Dancing on people’s graves just feels like an invitation for bad karma.

Even when those people are “bad,” or at least accused of being so.

Take the case of Al-Qaeda bad boy Osama bin Laden. I was wowed as much as anyone else in May when President Barack Obama announced that his U.S. Navy Seals had killed the man said to have masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But I just couldn’t bring myself to whoop and holler in glee along with thousands of my fellow Americans.

When we as a society decide that a man deserves to die (and more often than not, those on death row are men), it is (or should be) because what he did was so heinous he should forfeit his life. But the fact that a man could commit such a heinous act in the first place is more a cause for somber reflection than celebration. The death of the man does not undo the heinous act so, really, what is there to cheer?

And so I cannot bring myself to whoop and holler at the thought of a man’s death, even if justified by the fact that he committed a heinous act. I especially cannot do so when there is substantial doubt of a man’s guilt.

Organized by Amnesty International and other supporters, hundreds of people rallied in Times Square Friday to stop the execution of a Georgia man, Troy Davis, who is set to be killed Wednesday for murdering a police officer in 1989. Only problem is, Davis more likely than not did not kill the officer.

Davis was convicted on the testimony of nine people who said he was guilty. No physical evidence ever linked Davis to the crime, and the gun used to kill the officer has not been found to this day.

Now, seven of those nine people say they lied and that police coerced their earlier testimony. One of the remaining two people was himself once a suspect in the officer’s death. That leaves the testimony of one person, only one person’s word to determine the ultimate fate of another.

A clemency hearing to spare Davis’ life is set for Monday, but if the board is not swayed by the disintegration of evidence against Davis, the State of Georgia will execute Davis on Wednesday.

There is just something bloodthirsty about a society that at times seems so eager to kill that it is reluctant to even consider that perhaps whoever is in their sights may be the wrong prey; a society that is reluctant to admit that executions are an expression of vengeance and not a means of curtailing future crime. According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, Georgia, which has 103 people sitting on death row, has a murder rate of 5.8 per 100,000. New York, which has no death penalty, has a murder rate of just 4 per 100,000.

Life is no episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” where viewers are assured that no innocent men were hurt in the production of the show.

But the rallying cries brought on by that reality are too often drowned out by the whoops and hollers of those lulled into the comfort of a world where there is never a shadow of doubt.

Let’s hope for Davis’ sake, his cries and those of his supporters are finally heard.

 

 

 

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