Saturday, September 24, 2011

24 SEP 11: Mentions of Troy

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following items humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

Did he do it? I really don't know. Even after hearing and reading plenty of arguments pro and con, I don't know. When it comes to high-profile cases like the one which caused all the controversy in Georgia this week, I'm not a Chief Justice. More often than not, my title should be Waffle King.

Since my background is in journalism, I watched the Troy Davis story from a distance -- even though a few people wanted to drag me into the fight. And I'm thankful no physical fighting broke out at the state penitentiary when it was over Wednesday night. One wrong move at the wrong moment, and "Selma 1965" could have found a brother named "Jackson 2011."

There was plenty of emotion over the last few days of Troy Davis's life. Now there's time to sort things out, and see what is backed up by fact and what isn't. It's a little bit like what Georgia football fans went through, after the Boise State game.

Let's start with a quick review of what happened, and what could have happened but didn't:

+ A reprieve from Governor Nathan Deal couldn't happen. GPB reported Georgia's Governor is one of only five in the U.S. who by law cannot make one of those movie-script last-second phone calls to save lives. He can only change living people's careers by executive order, as a state climatologist discovered.

+ President Obama could have intervened, but he didn't. In fact, he's only pardoned 17 people since taking office. That's five more than George W. Bush's pace -- but shouldn't a supposed "bleeding-heart liberal" have liberated hundreds by now?

+ Some Twitter users found special irony in the fact that the final appeal rejection notice came from Clarence Thomas. He's Georgia's contribution to the U.S. Supreme Court, and grew up in the Savannah area where Troy Davis was arrested. But for Thomas's critics, skin color should have run thicker than a map book.

+ Other online comments compared Troy Davis to Casey Anthony, and called it a classic case of racial injustice. They somehow missed the news about Lawrence Brewer -- a white supremacist executed in Texas the same night for the dragging death of James Byrd. Brewer's execution came even faster, and seemingly without NAACP complaints.

+ Mark McPhail's mother amazed me, with all the live TV interviews she did on the night of the execution. Annaliese MacPhail was on CNN with Anderson Cooper. She was on WXTX not once, but twice. For someone "waiting by the phone," she stood outside on her front lawn in Columbus an awful lot.

+ Perhaps less amazing was the report that someone drove by Annaliese MacPhail's home Wednesday night and yelled, "Save Troy Davis." As if she was going to recant, after rejecting the recantations of seven other people....

+ WTVM/WXTX again showed why in terms of coverage it is the "News Leader" of Columbus. (Yes, even after I was fired from there.) WRBL wasn't live anywhere at 11:00 p.m., not even at the mother's house. Who knows how many Kurt Schmitz fans broke their promise never to watch his old station again?

With all that said, I'm posting this on a Saturday for several reasons. Several deep issues and images came up in the Troy Davis case, which cry out for more discussion....

1. SEVEN OVER TWO? Davis's backers constantly declared seven of the nine prosecution witnesses at his trial recanted their testimony. Maybe so -- but what about the other two? Where have they been in recent months? Why didn't Mark MacPhail's supporters bring out a recounting, to counter recanting?

My Bible tells me the "testimony of two or three witnesses" is enough to convict someone of a crime -- even a capital crime such as murder. If District Attorney Julia Slater and her staff can't find those witnesses, that's another matter....

2. THAT'S AN ORDER, FRIEND. There was no doubt which side Columbus Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson would take in this case. But there were times when the "tough cop" side of him came out. For instance, Robertson demanded all his Georgia Facebook friends post a picture of Mark MacPhail -- or "I WILL DEFRIEND YOU." Quite a change from the "Officer Friendly" I saw in grade school assemblies....

Part of me wants to say Randy Robertson's demand made him look more like a bully than a friend. After all, does a true friend require someone to change their behavior or actions? Well, this is why you should be careful about considering your workplace boss your friend....

Yet Jesus did put a stipulation on friendship with Him. It's in John 15: "You are my friends if you do what I command." That's proven to be a tough requirement for a lot of people. Ask any Tea Party member about "rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's."

Proverbs 27 advises against forsaking friends. But Proverbs 22 warns against making "friends with a hot-tempered man." Unless, perhaps, you're paying him to be a bodyguard during weekend nights on Broadway.

3. TAKE ME, I'M YOURS. The most powerful picture I saw all week regarding the Troy Davis case came from downtown Atlanta. A pastor chained himself to a flagpole outside a Georgia state building, offering to give his life in exchange for Davis, The District Attorney's office might want to write down Marvin Morgan's name, for future death penalty cases.

Pastor Marvin Morgan promised to stage a protest fast while chained to a pole for as long as he can. You might dismiss it as a publicity stunt, but he was symbolizing (at least) what Jesus did for all of us. The end of Romans 6 says we're all under a "death sentence," because of our sins. Some people simply get more attention for it than others....

But Romans 5 points out Jesus Christ paid the death penalty for us long ago. It was a penalty He didn't have to pay, because He never sinned at all. I think that's a really good deal, which more people should accept. It certainly beats that offer on radio of "a 40-dollar tan for a 20-dollar bill."

4. THE END OF IT ALL? Many media reports called Wednesday night's execution "the end" of the long drama. If you think it is, think again. Troy Davis's last words asked people to keep investigating his case. And Georgia civil rights groups have spent decades doing that very thing, attempting to clear people's names. I doubt Columbus Police would merge its "cold case" unit with theirs, but you never know.

By extension, I don't think what happened Wednesday night is the absolute end for Troy Davis -- just as it was not the end for Mark MacPhail in 1989. Hebrews 9 reminds me humans die, "and after that to face judgment." And from what I can tell, the Georgia Supreme Court will not be reassembled for that one....

Revelation 20 tells of a time when almost all people will stand for judgment before Christ. But it indicates that won't happen for at least 1,000 years. Wow -- Harold Camping's revised date of 21 October apparently is going to be wrong again.

The good news is that by taking advantage of Jesus's offer to pay the death penalty for us, you can be brought back to life when He returns -- 1,000 years before everybody else. I told you that was a really good deal. Even if II Peter 3 notes 1,000 years are like only one day to God.

When that real judgment day comes, a God who sees everything will reveal exactly what happened on that fateful night in 1989. Both victim and suspect are likely to be there, along with all of their closest friends and relatives. And hopefully they'll know better than to talk back to Jesus -- because I suspect He can respond even tougher than Judge Judy.

COMING SUNDAY: A big announcement some blog readers have waited a long time to see....

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