Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mike Kennedy, RIP

More is here.

People who didn’t know Mike but saw him could easily have mistaken him for a homeless drunk, but his hard to understand speech and his imbalance was due to his illness. That he was usually bedraggled was as much a matter of choice as it had to do with all the hassle involved for someone with his degenerative cerebral condition (I forget exactly what it was). But he cleaned up well, as evidenced by the picture of him here in my office taken at my wedding brunch. If you look at the Texans Against State Killing march video from 1992, you can see that Mike was using a cane then but still able at that point to set a very fast pace. Mike always had a book and he didn’t just read it, he devoured it. I offered to replace his copy of Dale Recinella’s “The Biblical Truth About the Death Penalty” because it was so dogeared, but he wouldn’t hear of it. I’ve never been to his apartment but a profile I read about him indicated he had quite the extensive library. Mike always wore his t-shirt and his buttons and I can’t recall him missing a Fast & Vigil or a Journey of Hope since I’ve known him – preferring to take the bus all the way from Dallas rather than to fly. As I know him, Mike identified first with Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement, and he put his faith into action every day. Mike was a true human rights hero and he is missed.

Mike was an abolitionist’s abolitionist, and in his honor I am today making a contribution to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. I encourage others to do the same here.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Goodbye -- but not farewell

When I was in college in Austin, we used to crash the fundraisers of Democratic candidates for statewide office. Free food, free booze, this was in the early 1980s, Democrats were still strong in Texas back then. (And they will be again soon!)

Once in 1982 I crashed the fundraiser of Jim Mattox, Democratic nominee for attorney general. "I oppose the death penalty," I told him. "So do I," he said, while stuffing a bunch of shrimp in his mouth.

He then went on to inaugurate Texas' rush to executions in the 1980s. Politicians, you know.

I knew so little then. I know much more now.

I didn't know, then, that I would become a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman and I would write a whole lot about the death penalty. I wrote this and my life will never be the same because of it.

I had no idea that a day would come when Steve Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, would hire me to become NCADP's first and only communications director.

I had no idea that I would spend six and a half years on the job.

I had no idea that I would start this blog, or that Karl Keys would come to help me, or Abe Bonowitz. I have a regret -- that Lonely Abolitionist never joined our blogging team. She seemed cool.

I'm going away from NCADP but I'm not going away completely. Like, I'll be here.

As I go, I want to thank the people who have come here to read....and I want to hope that Abe and Karl will keep it going. And I want to maybe stop by here, from time to time, perhaps as a blogger emeritus. 200,000 readers, folks. That's not bad for this little old blog about the death penalty.

Goodbye (but not farewell!)


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Protesting #1,100 at SCOTUS

Above: Mike Stark of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Another doggie for Abolition!

Art Laffin shares the story of the murder of his brother and his opposition to executions.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Road to Abolition - New Book by NJ Senator Raymond Lesniak

"During my 30 years in the state Legislature, I never prepared statements to be delivered in committee, on the floor or at public appearances, always relying on my glibness to either captivate an audience or stumble through a presentation of my views. The death penalty debate was different.



Lives were at risk.

The Road to Abolition is the result."

-- Senator Raymond J. Lesniak

Learn more and buy the book here.