Thursday, April 5, 2012

We cannot confront darkness with darkness and expect to have light

New Jersey
New Mexico
Illinois
New York
Coming soon to Connecticut
It's abolition, and it's time.
Yesterday morning, Judge Frost told Ohio it could kill Mark Wiles.  Just after 2 o'clock this morning, the Connecticut Senate voted to stop sending people to their death.  Let's hear it for the Nutmeg State.
Word from there, from the Land of Steady Habits, is that there's no question the House will pass the bill and that the Governor has announced his intention to sign it.
Oh to be in Connecticut.
It's not perfect.  Kill the ones already on the row, they said.
But no more.  Never again.  Finito.
I've said over and over here that clemency isn't about them, it's about us.  That mercy isn't about the recipient, it's about the giver.  That grace is a gift, not a reward.
So, too, of the death penalty.  About us, not about them.
Senator Slossberg
Here's a small bit of what Senator Gayle Slossberg said during the debate on the Senate floor. (The whole statement is here.)
I want something better for our families. I want to know that in the face of terrible evil, we will hold on tighter to our humanity; that when our faith in each other is challenged, we will work harder to fulfill our obligations to one another as human beings; that we will stand for justice for all; that we will raise each other up, and not descend to the level of criminals. We cannot confront darkness with darkness and expect to have light.
She followed that, with this.
I hope that one day, when my children look back on this vote, they will view it with pride and know that today we took a step towards being a more civilized and just society for all. I am proud to support the repeal of the death penalty.
Which really is the point.
I didn't watch the debate.  Gideon did, with tears in his eyes by the end.
By the vote.  Which really does signal the end. 
Slossberg began her talk on the floor of the Senate this way.
A few years ago, I was waiting for the train to New York and I sat down on a bench next to an elderly man. We started to chat. Elections were coming up, so our conversation naturally turned to politics and the state of our country. We ran through the usual topics and then he turned to me and said something I have thought about over and over again ever since: He said that between the tough economy, the rise of hate crimes, the vilification of this group or that by otherwise good, moral people and the seemingly chronic need to blame someone for society’s problems, he said he was afraid – not for himself, but for our children. It is only a short step from here to there, he said – to think of some people as less than human. And once we think of people as less than human, it becomes okay to kill them and then what kind of society do we have?
Indeed.
Because it really is about us, not them.
As Judge Frost reminded yesterday, we're not there yet in Ohio where there's still too much belief in them.
But we really are heading that way.  And one of these days.

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