolina became the 1,000th person executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and last week some geezer from California was executed even though defense lawyers argued that killing the old fart constituted “cruel and unusual punishment”.

I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. I’ve never understood how you can be both pro-death and pro-life, but I can’t get on the Innocence band wagon either (it’s not a club where I want to be a member).

I do agree with Mark Kleinschmidt’s even-tempered assessment of the situation:

Because the issue involves extreme emotions on all sides, and because of the horrors surrounding every murder, in order to gain a full understanding of all the issues about how the death penalty is meted out it is necessary to engage in a very challenging critical analysis regardless of which position a person ultimately settles on.

In this light, Newsweek’s recent decision to publish I Want Constantine’s Murderer to Die in My Turn does nothing to forward critical analysis and only polarizes an already tribal climate (the Witchy-poo photo of author Olga Polites didn’t help either).

Back to Roger Coleman. In case you missed it, Coleman was found conclusively guilty (posthumously) after a DNA test ordered by Virginia Governor Mark Warner proved Coleman murdered Wanda McCoy. But before we get all “atta-boy” on Mark Warner , I like The Economist’s observation that Warner’s actions were a kiss-up tactic to appease liberal supporters (Warner is a Democrat, but has overseen 11 executions as governor).


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