Friday, September 23, 2011

A crying shame

If you absolutely oppose the death penalty under any circumstances -- and you live to bring attention to this cause -- you should have been in Huntsville, TX, Wednesday night. That's where the state executed an evil man who committed a hideous crime. A man who was guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.

But you were in Jackson, GA, bringing the world's attention to another execution, this one involving a man whose guilt, many argue, was in doubt.

You did well with your media campaign. Google "Troy Davis" and "execution" and you'll get over 200 million hits. A "Lawrence Brewer" and "execution" search, on the other hand, pops up only 34,900 hits. And that's where you missed a tremendous opportunity.

The reason is obvious, but worth stating: if you are given several opportunities to take a stand on a controversial issue, take the most difficult-to-defend example. If your position is sound, the heat of that debate will forge a stronger case, generate greater media attention, and serve as prima facie evidence of your resolve. This is particularly important for defenders of free speech.

There was one notable exception to the hundreds who flocked to Jackson, GA -- Dick Gregory. The 78-year-old activist held a prayer vigil and an 18-hour hunger strike outside the Walls Unit of the state prison in Huntsville, TX. Can't really blame you if you didn't hear about it. "Dick Gregory" and "Lawrence Brewer" only turned up 390 hits. If only he had some more death-penalty opponents with him, he might have made some real news.

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