The execution of reason

21st September 2011 marked a grievous day for the
judicial system of North America as the southern US state of Georgia condemned
a man to death under very contestable circumstances and this drew an
international outcry.  The “victim” in mention is a 42 year old African American male named Troy Davis.

 

As the story goes, Troy was convicted of murdering a police
officer by the name of Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Gerogia, August 19, 1989.  The report by the Associated Press, as published in The Straits Times 23rd September 2011, submits that Officer MacPhail was shot in the head and heart while attempting to intervene in an argument at a Burger King parking lot.  Solely based off eyewitness testimonies and despite the lack of concrete physical evidence, Davis was sentenced to the gallows.  And this obviously angered many—the family of Mr. Davis notwithstanding.

 

Now I am no student of law but it certainly doesn’t take one to feel that the case of the recently deceased Troy Davis should have been received fairer treatment.  Even after the revelation of the alleged biasness of eyewitness testimonies after some of them
revealed that they were pressured by the police into writing slanted accounts,
the case was not reviewed.

 

Reason, defined as the capacity for rational thought, inference or discrimination, should be the governing component to all judicial decisions so as to ensure impartiality on all parts, yet unfortunately the crucial element has failed all too often.
To have a man put on death roll would be to say that he has been proved,
beyond reasonable doubt, culpable of the heinous charges put against him.  While I cannot speak for the late Mr. Davis’ innocence, I do not find substantial evidence to prove his guilt either, but what I would like to do is present my observations in a case which has so irked the world.

 

Racial prejudices still cloud the judicial system.  Unless key findings of the investigation were withheld from the public, I find it hard to see how Troy Davis could be
sentence to death by a slew of dubious eyewitness accounts, without the
influence of some sort of racial prejudice against the African American
community.  These prepossesses biases often hamper effective communication, and in this case, void the word of one man against the word of a questionable few.
Radio journalist John Lewis, who witnessed the event, said Davis
continued to protest his innocence even in the death chamber.  And this quite rightly sums up the entire affair of a man being heard but ignored.

 

Contrary to most public sentiment at the moment, I do believe a thought has to be spared for the family of the slain policeman.  Amidst all the controversy and inciting developments with regards to the case, the original victims have been unintentionally
forgotten.  From their perspective, having lost their beloved family member to a brutal slaying, the execution comes as reprieve for their long-running sorrow.  Some may think of the MacPhail family as being the villains here simply because they celebrate the death of a seemingly innocent man.  Yet one must be board
enough in compassion to realize that when the context is reversed, their
“happiness” is justifiable for it brings closure to a miserable period of their
lives.  Their feelings should not be disregarded.

 

Finally, with the unhappy resolution of the Davis affair, many groups and activists have renewed their fight for the abolishment of capital punishment.  Although I would say that I am not for capital punishment the use of it in some instances does seem permissible,
but definitely not in the case of Troy Davis.  Whether the American judicial is going to revise its punishment system because of this remains to be seen but I have an inkling that this matter is going to be swept under the carpet.  Authorities however, will be careful to skirt around future sinkholes such as this one because if another similar occurrence like such were to arise, the peaceful protests will not be looking too peaceful no more.

Bottomline, if you’re going to have someone executed, you better have a pretty darn good reason and evidence to do so.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Davis_case

http://abcnews.go.com/US/troy-davis-supporters-make-lose-minute-appeals/story?id=14571862

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2008/10/23/troy_davis_rallies.html

pictures courtesy of Yahoo News

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I WILL PLACE YOUR AD HERE FOR MONEY

I love movies—and I’m pretty sure that if catching them didn’t
cost a cent you would find me sewn to the dusky, potty seats of the theatre
with a healthy stash of popcorn (if those didn’t cost a cent too) hunkered in
the adjacent chair, watching movie after movie after movie.  Now I believe there are many silver screen
suckers like myself out there, and they will agree the allure of the theatre is
largely derived from the captivating sensation of being enthralled by a mesmerizing
plotline or cast and the feeling of being taken on an adventure.  There is however, an issue which is fast
threatening to spoil the wholesome movie goodness and that is the pervasiveness
of embedded advertising.

 

The Singapore paper, The Straits Times (ST), carried an article
yesterday (17th September 2011) on the unchecked proliferation on product
placement by Chinese companies in films and other media products to not only
come out of China but from the west too.
Now while I am not against embedded advertising if it is using sparing with
much discretion, the growing popularity and audacity of these companies is a
worrying trend.

 

In the article, to illustrate the boldness of firms, writer
Grace Ng notes that shampoo brand Clear managed to squeeze its posters and products
into every episode of the 30-part Chinese drama series, a move that if
replicated here on local television would surely draw the ire of many
TV-watchers.  My concern however lies not
with the proliferation of embedded ads on Chinese serials but the trend spilling
over unto movies and other media content that we love.

 

What is quite clear is that product placement here does
work.  As reported in the same piece,
Clear’s market share rose 24 percent from a year ago when its share was reportedly
less than 10 percent.  A remarkable
increase which is sure to invite and encourage other companies to follow
suit.  Apparently the Chinese are not too
concern with this generally because it would seem that the local audience there
will seemingly let the matter slip by should the movie or show produce top
notch screenplay and acting; something which we or western society might not
agree with.

 

The matter has yet to explode on the movie scene but its
gaining momentum.  The recent Hollywood blockbuster,
Transformers: Dark side of the Moon, apparently carried a multitude of embedded
Chinese advertising, ranging from brands such as Lenovo to Metersbonwe apparel
and Yili’s Shuhua milk.  And while I have
caught the show and greatly disliked it, it was more of a plot problem rather
than an issue of too invasive advertising.

 

What I hope for is a line to be drawn somewhere, and
soon.  Other media platforms such as
computer games are also not immune to this form of advertising and regulation
is needed before all forms of media are gravely stricken by tasteless product
placement.  For where there is money to
be made, the whole world will be trying to make money from it.

I was just thinking.

Autumn 2008 turned out to be a blue autumn for Americans as
Democrat Barack Obama won his seat as President of the United States of America
at the expense of a rather red-faced Republican John McCain.  That election produced the highest voter turnout in 40 years with then Junior United States Senator from Illinois
securing the highest number of votes for a presidential candidate in American
history.  But how the mighty have fallen; in a recent article carried by the New York Times, writer Allison Kopicki underlined the grave becoming of what was, not too long ago, America’s most popular President.

In a recent poll by ABC News and the Washington Post Survey,
it was found that 53 percent of Americans now disapprove of President Obama’s
handling of his job as a president, as opposed to 43 percent who still gave him
their vote of confidence.  This same piece asserts that the findings were seen to be in agreement with the poll results produced by NBC News which put forward that 51 percent of Americans now disapprove of Mr. Obama’s job as president, against a comparatively lower 44 percent who seem to approve.  The apparent cause of the rut seems to stem from Mr. Obama’s inability to turn around the failing U.S economy.

Now while I am no political analyst or economic watcher, I must
admit I do find myself asking the question of could Mr. John McCain have done a
better job as president?  I know the elections have long passed and suggesting if the rival campaigner could have done better than the incumbent is of irrelevance to the current state of things.  Yet nonetheless hear me out for a second.

First and foremost, I postulate that I do not find Mr. Obama an incompetent president; in fact I think he is a very capable man placed in a restrictive position in a very trying time.  However it is in my personal belief that he oversold himself at the 2008 elections.  Consequently the voting American public, too eager for a savior, voted him in because not only was he a sound candidate for the job, but he was the most fashionable too.
This fashionable appeal should be the least considered aspect when deliberating
your political allegiances but sadly I find that most torn voters fell too easily for the appeal instead of digging deeper and reevaluating each candidate’s case.

Mr. Obama is a powerful communicator and his use of the new
media, showy poise and elegance at speeches and rallies made him a media darling.  John McCain on the other hand had little appeal in comparison and the public endorsement of people such as Joe theplumber did little to boost his media attractiveness.  While both candidates campaigned strongly for
change in the financial department and at stopping the war in Iraq, Mr. Obama
did better in assuring the masses he’ll do more in the “fashionable” fields
such as global warming, the war against terror and stem cell research, just to
name a few.  The indicators for Mr. Obama’s popularity were evident with the then president to be lodged in a two horse race with Lady Gaga over who could be the first to secure 10 million “Likes” on Facebook.

There was, at one point in time, talks of media biasness towards the Democrats with a report suggesting that of the coverage offered to each running candidate, 29 percent of stories on Mr. Obama were deemed negative while a whopping 57 percent of stories carried on Mr. McCain were found to be negative.  A startling imbalance that
would have made an already favorable candidate appear more favorable; because
truth be told, who wouldn’t want to be part of history when America elects
her  first African American to office?

Fast forward 2011 and the fanfare of the 2008 elections have long blown over.  The immense popularity of the President has soured ever since, as posted by BBC News on their opinion tracker of the U.S president in office, and this suggests two things; first, that in reality, it’s not easy to push policies, and it doesn’t help when you have
promised so many; secondly, Mr. Obama’s celebrity-esque status which won him
many votes at the elections is no floatation device to keep ratings up.  In fact, the only two instance where notable improvement in the ratings were remarked was when Guantanamo Bay prison camp was sanctioned to close and the recent slaying of al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.

Thus had there been more impartial and objective reasoning
and coverage behind the 2008 presidential elections, the outcome might have
been totally different; America might have been under the stewardship of a
Republican.  However hypothetical scenarios aside, would Mr. John McCain have done a better job at saving the economy and arrest the US$14 trillion debt given that he has chaired the State Commerce Committee before?—the answer is we will never know, but the possibility will forever remain that he could have.  But things are as they are now so everyone will have fingers crossed that the once celebrated presidential nominee
will have some fine answers to remedy the impending global crisis.

Resources:

New York Times article in reference: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/polls-show-declining-support-for-obama-on-economy/?scp=4&sq=obama’s%20ratings&st=cse

BBC News opinion tracker: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10254097

Election figures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2008

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