Death Penalty Gets Yet Another Dishonest Treatment

Some time ago on this website we drew attention to the way that Media people and their Leftist allies never give up in their attacks on the Death Penalty. It is one of their litmus test issues and one that enables them to claim they occupy the moral high ground.

Given that the same people believe the murder of an innocent unborn baby is desirable since it underpins a “woman’s right to choose”, we argue that Death Penalty opponents are really people who sympathize with criminals against society. Underneath their moral concern about “taking a life” lurks Socialism of one brand or another. Engage a Death Penalty opponent in debate and invariably you will be told that the USA and UK are responsible for Third World ills, that their legal systems unfairly punish certain racial groups, that property is theft, that the poor commit crime but should not be held responsible, that US democracy is a sham and President Bush its biggest criminal, that most convicted murderers who have been executed in the past are innocent and that prisons are stuffed full of “victims” because justice is denied the poor.

Since such opinions cannot be supported by evidence, they are mostly supported by lies, and gross distortions. Joshua Marquis therefore, is to be congratulated for his book review in the Wall Street Journal of April 8th 2006, since he has taken the trouble to unearth a whole host of relevant facts when reviewing “A Death in Belmont” by Sebastian Junger.

Junger’s book, like most other “non-fiction” books, novels and Hollywood films sets out to persuade us that yet another innocent man was sent to prison for life and would have been wrongly executed if capital punishment had not been discontinued in the State of Massachusetts. The man in question was Roy Smith, and he was convicted of murdering one 63 year old Bessie Goldberg in Cambridge, Mass., in 1963. Smith was black, an ex-convict with a long criminal record and a drink problem and he had been in Mrs Goldberg’s apartment only 45 minutes before her dead body was discovered. A jury found him guilty. In 1976, Democrat Governor Michael Dukakis commuted Smith’s sentence for good behavior and failing health and he was released, only to die a few days later.

Marquis, a district attorney himself, says he began to see red flags as he read this book. His own researches soon uncovered many very important facts omitted by the author, all of which would have undermined the theme of the book, i.e. an innocent man was convicted by an unjust system because he was black. Junger does not even mention that the case was appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (though not because of any weakness in the case itself).

Most who read this book will not be aware of Mr. Marquis’ research, and like all those who have their views shaped by the Mainstream Media and Hollywood, will harbor the impression that US justice is seriously flawed by prejudice. They will conclude from this that capital punishment, indeed all judicially imposed punishment, is wrong. Yet, in their own personal experiences, they may have no reason to believe this.

Junger concludes in his book that “there are significant numbers of innocent people in prison”. As Mr. Marquis comments “That thinking conforms with the message sent by many popular books, movies and TV dramas”, and he draws attention to a study last year by Prof Samuel Gross of University of Michigan. It documented just under 400 exonerations between 1989 and 2003 out of more than 10 million felony convictions If the number of wrongly convicted innocents was 10 times that number the legal system would be 99.998% accurate.

One has to assume that these writers and Media people avoid facts because they consider their Leftist political and social agenda to be more important. We must remind ourselves that they do this on every issue and not just on the issues surrounding Law and Order. The Wall Street Journal in its opinion pages and book reviews stands out from the Newspaper pack, but predictably its own reporters’ material is as dishonest as that of their professional colleagues in the rest of the Media world. Unlike Mr. Junger and his ilk, let us devote some of our sympathy to poor harmless old Mrs.Goldberg, who died brutally at Smith’s hands, and to her family who will have been permanently scarred. Junger’s book will bring them yet more grief.

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