Friday, September 23, 2011

Troy Davis, Rhino Poachers and the GOP Debate

One thing that surprised me about last night's GOP debate in Orlando was the fact that no question about Troy Davis or the death penalty was raised either by the moderators or by the YouTube video questioners. Troy Davis and his execution set the Twitter world afire just the day before and yet there was no question - not a peep. That surprised me.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to somehow intimate that an innocent man may have been put to death or that the death penalty is barbaric. Or even that these issues deserved to be address by the GOP candidates. In specific I think a jury found Troy Davis guilty of killing a cop, a judge agreed, the appeal court also agreed, the Supreme Court looked at the case and saw no reason to intervene and the Governor of Georgia also saw no reason to stop the execution. I think Eric Erickson did a fine job detailing how justice was indeed served.

In the macro - I don't see what benefit is gained by society or what purpose served by keeping a guy like Charles Manson alive. In my opinion certain crimes deserve the death penalty. You kill a cop, you molest and kill a child, you are found guilty of being a serial killer or you are guilty of betraying your country - death is the punishment you deserve.

What really got me thinking about the death penalty was not the death of Troy Davis - it was this extraordinary article from Outdoor Magazine on Kaziranga National Park in India. The article details how the park rangers have been able to eliminate or minimize poaching of rare one-horned rhinos by instituting a shoot to kill policy in dealing with poachers. Rhinos are rare while bullets are cheap management approach to the problem has been very successful and I was left at the end wondering if there was a fund I could give to to support these park rangers in their efforts.

As chance would have it - I happened to be reading the article about the same time that Troy Davis was being put to death. I couldn't help wondering how many of the people spewing contempt at Clarence Thomas and the Governor of Georgia would react to the story. I couldn't help but picture someone like Alec Baldwin reacting "Good for the park rangers!" You know that's how many of those people would react. Screw due process for the poachers! Bang! No more poachers - no more poaching problem.

The idea of protecting an endangered species would allow a certain mindset to mount a high horse of moral superiority which would allow for extreme measures such as shooting poachers on sight. A man convicted of shooting a cop being executed? Well the coffee klatch thinking says that's just barbaric in this day and age. The moral gymnastics involved in such a person just boggles my mind.

Me? A cop killer gets executed? Not a problem. A poacher gets his head blown off by park rangers? Also good.

At least I'm consistent.

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