Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Last Execution in Texas for 2014

There once was a time when I thought, more because it was what I heard in my community than by my own reasoning, an eye for an eye was the rule of law that should be followed when deciding if a murderer should be put to death. Strangely enough, I applied this almost nowhere else in my life. In most other areas, I would apply the philosophy of turning the other cheek. However, when it came to the death sentence, I espoused things like, “wouldn’t it be cheaper to just take them out behind the courthouse and shoot them?” After climbing out of the bubble of my childhood and evaluating this situation based on my own moral compass, I have fortunately come to realize that this is simply absurd.
                My reasoning is simple enough. The state is fallible and cannot be trusted to determine who should or should not be put to death. The various rulings on the death sentence across the nation indicate there is no consensus among governments as to how, why or to whom the death sentence should be applied. Beyond any reasoning though, I would like to take a look at this last moments and consider what it must be like.
                The story that caught my eye most recently was that of Miguel Paredes who was executed October 28, 2014 here in Texas. The lethal injection was administered at 6:32 p.m. and 22 minutes later, he was pronounced dead. He spent twenty-two minutes strapped to a table with poison coursing through his veins killing him slowly as his family members and those of his victims watched.
                Paredes was convicted of murder over a drug deal gone wrong back in 2001. He was sentenced to death and spent the next thirteen years in prison waiting on his turn for the needle. In the chronicle of his last days, he seems at peace. He sleeps more than anything, but in between he reads, writes, listens to music, visits with family members and ministers, and prays. In his last statement, he takes responsibility for his actions, asks forgiveness from nearly everyone and declares his love for all of them as well. He even smiled for a picture during one of his last visits from family. That is the last picture they will ever have of him.
                While none of his behavior seems atypical of a death row inmate, since this is a story we hear regularly in Texas, I have to wonder what it must be like for his guards. Some of those men have doubtless been there during all or most of his sentence. What was it like seeing to a man who might as well be dead? What was it like knowing that no matter how reformed he was, no matter how much he changed, nothing would change the fact that this man would suffer the same fate as his victims, arguably worse? Did he smile at them the way he smiled in the picture for his family? Did they ever find themselves in conversation with him, as though he were an ordinary person? I put myself in their shoes and feel like I would have found it hard to steel myself as I watched this man truly repent for his crimes despite knowing there was no hope of redemption. I find myself equating it to the idea that if you were damned to hell with no chance at heaven, would you still repent and try to live your life better? Maybe you would; he did. He was damned to hell and still asked forgiveness and tried to find peace.
                On the other hand, his executioner has likely taken numerous lives. How could a person live with that? Can you really convince yourself you’re doling out justice by not just taking them out of society, but taking them out of this world? I have to think that person either suffers immensely from what they’re doing, or is no less twisted than the person whose life they’re taking.
                I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter what he was convicted of, Paredes was a person, just like the executioner, just like his guards, and just like you and me. That being said, taking his life was as much murder as it was when he took the lives of his victims. We have a mechanism by which violent people can be removed from society thereby protecting the innocent. The added step of murdering them is no less than barbaric.

~~Anastasia Wilford, NOLW Texas Chair
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Sunday, October 19, 2014


There are few topics that cause such commotion within Libertarian circles as abortion, and here I seek to address both sides in hopes, not to solve a dispute, but to open a line of honest, heat-felt, dialogue between both sides. To begin, it should be noted that every piece of the Libertarian platform is based on the non-aggression principle: aggression or force against another person, or group of people is immoral except in the case of self-defense. The other basis for our stances is that government should not interfere in the lives of its citizens except to oversee the settling of disputes, a.k.a. aggressions.

In speaking with people about the Libertarian Party, one sticking point that many people have is the idea that all Libertarians are pro-choice. This is simply not the case. Now, as with any group, there are people who will say that a “true” Libertarian is pro-choice, but I do not believe this to be true. Those people typically do not believe life begins at conception. What I've heard most from them is that life begins at the point where the fetus can survive outside of the womb. That being the case, life wouldn't begin until organs are formed and functioning. They often cite science as their backup. By defining life in this manner, pro-choice Libertarians do not see abortion as an aggression against another human, but rather the avoidance of an unintended consequence of the act of sex.

For those who believe the union of a sperm and an egg is the point at which life begins, I ask you to reconsider the Libertarian Party, because, by your definition of life, yours is a Libertarian view as well. When defining life as beginning at conception, it is believed that the embryo is a human being who can be aggressed against, and abortion is an aggression that results in the taking of life of another human being, and therefore falls squarely within the limited purview of government intervention. Many of the people who share this view are religious members of our party and will cite the Bible (or their corresponding book of faith) as saying “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” –Jeremiah 1:5. If this, or something similar, is your viewpoint, then no amount of science as referenced by pro-choice counterparts can change what you believe to be true.

Specifically, within the Libertarian Party of Texas, we have swarms of people on both sides of this issue, so I don’t expect us to come to an agreement anytime soon, and I don’t want to. Such a sensitive topic deserves earnest discussion, and I only hope that we can open this dialogue and the door to our party, inviting in differing views even when the arguments aren’t always fun. 

Author: Anastasia Wilford,
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