Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blood on our hands

If you are a citizen of the United States there is blood on your hands tonight. When seven of nine eye-witnesses recant, when some of them allege being coerced by the police, when three of the jurors recant, when there is no physical evidence, what you are left with is not reasonable doubt, it is in fact no evidence whatsoever that Troy Davis killed anyone.

But none of that matters. What matters is that a white policeman was murdered. What matters is that the family is grieving. That cannot be allowed to stand. So after twenty years of appeal after appeal after appeal standing in the way of "justice", now at long last the final i has been dotted and the final t crossed. All of the protocols have been followed, all of the safeguards adhered to. The sunk cost invested in getting "justice" for Mark MacPhail is so high that to let Troy Davis live would be an unacceptable admission of the failings of the system we have built.

Make no mistake: we have failed. Someone killed Mark MacPhail, and whoever it was will now almost certainly never be known. Despite the appeals and the safeguards, the procedures and process, we almost certainly got the wrong guy. If you are a citizen of a democracy you can't blame that on the process, because the process is you.

Neither Troy Davis nor Mark MacPhail will get justice. Because the cost of that justice would be for us to admit we were wrong. And that is, apparently, too high a price to pay.

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