The “Execution Cheer”By
The New York Times posts a rundown of commentary on the the “execution cheer” at the Republican candidates’ debate on Wednesday, reminding readers that the cheer went up at the Reagan Library in California. The “gasp within a gasp” was Perry’s untroubled defense — no moral doubts about having ever executing an innocent — of Texas justice. The “it takes guts to execute an innocent man” caucus burst into applause.
Andrew Sullivan writes on his Daily Beast live blog, “Here’s why I find it impossible to be a Republican: any crowd that instantly cheers the execution of 234 individuals is a crowd I want to flee, not join.”
The Atlantic ’s Ta-Nehisi Coates performs the obligatory “both sides do it” genuflect, noting that no Democratic candidate in two decades has opposed the death penalty. But only after writing, “The only thing that shocked me was that they didn’t form a rumba line. It’s a Republican debate. And it’s America … the country where we took kids to see men lynched, and then posed for photos.”
Several others trot out the readily available evidence that the death penalty has been used to execute the innocent, as well as evidence that Perry himself signed off on the execution of an innocent man. This, in spite of 41 exonerations from DNA evidence in the last decade in Texas alone.
Steve Benen of Washington Monthly points out Perry’s doubt-free lack of consistency about the value of evidence:
Scientists tell him, after rigorous, peer-reviewed, international research that global warming is real, and Perry responds, “I don’t care.” A deeply flawed judicial process puts potentially-innocent Americans on death row, and Perry responds, “Let’s get the killin’ started.”
The governor balks when presented with evidence on evolution, abstinence education, and climate change, but embraces without question the notion that everyone he’s killed in Texas was 100% guilty. The scientific process, he apparently believes, is unreliable, while the state criminal justice system is infallible.
Intellectually, morally, and politically, this isn’t just wrong; it’s scary. The fact that Republicans in the audience found this worthy of hearty applause points to a party that’s bankrupt in more ways than one.