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March 07, 2007

Another Argument Against The Death Penalty


I am opposed to the death penalty for a number of reasons, and I can think of no better support of my reasoning than today's finding that known sex offender John Evander Couey, aged 48, is indeed guilty of raping and killing a nine-year-old Florida girl.

The jury must now decide sentencing--in this case, life in prison or the death penalty (this is Florida, folks). Advocates of the death penalty tend to argue that "an eye for eye" is justified in certain instances, especially those crimes involving children. I agree, but to my mind death is too easy a way out for such criminals. Allowing this man to live for the next, say, thirty-five years or so in a maximum security prison is a fate for worse than death. Lifers and hardened convicts don't take real kindly to inmates who have molested little girls, and one look at Couey tells you that this hollow man's time in the Florida system is going to be a living hell of fighting down every two-bit murderer from Key West to Jacksonville. He's as likely to get stomped by the guards paid to watch him as he is a raging member of the Aryan Brotherhood.

John Evander Couey raped a nine-year-old girl. He then wrapped her body in plastic trash bags and placed her in a shallow grave while she was still alive. She suffocated to death. When police found her she was clutching a purple doll. These are the facts that every con in every joint in Florida are going to know by rote. I say the jurors should let Mr. Couey into their state's penal system, allowing him to live with consequences of his brutal, senseless crime. The rest will take care of itself.

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March 01, 2007

Late To The Party: The Fortress of Solitude


One of my many bad habits is the avoidance of certain cultural offerings when they first appear, owing to a desire not to be part of whatever mass rush there is. For example, I just recently began watching The Sopranos, only to discover that--duh!--it's damn good television. Call it a need to swim against the tide or passively resist media cheerleading, it often means that I miss out on some very fine books/movies/tv shows/music, not to mention the fact that it diminishes my stockpile of cocktail party chatter.

In keeping with this tradition, I only recently read Jonathan Lethem's seismically wonderful The Fortress of Solitude. Certainly plenty of words have been spilled in praise of this book, making anything I could so a belated rehash. But I strongly urge anybody with an interest in the following to read the book:

-New York City in the 1970s
-Superhero worship
-Relationships between fathers and sons
-The rise of hip hop
-The first generation of graffiti tagging
-Pop music fanaticism
-The trials of childhood
-Prison culture
-Magnet high schools in New York City
-The dawn of the punk movement
-Teenage rebellion
-Summer camp

And of course, the writing, line for line, word by word, is exceptional; it's the kind of book you read with a pen in hand so you can mark off certain passages.



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