Coates: Killing Dylann Roof

Moreover, killing Roof does absolutely nothing to ameliorate the conditions that brought him into being in the first place. The hammer of criminal justice is the preferred tool of a society that has run out of ideas. In this sense, Roof is little more than a human sacrifice to The Gods of Doing Nothing. Leave aside actual substantive policy. In a country where unapologetic slaveholders and regressive white supremacists still, at this late date, adorn our state capitals and our highest institutions of learning, it is bizarre to kill a man who acted in their spirit. And killing Roof, like the business of the capital punishment itself, ensures that innocent people will be executed. The need to extract vengeance cannot always be exact. It is all but certain that a disproportionate number of those who pay for this lack of precision will not look like Dylann Roof.

From: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Dylann Roof and the Death Penalty – The Atlantic

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30 thoughts on “Coates: Killing Dylann Roof

      • :
        You & I seem to be agreeing on a lot of things here lately.
        I’m not sure which one of us should be more worried by that.

        I remember the guy in Norway shooting up a bunch of kids, and then there was this discussion of how horrible is was that he got to sit in a sunny room playing air hockey, etc. rather than chained to some stone wall with rats in his cell, being fed meager rations of bread and water.

        I took me some time, granted, but I have come to appreciate the wisdom of the Norse.
        I think they did the right thing there.

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    • If there is any justification for the death penalty, Dylan Roof is exhibit B with the Nazis as Exhibit A.

      But this is not how we show our humanity or as Lincoln famously put it, the “better angels of our nature.”

      The execution of Dylan Roof will do nothing to bring back the wrongfully dead or heal the psychological wounds of those who survived. We show our humanity based on how we treat the worst among us.

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      • The execution of Dylan Roof will do nothing to bring back the wrongfully dead or heal the psychological wounds of those who survived.

        Not the material wounds, obvs. But what about the psychic wounds?

        We show our humanity based on how we treat the worst among us.

        By locking them in tiny rooms where they have no access to daylight or fresh air and allow them to be anally raped?

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        • Not the material wounds, obvs. But what about the psychic wounds?

          It does nothing for the savaging of the psyche.
          I know this for a fact.
          Any victory there is a hollow one, meaningless, and thoroughly unsatisfactory.

          You know what healing is?
          I mean, really?

          Healing is understanding the man.
          Not agreeing with him, but understanding where he’s coming from.
          Healing is being able to see how wretched his inner state was to permit this act.
          Healing is being able to forgive, not as a gesture of magnanimity, but as a demand of valuing one’s own humanity.
          Healing is being able to feel sorry for him, to take genuine pity on him.

          And toward that end, I will share this with you:
          People generally do not do such things as that when they are feeling really good about themselves.

          You can work it out for yourself from there.
          I wish you well.

          Saul Degraw:
          We show our humanity based on how we treat the worst among us.

          I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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          • I can do everything you wrote, except forgive. Forgiveness comes from truly feeling remorse and asking for forgiveness from those you have wronged. It can’t be granted by someone who wasn’t wronged, nor can it be granted to someone who doesn’t regret their actions.

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      • Well, look, I’m quite happy to live in a country with no death penalty because it ultimately means that innocent people don’t get put to death and because I am not truly comfortable with allocating that power to the state.

        But, I’m also aware that there are cases where it’s hard as hell to go with the better angels of our nature. Canada is also the country where Karla Homolka leads a free life in spite of just about nobody thinking that was the right call.

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    • You do realize Roof is an actual white supremacist who shot up a black church for explicitly racial reasons, and that TNC was saying “We shouldn’t give him the death penalty”.

      Yeah, I can’t imagine how racism got interjected into that situation. Clearly very race-blind until TNC showed up, advocating for…clemency?

      I’m sorry, I actually can’t make your point make sense.

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      • You do realize Roof is an actual white supremacist who shot up a black church for explicitly racial reasons, and that TNC was saying “We shouldn’t give him the death penalty”.

        Really wow that is such a revelation to me. Thanks CPT Obvious. Perhaps you can tell us why TNC says that Roof shouldn’t be executed?

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        • So you didn’t read the link? Not that you ever do. It got boring the fourth or fifth time you commented on something only for a brief perusal to show you were, at best….very bad at reading comprehensions.

          It was fun to pull quotes from your own article that contradicted your spin the first few times, but you’re something of a one-trick pony and the trick’s gotten old.

          Yes, yes, TNC is a horrible racist by talking about racism in a piece about a racist who committed a racist act.

          Truly awful.

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          • unapologetic slaveholders and regressive white supremacists still, at this late date, adorn our state capitals and our highest institutions of learning, it is bizarre to kill a man who acted in their spirit.

            Seems to intuit a lot.
            Really, this is the reason I don’t read TNC.
            It’s the sort of thing that sounds really profound to a person on very limited life experience.
            Granted, some never really gain life experience, even with a great deal of life, because they never seem to move out of their own circles.
            So, I understand his appeal.
            I also understand it’s based on a wilful overlooking of things.

            a disproportionate number of those who pay for this lack of precision will not look like Dylann Roof.

            I.e., Can’t kill whitey cos the Black Man’s next.

            Fairly self-serving, if you ask me.

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            • I dunno, man. White supremacy played a rather public and positive role in the latest election.

              Pointing out he’s not in favor of giving Dylan the death penalty he’s against the death penalty in general, especially because it’s used disproportionately against black people, might seem self serving (well, if TNC thinks he’s likely to end up on Death Row, but that seems unlikely) but that doesn’t make him wrong.

              Why should he applaud the use of the death penalty on Roof, when the death penalty falls hardest on blacks?

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              • Why should he applaud the use of the death penalty on Roof, when the death penalty falls hardest on blacks?

                When Justice becomes a numbers racket, we are all totally fished.
                Individual outcomes matter, or nothing matters.

                White supremacy played a rather public and positive role in the latest election.

                Perhaps in a rather milquetoast definition of White Supremacy.
                Was the Klan vote really what pushed Trump over the top?

                Seriously, the problem with the hair-trigger on the Offense Mechanism is that, by making mountains out of molehills, 1) it comes to pass that those not so making come, in time, to not really give a sh!t about the mountains, and 2) no one is really prepared to deal with being a mountaineer to any real extent when the molehill tactics don’t work so well anymore.

                Not a good thing.

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                • When Justice becomes a numbers racket, we are all totally fished.
                  Individual outcomes matter, or nothing matters.

                  Because systemic racism isn’t a thing? The whole point there is that if two people commit the exact same crime, the one with the black skin is punished more harshly.

                  It’s not a numbers racket, it’s flat-out blunt evidence of systemic racism in the justice system.

                  There is no individual justice if your skin color highly correlates to the severity of your punishment.

                  Neither TNC’s point nor mine was unclear, and frankly I’d be shocked if you weren’t quite aware of that worrisome judicial problem.

                  Your mountains and molehills comment was deeply ironic, given you just showed you couldn’t tell them apart. If color-based justice ain’t a racial mountain in America, there ain’t none.

                  Perhaps in a rather milquetoast definition of White Supremacy.
                  Was the Klan vote really what pushed Trump over the top?

                  You’re right. It’s not like Trump made Bannon his chief of staff or anything.

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                  • There is no individual justice if your skin color highly correlates to the severity of your punishment.

                    So, this systemic injustice manifests itself through individual outcomes?
                    It seems like we agree.

                    As far as institutional racism goes, it is largely inconsequential without some race-based animus.
                    There are a lot of arguments as to why sentencing reform is needed, as well as reforms in criminal law generally. Personally, I would be quite happy with a sharp statutory limitation of all forms of common law immunities.
                    Today, the headlines carry a story of a $22 million payout for a wrongful conviction. Next state over, compensation for such things has a statutory ceiling of $5000.
                    There was a prosecutor up north, recently retired, who was notorious for opposing exonerations based on DNA evidence.
                    That’s one SOB that needs locked up, in my view.
                    But there will be no action against him.
                    The same as there will be no action against the prosecutor who just cost the state $22 mil.

                    Generally, both attorneys and the judiciary have proven themselves, over time, to be utterly incapable of providing effective oversight of themselves.
                    I believe the long-term solution lies in the same vein as the issue with police internal review boards; i.e., that these be paired with parallel citizens’ review committees.
                    Something has to break somewhere.
                    Generally, the greater the force at the break, the more explosive the break becomes.
                    I’ve seen a crater from a 4″ steam pipe, 5′ across and about 3′ deep, when a relief valve was set too low. My job to go out there & verify that this pipe was actually made of the material on the shipping order.
                    The needed change will likely come in very much the same manner as that relief valve; i.e., one big unmanageable incident where all Hell breaks loose, and changes the landscape significantly. They might be able to patch things up afterward, but they’ll do so with the fear of God in them.

                    It’s not like Trump made Bannon his chief of staff or anything.

                    I haven’t really been keeping up with it, because, frankly, it bores me.
                    But it sounds like an appointment to me.
                    Until it becomes something else, then it’s nothing more than an appointment.
                    Sure, you can bring up the man’s past.
                    And it remains the past, until it becomes something more.

                    Hyperventilating is good for a head rush, and little more.

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                • “Individual outcomes matter, or nothing matters.”

                  You are aware of the Innocence Project? Or the science on the weakness of visual identification? Ask any public defender (like my wife) about the lousy witness IDs which send actually innocent and arguably innocent people off to prison on a daily basis.

                  Prosecutions in this country are riddled with errors, and black Americans bear a disproportionate brunt of that burden.

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                  • Yes, I am aware of them.
                    Been to a few $100 a plate fundraisers for them.
                    I was on TV at one of them.
                    Talked to a fellow that introduced new regulations at the state house regarding eyewitness identification. (It passed.)

                    It’s a great place to meet lobbyists.

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    • Yeah, only an extremist weirdo like Coates could project racism onto something like the Charleston church massacre.

      “I am a racist and I want to start a race war.”

      “Hey, that guy is a racist who wants to start a race war.”

      “Everything is about race with you people. Get over yourselves.”

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  1. There are times when I play the mental game of “would you rather?”

    Would you rather society get rid of prison or get rid of the death penalty?

    Dylann Roof puts me in a mind to answer “get rid of prison”.

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  2. ” In a country where unapologetic slaveholders and regressive white supremacists still, at this late date, adorn our state capitals and our highest institutions of learning, it is bizarre to kill a man who acted in their spirit.”

    Haw.

    So killing Roof is meaningless and pointless because it wasn’t Roof, really, it was all white people doing the killing, and it wasn’t those poor bastards in the church, really, it was all black people being killed, and since American society is inherently racist and built on racism and the product of racism and can never ever under any circumstances whatsoever not be viciously and violently racist then there’s no point. I make sure that my son knows this, every day, every time I speak with him; I make sure he understands that every white person in America hates him and wants him to die, and that this will never change, no matter what anyone does or says.

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