December 28, 2006

An honest appraisal

Posted in Politics at 6:20 pm by Nova Newcomer

Freelance journalist Alastair Harper delivers a biting commentary on the death of Presidents. As if he were speaking for me, he explains the frustration I have with modern-day obituaries for our former commanders-in-chief. Presidents are not Kings. This is what the Founders tried desperately to avoid, I guess by failing to understand the quirks of human beings. We love to make kings of even the commonest criminal or hapless, aging icon.


December 27, 2006

Issue #1: God

Posted in Issues at 4:44 pm by Nova Newcomer

I don’t want to believe in a God whose omnipotence is used to judge sinners while ignoring those in need.

December 21, 2006

Art imitates life imitates justice

Posted in Politics at 7:28 pm by Nova Newcomer

When I was a junior in college, I was subpoenaed for the penalty phase of a trial on behalf of a classmate with whom I attended high school. The individual had been involved in a brutal execution-style killing. I had been with him on a Mock Trial team that finished 4th in state — with him, oddly enough playing the role of the defendant in our competition. No one in our class would have been surprised to find out that he was capable of a crime. He was one of those kids who gets branded quickly and then lives up to his labels.

What disturbed me about the penalty phase of his trial is that the prosecuting attorney wanted the death penalty for my classmate. While investigating, police had found materials in his home outlining the Oregon statute for capital murder, which I now believe to be our Mock Trial materials. The prosecutor wanted to use this evidence to aid the case that my classmate was the ringleader and that he was obsessed with murdering someone.  I would have had these same materials in my home and there are very few people who would have believed me to be capable of a violent crime. We all get branded in some way or another. Unlike my classmate, I was a goody-two-shoes.

The circumstances of my subpoena inspired me to write my undergraduate thesis on the Death Penalty. I discovered that defendants are more likely to have been discriminated against in the prosecutorial decision phase rather than the jury phase. You see, the ugly truth of our capital punishment is that prosecutors don’t go after the death penalty for everyone who commits eligible crimes. Our system can’t afford to go after cases that the prosecutor’s office doesn’t “win”. So, like my classmate’s case, they look for evidence that will be sure-bets with a jury and then choose to pursue those cases with unholy righteousness.

I came across this article on that talks about prosecutors using violent rap lyrics to get juries to understand motive. How many of us have rapped or sang along with a violent lyric? I think that the simple way of looking at this is kid sang about killing another kid, kid kills kid, lyrics telegraphed intention. Or could it be more complex — that the lyrics say more about our society and our failure to reach these young men before they have given up on us.

December 15, 2006

The Death Penalty is immoral

Posted in Politics at 7:04 pm by Nova Newcomer

The United States should be ashamed of ourselves for maintaining the death penalty. Maybe the nation will finally wake up to this shame and we will have a nationwide moratorium once more. Our justice system is not fair, thus a final and irreversible punishment such as death should not be allowed. Lethal injection is supposed to be painless and humane, but recently it has proven to be both psychologically and physically painful for the condemned.

Read the below story on a recent case in Florida. Jeb Bush has authorized many executions as the governor of Florida, though not as many as his brother George W. while he was governor of Texas. (It pains me to even recognize that he was a governor, no less the President of the United States.)

It’s time that the US joined the crowd on this one…