A media milestone...
[by Mac Johnson] 12/2/05
reporting the constant drip, drip, drip of casualties from
the Iraq War has been so much fun for the American media that
they have decided to apply the same water torture technique
to propagandizing another favorite cause: death penalty abolition.
Yes, this week
we have been treated to a deluge of spontaneous stories marking
the fact that the United States will soon execute its 1000th
poor, helpless murderer since 1976, the year the Supreme Court
reinstated the death penalty after having suspended it foolishly
is, of course, an important milestone, since numbers ending
in zero have a magical power upon little minds – and “1000” has three zeroes
at its end. Thus, we are all to reflect on the horror we have
wrought as a nation. One thousand deaths – and for
what? Obviously, we should withdraw from capital punishment
Johnson is a freelance writer and biologist in Cambridge,
Mass. Mr. Johnson holds a Doctorate in Molecular and
Cellular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He
is a frequent opinion contributor to Human
Events Online. His website can be found at macjohnson.com [go
to Johnson index]
You can’t blame
the left for trying to recreate its latest glory, I suppose.
The death clock in Iraq has been very effective in creating
a sense of despair and the news is what you make it, after
But it is interesting
that not all milestones seem equally worthy of commemoration.
For example, no one marked 1525 this week. That is the minimum number
of people that have been murdered by the 999 evil people we
have executed since 1976. And that estimate is undoubtedly
low, since many of the media-mourned 999 killed more people
than those for which we bothered convicting them.
Ted Bundy, important death number 106, was convicted
of just 3 murders. His true total is estimated in the dozens.
If we assign him only the 28 murders he has confessed to, then
the non-magic milestone this week is actually 1553.
because it doesn’t end in even a single zero that the 1525
victims figure is ignored? But then the all-important “1000
victims of the executed” milestone has long since passed. We
reached that un-marked total sometime around mid-2000, possibly
when Texas executed Jessy Carlos San Miguel (important death
number 650) for killing four people while robbing a Taco Bell including
a pregnant teenage girl and her 23-year-old cousin.
Or what about
573,553 as a milestone? That is how many murder victims there
have been in the United States since 1976. Again, that milestone
is inexplicably not being covered by those who can so value
1000 lives if they are lost on death row. The 500,000 victims
mark was also missed back in 2001, even with five zeroes in
its favor. As was 400,000 (1995), 300,000 (1991), 200,000 (1986),
100,000 (1981), or even 1000 – reached just three weeks
after the court reauthorized capital punishment in the midst
of one of the greatest violent crime epidemics in the nation’s
history an epidemic that began coincidentally with the modern
Left”s obsession with the rights of criminals and has eased
as the nation has increasingly rejected this movement.
Or how about
400,000? That is a rough estimate of the number of murderers
that the nation has had to subdue since 1976. That figure assumes
that each murderer killed about 1.5 people. This is likely
too conservative an estimate, since most murderers are not
as bad as the few that end up on death row, where 1.5 is the
average. If one assumes that most non-death row murderers have
killed only once, then the number of murderers is closer to
In the last
29 years, we have been cursed with 500,000 murderers and yet
we have executed only 1000 of them just one-fifth of one percent.
And yet the media would have us believe that America’s justice
system is harsh. Far from being a state-run killing machine
for huge numbers of run-of-the-mill murderers, our capital
punishment system is incredibly lenient—99.8% of murderers
are spared its sting.
The only remarkable
thing about the 1000th execution is that it didn’t occur twenty
years ago. If we had applied the death penalty only to the
worst 10% of murderers, and allowed 90% to serve only jail
time, we could have easily executed 50,000 by now and still
been lenient. One wonders what the effect on the murder rate
would be if every potential murderer knew he had a 1 in 10
chance of having his crime visited back upon him.
If the media
want to keep a count of something, perhaps they should count
the innocent lives lost to murder. Any six weeks of
Peace in America are as deadly to Americans as the last three
years of War in Iraq. Yet we continue to treat violent
crime as a national nuisance to be handled with politically
The media can
tolerate huge numbers of deaths when it suits their agenda.
And they can whine over the deaths of a statistical handful
when that suits the agenda better – even if that handful
is composed of extremely evil men, found guilty by a jury of
their peers, and judged to be among the worst one-fifth of
one percent of all murderers in the country.
One thousand executions?
It’s a start; but that’s about all it is. -one-
originally appeared at American Thinker
2005 Mac Johnson