Letters

Sexless Teletubbies

The Scoop: Is Jerry Falwell Gay?

Just a note to you all: The Teletubbies don’t have sexes. They are never called “he” or “she”; they just have names. Also, remember the show is geared towards 3-year-olds who may know the word “boy” or “girl,” but really don’t understand the difference yet. I love the article, but I am just asking you guys to watch the show from the 3-year-old part of your brain. If you do that, then it really is a great show. Also, I know that they show tech. mixed with real, but remember too that is how 3-year-olds view the world — they don’t tell the difference between the real world and their imaginations.

Tanya Moore


Dissecting Bob Harris

The Scoop: Dissecting the Death Penalty

Ahhhh.

Bob Harris did as much research on the death penalty as my pet skunk did on French cuisine.

Upcoming Scoop: As the basis for his next Scoop, Harris will interview Bill Clinton to discuss the President’s “Foundations for an Honest Marriage.”

Now to dissecting Harris’ objective and informed article regarding the death penalty.

Each of my comments begins “WOOPS.”

Dissecting the Death Penalty
The reality of capital punishment.

by Bob Harris
February 9, 1999

[snip]

Innocence
DPF: Studies show that in this century, at least 400 innocent people have been convicted of capital crimes they did not commit. Of those 400, 23 were executed. The wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified.

WOOPS: Nope, the 400 “might” have been sentenced to death — read the study. Oh, and the 23 “innocent” executed? Sorry. The authors of the study said, “We agree with our critics, we have not proved those 23 executed to have been innocent, we never claimed that we had.” (Stanford Law Review, Nov. 1988)

BTW: No proof of an innocent being executed since 1900.

Item:
CHICAGO – After 16 years on death row, Anthony Porter, 43, walked out of the Cook County Jail on Friday after journalism professor David Protess and his class gathered evidence that he was wrongly convicted of two 1982 murders. Porter, who has an IQ of 51, came within two days of execution by lethal injection last September before the Illinois Supreme Court decided that his case required another look. Since then, a key witness has recanted his testimony, saying police had pressured him, and on Wednesday, another man finally confessed on videotape that he had killed the two victims. The case was not the first in which the professor and his students saved a life. In June 1996, four men who had spent 18 years in prison for murder were released after Northwestern students discovered new evidence. Two of those four had also been on death row awaiting execution.

WOOPS: Such cases are horrible. No dispute. It appears we may have proof that 21 innocents have been sent to death row since 1973. That is about 0.3 percent of those sentenced to death and all of those were released. Hmmm. So far, 99.7 percent accuracy, with the errors corrected.

Racism
DPF: Race is an important factor in determining who is sentenced to die. In 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies … those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.”

WOOPS: Why? Is it because of race? Or the crimes? The crimes, of course. See Rand Corporation study and Smith College study, read McCleskey v. Kemp. I wonder why white murderers are twice as likely to be executed as black murderers since 1973? Why white murderers are executed 17 months quicker than black murderers? Hmmmm. Oh well, I guess you thought that might be of no interest to your readers.

Items:
INDEPENDENCE, Va. – After being given a life sentence Friday for his role in the death of a black man who was burned alive and beheaded, Emmett Cressell, 38, apologized to the man’s family but refused to accept blame. The victim was doused with gasoline and set afire after an all-night drinking party at a trailer in rural Grayson County. Authorities found the victim’s charred corpse in a pile of debris with his severed, burned head in a freshly dug hole nearby.

WOOPS:You’re right. Should have been a death sentence. I know you’re dissapointed. Maybe you should see interviews with jurors, eh? You know, being fully informed, all that stuff — oh, why bother, right? Do you wonder why whites are more likely to be sentenced to death and executed than black murderers? I know, you were indisposed during that part of the review — stacking your romance novels, no doubt.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Prominent musicians performed a sold-out concert to raise money for the defense of death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black activist radio reporter sentenced to die for the 1981 death of a white Philadelphia police officer. Amnesty International has expressed “serious doubts about the fairness of the trial procedures” in his case: “prosecutors inappropriately used Mumia Abu-Jamal’s political affiliations to elicit a death sentence.” Gov. Christie Whitman urged fans of the bands to stay home.

WOOPS: Hmmm. Maybe you should look at the case. Here you go: http://www.justice4danielfaulkner.com.
Oh, why would you bother? Your cat needs combing.

Other Countries
DPF: The vast majority of countries in Western Europe, North America and South America — more than 95 nations worldwide — have abandoned capital punishment. The United States remains in the same company as Iraq, Iran and China as one of the major advocates and users of capital punishment.

WOOPS: Or Japan. And of course, those countries who have really abolished capital punishment — very few — are in the same company as all those who have also so abandoned — Yuck!

Items:
HOUSTON – A Canadian awaiting execution in Texas has failed in his attempt to have the U.S. Supreme Court consider whether his case violated international law. After pleas by Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright unsuccessfully sought a reprieve for Faulder. Canada has no death penalty.

WOOPS: Hmmmm. Maybe this international law doesn’t apply to Faulder. Have you read it? I have. It doesn’t. Be careful how you project. OK, bonus question: How did Canada limit Faulder’s appeals much more than the U.S. did? 200 points. You have five days to answer. Tick, tick.

WASHINGTON – The United States has assured France that former U.S. counterculture leader Ira Einhorn would get a new trial and not face the death penalty if he was extradited, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. France has no death penalty. WOOPS: Otherwise France would let this horrid human-rights abuser live free and happy in France. Wonderful country.

BONN – Germany has asked the U.S. government to try to stop the execution of two German brothers sentenced to death in Arizona. German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin urged Reno to make a plea for clemency to Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull. Germany has no death penalty.

WOOPS: This appeal will fail.

HAVANA – Two men convicted of killing two Italian tourists have been sentenced to death, the Cuban government confirmed Thursday – a move that followed calls by President Fidel Castro to crack down on growing crime.

TEHRAN – Anti-drug agents seized several tons of drugs in eastern and southeastern Iran, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Sunday. Hundreds of drug traffickers have been hanged under a law that mandates the death penalty for anyone caught with more than a small quantity of narcotics.

WOOPS: By the way, France and Germany don’t have Miranda warnings, exclusionary rules, etc. Did we use France and Germany as the standards with which to compare ourselves during WWII? Why do you do so now?

The Bible
DPF: Although isolated passages of the Bible have been quoted in support of the death penalty, almost all religious groups in the United States regard executions as immoral.

WOOPS: Nope. Theirs is a social position not based on biblical teachings. Ask them.

Item:
VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II said Thursday he was delighted that Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan had heeded his personal appeal for clemency and commuted the death sentence of a triple-murderer. Darrell Mease, 42, had confessed to the 1988 shotgun killings of his former drug partner, the man’s wife and their handicapped teen-age son.

WOOPS: Happy to send you an analysis of the Pope’s writings on this subject, if you so desire. Tease: The Pope’s position is based on future harm. No basis in moral consideration, nor of the harm done in the murder itself.

Randomness
DPF: Politics, quality of legal counsel and the jurisdiction where a crime is committed are more often the determining factors in a death penalty case than the facts of the crime itself. The death penalty is a lethal lottery: of the 22,000 homicides committed every year 300 people are sentenced to death.

WOOPS: Guided discretion as per Greeg v. Georgia. Heard of it? Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much. Would you be happier if more were so sentenced? Of course not. Is such sentencing any more random than other criminal case? Nope. Rape results in probation to life — and often, tragically, no sentence at all. Very few murders are capital murders. Maybe five to 10 percent of the total.

Item:
POTOSI, Mo. – Meanwhile, Missouri’s next Death Row inmate says he doesn’t expect the Pope’s intervention. James Edward Rodden is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the Potosi State Correctional Center on February 24th. His execution was scheduled one day after the Carnahan administration commuted the sentence of Darrell Mease.

WOOPS: This goes to the Missouri governor’s basis for commutation: “the Pope asked me.” No moral decision, just individual influence. Hardly a good basis, eh?

Hoo-boy. Five for five, and in just a single week of news.

WOOPS: Yep, five for five. Nice goin’ there.

And DPF has other reasons to oppose the death penalty that are just as good, but you get the idea.

WOOPS: Sure do. Was this a new routine for Three Stooges – The Movie?

Death Penalty Focus is clearly pioneering a novel concept: a political opinion which is actually corroborated by real world events.

WOOPS: Or devoid of knowledge and critical thinking — a common infectious disease. Treatment is available.

WOOPS: Snore. Such journalism. Such fact-checking. Such, such, such MINDLESS BLATHER!!!

These people have no future in TV news.

WOOPS: No doubt, as you reflect the highest of journalistic standards; as evidenced by the brilliance of our dailys, you will soon be promoted.

Warmest regards,
Your pal,
Dudley Sharp


 

Not Snappy Enough?

Snap Poll

I am writing about the Snap Poll I saw today. The question was about Clinton’s plan to cut illegal-drug use. I found your poll extremely slanted. I found that I could not select the answer I wanted from the list of available choices. I feel cheated.

Please alter the programming so I can enter my selection properly. I wish to select Excessive, Unrealistic, and Outmoded, all together.

Thank you for your attention to this problem. I would appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Richard J. Schimelfenig