Rick Perry's Execution Obsession Feeds the Worst in Human Nature
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Even hyper-conservative Senator John Cornyn, once Texas's attorney general, wanted Buck's case reviewed, due to a prosecutorial witness's claim that Buck was more likely to be violent in the future because he's black. That someone's race was overtly invoked as a reason to kill him during trial should be indicator enough that the death penalty has meaning for the public beyond alleviating concerns about violent crime. But evidence of racism invoked during the trial probably won't bother Perry: if he had a conscience about signing off on overtly unfair executions, it probably stopped bothering him somewhere much earlier in his run of 234 executions as Texas governor.
The death penalty is wrong not because murderers deserve better, but because the death penalty appeals to the worst instincts of humanity. We see innocent people die, and our lizard brains want to believe that it won't be right until someone pays for blood with blood. That desire starts to overrule all other priorities. Our desire for a fair trial system and our desire to treat people equally despite racial differences are the first to go. But given enough time, we're even willing to send a man to the death chambers for what appears to have been an accident. Three small children are dead, and we want someone to pay, no matter the innocence of the someone we select.
Perry's willingness to execute a man who was almost certainly innocent comes uncomfortably close to regressing to the days of human sacrifice. Sacrificing an innocent man won't prevent other houses from accidentally catching fire and killing the innocent people inside, but it's clear that Perry will not hesitate to pander to voters who cling to hopes that periodic blood-letting will somehow save us all.