A short history of death

I was very pleased to read last night that the state-sponsored murder of Michael Morales has been postponed indefinitely. It seems like a very positive step towards a death penalty moratorium in California, which is really exciting.

I am intrigued that the court demanded the presence of an anesthesiologist to ensure that Morales’ death wouldn’t be “cruel and unusual,” although one might argue that unwanted death is, in general, cruel and unusual.

I am extraordinarily proud of the as-yet unnamed anesthesiologists who declined to participate in the execution, although they originally agreed to it. It is pretty clear that doctor’s trade associations frown on physician participation in executions (although the guillotine was invented by a doctor, as a more humane mode of execution). It seems like professionals who take an oath which includes “first, do no harm,” would be in a sticky ethical dilemma overseeing an execution, and I’m glad that was recognized.

Although ensuring that Morales wouldn’t experience undue pain is a reasonable desire, it seems more reasonable to question the ethics of the death penalty in the first place. Michael Morales was convicted of raping and brutally murdering a white, attractive, 17 year old.

Somehow I think if he had performed the same crime on a black, attractive, 17 year old, that you wouldn’t be reading this post today. Because he wouldn’t have gotten the death penalty for it. This is a wrongness to me. I believe that murder is wrong, but I do not believe that murder should be answered with murder. I also do not believe that murder should be answered with further injustice. I am angry that the families of black and Latino murder victims don’t get the “closure” and “satisfaction” that white families do. It must be really frustrating to watch a system put men and women who share your ethnic group in prison for riling up white people. And to, in turn, watch that system do nothing when your family members are murdered. The system is broken if people who participate in identical crimes are not penalized equally.

Goddamnit, kids, the death penalty is wrong. Sometimes I think my father raised too much of a bleeding heart liberal, because I can’t comprehend thinking that it is right. I can’t comprehend a justification for the death penalty, and I am genuinely shocked and dismayed by advocates of the death penalty. I am embarrassed that I live in a total bleeding heart liberal state that isn’t as liberal as Iowa, for Pete’s sake, because Iowa doesn’t have the goddamn death penalty.

Please, can we stop murdering people? This is really getting frustrating, and it’s time for a moratorium, at the very least, preferably nation-wide, although I will settle for California. We have 649 inmates on Death Row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Could we remove the black cloud over the heads and put them back out among the general population with actual life sentences? The prison system in this country is in need of major reform, so I don’t think it’s the best authority for, you know, murdering people.

[death penalty]