Very few newspapers tell you exactly where they stand through the names on their mastheads. Mostly they just use the old standbys like Herald or Times or whatever. The Progressive Populist is the exception. They offer a progressive forum for writers who truly offer a populist point of reference in your search for unspun and organic information.
It came as no surprise then that the July 15, 2001 issue offers two articles on the bottom half of the same the page that asks two very important questions that are rarely, if ever, spoken of as relating the same core issue.
It has been claimed repeatedly, both before and after the execution of Timothy McVeigh, that he deserved the ultimate penalty because his crime was so horrendous and premeditated. His extreme act of violence resulted in the deaths of 168 innocent human beings. His act was, in his mind at least, an act of great patriotism. This act of mass murder was, in the mind of McVeigh, vengeance for the deaths of his like-minded compatriots at the hands of the "Jack-booted thugs" of the U.S. government at Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas.
These deaths became the center of the attention of the hate-filled right wing radio talk shows. These evil and despicable radio "personalities" created the atmosphere of hate that spurred McVeigh into killing what he thought, and was instructed to believe was, the enemy; the occupants of the Oklahoma City federal building.
So, the claim arose everywhere in the media that this act must be avenged by the legal system of this nation. Only when McVeigh is dead can the survivors and relatives of those killed in that horrendous blast find "closure". America will rest easier, said the empty, talking heads, when McVeigh is no more. Only McVeigh's last breath will allow us all to "put this horror behind us".
For those millions of us who are sickened by the death penalty and all of the innocent people who have "accidentally" been put to death, we were assured by your Attorney General John Ashcroft that, "I see no reason why you shouldn't impose the death penalty on Mr. McVeigh because there might be some debate about the penalty generally." He went on, in an interview with the Post, that the administration would "remain open to arguments and information and make sure that our justice system is fair."
Now that, gentle readers, is exactly the point. We must be certain that each and every person that kills another, either in the act of a crime or with premeditation, receives the same level of punishment. There are no reasons to excuse the actions of one over the actions of another when their acts results in the deaths of innocent human beings.
So, if the nation wants to settle the argument regarding the death penalty, I highly recommend one very basic change in how it is utilized. From this moment forward, any person who is responsible for the death of other human beings either directly through force or indirectly through premeditated inaction must be eligible for the death penalty or a life sentence without possibility of parole.
Who, you ask, might be sentenced under the second condition of inaction leading to the deaths of other human beings? I mean people like the executives at Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone Tires who were responsible for the deaths of 203 human beings and over 700 injuries (that's 35 more deaths and literally hundreds of more injuries than McVeigh could claim). These evil little executives were aware that their defective products were killing and maiming innocent men, women, and children since 1997 but accepted liability only after the government began an investigation in 2000. How do we know for a certainty as to when these vile little characters knew about the dangers that their products posed to the public? Because they began settling lawsuits over the deaths and injuries out of court in 1997?
Why didn't the executives of these two world-wide corporations and champions of a global economy, once the problem became apparent, immediately warn the owners of these products? Why didn't the immediately publish a recall of all affected tires and automobiles, and then redesign those products in order to remove the defects? Why, once the number of deaths stood at "only" 35 and injuries at "only" 130 in 1997, didn't these executives do everything in their power to halt the carnage as any moral and decent person would? Well, the answer to that is both obvious and sickening.
There was, nor is, any incentive for executives or corporations to protect the public from poorly designed or manufactured products because there is never any punishment more severe to be alarmed about than a financial penalty through loss of sales or fines levied by the government. The executives, themselves, have nothing to worry about since their salaries and bonuses are determined by other executives who also desire to keep their income from these corporations safe and continuous. They have nothing to fear because, as employees of a corporation, they cannot be criminally charged with any crime since they are only a part of an entity that stands above mere criminal considerations.
In other words, these murderous and greedy people administer an entity that is considered the equal of a human being in matters of the First Amendment and political "free speech" (read outright bribery of public officials) but proceed to hide behind the corporate charter in matters of premeditated homicide through executive inaction.
In America, we've learned, that the penalty for murdering 168 people due to a deeply moral-centered but warped sense of political history and desire for vengeance is death by injection while the murder of 203 and the maiming of 700 more human beings is a fine and some bad publicity and lowered earnings.
This isn't the only instance in our recent history in which mass murderers have not only gone absolutely free from punishment but also acquired tens and hundreds of millions of dollars at the same time through salaries and stock options. Thousands of Americans have died or were injured by Corporate America in the last forty years.
Remember the over 500 Americans who died agonizing deaths in the fiery infernos known as Ford Pintos? How about the thousands of children born with life threatening birth defects due to Thalidomide? How ( Paul Norris, CEO of W.R. Grace Co., who knowingly allowed his mining operation near Libby, Montana to poison the entire surrounding area with deadly asbestos and never once bothered to inform the thousands of nearby residents, nor the hundreds of citizens who eventually died, of the extent of the danger they were forced to unwittingly live under until their deaths? How about Rezulin, a drug manufactured by Warner-Lambert Co? This drug was responsible for the deaths of over 60 Americans before the campaign by Warner-Lambert, with the tacit assistance of the FDA, to disguise these deaths was finally uncovered and the drug forced off the market.
In none of these cases of mass murder was anyone held directly accountable for these crimes. In not one of these cases was the corporation even harmed in as much as any settlements of lawsuits or penalties paid out to the government are simply deducted from their corporate taxes as a cost of doing business. In every single instance, though, the executives of these corporations were well aware of the horrors that their products were engendering but did absolutely nothing about it. It was only when the government finally stepped in or the crimes were publicized in the small but important independent media and were these horrors addressed. In the case of W.R. Grace's crimes, the damages to human health and lives has yet to be addressed since there are no plans for a clean up of the effected areas.
Gentle readers, there is absolutely no difference between Timothy McVeigh and these sleazy and criminal executives save for one. That is the reality that McVeigh acted on a sick but wide spread belief that the government and, by extension, its employees are evil. This sick view of the world originated and was nourished through the hate-filled rantings of Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy and all of their brethren. McVeigh acted in a belief that his deed would result in a better world, a belief that was both sick and, in some small ways, almost understandable given the mood of the nation at that time.
The executives of these corporations, however, murdered these thousands of human beings for one reason and one reason only; the perverse and demented drive for more and more money. There was no deeply held political or religious or moral beliefs behind their crimes. There are no rational excuses that they can offer the victims or their families and friends other than a lust for greater and greater personal wealth and corporate profits. These villains have nothing that resembles a soul or a conscience to offer in hopes of gaining even the slightest measure of pity or sympathy from the rest of us. They can only be the object of our hate and scorn.
Or, far better, they can find themselves awaiting a visit to the same gurneys and chairs that have dealt out the punishment that many cry out for as punishment for the act of committing mass murder. If the state is to engage in the destruction of those who have shown themselves capable of slaughtering other human beings in the name of crass and unthinking political causes then how much greater should the punishment be for butchery in the pursuit of mere money?
If there is a God, and if that God has created both a heaven and a hell, then I must believe that there is a special corner of hell reserved especially for these greedy, ferret-like animals that kill hundreds during the day and still sleep peacefully at night. In case there isn't a hell, after all, then the people of this nation must treat the crime of murder with simple equality whether the act is in the name of love or politics or religion or money. If we execute anyone, then all must face that final secular punishment.
Personally, in as much as I am a staunch opponent of the idea of capital punishment both because it has never been meted out with anything resembling justice or equality and because I believe that it lowers our society to the moral level of the criminal, I call instead for a national movement to punish equally those who murder out of desire as well as those who murder out of greed. For these suits in the suites to realize the fate that awaits them once their vile deeds have been exposed is the first step in creating a nation that truly values equality and the safety and happiness of its millions of citizens. Once it is known that the act of killing another human being for any reason save in self defense is a crime with truly staggering punishments, then and only then will America have the right to claim its place in the annals of history's great and just societies. At the moment, we don't deserve to lick clean the floors of the hall of great nations. ( 1 & 2 )
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