Thursday, September 22, 2011

Right to Life--and Truth

I was saddened last night to learn that Troy Davis was executed in Georgia (and apparently two other men since then in other states, who received less publicity). What does capital punishment in these cases solve? Do those involved feel closure? Are the victims' families truly happy that the state has taken a life, as in "an eye for an eye"?

If protests today occurred because of Davis's execution, some good will have come out of the evil of taking life--in the form of reflction on the uselessness of the thirst for blood, and of the fact that capital punishment, as is well known, does not deter future criminals from acting.

Will Gov. Perry, now the leading GOP contender for the presidential nomination, continue to be applauded as he defends the rights of the unborn but gladly signs more death warrants in Texas? He likes to brag about the tough way he has handled death sentences, and when he does, many applaud.

Where were the Catholic bishops and other pro-lifers last night to protest the killing of Davis? Are the rights of the unborn more important than the life of a man who might have deserved a second trial or a reprieve so that unanswered questions could be addressed?

How does the death of anyone, even the most heinous criminal, solve anything in the criminal system?

Perry probably does not know, given his dismal academic record and shoot-from-the-hip style, that studies show that capital punishment fails to deter crime and for a Christian, as he claims to be, is morally wrong. But he is the same type of know-nothing who sees evolution, as presented by Darwin in 1859, as avant-garde, whose attitude toward global warming is equally primitive and alarming.

Perry, like Bachmann and Palin, seem quite proud of all they don't know and quite ready to propose ideas they don't know how to think through. The results should alarm the electorate more than the economic downturn because ignorance, as Socrates claimed, can be the greatest evil.

I want to read the new book by the noted environmentalist Bill McKibben, Eaarth. A reviewer has noted the unprecedented facts he cites about depleted oil storehouses, dying forests, melting glaciers, threatened water supplies, endangered rain forests and other results of global warming that are already producing extreme weather problems. Yet the climate change deniers continue to ignore reality, pointing to falsified data, corporate-sponsored research, and historical and Biblical tales that supposedly deny the evidence presented by McKibben and so many others.

Serious students of ecology are not preparing for the end of time, like some Christian extremists, but offering realistic suggestions for acting to help civilization prevent the end of planet earth. Will our future political leaders read such books, heed such warnings? Will they reflect on the complexity of the moral issues we all face or continue to offer slogans that will appeal to their political base? The answer, sadly, is obvious.

We have become a country divided into separate spheres of reality, where truth is daily sacrificed, along with life, in the self-interested business of getting elected.

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