September 22, 2011

On Troy Davis

The first time I did National Novel Writing Month, I remember crying at the end, because I knew I'd have to kill off my bad guy. I didn't want to, but I couldn't think of any other satisfying way to end the story - the bad guy has to die, right?

There's a scene like that in the film The Princess Bride. The bratty little boy interrupts his grandpa reading to ask, "Who kills Humperdink?" When the grandpa says no one does, the boy finds it unacceptable - someone has to kill the villain.

Last week Fox News aired an interview with the mother of the victim in the Troy Davis case, Annelise MacPhail. "“They make it look like we after blood," she said, "but we are not. We are after justice."

I'm sorry, but I don't think what you got is justice. I don't think, as a country, we should have an idea of justice that ends like a story book where someone has to die at the end so the good guys can live happily ever after. I think justice is what happens when all of the evidence is examined, and if there's doubt - as there most certainly was in this case - the error is on the side of the accused, not the accuser. I would much rather the victim's family not get their 'justice,' their story-book ending, than run the risk of killing an innocent man.

Nathan Thornburgh at Time Magazine has a much more in-depth article about the idea of closure in this case that you should check out.

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