Tuesday, May 01, 2007
On this day:

Let's bring an end to the death penalty...for diplomacy's sake (and our own)

While visiting Alabama last week, EU ambassador John Burton took the opportunity to lecture Alabamians - including Gov. Bob Riley - on how to improve their state's image abroad.
(B'ham News) MONTGOMERY - Alabama "is a state that has turned the corner in many ways," European Union Ambassador John Bruton told a Montgomery audience Wednesday, but "all of that can be spoiled if one fails to deal with excessive incarceration and the death penalty." ...

In terms of foreign investment in the state and the growth of its exports, Alabama has been one of the most successful U.S. states in recent years, with the bulk of that coming from European companies, Bruton said.

Alabama and the states of the Deep South have overcome deep negative impressions to achieve that, Bruton said. "The location of the companies here is due in no small part to a changing perception."

But the death penalty is one issue that stills shadows the impression of the United States in general and Alabama in particular, he said.

I agree with the ambassador. It is deplorable that such a large number of people in Alabama are locked up behind bars, many of them on death row. This situation is not only a stain on our image; it also indicates a deep and abiding stain on our souls. Therefore, I believe that it is incumbent on each and every one of us to help reduce the state's incarceration rate and bring an end to the death penalty.

As my personal contribution toward this lofty goal, I offer the following:
I hereby pledge to refrain from committing any anti-social crime that might warrant my long-term incarceration, particularly one that might subject me to the death penalty. I humbly implore all other residents of this great state to similarly refrain from committing such crimes.
Now, if only we could convince the criminals and would-be criminals among us to take that same pledge (and to honor it), then our European friends might soon be able to divert their attention to more pressing concerns. Like global warming, for instance.