Mailbag: March 26

In response to the March 22 column “Arizona executions impede progress”:

I just read your opinion piece on executions at Dailywildcat.com

On behalf of the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty (CAADP), I would like to thank you for your direct and forceful confrontation of this issue.

Arizona is now among the most active states in the country in capital prosecutions as well as executions. We must raise public awareness to the unacceptability of this practice in modern society.

Thank you again for stepping forward.

As President of CAADP, I would welcome the opportunity to provide you with any additional information you may wish to obtain on the death penalty, as well as information on what CAADP is doing in Arizona to bring this practice to an end.

— Bob Schwartz,
president of the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty

In response to the March 20 column “Dharun Ravi guilty of hate crime, stupidity is not a good defense”:

You wrote, “A few friends who saw the videos told him to take them down, saying they weren’t as funny as he thought they were.” How could he take them “down” if they weren’t “up?” There were no videos, there was no film, there were no recordings. There was only live streaming, which Dharun Ravi saw for only a few seconds.

He did not see them “having sex,” as The New York Times erroneously claimed. He saw his roommate and an older man when they were standing, fully clothed and kissing. This is not usually considered “having sex.”

He accessed the live stream only once; the woman across the hall accessed it a second time, and invited other students to watch.

There was no live-stream viewing — not even for a few seconds — of Tyler Clementi’s first and third sexual encounter in the dorm room. Only the second encounter.

As a former journalist, I am distressed to see inaccurate reporting.

— Sue Bailey

In response to the March 22 column “Arizona executions impede progress”:

While you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, your article about the death penalty reflects that you don’t know enough about capital punishment to make an accurate observation. I would just like to clarify a few things if you don’t mind:

First, not every murderer is executed. A handful of homicides that take place are simply never solved and justice is never fulfilled. Also, not just the crime of murder is enough to get the death penalty. In every state, including Arizona, “aggravating factors” must be met. These are additional crimes committed by the offender during their murder crime.

Second, due to modified state statues that allowed the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty with Gregg v. Georgia in 1976, there are two trials associated with capital murder cases. The first trial is the conviction, where a jury of 12 ordinary citizens determine if the defendant is guilty. If he or she is, then the same jury again decides the punishment — whether it be life in prison without parole, or the death penalty. This suggests that the death penalty is reserved for the “worse of the worst” offenders.

Third, the Eighth Amendment does say “against cruel and unusual punishment” but your translation of that is not accurate. Today’s method of execution is lethal injection. I doubt you have witnessed a lethal injection execution. I have. I watched the state of Arizona execute Thomas Paul West on July 19, 2011. In my personal observation, lethal injection is too humane, considering what these people do to their victims. Thomas West tied up an older man, beat him severely, and stuffed him in his own closet where he bled to death. That would be considered to be “cruel.” West himself died by being put to sleep. How is that cruel?

As for “unusual” punishment, that would mean that executing a person for murder is not fair. States are not executing people for robbery, or child abuse, or rape, or fraud. States are executing people who took the life of another person. It’s a completely fair punishment and — according to the U.S. Supreme Court — is completely constitutional.

Death row inmates are not good people. They committed the worst crime possible by taking life from someone else. We should think more about the victims in these cases, which often include innocent young children who are removed from their families and revoked of their right to live and grow.

Capital punishment has been around since the ancient laws of China (2500 B.C.), and I believe it to be a perfectly acceptable standard to have in our criminal justice system. Murderers have no value in our society.

If you would like to get some insight about the death penalty in the future for other articles, please feel free to get in touch with me. I have studied this topic extensively and I give non-biased lectures frequently at the UA, Pima Community College, and the University of Phoenix. I am also in the process of writing a book about the topic. I believe it is best for people to learn as much as they can about this topic so that they can mold their own opinion more accurately.

Thank you.

— Kitty N. Moran,
junior studying public management and policy

In response to March 19 news article “Student leaders fear funding for gun storage could come from tuition”:

I would like to take a moment to point out a few inaccuracies contained within your March 19 article “Student leaders fear funding for gun storage could come from tuition.” In this piece, the author makes the claim that the pending Senate Bill 1474 (SB 1474), which would allow licensed students to carry concealed weapons on campus, would enforce an unfunded mandate unto the three major universities in the state of Arizona. This is completely inaccurate, as the requirements of SB 1474 do not represent a mandate at all; the universities are required to build firearm storage lockers only if these choose to ban firearms from buildings. The bill explicitly states that “If…a public university, college or community college requests that a person carrying a deadly weapon remove the weapon (they)… shall provide temporary and secure storage.”

If the universities choose to respect their student’s legal option to protect themselves, they will not be required to construct the firearm storage lockers. Interestingly enough, earlier in the article the author makes this same point, noting that “…the proposed legislation does not require the universities to build storage lockers in the buildings …”

In addition, the article also implies that SB 1474 would mandate that universities hire additional police personnel. However, nowhere in the proposed legislation does it order universities to hire additional security personnel. It is also unfair to establish an increased police presence as a given reality if this legislation is passed, because in the over 220 campuses across the country where students are allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus, there has been a net decrease in crime.

Whether or not an individual (writer) is in favor of a proposed piece of legislation, I believe it is critically important for the news outlets to present fair and accurate information, even in opinion pieces. Therefore I would request that you correct these mistakes, and republish the corrected version of this article, so that the students of Arizona are not misled. Please let me know if I can answer any questions you may have about campus carry, elucidate any aspect of the bill, or provide more statistics for you.

— Coty McKenzie,
Arizona state director of Students for Concealed Carry


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