One Day Less To Be Living

Paging Randall Terry, President George W. Bush, Archbishop Raymond Burke, Pope Benedict XVI, that stupid idiot juggling outside Terri Schaivo’s hospice, and anybody else who so much as raised their voice at a coffeehouse opining in favor of anything called a “culture of life:”

Connecticut needs your help.

SOMERS — Their walk in silence while carrying signs pleading to repeal the death penalty ended Friday with news that Connecticut followed through on the first execution in 45 years.

[snip]

“This is a very sad day for the state of Connecticut,” Sister Theresa Fonti from Hartford said as she walked away from the prison where Michael Ross, 45, was executed by lethal injection thirty minutes earlier.

Fonti was among more than 200 anti-death penalty advocates who gathered for a vigil march that culminated at the 2:01 a.m. execution time before the prison gates of Osborn Correctional Institution.

Insisting they do not support leniency for Ross or those who commit violent crime, anti-death penalty activists arrived at the prison grounds around dusk Thursday with a call to end what they call state-sponsored killing in Connecticut.

“We are here not to be advocates of Michael Ross, but to show the public that capital punishment is not the answer to violent crime,” Robert Nave, Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty executive director said. “We should not mimic what a murderer does on behalf of victims.”

Where are you? Huh? Where are you, all you people who shook your heads in the grocery store checkout line and said, “It’s a woman’s life they’re ending here.” Where are you, all you people who prayed in church for Terri Schaivo by name, as if she was a friend of yours, as if she was the only one dying by a means you say you oppose? Where are you? Why aren’t you in Connecticut?

Where are you, CNN, Fox News? Where are you, congressmen, senators, opportunistic bashers of the American Culture of Death? Where are your letters, your phone calls, entreating that this barbarism be stopped? Where is your advocacy, your willingness to lecture, to force your decisions on strangers? Why not force your will upon Michael Ross and his victims and their families? Why not say, as you said on the floor of the United States Senate, that if we take a human life we scar our own souls? Why are our souls not scarred today? Why is today the first day I’ve heard about the impending death of Michael Ross? Why hasn’t there been a weeklong TV series, church services, statements from top Christian preachers upon his death?

How can I compare a convicted killer to Terri Schaivo, by all accounts a nice girl who did nothing wrong? Isn’t that false, unfair, asymmetrical?

But, culture of life, they said, during the long month or so when all we did was talk and talk and talk about Terri Schaivo. It’s about valuing life, it’s that simple. Life. Life. Life. Just life. No matter what kind, no matter of what quality, no matter the patient’s will or that of her kin. We value life. We err on the side of it. We want life.

Michael Ross led, by all accounts, a vile and reprehensible life. A life, however. A life. On which side did we err in his case?

In fact it’s the idea, the assumption of innocence we truly value, not life. It’s the innocence we confer upon embryos as we condemn their mothers for being poor or scared or desperate, it’s the innocence we confer upon the old and the sick and the persistently vegetative, not for a moment knowing a single thing about their lives. It’s the innocence that allows us to stare at an underpass stain that looks like the Virgin Mary, and walk past a homeless man to do so, without so much as a backward glance. Because we know, don’t we, who deserve that culture of life and who doesn’t. We know who deserves a tax break for making a million and who gets his panhandling cup shoved away because, after all, he’ll just spend it on booze. We know what others’ lives are like, and we know who deserves our time and attention and news conferences and prayer vigils, our unsolicited advice, our human compassion, our love.

We wailed and gnashed our teeth over Terri Schaivo and we ignored Michael Ross because we know who deserves to live and who deserves to die. It’s the appearance of innocence we care about, and honestly, I’m not doctrinaire. I can understand that. I don’t agree, but I can understand. And I’m not sure it would bother me as much, if only we were honest about that fact. That it is that simple, and that our minds are made up.

At least then we’d know what to fight, instead of ducking at shadows.

A.