Friday, December 10, 2004

The Scott Peterson TV Show

It's Friday, Bush. As some might say, thank God. But I'm sitting here wondering what you've been thinking about the death penalty phase in the much over-hyped Scott Peterson trial. Though I imagine that you might have had your mind on other things--like your Rumsfeld's performance at that town-hall meeting with his soldiers, or your announcement, yesterday, that there would be no increase in payroll taxes to pay for your social security reform scheme. I have to say, I thought Rumsfeld's performance was particularly disgraceful: his "stuff happens" approach to the lives of those brave souls with which you, Bush, have entrusted him, is quite simply appalling. It's hard for most of us to understand why you didn't fire him long ago, when the results of his disastrous "strategic thinking"--as head of the Pentagon, no less--became readily apparent.

Still, Scott Peterson… Doesn't it bother you, Bush, to see a human life depend on the emotional squabble between two distraught groups of family and friends? The victim's family are called to the witness stand and--big surprise--they want the perpetrator dead. The perpetrator's family are called and--big surprise--they want him to be allowed to live. Everyone's heart strings are tugged at, one way and the other. Everyone weeps. The mother of the victim weeps. Understandably. The mother of the murderer weeps. She shouldn't? The members of the jury dab their eyes. Why not? The emotions run as deep as human beings are capable of. Rage, love. Grief, protectiveness. Life, death… It can't get much deeper in the human heart than this.

But, truly, Bush, is this a way for society to decide on whether a person lives or dies? I know you and I disagree on the death penalty. You sent… how many? Hundreds, including the mentally handicapped and at least one born-again Christian... to their deaths in Texas, which got to be the death penalty capital of the world under your aegis. I have to conclude that you believe it to be appropriate for society to avenge itself by killing its killers. Like most of the civilized world, I go along with the notion that society can be less barbaric than the most miserable and vicious of its members--the lowest common human denominator. We have moved--haven't we?--beyond those Biblical times of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Beyond those barbarous times when a man could be hanged as a horse thief. Or haven't we?

Maybe you share with me at least the notion that the spectacle in Northern California is made the more disturbing for the media vultures hovering around it, purveying the latest breathless detail to a public hungry for sensation? Up-to-the-minute TV coverage from all the major networks? What does this say about us as a country, Bush? Heaven help us!

No comments: