Thursday, June 04, 2020

Nope, nope, nope.

First of all, we're probably going to pass 200,000 COVID cases within a week, which is super fun. The kids and I went for a walk at one park, which was fairly empty, and then drove over to the pool we have a pass to to see how busy it was (there were about five other cars at the parking lot, which felt a bit too busy for me) and then headed over to another more popular park (with river access) to see how full it was and the parking lot was jam-packed. There were so many people there it was ridiculous. The kids really wanted to cool off in the river but we just headed home (to find a package from my sister—blow up balls that you go inside of and bounce off of each other—so we played with the toys she'd sent us and then broke out the splash pad she sent us last month (she is single-handedly keeping us together this pandemic)). 

Second of all, today I saw some really bad takes on the internet that I'd like to take a minute to address. The internet is full of bad takes, but some of them just irk me a little more than others. This particular bad take is that George Floyd shouldn't be "martyrized" because he has a criminal record. In fact, he's a felon! Or was. He had, by all accounts, managed to turn his life around and has spent the last several years living clean. But whatever.
He was caught with a counterfeit bill and ended up paying for that bill with his life. 

Whether or not he knew about the bill seems irrelevant to the conversation because the last time I checked the penalty for using a counterfeit bill is not death. And they had him. They had him on the ground, with his hands behind his back. 

But people are actually saying we shouldn't be holding up the loss of his life as a tragedy because he's an ex-con. He has a record. 

Listen, I have multiple family members who have served time (or who are currently serving time or who are waiting for trial to see how much time they'll need to serve) and I still love these people and want nothing more than for them to have a chance to turn their life around and find beauty and grace. 

When a certain someone had recently been released from jail she accused the family of wanting her to fail, of wanting her to make another (big) mistake, of wanting her to wind up back in the prison system. In reality nothing was farther from the truth. We wanted her to succeed. We wanted her to find a new career path and make good friends and separate herself from her previous lifestyle as much as possible. However, we could see the trajectory of her choices was leading her directly back to criminal behaviour, which was the exact opposite of what we wanted for her. But what we wanted didn't matter because she did what she wanted and has suffered the consequences.

I wouldn't want to see her abused (or murdered!) on the street and have her life shrugged away because she committed a felony years ago. The sanctity of life includes prisoners, and it includes people who have made bad choices who are trying to live better today, and it includes people actively making bad choices. Their lives are sacred and redeemable. They don't deserve to die.

I am against the death penalty at all, really. I find it rather barbaric. 

And that's why I aided and abetted the creation of a guillotine birthday cake...

Just kidding.

But seriously. 

I find the death penalty very off-putting. It's just not something that sits easy with me.

Since 1608, there have been 15,391 "confirmed lawful executions" within the United States (which, I get wasn't its own county until 1776). In Canada—and these numbers aren't quite comparable because of different dates and population sizes and so forth but the differences are staggering and speak to drastically different values—710 people had been executed between 1867 (when Canada gained independence) and 1976 (when the death penalty (for civilians) was abolished). The United States tried to abolish the death penalty in the 1960s and 70s but ultimately reinstated it in 1976 and since then over 1,500 individuals have been executed (which is double the number of people Canada executed over the course of a century). 

Clearly there is a pretty big difference in values between my two countries and I grew up in Canada "knowing" (or believing) that the death penalty is...wrong. And that's still something I believe today. 

I have a hard time thinking that the government should be able to put a person through a trial, find them guilty, and then sentence them to death. I have an even harder time thinking that a person should have their trial, verdict, and execution carried out on the street in just a few minutes. It's not right. Life is too sacred for that. 

And I really believe that people are able to change and should be given the tools and the opportunity they need to make those changes. I don't know how any of this works. I don't know how to make things change (I guess protesting is one way—and we're seeing changes come about because of these protests) but I believe we must do better as a society.

So, that's all. George Floyd's life was sacred. The way he died is a blight on this nation. Full stop.

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