America’s Love Affair With The Death Penalty
On October 18, 2011, 2:45 PM by Savannah Cox
Institutionalized execution is rarely practiced in democratic and industrialized countries, yet has become a staple of the American justice system.
As the conscious of America seems permanently mired in economic worries, it is nearly impossible to find anything worth smiling at, let alone cheering for. However, in a recent GOP debate, Rick Perry was able to rouse a seemingly comatose audience not only into consciousness but also rousing applause. He didn’t do it by lambasting Obamacare or proposing a fiscal policy to get Americans out of the proverbial hole; he did it by saying nothing.
While asking Governor Perry’s opinion on the record number of executions that occurred under his watch in the state of Texas, moderator Brian Williams was unable to finish his question before the audience began to yawp and clap their hands as one would during the final thirty seconds of a basketball game. After the audience’s heartbeats finally slowed, Perry went on to state that Americans have a keen sense of “justice,” and that “if you come into our state and you kill … you will be executed.”
The ancient Hammurabi-esque similarities do not go unnoted. This institutionalized bloodlust is rarely practiced in democratic and industrialized countries, but is fairly common in nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia, two countries that certainly do not claim to be international vanguards of liberty and human rights like the United States so often does.
However modern and civilized the United States tries to present itself to the world, capital punishment is one of the ugliest aspects of the American system, and is something that many leaders try to conceal when patrolling the globe and insisting on others’ adherence to human rights. However, as the contentious execution of Troy Davis ignited international outrage, it is a flaw that many around the world can plainly see and one that has consistently contributed to others’ doubts about the United States’ role as a champion of modern justice and progress.
Yet at home, support for the death penalty is very public and popular. To make matters more difficult, it is impossible to point the finger at a single perpetrator: Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike have favored the practice throughout the years despite its many proven failures and weaknesses. As a consequence, the self-injected and macabre fascination with capital punishment in the American bloodstream is something that has reduced the United States’ already slothful pace toward universally compliant judicial systems and human rights to that of a snail’s crawl.
According to Scott Henson, a criminal justice blogger, Rick Perry has picked up on the popularity of capital punishment among voters and has tried his best to take as much credit as possible for every single execution administered during his time in office. To date, there have been a whopping 236 executions. While Perry’s attempts to show strong ties between the governor’s office and the capital punishment process are a bit misleading, his position is emblematic of a cowboy-style approach to justice in America.
Since 1608, over 15,000 people have been executed in the United States and its preceding colonies. In 1608, the man first recorded as executed on American soil was Jamestown colonist Captain George Kendall. Accused of being a spy for the Spanish government, a score of bullets kissed Kendall a final adios.
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