This Wednesday, March 28, the state of Texas is planning to take the life of a man whose name is Michael Moore.
I am asking you to join me in one final plea to the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to spare his life. All appeals have been exhausted and the only hope now is for the governor to intervene.
I abhor the death penalty. It is the ultimate act of evil. Not simply because it is the premeditated taking of a human life, but because it is an act of the State, a cold and calculated, sanctioned act done in your name and mine. It reduces all of us to the gutter level of the low-life scum who commit murder for revenge, greed, or fun. Actually, we're worse. Because we, and our elected government, are supposed to be acting with a sense of moral purpose, to seek solutions to conflicts with a rational head, to be an example to our children and the rest of the world that there is a higher purpose to our lives.
Instead, because we detest killing, we kill. Because we think it is wrong to take another's life, we take another's life. We are clueless to the fact that we are the laughing stock of the rest of the civilized world (over 110 countries have outlawed the death penalty since we brought it back 20+ years ago). Yes, we have a right -- a duty -- to protect ourselves from those who would do us harm. That's called locking them up, and in some cases, throwing away the key. If it's punishment we are seeking, then, in addition to life sentences, have them perform functions in prison that benefit the society.
But if we simply want blood, well, I'm sorry, not on my dime and not on my hands. Feeding revenge can only create more sickness in our society. Isn't it enough we have a quarter-billion guns in our homes to prove to the world the level of our unstable behavior?
I come from a state, Michigan, that in 1841 became the first English-speaking government in the world to abolish the death penalty. We are one of only ten states in America that refuse to participate in state-sanctioned murder. All attempts to introduce the death penalty in Michigan have been beaten down by overwhelming margins. Even the right-wingnut governor is anti-death penalty.
Earlier this year, the New York Times did a survey and found that the states that don't have the death penalty have a LOWER murder rate than the states that have capital punishment. That's right -- in 8 of the 10 non-death-penalty states, not only are fewer people killed every year than in places like Texas (which executes its citizens with what seems to be a certain glee), but the murder rates in all 10 of these states have dropped significantly in the last 10 years. Those who say that the death penalty is a "deterrent" should ask why it is that in the kill-happy 40 states you have the greatest chance of losing your life to a murderer on the streets or in the home.
On top of all of this, it is chilling to think of how many innocent people we have put to death. The recent revelations across the country of death row inmates who were falsely convicted -- 11 out of 22 in Illinois alone -- should be reason enough for even those of you who are pro-death-penalty to stop these executions. Who wants to take the chance that even ONE innocent individual is put to death? Who can absolutely guarantee that every single one of the 3000+ people awaiting execution currently in the U.S. is absolutely guilty of his or her crime? If you can't, then you must join with me in calling for a moratorium on the death penalty across the nation. There is no other way.
When I received an email from Michael's relatives asking for my help, it was a bit weird and shocking to see a subject heading that read, "MICHAEL MOORE TO BE EXECUTED MARCH 28." They asked that I help them stop his execution. I said I would. I do not care about Michael's guilt or innocence as I write this. For all I know he's guilty as guilty can be. But that is not the point. The point is that WE must not be the guilty ones in condoning the taking of HIS life. I realize this is a very long shot, stopping his execution. This new governor of Texas is cut from the same bloody cloth as his predecessor. It brought no solace in the campaign last year to see Bush's opponent, Mr. Gore, enthusiastically endorse not only the death penalty, but Bush's mass executions during his 6 years as governor. And we all remember an eager Bill Clinton who interrupted his 1992 campaign for president to rush back to Arkansas to preside over the execution of a retarded man.
No, I don't have much hope. And it's not just the politicians from the two sides of our one-party system. It's the American people. Whereas on virtually every other issue -- the environment, the need for labor unions, a woman's right to choose, etcetera -- every poll shows the majority of the American public taking the liberal/progressive position, it is on this one issue of the death penalty where the majority of Americans still sides with the right wing. But that support has dropped from 70% to 57% in the last two years. People are wising up to the randomness and injustice of this heinous act. Perhaps there's some hope.
In the meantime, would you take a second and send a letter to Governor Perry on Michael Moore's behalf. You can do so by clicking one of the URLs below, or by going to The Nation's website, where they have a letter already prepared.
No human being should be killed in our name -- or, in this case, with my name.
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