The Decency To Doubt

Whether it’s Texas governor Rich Perry admitting he has no doubt about the guilt of those who have been executed, or the reaction of those who were against some kind of reprieve to the recent execution of Troy Davis in Georgia, or anyone else who is sure of guilt in a capital offense, I pause at the certitude these individuals display. Can there be such certitude? Wouldn’t it be rare, or rarer than we are accustomed to thinking? Can we execute anyone with the certainty we are doing the right thing? We can rationalize there is no room for doubt, we can find reasons, but are those reasons themselves rational or are they the product of us wanting to prove ourselves right? The same night Troy Davis was put to death, Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in Texas. He was a white supremacist who drove the truck while a black man was being dragged to his death. Perhaps some deserve to die, if so does that absolve us—at least of the decency to doubt we are doing the right thing?