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small purple square Suddenly I was singing that song (looking through) "Gary Gilmore's Eyes". During my first trip to Europe we went to Greece. L, his sister, her eventual husband el Dwayne-o and myself took a ship between the Italian boot-heel town of Brindisi to the port of Piraeus near Athens. On-board the only reading matter we had access to was last month's "Playboy" and a copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology. I studied up on the latter, to reacquaint myself with the gods and heroes whose land we were about to enter, but the former had an interview with Gary Gilmore which L read, and we discussed. Unless you're into human rights you're probably thinking who the hell is Gary Gilmore well, he was a criminal who was killed by a Utah firing squad in 1977. His was the first execution in a long while, and his last words were "Let's do it". He refused the blindfold. Since then we've had twenty years of escalating death penalties, a punishment I've always been opposed to. "Two wrongs don't make a right", and this stuff about giving vindication and a sense of closure to the victim's families is a bunch of hogwash - that's just encouraging a Nazi-flavored bloodlust. There's nothing wrong with removing the violent from society via life imprisonment; but there is something wrong with our country's mean sense of contemporary criminal justice, and the current fashionable preference for harsh punishment over rehabilitation. Der Führer would heartily approve of being "tough on crime" - guess what that makes Republican politicians, in my eyes.

small violet square On this weekend's program (the first of the new season) Garrison Keillor said that "Sinners make better citizens than Saints" because the feel guilty. His example was someone who almost got caught is far more likely to volunteer to teach a Vacation Bible School class. This why life imprisonment is the better punishment - make 'em feel guilty for thirty years, instead of offering the relief of termination. Nowadays the argument would be they don't feel guilty because they're evil - actually I tend to agree with that. Still there's no excuse for capital punishment.

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