Looking for a Little Levity While Hoping it Wasn’t Troy Davis’s Last Day

by on September 23, 2011 · 8 comments

in From the Soul

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling a bit of dread, kind of knowing that a man, who might be innocent, could end the day dead.

I decided to find as much humor in my day as I could. After unfolding my paper the word RELIEF in caps jumped out at me and lead my eyes to a photo featuring a tearful navy petty officer enjoying his newly arrived freedom to simply be who he is.

I chuckled to myself thinking how gays and lesbians can now, like us straight folks, “ask and tell” constantly, regularly, instantly. I mean we heteros can’t wait to be asked “How was she?” And we love to answer all braggy: “Hey, man, I took care of the B-I-Z!” And the woman responds to “How was he?” with: “Well, he pretty much went on without me.” But, finally: equality.
Further into the paper I read of an Afghan suicide bomber killing a peace-talk leader and I wondered if he committed his deed with hopes of living an eternal afterlife with 72 virgins tending to his needs. Then I thought of how tiring such a reality could be. No way would that be a reward I would seek. Nah, give me one bright athletic loving caring giving middle-aged woman who – although she might be beyond her sexual peek – still enjoys a “date night” with a couple of glasses of wine a few times a week.
Then there was a piece about the ACLU, in a matter pertaining to the separation of church and state, questioning a councilman’s use of public funds to help put on a one-day gospel event called San Diego Praise Fest. As I read I could see both sides of the argument: It didn’t just feature gospel music, yet, it seems kind of religious considering that eight ministries lead musical worship sessions on the “Church House” stage. But, of all that was written, I was attracted to the event being billed as “the synergy of community, music, health information, educational resources, and open-air marketplace in a fusion of inspiration, wellness and cultural empowerment.” When I finished digesting that blending and melding of the Queen’s English, I asked myself: “Am I experiencing one of those flashbacks from some hallucinogen I took in the 60’s? Far out!” Then I cracked up remembering a few moments from those bygone days.
The comics that day, as they should, provided a few good laughs. Rat in “Pearls Before Swine” said, “I have stumbled upon a form of communication that is so carefully encoded I can only assume it was accidentally dropped here by aliens,” then he showed Goat the words he had discovered: “Dw i ddim yn gwybod. Ydw. Mae’n ddrwg gen i,” to which Goat said, “That’s Welsh.” Rat: “Do you suppose they come in peace?”
Oh, but a little mirth during the day didn’t alter the crime of the day: Troy Davis’ life being taken away. The powers-that-be who could have spared his life surely did not come in a spirit of peace – or justice.
So what else is new, huh? The last thing I read was “An Obama Sap” by David Brooks of the New York Times. He says he’s a sap because he believed Obama when he once said he would do something right away for the unemployed. He liked Obama’s tax cut ideas but viewed his stimulus package as a campaign marker more so than a jobs bill, and he goes on and on but my intent here is not to summarize Brook’s litany of the president’s perceived shortcomings.

But I can be an Obama Sap too. I keep thinking he is going to step forward one of these days and tend to the kind of matters that are of high priority for me – like a black man being murdered by the state of Georgia, a state my grandfather left on the run in the late 1800’s to avoid a similar destiny. He bypassed a golden opportunity to take a bold stand for justice. His office says it wouldn’t have been appropriate as though being appropriate is part of the D.C. lexicon. Besides when is doing the right thing ever not appropriate? What wasn’t appropriate, if we want to play with such a word, was Troy Davis being put to death.
So I enjoyed a scattering of moments of giggling Wednesday but I laid my head down for bed still cursed with feelings of dread, knowing that a man ended up in a Georgia morgue stone cold dead. His guilt was in doubt but here’s a question We the People should form in our heads: why should anyone, in a so-called civilized society, guilty or otherwise, suffer an execution when just taking them off our streets until they die, would suffice?

Photo courtesy of marie-aschehoug-clauteaux on flickr.com

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

annagrace September 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

This has been a week of tears. It started with a video I watched of a young soldier calling home from Germany on the night that DADT was repealed. “Daddy, I want to tell you something,” he began in a measured , yet tentative voice. “Hey, Bud” his father responded. “Daddy, can I tell you something…will you always love me..” and then this young soldier told his father that he is gay. In true guy style his father responded “Yikes.” But not too many heartbeats passed before he told his son that he does indeed still love him, that it’s ok. I wanted to reach out, hug them both and instead could only sit here and blubber. Love&justice- watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVAgz6iyK6A
The execution of Troy Davis is not a continuation of our country’s commitment to justice. Davis maintained his innocence to his death and there was enough doubt about his conviction that prominent world figures and organizations felt compelled to ask for a stay of execution. The testimony that went straight to my heart was provided by Dr. Allen Ault, an ex-warden of the penitentiary where Davis was being held.
Ault talks about how the pre-meditated murder of an inmate (“homicide” is listed as the cause of death) affects a person of conscience-ie the public worker- who is charged with carrying out the execution. Ault says that capital punishment is not a deterrent; that it is an irrevocable act applied to situations in which there is doubt; and when all is said and done, it is an act of vengeance , which is not the same thing as justice. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#44620657 The man’s quiet voice was filled with absolute anguish.
So what do these two events have to say about the arc of justice? I caught the Republican debate last night, saw the video of a gay soldier asking about the repeal of DADT. A few audible boo’s went up from the crowd before Santorum launched into how he would re-establish DADT because there is no place for sex in the military. Neither he nor his pathetic co-contenders offered a word of thanks to this soldier for serving our country. At an earlier debate, the crowd cheered for Rick Perry’s execution record in Texas. And no, the man doesn’t lose a minute of sleep over those executions. So I’d say the arc of justice continues to be threatened.
A little levity? How about this : “If corporations are people, how come Texas hasn’t executed one of them yet?”


Ernie McCray September 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Wow, Anna, you point out so much that needs to be heard in your remarks. I wish America was a reflective society because then we’d heed our own cries. We’re so tough and proud when we need to be pliant and humble and understanding.
I like how the dad paused for a while and then professed his love for his son with he, indeed, still loved him and it’s okay.
And, yeah, how come Texas hasn’t executed one of its corporations, aka people?


Lauren September 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Dear Ernie,

I, too, felt and feel deeply saddened and enraged by Troy Davis’ execution. How can we? How does one sleep at night after making a decision to execute a man whom one knows may be innocent? For political gain? Some things don’t change.

As you say, why isn’t life imprisonment sufficient? Why do we become the executioners to show that killing is wrong? Is it only wrong if not government sanctioned?

Is torture only wrong when it’s NOT our government sanctioning it? Or, are we without blame if we clandestinely send individuals to other countries to be tortured? How absurd does it get?

I ponder these things over and over…and remind myself to bask in the beauty of all the love and beauty that exists in our precious world. I remind myself that there are millions of people – like YOU Ernie – who work endlessly to make the world a better place.

Yea for an end to the absurd BE CERTAIN TO LIE and hope your ass doesn’t get fired policy that ended for gays and lesbians this week!

THANK YOU for all you do.


Ernie McCray September 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for your comments, Lauren. What you’ve said is right on and everybody everywhere who is trying to make the world a better place in whatever way, large or small, they can should always remind themselves that there are, indeed, millions more like them throughout the planet.


John P. Falchi September 30, 2011 at 2:02 am

Thanks for putting your pen to paper this day, Ernie. What you’ve said makes a lot of a sense to me, as do the beautiful words of Anna and Lauren in reply. It is sad when the appropriate persons would not pause to save this man’s life even when there were so many indicators that he was not the perpetrator of this crime. I was very proud of the remarks of Troy Davis just before he died. He was thinking of others and not just of himself. He will live in my memory for some time and be a good reason for my continuing to oppose capital punishment. I think we need to get beyond this eye for an eye mentality before the whole world becomes blind.


Ernie McCray September 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

Thanks for your comments, John. Troy’s murder has ensured that I will never abandon the pursuit of ending this barbaric practice. And we’re a “Christian” nation? Right.


john September 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

My take on capital punishment is that it’s counterproductive if you are putting men to death who are innocent, and it seems a lot of that goes on in the south particularly with African American males who are arrested, tried and convicted by overzealous DA’s merely because they fit the description.
In just one in a thousand are innocent that is not just and you essentially create a callous indifference in sensible people who would otherwise have a societal conscience about their actions. Psychotic or cold blooded killers you will never reach and they will do what they do. Sensible people however ususally stop and think about what they are doing in terms of right or wrong- why remove this by instilling a catch 22 situation causing contempt for rule of law?
We can’t even say the death penalty is a harsher sentance than life imprisonment, can we? So why do it?


Ernie McCray September 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Hear! Hear!


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