Movie Review: When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)

Wait, wait, wait... but I thought Brownie did a heck of job?

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)

Starring: Harry Belafonte, Terence Blanchard, Kathleen Blanco, Douglas Brinkley, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Nagin, Soledad O’Brien, Sean Penn, Wendell Pierce, Al Sharpton, Kanye West

Directed by: Spike Lee
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POST #44: The Death Penalty

WAAAAAAYYY back at post nine I told you all about the charity I’m blogging for today, Amnesty International, and in doing so, mentioned that I was opposed to the death penalty. I figured I’d explain my position on that.

There’s plenty of reasons to be against capital punishment. The easiest reason is that it is an irreversible punishment that is sometimes assigned to innocent people. A lot of those people do get their convictions turned over through the appeals process, but I don’t believe for one minute that people haven’t been executed that were innocent. I can’t think of anything a state could that is worse than killing innocent citizens of its own country.

But more than that, the death penalty doesn’t work. It’s more expensive to execute someone then hold them in prison for the rest of their lives, given the extensive appeals process involved. Worse, you can’t convince me for a second that it acts as a deterrent for violent offenders. Most violent crimes occur in moments of passion, where people act without consideration of the consequences. They think no more about that fact that this could lead to their execution as they think about it could lead to life in prison. For career violent criminals, the threat of death is an ordinary facet of their lives, so added state-sponsored execution really doesn’t change things. What it does change is the level of desperation for those who committed a capital offense in a moment of passion. Knowing that capture and conviction for their crime will lead to their death only makes them that much more desperate to avoid capture, meaning that they have more incentive to kill anyone who could make that happen. After all, the state can’t kill them twice.

The only legitimate argument I know for the death penalty is pure vengeance. I get that if someone did something horrible to you, you’d wish them harm, even death. If someone were to rape and murder my wife, then yes, I’d want them dead. I’d want to kill them myself. Which is why it’s a good thing I wouldn’t be sentencing them. Because vengeance is no way for a civilised society to operate. It’s a slippery slope that we really shouldn’t be sliding. The fact that the United States and Japan are the only modern, first-world countries that still practice capital punishment (including North America, almost all of South America, Australia, and the entire European Union) shows it to be an outmoded practice, generally exercised by dictators as a means to control its populace.

So I support Amnesty International in their campaign to abolish capital punishment, and you can too by pledging your support to this Blogathon by clicking here.

POST #9: Why I Blog

I figure I should explain to you about the charity that I’m doing this 24 hour Blogathon thing for: Amnesty International. First off, I decided to do this Blogathon a little late in the game, so I didn’t have a lot of time to set everything up. So I went with the suggested list of charities on the Blogathon website. From that list, AI was the one that most reflects things I believe in. However, if I were to have chosen my own from all the charities, I’d probably have gone with something fighting climate change, since An Inconvenient Truth scared the pants off me.

Still, I believe in what AI does, and am happy to be raising money for them ($283 so far!). You can read up on Amnesty International through their website (, but that’s a little dense because there’s so much content. So a good primer is their wikipedia entry: Here’s their basic goals:

-Free all Prisoners of Conscience (a “POC” is a person imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their beliefs, which differs somewhat from the typical use of the term political prisoner, but not including persons whose beliefs Amnesty International define as “hate speech”).
-Ensure fair and prompt trials.
-Abolish all forms of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, including the use of the death penalty.
-End state-sanctioned terrorism, killings, and disappearances.
-Assist political asylum-seekers.
-End all forms of violence against women
-Co-operate with organizations that seek to put an end to human rights abuses.
-Raise awareness about human rights abuses around the world.

These are all good things right? I’m a big fan of human rights, what with being human and all. I’m also against the death penality and believe that societies can be judged based on how well they treat their prisoners (which is to say, the worse they treat them, the more likely it is that the country is a terrible place, not that criminals need to be given palaces to pay for their crimes in). I also oppose torture and am pretty disgusted by what’s going on at Abu Gharib, because it’s such a fundamental abuse of the ideals that America is founded upon (right to a fair trial, innocent until proven guilty). I love those ideals, even if America sometimes fails to live up to them. I don’t believe that the war on terror superscedes these ideals, and by acting like that, the US has already dramatically changed their way of life for the worst because of terrorists.

So while I may never participate in a AI letter writing campaign, I do think I’m doing my part today by raising some money to help them in their cause. I’ll probably get into my thoughts in these matters more throughout the day (more material, yay!), but feel free to discuss or ask more questions.