A Portrait of an Unidentified Man
Cornelis Buys II
Let’s start with the caption given to the above image:
What a suspicious glare confronts the viewer of this austere mid-16th century portrait. Is that a Bible he’s holding? Very likely. Perhaps, Erasmus was thinking of such people when he commented in a letter on the incivility and humorlessness of many of the Protestants he knew. He wrote, “I’ve seen them return from hearing a sermon as if inspired by an evil spirit. Their faces all showed a curious wrath and ferocity”.
If one doesn’t understand that the South-eastern USA is the last bastion of Radical Sectarianism in this country, one understands nothing. Firstly, this section of the country is soaked in Sectarian imagery, thought, and ethos. You misunderstand this phenomenon if you think it “Christian”… it’s over the line, it’s the same as Mormonism, Pentecostalism, Russellism (“Jehovah’s Witnesses”), and Millerites (“Seventh-Day Adventists”). Every Sect that has spun off from Christianity has its distinctive “heresy”, its particular “hobby horse”. In the case of the South-eastern Radical Sectarian, it’s a sick and perverted miscomprehension of the Old Testament. God’s a Nasty Old Man with a hard-on against the world, and He just can’t wait to deep-six sinners for the most minor offence. Of course, this isn’t Classical Christianity in the least. Unfortunately, in the USA, such people are so loud that when many Secularists think of Christianity, THIS is what they think of, even though these sorts aren’t Christian in the least, their beliefs are barely religious (let alone Christian).
The Sectarian has “faith” in the death penalty, and resorts to it at the least possible provocation. Remember, they aren’t Christians, so, the evangelical counsels of mercy and forgiveness don’t apply to them… you don’t expect the blind to see, after all. A case in point is a current case in Georgia concerning one Troy Davis. Mr Davis’ attorneys are asking for a new hearing, as some of the witnesses have recanted their testimony. There’s no physical evidence linking Mr Davis to the crime… at present, only one witness hasn’t recanted, not counting one who was a suspect in the case. I’d say that the word of one individual was too flimsy a foundation for putting someone to death. I agree that it’s grounds for imprisoning someone, but it doesn’t meet the standard for the death penalty, I’d say.
However, the Sectarian believes in “an eye for an eye” in the Old Testament manner. In fact, they believe that they’re being “conservative” by doing so! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Let’s look at a truly conservative state… Tsarist Russia. During the reign of Tsar Aleksandr Pavlovich (ruled 1801-25), only 84 executions took place (that’s less than four a year!) throughout the entire empire… that’s not Hangman Rick Perry, is it? The same was true of Tsar Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (ruled 1881-94)… he was no shrinking violet, when the Hapsburg Ambassador threatened to invade Russia, Tsar Aleksandr picked up a wrought-iron poker, bent it in his bare hands, and threw it at the ambassador’s feet, saying, “That’s what we’ll do to your army”. In short, he was no weak sister! He RARELY resorted to the death penalty (of course, he hung his father’s murderers in public as regicides… an exception that proved the rule). By the late 1890s, capital punishment for murder was virtually unheard of, replaced by 10–15 years imprisonment, although the state still used it for treason.
Execution of Death Sentences in the USA
The number of executions in Russia averaged ten a year, in a state of nearly 125 million in 1897, for a rate of one execution per 12.5 million people. For comparison, the USA had 76 million people in 1900; it executed approximately 120 people, for a rate of one execution/630,000 people. That is, American Radical Sectarians resorted to the death penalty at a rate TWENTY times that of Orthodox Christian Tsarist Russia (I’d say that this fact makes it clear who was Christian and who wasn’t). Which one was the “Prison House of all the Nations?” Even when it was officially expanded in 1910, it still saw very little use (save for the period immediately following the 1905 Revolution, where the noose gained the name, “Stolypin’s necktie”). Tsar St Nikolai Aleksandrovich had a deep aversion to the death penalty and discouraged its use.
Mr Davis faces the death penalty because he has the misfortune of living in a segment of the country permeated with truly radical, monstrous, and inhumane political, religious, and economic notions. Pope Benedict Ratzinger has called for a new hearing… former FBI Direct William Sessions has called for a new hearing. He should have it. Of course, it’d be best if we could hold the hearing in a reasonable state like Wisconsin, Michigan, or New York, but that’s not going to happen. In that case, the feds should step in, and push the Sectarian Georgia authorities to the side. Mr Davis deserves a fair hearing before reasonable people, not before a kangaroo court of drooling rightwing “religious” nutcakes.
Shall it happen? Only if the feds step in… shall they? We’ll see…
Wednesday 7 September 2011