I am afraid to live in this country. The United States of America. Afraid to live in a country where the new norm is thinking with our hearts or our gut and painting the rational minded individual as unpatriotic and liberal. Afraid to live in a country where intelligence and science have taken a back seat to what people “feel” is right, not what they know to be true or actually is true for that matter.
I’m afraid to live in a country where facts have become taboo and are no longer valid arguing points in shaping the society we all share and everyone’s opinion matters. I’m afraid to live in a country where now the fringe individuals who we use to consider lost in the fray or even “crazy” now have a seat at the table and are considered just another voice on the issues.
In the years since November 4th 2008 I’ve watched what used to be a seemingly rational country, considered the greatest in the world, become a modern version of early 1900′s America. Replicating all the same vile and hateful sentiments of an era that left a nasty stain on the fabric on a great nation but is now cloaked and disguised under “civil discourse”, “political ideological differences” or just a “difference of opinion”. When did we stop calling a spade a spade?
I’m afraid to live in a country where blatant racism has become “it was just a joke” or “liberal sensitivity” but most importantly I’m afraid to live in a country where I can be put to death for something that in all likelihood I never did. We as Americans constantly criticize and point the finger at Muslim and Middle Eastern countries for their harsh and unfair ways of government, the seemingly built in miscarriages of justice and inhumane treatment of women and lack of individual freedoms yet in reality we are no different.
This is a country that incarcerates more individuals than any other country in the world and rehabilitates none. We are one of the few industrialized western civilizations that still uses a death penalty which has many documented cases of innocent people being executed – proof that the system is flawed and why many states have stopped using it. This is a country where groups of people cheer for executions and are so hell bent on government sanctioned murder that when American drug companies quit making lethal injection drugs, states like Georgia began using drugs intended to put down animals.
I’m afraid to live in a country where Troy Davis can sentenced to death with no physical evidence linking him to crime he was said to commit. I’m afraid to live in a country where I can be put to death merely based on eye witness testimony of individuals, seven of which who later recant their stories, admit to being coerced into telling them and three of the jurors who convicted me can say they got it wrong and I still sit waiting to die. I’m afraid to live in a country where as a black man, I can be accused of killing a white man and nothing else matters past that point because a family hurts at the loss of a loved one and someone has to be a place holder for vengeance and closure.
A country where thousands of voices from around the world including those of an ex president in Jimmy Carter, the Pope, Desmond Tutu, former death row wardens, a former FBI director, and every major human rights organization can call for my life to be spared, to scream out for justice to be properly served, to present mountains of reasonable doubt, the very same concept our justice system uses to set people like Casey Anthony free and have a board of five individuals (four of which are retired police officers being impartial to a man accused of killing a police officer) whose job it is to prevent this from happening, look at all of this and say this is not enough. You have to die.
I am afraid to live in this country because now whether we like it or not, we are all Troy Davis. It’s no longer safe for myself or anyone for that matter. You are no longer protected by the system, innocent until proven guilty. Because we are witnessing the very system set up to protect us be used against us.
Next time it could be me. It could be you. Your mother, father, brother or sister. Sitting and waiting to die for a crime that even if you or I did commit, the guidelines for rendering guilt were never fulfilled. So it’s proven that justice in America rings hollow. Just a word we use to defend ideals, individualism and to perpetuate the illusion of a fair, balanced and “just” society. And the execution of Troy Davis has proved three things to me. That in America, we as a country aren’t who we proclaim to the world to be, nothing is or was ever fair, and as for justice, well it just is. Seven letters that represent wishful thinking.
What myself or any reasonably minded person can take from this is that this is clearly a case where a stubborn and conservative court system would rather attempt to preserve its integrity by not admitting they may have gotten it wrong and allow a seemingly innocent man to die than to do what would actually be preserving the system’s integrity by allowing Troy Davis to live. This isn’t a case of denying clemency to Troy because the board doesn’t have the facts, it’s a denial of clemency because they actually do know all the facts and refuse to admit they’ve made a mistake.
In 2007 the state of Georgia said it would not execute anyone if there was “too much doubt”, the tremendous amount of doubt present, and after three hours of deliberation during a last minute reprieve by the US Supreme Court, the only conclusion I can draw from this then is that the state of Georgia wanted a black man to die and along with him dies any true existence of liberty and justice for any of us. This is about more than Troy Davis, it’s about the character of a nation and it’s people working within a failed and severely flawed system.
As part of earning my degree in criminal justice I wrote a 22 page research paper exposing the many flaws and inhumanities of the death penalty and the execution of Troy Davis is a testament to the validity of that work. There’s a reason that on the death certificate of executed individuals, on the line for cause of death it reads “Homicide”. The world watched Georgia get it very wrong and my heart is broken by an inexplicable miscarriage of justice. At 11:08pm tonight, the American justice system proved to the world that there exists no form of justice nor does there exist a system. Be Afraid. Be very afraid. #TooMuchDoubt
“Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” – Martin Luther King Jr. (Letter From A Birmingham Jail 1963)
“It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one” – Voltaire
Side Note: To those criticizing President Obama about this issue, there is nothing he can do within the confines of his power to save Troy’s life. A president cannot intervene or pardon for crimes on a state level.
About Travon Free
Stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. Ivy League brains with none of the student loan debt. This is the home of my opinion. Everything I love. Everything I Hate. This blog is about TRUTH and INSPIRATION. I hope you packed your sense of humor…
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