Occasionally you hear something that shows such mind bogglingly contradictory thinking that you have to wonder if those espousing the ideas even realize what they’re saying. That’s how I felt yesterday when I heard that at the same time that Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly are working to repeal the Racial Justice Act, lawyers defending the 2011 Republican re-districting efforts claim that the districts drawn were necessary because racial bias is still alive and well in North Carolina’s voting process.
So what they want us to believe is that the same lawmakers who think that racial prejudice is such a problem in North Carolina that we need to further protect black lawmakers from prejudice at the ballot box also think that said bigotry is not an issue at all when it comes to deciding to enact the death penalty in our justice system.
Now, I actually support the death penalty for some highly personal reasons, but I know all of the statistics on race and the unequal distribution of its application to black defendants. For that very reason I believe the Racial Justice Act to be vitally important. If we are going to continue to give the state the power to apply the ultimate penalty, we should be sure that that penalty is being handed down due to the severity of the crime, and NOT because of the color of the perpetrator’s skin. Republicans continually attack the RJA on the basis that several white convicts are attempting to use it to appeal their cases as well, yet I don’t know of a single instance where a white prisoner has had his sentence commuted due to evidence of racial bias, probably because the idea is ludicrous.
If Republicans actually wanted to protect black citizens in North Carolina, don’t you think that they should worry about those whose lives are literally on the line before lawmakers who have stated in court that they didn’t need any more help? Look, I know that Republicans aren’t going to back down on either of these issues, but how is it too much to ask that they listen to what they’re saying, and at least try for a little ideological consistency?