Commutation

It seems these days I don’t often get to write about good news.  Believe me, while it may appear as though I take joy and pleasure in watching the current administration stumble as a result of its own failed policies, nothing could be further from the truth.  I would much rather have a competent government.

The end result is that while I dedicate most of my waking hours to this endeavor, most of it is at best bittersweet, a mere chronicling of  one bad event after another.  It is therefore something of a surprise that Governor Rick Perry of Texas has given me something good to write about.

Just over two weeks ago, a story came to my attention that hit me particularly hard.  Kenneth Foster Jr. had been sentenced to death and was scheduled to die today.  What made Foster’s case so unique, however, was the fact that he had not pulled the trigger.  Further more, not only did he and his defense claim this, but everyone involved in the trial, and well, just about everyone knew this.

Convicted under a Texan law that holds everyone involved in a capital crime equally accountable, despite their role, Foster was set to die without actually killing anyone.

In a strange twist of events, prominent blogger for the Agonist, Sean-Paul Kelley, considered the murder victim, Michael LaHood, among his best of friends.  Even more curious, Sean believed that Foster should not be executed.  Sean, amid emotional turmoil, fought to help save Kenneth Foster’s life, and I just want to take this moment to commend Sean in an extremely difficult time.  You’re a better man than most, Sean, and you provide an example to all people, showing exactly what it means to stand for what you believe in at the most difficult of times.  More than Foster owe you a significant debt.

Along with Sean-Paul, other netroots activists mobilized to save this man’s life, sites like Save Kenneth, and Free Kenneth.  I tried in my own right to help with the limited amount of time I had.

Whether the actions of the netroots, or the brave actions of one of the closest friends of the fallen helped, we may never know.  In a way, I guess it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that not but a few hours ago, Governor Perry commuted the execution of Kenneth Foster; he will not die today.

Somehow my faith has been restored in our fellow citizens in the Lone Star State.

But there is something else here.  I doubt it likely, but should this ever cross the attention of Mr. Foster, I personally have a message for him.

You have been awarded a very valuable gift, please do not waste it.  Your freedom may not have been reinstated, nor do I think it should be, but none of this means the end of your story.

It is just beginning.

With this gift comes responsibility, a responsibility to show the way, to illustrate for Texas and America as a whoel that mercy comes with reward.  Your debt to society is far from over.

I wish to remind you of the actions of Stan “Tookie” Williams, a man who has been executed, but while on death row undertook the laudable goal of trying to undo the gang epidemic he helped create.  An epidemic you yourself were a part of, as I understand it.  I would remind you of Phil Workman whose last request resulted in the homeless of Tennessee eating well, if only for a short while.

The point is this.  You may very well spend the rest of your life behind bars, and that is probably how it should be, but this does not alleviate you the burden that weighs upon your shoulders.  You have been granted a rare second chance and it is now time to prove that you are worthy of it.  You may still affect the world for good, and indeed, I think it’s your duty to do so.

Find something, do something, take an issue, make it yours, the greatest thing you can do is guide people away from the lifestyle that put you where you are now.  Your true work to repay society begins now.

Make it count.

3 Responses to “Commutation”

  1. Thank God, Perry has a soul after all!

  2. nabalzbbfr says:

    This is a major step backwards in the global war on terrorism. Nathan Lewin has argued very persuasively that the only effective countermeasure against suicide bombers is the execution of all immediate family members of the perpetrators.

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