When does amnesty bring accolades and applause and when boos and jeers?   It seems commuting the death sentences of 163 men and four women convicted for the murders of 250 people has caused a mixed reaction.    In the last days as Governor of Illinois, George Ryan commuted all state-imposed death sentences yesterday (Jan. 11) to prison terms for life or less.   It marks the largest emptying of death row in U.S. history.    But does it means Vigilance has overpowered Terrorism, or Terrorism is tickling the underbelly of Vigilance?  Is it a solution or does it feed a deeper problem?  Judge for yourself.


Sunday--January 12, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 487
The Death Penalty For
Parents Of Terrorism?

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Jan. 12- When Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted all 167 death sentences in his state yesterday, both screams from the Sentinels of Vigilance and cheers from the Beast of Terror rang throughout the nation.

Ohio Governor George Ryan commuted 167 death sentences

      In a sweeping decision, the outgoing governor sent 163 men and 4 women back into the general prison population, removing them from single cell isolation on Death Row where they had collectively served 2,000 years for the murders of more than 250 people.  Ryan acted 48 hours before his term as governor expired.
       He claims his decision was based on what he considers a capital system "haunted by the demon of error:  error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die."
       In an hour-long speech at Northwestern University Law School, Ryan said: "The Legislature couldn't reform it, lawmakers won't repeal it, and I won't stand for it — I must act. Because our three-year study has found only more questions about the fairness of the sentencing, because of the spectacular failure to reform the system, because we have seen justice delayed for countless death row inmates with potentially meritorious claims, because the Illinois death penalty system is arbitrary and capricious — and therefore immoral."
       Not everyone agreed.   Families and loved ones of various victims were shocked and angry that "justice" as they saw it was not going to be carried out.   "It's like we were murdered again, our family members, that's how bad it is," said Dawn Pueschel, whose brother and sister-in-law were killed in their apartment on Chicago's North Side in 1983.
      Jon Van Schaik, a Chicago firefighter whose brother was one of two police officers fatally shot on a South Side street in 1979, said he hoped Governor Ryan would soon face charges in the corruption scandal he faces and then "spend the rest of his life in prison."
      Some suggest the governor made the blanket clemency decision because his political career is over.  He is under a federal investigation showing that while he was the state's secretary of state, government employees were deployed illegally on campaigns and contracts were traded for contribution.
       Governor Ryan is at least the fourth to empty death row as he departs office, though the scale of his action overshadows the 22 men Gov. Lee Cruce of Oklahoma spared in 1915, the 15 death sentences Gov. Winthrop L Rockefeller of Arkansas commuted in 1970 and the five clemency petitions Gov. Toney Anaya of New Mexico granted in 1986.
       So the question begs to be answered:  Is the death penalty an act of Vigilance or one of Terrorism?  Is it something that perpetuates the Beast of Terror within us, or does its elimination offer the Beast more leash to act with capital impunity?

Playing God

      Taking human life in retaliation for certain heinous crimes is considered a deterrent to death penalty advocates and to their counterparts, an immoral act in which humans play "God" by "tinkering with the machinery of death, as Supreme Court Harry Blackmun said in his 1994 dissent vote against reinstating the death penalty the highest court struck down in 1972.
       On one hand, the issue is relatively easy to decide.  If one is a victim of a brutal murder of a loved one and their life is snuffed out by senseless acts of violence, it seems only fitting the first reaction would be to punish that person with a like penalty.   Laws are designed to mete out punishment in proportion to the crime, a mathematical quid pro quo that says "if you violate this moral law, you'll pay this price."
       The ultimate price, of course, is one's life.
       On the other hand, it is difficult to explain the justification for killing another human being to a child.   If, as Sentinels of Vigilance, we have an obligation to protect the future of the Children's Children's Children then we must include in that protection our reasoning why we killing another human is justified, and under what conditions.
       In a previous article, I noted that the justification for killing in nature is for food and self defense.   Killing to survive--i.e. to protect one's family, loved ones or the innocent--is justified when it there is imminent threat by another.   The other reason to kill is to eat.    In a parody not too far removed from natural fact, I said the only justification for killing another human being would be to eat them--the ultimate in moral dilemmas.  (Link to story--Why We Should Eat Everyone We Kill)

Hands Off Cain, an anti-capital punishment organization, cites 1,290 executions have taken place worldwide since January 2001.  China accounted for 1,100 executions this year, Iran 153, Saudi Arabia, 121, the United Sates, 85.  Amnesty International (AI) reports most secular democracies have abolished the death penalty.  Capital punishment is not allowed within the European Economic Union members or in Australia, New Zealand, Israel and South Africa.  Russia has suspended executions and pledge to abolish it.  Nations that retain the death penalty fall into four slots, according to AI.  The Islamic world, less Turkey which is a secular democracy, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.  The second groups is India.   The third represents communist countries: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba.   The fourth group that uses capital punishment re AI are authoritarian governments including Guatemala, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe.   In the United States, capital punishment has been abolished in 11 states and is in effect in 37.

Capital punishment rings the Bell of Vigilance

      Capital punishment rings the Bell of Vigilance.  It drives us to the edge of a moral question, and forces us to look deep into the jaws of the Beast of Terror and ask ourselves what will stop the Beast from killing our innocent--will it be the death of his children?   Will killing the Children of Terrorism change the Mother and Father of Terrorism?  Will it make them stop treating a child with such abuse that the child grows into a person who wantonly and icily kills others?
        Personally, I don't think the Beast of Terror listens much to logic.

        Especially, moral logic.
        Frankly, I am an advocate of putting the Parents and Loved Ones of the convicted killers in death row, and having them serve out the sentences of their sons and daughters.   I'm for the Mothers and Fathers, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins of the convicted murderers to be stuffed into the vacant death row cells and live in the hovel of prison hell as a reminder to society that the Child of Terror is the seed of Terror grown up.
        Ultimate responsibility lies with those who trained the child, or neglected the child.   Killing the child is not the lesson.  The child is only the result of Terrorism Training, of abusive parenting, or inconsiderate Vigilance by family members.
         As the families of the slain become the victims, living with the horror of the loss of a loved one and seeking retribution for their loss, so does the family of a murderer become murderers, capital criminals of neglect.  
         We keep punishing the victims of Terrorism, not their teachers and guardians who through Fear, Intimidation and Complacency perpetuated or allowed a child to develop with the Fangs of the Beast.   Children who learn to hate, or are treated with hatred, retaliate with hate.

Duc de La Rochefoucauld 1613-1680

         It is the families of the commuted who should pay the price for their children.
         That would be true justice.
         The Children's Children's Children would understand such a decision, for they would know they grow to become the reflection of their upbringing.
         And, the penalty each of the family members would suffer daily--a 24-hour broadcast of the Pledge of Vigilance, repeated over and over and over until the Parents and Guardians of Terrorism finally realized the crime of not being a Parent of Vigilance.


     Yesterday's Story:  Jan. 11 -- The Miscibility Of Terrorism And Vigilance

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