Intuitive Thinking

Psychology research, articles, opinions, insights, and general words about everything related to human behavior.

The Death Penalty and Internet Activism


Two Men Sent to Die

Yesterday, 9/21/11, two men were sent to die. One of them was a white supremacist in Texas, convicted for the murder of a black man in perhaps the most horrific manner from 1998. The other was Troy Davis, a man more than likely innocent of the crime of killing a police officer in 1989. The evidence in the case of Lawrence Brewer, the white supremacist, was overwhelming, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. The evidence in the case of Troy Davis, based on eyewitness testimony (which has been shown again and again that it is the most unreliable piece of evidence to rely on ) was limited. Yet he was still convicted and sentenced to death despite the overwhelming possibility that he was an innocent man. I am sure many of the people reading this have some knowledge about the case, so I will not go into it further.

In my personal belief, no matter the case of Brewer or Davis, guilt vs innocence, the use of capital punishment is flawed and in the simplest terms, wrong. The State should not be the ones to decide who lives or who dies, period. An archaic system of “eye for an eye” being fed by us, the taxpayers, unwillingly to determine who in society is “fit to live.” This is perhaps mostly a moral and emotionally driven argument to simply say “it is not right for the government to sentence people to death,” though on a rational scale, the idea that death, a natural part of the human life cycle, is in the hands of the State, is reprehensible and irresponsible. But these two men are not alone, as there are over 3000 people currently sitting on death row in the United States. Innocent or guilty, there is something wrong with this picture. Are there people who probably don’t deserve to live? Perhaps. Is this something that should be decided upon by a government system? Of course not. Brewer’s case was particularly horrific, and the evidence was overwhelming in showing that he participated in such a horrible murder, but while one group condemns the system for the execution of an innocent man - and possibly many more innocent people along the way - I cannot imagine why people would support the system being used in any form.

Internet ADD and Activism

I also write this because I am interested in the internet activism side of this coin. Online petitions were written for Troy Davis, Facebook posts, tumblr rebloggings, Twitter exploding with trending topics (although some claim Twitter banned the #TroyDavis hashtag from trending), while the old-fashioned vigils and protests were being held. Troy Davis became highlighted in the annuls of internet activism, next to the struggles of Iranians, the victims of the Norway shootings, and so on. However, at my most cynical, many will probably forget him and the cause against the death penalty when another activist trend will begin. Which is a shame, but it is a point to be spoken of in the case of making a difference with the tools of the internet.

The internet has made it possible for activism to highlight the struggles of many in different parts of the world, especially in the times of Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr (my bias against Facebook states that more people would rather use it to talk about That Funny Thing Their Kid Did, How Annoying Was That Commute to Work, or find out what their exes are doing these days and dammit they better be miserable). The problem is it has also created Internet ADD. There are so many injustices and crimes in this world, from a national scale of government corruption, to natural disasters, to the world of high school bullying and homophobia, that when gathering a group together to try to make a difference, the focus is scattered. With the world being blown up and exposed on the forces of internet blogs, you’re not fighting for one cause, you’re fighting for a thousand.

End the Use of the Death Penalty

I bring it back to the death penalty. This is the sort of archaic method that should be protested because it can be stopped. It shouldn’t be forgotten and only brought up again when a man such as Troy Davis is being sentenced to die. It shouldn’t be cheered on or ignored even when someone such as Lawrence Brewer is being strapped to the gurney. It shouldn’t be a here today, gone tomorrow cause, it should be put to an end. If not for moral reasons, than for simple, practical reasons such as saving the taxpaying citizen a few bucks.