Lughnasa Waning Harvest Moon
Death. We generally agree it should come to us unbidden, at a time unknown and in a manner uncertain. Cultures sanction the unwilling death of another, outside of war, as murder, the taking of life.
Laws provide penalties for murder. They vary in length of prison time and occasionally in type, the instances of capital punishment.
Today in the news are two different executions, one in Texas and one in Georgia. The first killed a white supremacist who attached a black Texan to his truck and drove until he died. The second was a black man accused of killing a guard. Many, many people had become convinced of his innocence.
Now both men have moved past the pale of earthly justice. Their penalties render them forever beyond forgiveness, findings of innocence or redemption.
Here is my question. Since their deaths were unwilling and outside of war, can the state be held as anything less than a murderer?
We have the rituals of justice, the patina of equity, but the rolls of those executed tell a different story. It is a punishment most often meted out in the South and often, too often, to poor people and again too often, to poor people of color.
How we can turn aside this culture of death and state sanctioned murder is unclear to me. I wish it could be done. I’m sad tonight about the deaths of both of these men, just as I was sad to hear of the death of James Byrd Jr and would have been sad had I heard of the death of the guard. I’m sadder still that I live in a time and a nation that cannot see itself through the eyes of those it kills.