September 22, 2011

Troy Davis

Troy Davis

Thus, there is scant pity here for Davis who may be innocent but almost certainly is not. (He was accused and convicted of shooting a second man, also in the face, in a passing automobile that night, though the police officer’s death has obscured that fact.)

Far more important than the Davis case is that of Michael Allison. Oh? The reader has not heard of him? No constant televised coverage? No candlelight vigils? It is hardly surprising. Yet his case is far more important than one of violent thuggery.

An Illinois mechanic, Allison had the temerity to videotape police as they confiscated an auto on his mother’s property. He was charged with five counts of wiretapping and faced up to 75 years in prison. Allison rejected a plea offer and later mercifully won his case. A garbled ruling from the bench was based on the antiquated but surprisingly still-alive First Amendment. Allison’s obstinacy saved himself and the liberties of many more.

Eighty-five-year-old British pensioner Norman Scarth was sentenced to six months (less one day) imprisonment for having the cheek to record court proceedings in pursuit of exposing malfeasance. His sentence was halved due to “mental health” concerns, as anyone intent on righting corruption in England must by necessity be daft.

These are peaceful, hard-working, honest people who find themselves on the wrong side of authority. They aren’t troublemakers except in the sense that they see trouble coming and want to make it more difficult for those willing to impose it upon us all.

Of all the court cases which come to trial, this type would seem to necessitate the most scrutiny. Such prosecutions have authoritarianism’s ominous overtones. They portend the end of freedom as we enjoy it.

Few of us are likely to be unfairly accused of murder with malice. Yet for all of us there is the looming danger of having our rights “legislated” away while we focus on peripheral matters such as useless brawlers or the outright obscenities of humanity.

There is police and prosecutorial abuse, yet it rarely shows itself in the instances of extremely violent individuals arrested for heinous actions. It is more general and subtle and seeks not as its victim one murderer but an entire way of living. This powerful tendency acts not in dramatic legal cases, but in quietly forgotten courtrooms in out-of-the-way jurisdictions.

As for death-row inmates in general, one oughtn’t worry over them. We should save our concern for ourselves and the unnoticed and largely unreported insidious laws and lawsuits that quietly wend their way ever tighter around our liberties and do far more damage than anyone on The Last Mile ever imagined possible.


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