Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bill Maher #319 Death Row Follies

by Catherine Giordano

 In “Real Time with Bill Maher, episode #319, which aired on 5/23/14 Maher and the panel discussed capital punishment which was in the news because of the botched execution in Oklahoma.

Capital punishment is in the news again. The Supreme Court took a tiny step in the right direction by saying courts must allow for a statistical margin of error when using an IQ score to determine if a prisoner is too mentally deficient to be executed. Florida (and by extension other states) can no longer use a strict cut-off of 70, because due to the margin of error the score could actually be as low as 65.

Maher mentioned capital punishment in his monologue. “Tennessee is reinstating the electric chair. They are firing up the grill.They really do fry everything in the South. They don’t call it an execution; they call it ‘empowering minorities.’”

 It strikes a nerve because minorities are disproportionately given the death penalty.  Maher said, “We are a very vengeful country, but we don’t want to be seen so.” Of the industrialized countries only China, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia still execute people. Not the best of company for our country. Revenge killing is unbecoming for a country that proclaims itself to be “the leader of the free world.”
"Why do we kill people who kill people to show killing people is wrong."

To maintain the façade of being civilized, we try to do executions “humanely,” as if an execution could ever be humane.  Maher said, “We have assisted suicide, we know how to kill people. Put them under [like when you are anesthetized for an operation in the hospital,] then guillotine them, shoot them, whatever.” Maher sounded more callous than funny.

My opinion: We can all see, if we take a moment to understand the issues, that execution is morally wrong. (In my public speaking career, I do a talk about this. See my website TalksAllAbout)

Now is the time for all governors, in the 32 states that still have capital punishment, to call a moratorium on executions. They have the cover of the botched execution to do the morally right thing. Instead, a number of states seem to be in a race to see who can be the first to execute someone.

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Guests for May 23, 2014
Jose Antonio Vargas: journalist, filmmaker, and the founder of “Define American” an organization dedicated to immigration, is most famous for his New York Times article, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” His new documentary, Documented is in theaters now.

Sarah Silverman: comedian, writer, and actress, author of The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, star of the former (very funny) TV series, The Sarah Silverman Show. She is in a new movie titled A Million Ways to Die in the West, based on a novel by Seth MacFalane.

David Frum: senior editor at The Atlantic, political commentator, former George W. Bush speechwriter, and author of several books, the most recent being a novel, Patriots

Michael Smerconish: political talk show host on Sirius radio and CNN, and the author of several non-fiction books. His most recent book is a novel about a talk show host, Talk: A Novel 
Anna Devere Smith: actress, playwright, and professor, currently featured in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie