Friday, 22 August 2008

LETTER: State of savagery in United States

LETTER: State of savagery in United States

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 4:15 PM CDT

When I read the Missouri Department of Corrections has scheduled the Aug. 27 execution of a man, I experienced a sharp pain in my stomach.

Executing people who have committed crimes accomplishes nothing positive and does real harm to all of us. When "the state" kills in our name, it kills a little bit of our humanity at the same time. Those of us who are personally devastated by the misuse of power by our national government waging war on Iraqi people should also be angry with our state government.

Bragging about "winning" the death penalty in cases they've prosecuted, candidates simply show how barbaric they are. The progress of civilization is toward less violence against our fellow human beings, not more.Revenge is the only real reason for capital punishment, but the need for revenge flows from feelings of hatred and anger. These are not life-affirming emotions.

Ideally, the families of victims and society as a whole would be much healthier without those toxic emotions. But even when forgiveness is not possible, there are more humane ways to punish those who violate society's laws.

I don't think it's accidental that societies which have moved beyond the need for killing wrongdoers have a longer life span and score much higher on indicators of a healthy society than we do.

I don't know what it will take to pull American society back toward a more life-affirming mood such as we experienced in the 1970s when the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty - even if only briefly. We've been whipped back into a state of savagery during the last 20 years.

Our eagerness to maim and kill living things resonates throughout our culture. We spray weed killer along highways instead of cutting them because it's cheaper. We bulldoze trees that are in the way of "development." We allow the beating and torturing of small children by their family members and baby sitters. Rather than pouring resources into teaching parents how to raise emotionally healthy children, we spend many times that amount on prisons. Rather than treating addicts and trying to get them back to being productive citizens, we incarcerate them.

We round up "illegals" whose desperate circumstances we, ourselves, partially caused by letting corporations chase them off their own land.

When the state executes Dennis Skillicorn, part of each of us will die with him.

In the 14 years he has been incarcerated, Dennis has been actively involved in many groups working to teach youngsters how to make more life-affirming choices. What purpose does it serve to kill Dennis?

His wife is making a desperate effort to save him by asking groups to submit clemency petitions on his behalf. If you agree, contact Colleen Cunningham of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty at

Susan Cunningham


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