Letters to the editor

Don't blame Gov. Bush -- he's just one of Texas' many willing executioners Plus: Is Confederate flag flap a waste of NAACP time? How "liberated" are women who wait by the phone for a date?

Published January 21, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Execution, Texas-style

Frequently, George W. Bush has been called a "weak" governor in terms of his constitutional power. However, when capital punishment is discussed, Bush is portrayed as operating a one-man slaughterhouse. While the governor is far from an opponent of the death penalty, portraying Bush as the sole man responsible for whether or not someone dies is incredibly damaging to the anti-capital punishment crusade because it ignores the fact that these men and women are tried by a jury of their peers, sentenced under state law voted on by the people, and executed because a committee representing the beliefs of the majority of Texans refuses to grant them life. Pegging Bush as the sole perpetrator ignores the greater fact that this is what the people want, rightly or wrongly.

In the case of Carla Faye Tucker, Bush was unable to spare her life because the committee failed to give him that option. Your article fails to mention this. Though Bush still may have chosen to execute Tucker had he been given that option, I believe it is not your place to guess at what might have been. This is unfair to the governor and to your readers who may not be as well-informed. I would suggest that Salon's next article on the death penalty take the angle that my state's habit of murdering people is not the responsibility of its "weak" governor, but of the people themselves.

-- Jonathan John

Robert Bryce's excellent article sheds much-needed light on the blatant hypocrisy of sending juveniles to the death chamber. It defies logic to claim that while minors are too young to vote for the politicians and judges who make such life and death decisions, they're old enough to be tried as adults and executed. This is a double standard that should not be tolerated. Juveniles are not adults, and children can't be contextualized and decontextualized. As long as minors are denied the full rights and privileges of adults, it makes no sense for them to be viewed as such within the context of the criminal justice system. If people under the age of 21 are too young to drink a beer legally in this country, they are certainly too young to be murdered by the state.

-- Christine Liotta Sheridan

The age of a person who has committed murder is not really relevant to the case. If a 30-year-old or a 15-year-old deliberately rapes and shoots your wife, she is still just as dead. The whine by bleeding-heart liberals that the rest of the world doesn't enforce the death penalty ignores the fact that the United States leads the world in violent crimes. The lie that innocent people have been executed in the past is just that. Name names, facts, any real solid proof you have that an innocent man has been executed within the past 50 years. There are years and years of appeals, new trials, new reviews, Supreme Court hearings before anyone gets executed. If they can't come up with any argument that would cast "reasonable doubt" on the conviction, then it may be that the evidence is just too overwhelming, and the crime so inhuman that only the death penalty can wash away the awfulness of it.

If the pope is so concerned about killers, maybe he would like to adopt them and take them to the Vatican to live with him in isolated luxury. Maybe even sleep on a couch in his private quarters. As for me, I don't think of the death penalty as anything other than garbage disposal.

-- Steve Ketter

A 17-year-old is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. In addition, most 17-year-olds have the strength and size of most "adults" over 18 or 21. I don't like the idea of executing children, say "kids" 10, 12 or 14. However, I do not have a problem with the execution of Glen Charles McGinnis because he was old enough to know that killing is wrong. He unloaded four bullets into his poor victim. Maybe we should change the law to prohibit the executions of anyone under 13.

-- Jim White

Calls to end capital punishment often seem to be based on the idea that the alternative -- imprisonment -- is a sentence of mercy. Granted, no executed prisoner can return to say what it was like to die. But the living ones can testify to the crushing hopelessness of a lifetime spent in prison, if anyone is listening. I correspond with and visit a man who is in for only 12 years, and is serving his sentence in a minimum security prison. Despite the "lenient" conditions, every day is sheer misery in its lack of dignity and ultimate purposelessness. The only reason anyone would wish a lifetime of such days on anyone is to ease their own misguided consciences.

-- Michael Huggins

Flag issue touches nerve in S.C.



The flag uproar in South Carolina is just another example of the NAACP and a liberal media forcing its will on yet another target in the name of racism. Southerners are proud of their heritage. So what if a Confederate flag is flying at a capitol most people never see. Who cares? Yet, the NAACP sees this as another opportunity to throw its weight around.

I would imagine that before the NAACP got involved in this situation no one cared, black or white, about what was flying at the Capitol. The many black Southerners I have spoken with said they never looked at the flag as a symbol of racism. They looked at it as a symbol of the South. One woman went on to say that the typical black person rarely cares about issues the NAACP deals with. She felt the NAACP should focus its energy on more important issues to blacks, like education and economic assistance for minority business owners.

-- M. Myers

What is the big deal about pushing the candidates to respond to the question of whether or not they believe the Confederate flag should fly over any government building because it is offensive to a particular race? The question just as easily could be, "Why does the American flag fly over government buildings when it is offensive to Native American Indians and Native Hawaiians, two minority races in the U.S. whose very society, culture and race were nearly wiped out due to the expansionist Europeans?"

One might argue it is a symbol of heritage and freedom. Not for these two races. The Hawaiians had a flag under the Hawaiian monarchy, which was illegally overthrown by the U.S., as admitted by the U.S. government. Yet, the American flag still flies over the Hawaiian islands.

-- Shana Fischer

I would like to protest the flying of the symbol of slavery (the Confederate stars and bars) over the state Capitol in Little Rock. Unfortunately, many of the people concerned about the South Carolina and Georgia flags don't seem to be bothered by the Arkansas flag. How about a mention of this issue on your Web site? After all we've been through, this type of hypocrisy should be beneath us.

-- Bob Chandler

As the great-great-granddaughter of a Union soldier who nearly starved to death at Andersonville, and whose health was wrecked for the rest of his life, I don't see the Confederate flag as anything worth saving.

-- Genevieve Carnell

Torture by dating

This article by Jennifer Li Shotz is a perfect illustration of one of the reasons men have trouble understanding the dating needs of women. After ignoring seven phone messages from a potential first date, she expresses surprise that he neglects to call her after the date. Big surprise -- my thought is the man didn't feel like being ignored yet again. Perhaps he even felt that if she had enjoyed their date even slightly, she would call him afterward. If a woman these days truly wants to see a man flattered and enamored with her, it might do well to remember that women are just as capable of dialing a phone as men are. The results might be surprising.

-- Lyle Bateman

Ms. Shotz's memoir of "casual dating" revealed very little insight other than her self-delusion of independence and superiority. Statements like "Haven't men learned, after all these years, that the most attractive quality a man can have is the ability to dial?" truly show that despite her posited feminist stance, she cannot even escape 50-year-old dating rituals.

Did it never occur to her that this fellow recognized her (I imagine, thinly) veiled "independence" and therefore expected an atypical relationship? Did she stop to ponder if his saying, "Good to hear your voice" was genuine rather than smarmy? Certainly, she has succeeded in damaging her own credibility and insulting his intelligence without regard because of her first impression, always the most dangerous prejudices.

-- Thomas Heys

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