Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, September 16, 2005

america the beautiful

emily, in a class on capital punishment, reads about capital punishmnent in its least mediated, majority rule incarnation -- that is, lynching.

she writes beautifully of how the recent historical memory of this and other atrocities ought to give us pause in judging others, and in holding ourselves out as avatars of anything. these are our immediate ancestors, our great grandparents, grandparents, or at least their contemporaries -- if not by blood than as countrymen. this stuff is too lumpy, too sharp-edged to sweep under the rug.

and given the appalling and unequivocal statistics suggesting the degree to which considerations of race affect jury verdicts in capital cases,*** it's difficult to reject out of hands the metaphors, familiar from more pointed hip hop and african-american poetry and the like, between modern justice and its messier Jim Crow predecessors.

lovely writing. and disturbing.

*** statistically, it's worth noting, while the race of the defendant tends to have the predictable affect (i.e., black defendants are meaningfully more likely to be sentenced to death), the race of the victim more profoundly affects (apologies for an underdetermined study, but there are better ones that i've worked extensively with in the past) the outcome. any way you slice it, it's hard to escape the implication that juries, in the aggregate, simply value white lives at a higher premium than black lives.


Anonymous binky said...

Google Mike Radelet for lots of good studies. Either his, or people who cite him.

And, good to have you back! That house must be keeping you occupied.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Ol' Froth said...

Great post by Emily. I added my own thoughts

9:35 PM  

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