Sunday, February 14, 2010

Heroic Humans

The word "hero" is not flung around lightly on this blog. But I was listening to a Fresh Air podcast today, and Terry Gross was interviewing a defender of death row inmates in Texas, David Dow (transcript here). It really brought home (not that I needed convincing) what a horrific, immoral nightmare capital punishment is (as if I needed another reason to Hate America™. If you can listen to/read this interview and still call yourself a supporter thereof...I dunno. I'm afraid there's something seriously broken inside of you. Or maybe--and this is the scary possibility--you're working exactly the way humans are supposed to work, and it's people like me who are the freaks. Anyway, here's a quote--an answer to a question about why Dow witnesses his clients' executions--that succinctly demonstrates why I would call him a hero:

There's a lawyer in my office who was asked to witness an execution at the end of last year and she asked me whether she should, and I'm going to tell you what I told her. What I told her was that it is something you will never get over, that you have nightmares about it for weeks, months, maybe years. And so, what you have to decide when you're making the decision about whether you're going to witness your client's execution, is whether the suffering that you're going to have for watching it is greater or lesser than how much your client needs you to be there. I watch executions only if my clients ask me to. And if they ask me to, I watch because if they ask me to I feel that it is more important to them that I be there than it is to me that I not be there.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty convinced that extraordinary people like this are no match for all the malignant stupidity that constitutes American culture. Still, it's good to know that such people exist.

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