OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 :::

Hinkle Checks Some Facts on the Death Penalty

The TD's Bart Hinkle fact checks the fact checkers on the Kilgore death penalty ads. He finds the criticisms of wanting.

BUT it's clear from Kaine's response that if Hitler were sitting in the electric chair and Kaine's hand were on the switch, he would have a harder time than Hamlet deciding what to do.

As long as we're parsing Kaine's words, his insistence that he will carry out executions "because that's the law" is -- well -- a fib. It isn't the law. Virginia governors are not required to let executions go forward. They have broad clemency powers. They can commute death sentences.

When Kaine promises to carry out executions, he is not promising to uphold the gubernatorial oath of office, which says nothing about letting felons fry. That's just a clever rhetorical device designed to make him look principled -- he'll keep his oath even if it troubles his conscience, you see -- and disguise what amounts to political expediency. If he wants to win, Kaine can't come out and say, "If elected, I'll grant clemency to any condemned inmate, because I think capital punishment is wrong and that's what the law allows." But if he believes what he claims to believe, then that's what he should say.

But this does not mean Kilgore is off the hook, either. Hinkle goes on to take a closer look at Kilgore, and finds his sheets aren't clean, either. He looks at the case of Earl Washington, who was nearly executed until cleared by DNA evidence -- a move Kilgore's office strongly opposed, while the real murderer in the case remained at large and committed two rapes. Hinkle's conclusion:

A vigorous defense works on behalf of the guilty, yes. But it also works on behalf of the innocent. It does so by keeping innocent people out of prison. It does so by truly avenging crimes against innocence, rather than just locking up people at random. And it does so by putting predators behind bars so they cannot hurt more innocent people.

There's a word for governments that don't allow the accused to present a strong defense. They're called tyrannies. If Kilgore wants to see heinous murderers hung high, that's his prerogative. But the former attorney general at least ought to support the concept of first making sure the executioner is killing the right guy.

Sort of puts things into perspective for both candidates, doesn't it?

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 10/25/2005 4 comments


"You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they also produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man

"The graveyards are full of indespensable men" -- Charles de Gaulle

"Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favor? Well maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys. Nature started the fight for survival and now she wants to quit because she's losing. Well I say, hard cheese!" -- Montgomery Burns

"Don't pretend that you know me...cause I don't even know myself" -- The Who

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