Grits finds a bunch of links about Cameron Todd Willingham and the reaction that his case and the New Yorker article about it have generated, to which I added this Dahlia Lithwick article in the comments. Three things:
1. As I have said before, like this person I have no objections to the death penalty in the abstract. I do agree that for some people and for some crimes, it’s the most appropriate response. But in practice, the way we go about doing it is far too riddled with flaws, obstacles, and just plain indifference to the idea that we might get one wrong for me to support. Just look at the pushback that this case is getting from those who had a hand in putting Willingham to death. No amount of evidence will ever convince them they’re wrong. And as long as we have judges like Antonin Scalia, for whom innocence is an inconvenience rather than an injustice, the system that is supposed to prevent this from ever happening simply cannot be trusted.
2. Seeing what Scalia says just reinforces the fact that the so-called “pro-life” movement is a farce. If all life is sacred, and only God gets to play God, then I don’t see how this cannot be deeply troubling to you. Given that it isn’t for so many of them (with a few honorable exceptions noted), and given the lengths they will go to rationalize why it doesn’t trouble them, it’s clear that none of what they say about why abortion is wrong should be taken seriously.
3. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the vehemence of the reaction from the crowd that continues to believe Willingham was rightfully put to death. His is the first case to make such a big public splash about executing an innocent man, and it comes at a time when we’ve seen so many other men freed for crimes they provably didn’t commit. Everyone knows what this means, but most don’t want to admit it. Let’s not forget, there was a big backlash against DNA exonerations once. It took time, and sadly an un-ignorable number of wrongfully convicted prisoners, to mute that and make the idea that we need to make it right the mainstream view. I don’t think any rational person doubts that there’s plenty more where Cameron Todd Willingham came from. I just wonder how many more will need to be brought to light before that kind of change in thinking follows.