The Death Sentence Is Dubious

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S1: The following program may contain explicit language and.

S2: It’s Monday, December 21st, 20 20 from Slate’s The Gist. I’m Mike Pesca.

S3: Next year will be so much better.

S4: I don’t mean because the pandemic could be over with that Trump won’t be president. I mean, next year. Today, exactly one year from today.

S3: Today’s twelve twenty one twenty next year, 12, 21, 21. One, two, two, one, two, one dance moves. You know how bad this year is? If I told you that in 2020, it would be the year when an unthinkable medical innovation would transform the world and save millions of people, you would say, wow, what a year you mean. One of the most impressive feats in scientific history would occur that year. Sign me up for that year. But also the reaction is a little based on me. Things could still be better even with a vaccine, but a little based on, I don’t know, a lot of people on this one Internet message board where we all discuss the least used letter of the alphabet. They don’t like this amazing scientific innovation. I mean, that sentiment does to some extent, to a disturbing extent, pervade the opinion of this amazing scientific innovation. Mostly people are just saying, yeah, yeah, science, vaccines, records saved lives, how does this get us above water? And the answer is it doesn’t.

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S1: We are not better off than before. covid was but a gleam in some Chinese betsi. But there are no deliverances from national travails that really make us better than if the travaille hadn’t occurred. When Jonas Salk discovered the cure for polio, he was Time’s Man of the Year. He was given or at least afforded a ticker tape parade but turned it down. Parades do rely on the reasonable expectation that people are going to enthusiastically throw confetti not half heartedly plop a clump of pencil shavings and say whatever doesn’t matter. We were better off before polio. When it VE Day or VJ Day ended World War Two, there was whooping on the street. That sailor did smooch that nurse right on the kisser now would be a lawsuit, but then it was a sign of celebration. Now I know why we aren’t celebrating what could be the biggest scientific achievement of my lifetime. And it’s because it’s not just that things suck and would suck less if the vaccine didn’t need to be invented. That’s because we’re not on the same page. It’s because we’re at each other’s throats. And it’s because lots of us are saying the equivalent of polio is not real. Or, you know, a lot of those soldiers who died storming the beaches of Normandy, they were going to die anyway. I do believe if there was a shared sense of struggle that there would be a shared sense of deliverance. Another casualty of America’s fractious nature is that the rare victories are muted to the point of being missed and that suffering seems more like a chronic condition than a fire which can actually be eliminated.

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S5: And now remembrances of things.

S3: The president is not an uncharitable man, I should say. The president is not just an uncharitable man. He’s also an unethical man. So after reporting by David Farenthold in The Washington Post, made a few revelations the jig was up.

S6: Federal judge is ordering President Trump to pay two million dollars to a series of nonprofit organizations, part of a settlement in a lawsuit that alleges the president misused his own charitable foundation.

S3: My favorite Farenthold headline from this period was Trump Promised Millions to Charity. We found less than 10000 dollars over seven years. But of course, those are numbers and it’s details that stick.

S1: So the most memorable individual detail of the story of the demise of the Trump Charitable Foundation, the golden toilet of that particular escapade, except it really did happened was, of course, if you remember it at all, you remember the giant portrait, the giant flattering portrait that Donald Trump bought for himself through the charitable funds of Donald Trump.

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S2: Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned off at an art Hamptons event that was obviously the Netherlands premiere.

S1: Art expert Frederic von Durban was Michael Cohen, who at one point vowed to take a bullet for Mr. Trump, which in practical terms meant procure and heroic portrait on canvas of a proprietor of golf courses and hotels to hang in one of his hotels. Also, that guy, the president. One hilarious aspect of this entire incident was that Trump’s official defense about buying that painting for ten thousand dollars while he didn’t buy it, the charity bought it. And this was offered by his official defense, articulated by Alan Butterface Furphies, Futter Farse. I like I always like the Futter butterface. There was a French horn expert, as I recall, Alan Futter farce is that it was OK for him to buy this portrait because no one else wanted it. Quote, Trump donated 10000 dollars to start the bidding, start the bidding at an auction. And Butterface argued, when the bidding goes on and no one else bids, they’re stuck with the painting. This keen legal reasoning did not win the day.

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S2: And as a result and there’s also a petition to the bar association to ban Donald Trump from ever again running a charity in New York.

S3: Yes, sorry. The president of the United States can’t be trusted with running a charity unless you also allow him to break the law while doing so. He can’t be given the leeway to give away money without taking too much for himself. He is only really dwell on this. He is legally barred from operating, not a dentistry without a license, not an asbestos removal business. Those are tricky endeavors that require a lot of training. Things can go wrong, not even see. A commercial bank, because that requires large amounts of capitalization, he can’t run a charity, he can’t give away money without also breaking the law.

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S1: So New York State will not allow him to run a charity there, his home state, in the future. This has been remembrances of things Trump on the show today, spiel about the only woman on the federal government’s death row, and she is set to be executed in less than a month. But first, Michael Scott Alexander is a professor at UC Irvine, professor of Jewish studies, who has a broad knowledge of theology, consciousness and epistemology. And one day he got to thinking and you know how that can lead you to areas where if you are a professor with a knowledge of theology and consciousness, yeah. Can be kind of a cul de sac. But his relationships were suffering at the time. His professional life was not making up for these deficits of the soul. And so he went on an intellectual quest to figure out how other people, some from thousands of years ago, dealt with similar periods of pondering the pointlessness of it all. It’s a little bit different conversation than what we usually have on the gist. But I was edified. Mike’s an old friend.

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S7: I hope that come through. So here now, Michael Scott Alexander on making peace with the universe, personal crisis and spiritual healing.

S8: So if you’re like me, do what I do, get married in a couple of weeks, get a book from a friend of yours who haven’t talked to in 25 years or so and see that in the beginning of the book. It’s about him going to a wedding and proposing a toast with having nothing in his mind and then coming up with something so profound that you’ve been thinking about it for weeks and weeks. Then what I would recommend, because we’ve all been there, get the guy on your podcast, which you established six years ago and really talk it out. Also helps to have a friend from high school who became this brilliant professor, linguist, philosopher, lots of things. His name is Michael Scott Alexander. His new book is Making Peace with the Universe, Personal Crisis and Spiritual Healing. And I’m inviting him on the gist to be my rabbi and asking you to listen in. Hey, Mike, how are you doing?

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S5: Oh, your rabbi is here. I’m doing. Thanks for having me.

S8: Thank you. Let us darvin together along with this conversation. So was this book. I understand where it started and I liked where it finished, which was a long chapter on a mutual friend of both of ours.

S1: But the journey itself, did it do what you thought it would do, which is, you know, offer some clarity and healing the writing of the book, did it fulfill your expectations of maybe giving you insight, or was it more the other way around, like you were searching for insight and then decided to retroactively go back and write down where you found this insight?

S5: Mike, I was working stuff out. There’s no question about it. And the answer is that I work stuff out. For me, it worked. You know, I was working stuff out for myself and maybe somebody else could get something out of it, first of all. And basically, yes, I was you know, it was in a tough place in my marriage. And it wasn’t just that I was, you know, on the back side of 30. And I was also had been standing in front of college classrooms for a period of a long time, for 20 years, and explaining to young, intelligent students basically what a disaster religion typically is as a, you know, the most crass excuse for racism and sexism and sexual phobia and these days nationalism. And so I was sort of thinking to myself, what am I doing? You know, is any of this important for these students to know about? You know, I was having a kind of a personal crisis and decided to retreat to some of the masterpieces that I had intrigued me for so long, but that I had been teaching about as though I was a, you know, sort of a ringleader or Bacher at a at a freak show and not ever admitting that I was one of the freaks that was actually looking for therapy in that in that curiosity, that that spiritual curiosity that had brought me to the front of the classroom in the first place. So I spent some time to actually just go back to the classics that I knew but had never read for personal therapeutic purposes. And the revelation occurred to me when I realized that so many confessions themselves had been written by people who stood in the very same place that I had. In other words, they were normal people with pretty good careers. They tended to be a little bit older in their 30s or 40s, and life had hit them like a ton of bricks. And so they decided also to turn to their spiritual curiosity as a means to sort of pull themselves through. And so they almost gave me permission to do the same thing. And if there’s anything that I actually would want somebody to take away from my you know, my voice on your podcast is that if people have any kind of. Curiosity in their lives, they should pursue it. In my case, it was spiritual curiosity. I’d had it since I was in high school and I’d always thought, well, it’s it’s kind of a hobby. I never took it seriously. And I sort of decided I wasn’t growing out of it.

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S2: I was, you know, and when I realized that the great Abu Hamid Al Ghazali had been the same way, that he had also had a spiritual curiosity and an itch that he had prevented himself from sort of looking into because he had a legal career and that some one day he had a freak out and decided the hell with it. Let me check it out. And it saved him. It happened again. GASCÓN So when I saw these things happen over and over again, finally I felt permission to look into it myself. And it was completely orienting. I have to say. It was it was I you know, I definitely look at the world very, very differently now.

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S8: So the Socrates was Ganga’s Genghis Khan. There’s Mary Lou Williams, who maybe you wouldn’t expect or someone wouldn’t expect to be in a book like this. Tell me about her.

S2: Oh, she’s amazing. So I. I know I’m a little bit of a jazz geek. I guess so. I had known about Mary Lou Williams, who was a great piano player and was a rival to and colleague of Count Basie in the 1930s. In other words, she was the piano behind the great Andy Kirk Orchestra in the 1930s, a great Kansas City scene. And so she was a female instrumentalist and was really revered in jazz circles in the 40s. She moved to New York and actually became the teacher of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. And so she was a real heavyweight and she was sort of best friends with Dizzy Gillespie. But at age 44 in nineteen fifty for the jazz scene had really degraded. Charlie Parker was a heroin addict at the point. There were a lot you know, a lot of people were falling into heroin and she was living in Paris with a kind of a crappy job and living in a small hotel room, an SRO without a bathroom. And she sort of at age forty four, she just walked off the stage. She just walked off the stage. And when I learned that about her biography, I was viscerally hit with the sort of, you know, the self-loathing that could make anyone just want to walk off the stage. And so I decided to look into what happened to her. And what happened was that she walked off the stage and she, too, decided to start to look into her spiritual curiosity. Within three or four years, she had converted to Catholicism. And fairly soon thereafter, she started to compose these gorgeous jazz masses with the intention of having them performed in Carna celebration at the Vatican, their exquisite Mary Lou’s mass. If anybody wants to go on Spotify or wherever, that’s the thing swing’s like you can imagine. And it’s one of the great masses in the history of, you know, of the canon. And she also, you know, had had that same moment of hitting a breakdown and finally sort of returning to the spiritual curiosities that she’d had for a long time, but never had allowed herself to pursue the books.

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S8: Really personal. It’s the framing of, you know, your marriage may be disintegrating and you casting about for answers. Is it your natural mode to retreat into philosophy and that way of thinking as opposed to, you know, psychology or psychiatry or, I don’t know, pharmaceuticals as a way to making sense of the world?

S9: When you’re actually experiencing a personal emotional crisis, you know, you come to a place in which you literally don’t know the next step forward and are just sort of casting around for anything to hold on to any kind of gravity to pull you in. So, you know, my own inclination, since I was pretty young, since I guess in high school, which is where a lot of us find our real introduction to our our most basic curiosities. Mine was spiritual. I did I did get sucked into the old stories of the of the Hebrew Bible and not just that and many of the traditions. And so when it was time for me to cast around, I did go back to my original kind of spiritual curiosity. But everything you put up on the list, there is stuff that I like to. Yeah, I do retreat to that.

S8: So you have, you know, all these things and you understand all these philosophies. But let’s, you know, lay it out more tangibly. Your marriage was in trouble. You were not connecting with your wife. You could get into it as much as you’d like to in our chat. You get to it in the book a bit. And I’m just wondering when a person who is, I don’t know, a a sanitation worker goes through that, he might say, OK, what we really need now is something like marriage counseling, the advice he gets, the insight he gets in that would probably be mostly informed by psychiatry or psychology. But when someone who is both very knowledgeable about old world philosophers and. Very knowledgeable about the Bible, but also a man in the modern world who understands psychology, you know, is there an instinct or an orientation that you default to?

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S2: For me, it’s trying to make some order out of the chaos. You’re trying to make some order out of the universe. And I’m pretty admiring of contemporary psychology and counseling and psychiatry. I mean, they’re doing amazing things, especially neuropsychiatry. But for most of us, you don’t need a deep brain stimulation to solve your problem. You know, it really is a kind of question of personal orientation. You know, the casting around is sort of a question of finding what is personally important to you. Or I should just say to me, just you know, you come to this place in which you’re trying to figure out what’s what matters and what doesn’t. Of course, you can get help in that process through, you know, talking to a psychologist or going to a marriage counselor and sorting out those questions. For me, at least, I always thought it was just hubris to imagine that in the 21st century we have all the answers and they all started because of data analysis and that, you know, human beings have been human beings for a long period of time. You know, genetically, we’re not different from when we were probably 100000 years ago. And so people have been going through this crap for a long time. You know, the experimental character, the universe, it’s a pair bonding, you know, marriages, you know, death, addictions, all kinds of things. And so I always I’ve always sort of been drawn to, well, how did they do it differently before? Because, you know, our current moment feels pretty messed up, you know? And so I think it’s kind of hubris to always feel like we have to be pushing forward. Is though going forward is sort of the answer.

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S8: Yeah, it’s not. Yeah, people had problems and people solve them.

S5: Even before Sigmund Freud smoked his first cigar or William James stuck down his first nitrous oxide canister. Yeah, there’s yeah.

S8: There’s a lot going on now in the debate in the book between William James, would you call him the father of psychology in America? He’s not he wasn’t a medical doctor. But how do we characterize William James?

S5: Yeah, he was. He was I mean, his quote that’s so funny and famous is that the first lecture on psychology he ever heard was the one that he gave. So he was in the philosophy department, but more or less independently invented, you know, the discipline of psychology.

S8: Right. You think about that, that a philosopher invented psychology. And these days, philosophy is seen as a dusty relic that maybe will tell you how people thought years ago or something not so practical with your life. And psychology is seen as the way to affect actual change. But not just look at the origins.

S2: Yeah, you can look at the origins. And also William James is still cited in the in the literature, including the the neuropsychiatric literature. So the guy’s got legs. You know, he’s sort of a case for why I like to look back in time. You know, the William James is the Darwin’s you know, these there’s a lot of wisdom there. What a Darwin teach you. Oh, I mean, you can’t even go into it. The whole you can’t even conceive of before and after Darwin.

S8: As far as I’m concerned, there is a part in the book where you contrast William James to Sigmund Freud. And I think that in forming that comparison was that Freud was a medical doctor and James wasn’t. And yet look at all the insights that James had, maybe even more than Freud did. But as part of that, that what being a medical doctor in the age of Freud would barely be recognized compared to the medicine of today?

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S2: No, I don’t think so. I mean, what he what he was pathology based. So you had a problem and it was a psychological problem. He you know, he did believe, as did James, that ultimately these things are in the neurons, but they didn’t have the technology at that point in time to even really get into that. And so they basically said in the interim, the way to try to affect the neurons is through. Well, Freud felt it was through talking, you know, and that is a way to affect the neurons. You can change your neurons, by the way, you start to understand things. But Freud, being a doctor, was looking for a pathology, which is you got a specific problem. Let’s go in there. Let’s cut it out. Let’s release the patient from the neurosis. But that’s very specific. And, you know, the issue is that the world is so much more complicated and the problem is so much more all encompassing than a specific pathology here and there. He called it the ID, but now they call it the limbic system, which is this emotional center, which is, you know, the location of all of your will and desire.

S5: And it faces a cold universe. It’s constantly being frustrated by scarce resources of the universe. And so basically, you’re constantly being frustrated by the world.

S2: You know, not enough sex, not enough food, not enough money, not enough this not enough that that’s all your limbic system sort of saying more and more and more and more and more. And Freud was in his pathology based practice, was to find the specific ones that were being excessively. Aggressive in trying to help with those, but he didn’t have a solution for the whole problem of the fact that a human being is, you know, facing a really cold universe. And that’s where James came in because he also had a freak out in mid-life and had been studying psychology and looking for some answers for himself. He was in a rough marriage. As I said before. He was sucking down nitrous oxide in his offices at Harvard and he was calling it research, you know, so he was sort of in a pretty bad place. And his solution was pretty different from Freud. He he felt that one could really reorient oneself in the face of the entire universe, not just pathology by pathology, problem by problem.

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S8: So Freud didn’t define himself as a philosopher, but if he had if for whatever reason, our taxonomy of great thinkers put him in the same category philosophy as Socrates and some of the other greats that you write about. No, about, would he be considered good to narrow, useful, or is my hypothetical ridiculous on its face?

S2: I think that the basic structure that he located without neurology, which is the superego and the ID is essentially being discovered. I mean, I don’t want to oversimplify the neurology partly because I’m not I don’t pretend to understand it completely. But they have found neural correlates for these locations. The limbic system is essentially the ID and the prefrontal cortex is essentially the superego. And in sort of coordinating your executive function of your prefrontal cortex, along with your emotional center, is what makes a healthy person or it makes a person that’s capable of navigating a pretty hostile universe. And so I think that he was you know, there’s a lot that he has said that’s right on. But, you know, there are things that he talked about that seem a little strange at this point. One of his theories was that caveman triumphed over cavewoman because of his natural ability to put out forest fires with his urine. So know there’s some crazy stuff in there. But, you know, the basic structure of it is pretty, pretty smart.

S8: Yeah. OK, what are you saying about Freud? Indulge me. I’ve always thought this. I you know, my perception of Freud now is that modern psychiatrists, psychologists maybe nod to him as a very important for father, but they will say things like, you know, almost every specific theory he had is discredited. And even if you are, quote unquote Freudian, you don’t believe in things like penis envy. There is a diminution of his contribution. But if you take someone like Socrates or, you know, let’s pull it up a thousand years, Kierkegaard, he gets complimented and he is revered within his profession for essentially having insights very similar to Freud, which later were proven out or at least tested due to advances in medicine. So this is why I’m saying if Freud was considered a philosopher, maybe his reputation work would improve. If Kierkegaard was considered a psychologist, maybe his reputation would be denigrated.

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S2: Yeah, I mean, it sounds right. I don’t know to you know, although there’s a heck of a lot of psychology and Kierkegaard, I don’t see him cited in this in the psychological literature.

S8: Well, he was he was very I think mostly is like trying to diagnose him was.

S5: Yes. Were you cited basically. But I mean, the insight, you know, Kierkegaard is he’s quite of a psychologist.

S7: Tomorrow I will have my back on and we bear down over this whole idea of spirituality. Is it bullshit buzzword or is it a blessing? And then in the last five minutes of the interview, we will indeed find out the answer to life, the universe and everything, and then we’ll possibly burn a ceremonial cum for the inside. Stay for the money.

S1: And now the spiel, eight days before President Trump leaves office, he has one last bit of business that he would like to conduct. Well, not him. Officials who are following his orders to execute Lisa Montgomery, Lisa Montgomery in 2004 married a 23 year old pregnant woman named Bobby Jo Stinnett. And Stinnett’s pregnancy wasn’t a sad side note. It was the motivation for the murder. Montgomery removed the baby still living today. In fact, the the girl just celebrated her 16th birthday last week, but Montgomery removed the baby from a dead or dying Stinnett and then tried to pass it off as her own. Now I’m against the death penalty for a few reasons. One, we sometimes put the wrong person on death row. That’s really the biggest reason that’s gigantic. And to even if we didn’t, the death penalty is applied haphazardly, randomly only. It’s not random because black people and Hispanic people are much more likely to get it and much more likely to be sentenced to death if their victims are white. But there’s no equal application of this penalty. There are a few other reasons that people sometimes tell you we should be or they are against the death penalty. Things like states shouldn’t take a life. But to me this seems to abstract. We wage war, police get into shootouts. I always wonder if the assailant dies during the shootout versus is subdued than years later died. One is wrong morally, one is acceptable morally. I don’t even have time to really ponder the implications of this argument because to me the first two arguments are so compelling. But no, for the fourth reason that people talk about being against the death penalty is what I want to talk about here. And it’s something having to do with the biography of some murderers. They can be their life stories can be so compelling or so compellingly conveyed, and they could include such hardships and traumas that that’s enough to convince moral people to spare them. And if there was ever a person who legitimately fit into the category of having such a terrible life, that if you were so inclined to take that into account and spare such a person, it is Lisa Montgomery. Slate has a story about her life, which was good. The New York Times ran an op ed that contained much of the same information that I actually had some trouble with. Montgomery was, well, let me give a warning here. There’s going to talk about the facts of Montgomery’s life, and it includes just talking about sexual abuse. So here we go. Montgomery was raped repeatedly by a stepfather and a husband and another husband who was her stepbrother. Yeah, you heard that right. And when I say rape, when I say sexual abuse, it was more brutal, more constant than you can imagine. It started when she was a very young child. She got pregnant at 17, had four children in four years, all with her abusive partners. By the time she was eighteen, she had experienced, according to experts, nine of the ten adverse childhood experiences that can lead to trauma. It is clear that she was tortured. That’s the word we should use. That’s the word that her defenders, her lawyers use in court filings. That is not an exaggeration. And it is also clear that the details of her torture were not emphasized enough at the sentencing phase of her trial. However, let’s get back to this New York Times piece. Rachel Louise Snyder writes her rapes, her teenage marriage, the multiple pregnancies with an abusive partner. Miss Montgomery endured a lifetime of abuse because she was a woman. She was trafficked and raped because she was a girl. And the severe cognitive impairment she suffers today is a direct result of those crimes. Snider quotes Sandra Babcock, founder of the Cornell Death Penalty Center, quote, Were it not for her being a woman, she would not be on death row because she wouldn’t be subjected to the kind of torture that she was. Her case, Babcock says, is, quote, all about gender. Well, if not for being a woman. Right. But it’s if not for being a woman who killed another woman, she would not be on death row. It’s all about a woman who murdered because of her years of abuse at the hands of men and women in the way that people of all genders who are sexually abused for the gratification of their abusers are selected, I suppose, because of the particular predilections or opportunities of the abusers. Men who are tortured and abused and go on to be murderers may have been selected by the fact that their torturer like to torture boys. In fact, often they were. And how does either of those facts that we had boys who go on to murder in this case, we had a girl who went on to murder. The fact that they were boys and selected as such and were girls are selected as such. How does that argue for specific leniency or condemnation? Also, Lisa Montgomery’s mother was. Ensemble for much of the torture visited upon her sexual torture, she enabled the sexual torture. She also prostituted her daughter. Beyond that and trying to advance a conceptual argument of thinking of Lisa Montgomery as the victim of gender. The argument glides past the obvious fact. It’s not a case that needs to be made, just a fact that’s plain to see that the victim, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, would not have been murdered if she weren’t a woman, a pregnant woman. Snyder writes of the prosecution and defense lawyers at the trial, quote, Both sides flattened Lisa Montgomery’s personhood, flattened her personhood. Both the verb and the nouns flatten personhood. They’re abstractions made to evoke a I don’t know, perhaps people do engage in a jargon based sympathy. But Lisa Montgomery didn’t flatten Bobby, just personhood. She ended her life. It’s the planer way to say it. She sliced open her person. And I won’t give you the details of all of the killing, but there was testimony at trial that’s Donette regained consciousness as her abdomen was being sliced open. And I’ll stop there. Now I use the passive voice as her abdomen was being cut open by Lisa Montgomery. The reason I engage in this is not to point to the horrors of the crime and say that is all you need to know. Right? It’s what a prosecutor does. That’s not what I’m doing here. But since Snyder is engaged in a project of thinking about this through the lens of gender and protecting a woman, I’m just trying to apply it to the woman who was literally the victim in this case. As I read the op ed, which didn’t need to convince me, but included biographical details that you can’t turn away from, but as I read the op ed, I was just struck by a number of passages where I had to wonder who the audience was. And then I realized who the audience was. It wasn’t me, the person actually against the death penalty, but not for the specific reasons that Snyder gets into. Here’s one passage. Miss Montgomery drove to Skidmore, Missouri, where she strangled a pregnant woman named Barbara Jo. Stinnett, then sliced open her belly and took the baby to the home she shared with her husband in Kansas. This isn’t I’m not simply engaging in the world’s most missing the point to ever nit pick, because we write how we think. We think how we write. And this indicates and also indicates on the part of the writer and the editor, it indicates that the only she in this story, the only person who are trying to think of and put ourselves in the mind of, is the murderer, not the victim. It’s a common tactic to gain sympathy for an accused party. You acknowledge the victim quickly because not doing so would open you up to charges of being callous. But you definitely don’t. Well, in an op ed that want you to have sympathy for the victim, they all run a lovely photo. It’s the same one of Bobby Jo Stinnett graduating high school, dark bangs, broad smile. And if you see this photo prominent or mostly at all in a story about this crime, the story won’t be about Lisa Montgomery’s life and how horrible it was and arguing for the staying of Lisa Montgomery’s death sentence. You will see in those stories not a flattering picture of the victim. You’ll see adorable photos of Miss Montgomery when she was a child. I understand this is how we humanize. But personally, I don’t need the tools of human ization because I recognize that all people in this sad tale simply are humans and their humanity, including the very persistence of their humanity. Right. Not killing them does not or should not depend on which narrative best evokes the sympathy in an audience or the rage of a jury. And by jury, I mean literally the jury who convicted and sentenced Montgomery to death or the jury that we all are now, as we’re reading about Montgomery and thinking about whether she should be spared or whether we should advocate for her publicly, I get it. I get why one would pull out all the stops to spare her life. It is moral to use all arguments, maybe even dubious arguments. But I do think debatable assertions framing the morality of the death penalty in a feminist framework because that might work for certain parts of the audience. I do think it is dubious. That’s the word I’ll use and I don’t really want to spend my time debating them. I would rather point out that the entire exercise is wrong and flawed. We should not be competing in narrative framings and positioning to achieve justice. Whatever justice is cannot possibly depend on who tells the Sadr story. I do believe there needs to be an end to the death penalty. We shouldn’t be murdering anyone. And then all the arguments against the death penalty that are dubious, such as one method of ending a human life, is cruel and unusual, but another isn’t cruel and unusual that we don’t even have to engage in or going on a killing spree versus spacing out your murderers is a serial killer. Does one warrant being spared versus the other? We don’t have to consider that that murdering people in Vermont is less serious than murdering people in Texas or that it’s a gender or class or racial injustice at its core. All that could be swept away if we simply do the decent thing in the name of not making a horrible mistake and not misapplying a horrible punishment. Lisa Montgomery is set to be executed on January 12th. If she is killed, there will be 51 men and no women on federal death row.

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S7: And that’s it for Today Show, Margaret Kelly produces the gist, she believes in the Kierkegaard saying about history it must be lived forward, but can only be understood backward and thinks that applies perfectly to the HBO series The Undoing. Daniel Shrader, just producer, concurs and notes that he calls Lost the Anton Kierkegaard show for that reason. Now, Shayna Roth, who produces the gist to once holed up in a Motel six for three straight days armed with Jolt Cola and Fun Dip, and watched every episode of Lost starting from the last one first at the end, she was found, found frothing at the mouth and muttering. It made no sense. Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer of Slate podcasts. Her favorite freude quote is Sometimes a cigar is your mother the gist?

S1: Mr. Trump then did commend me to the procurement of another piece of art that’s included various canine’s of various breeds, engaging in what appeared to be a game of skill, a chance perhaps depending on their poca abilities and preparing to prove.

S7: And thanks for listening.