Monthly Archives: July 2011

Celebrating a Red Coffin

Too bad song, dance and prayer can’t end violence. The Celebration of Life held for 14-year-old Yashanee Vaughn turned into a three-hour, big-screen extravaganza, marked by a regular refrain: “End the violence.” Unfortunately, the only person who had any ideas for ending violence was the last speaker. By then some folks were drifting away when […]

Unmuzzling the Slave Trade

News flash: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has discovered that white Americans are not the only ones who owned black slaves. So has NPR’s Terry Gross. “There is so much in your book that I did not know,” the host of “Fresh Air” told Gates. “I did not know I was so uninformed about slavery south […]

In Portland, Life is a Cabaret

They’re here. They’re queer. They will not live in fear. But the gays who marched over the weekend in Portland should remain respectful of fear, instead of reducing it to a party chant. Rational fear can help them see things as they are, not as they want them to be. “There is nothing but good […]

Forgiveness Comes Cheap

When they lay the mother and her four children to rest, perhaps they’ll play John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” or “All You Need is Love.” Never mind that Lennon himself was gunned down. For people who seek simple solutions to tough problems, nothing beats forgiveness. “We want Jordan to know that he’s been forgiven,” […]

Same Faces, Same Problems

Gov. John Kitzhaber could have created a more credible Commission on Public Safety had he and legislative leaders randomly picked names off the state’s voter rolls. Instead, they ended up with Chief Justice Paul J. De Muniz, who most recently distinguished himself by vacating a Death Row inmate’s execution date – even though the inmate […]

Living and Rotting on Death Row

Sometimes a Death Row inmate’s best friend can be a retired prosecutor. That’s what Gary Haugen needs if he really wants to be executed. Since announcing in May that he wants to waive all appeals and die, he has discovered the cruelest truth about the death penalty: It’s all about the care and keeping of […]

Where the Dancing Never Stops

Susan Smith must be sitting in her South Carolina prison cell thinking, “Chloroform and duct tape – damn! Why didn’t I think of that?” The young mother killed her two sons in 1994, then blamed a man who carjacked her and made off with her vehicle and children. Her case is more often recalled because […]

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

How would you like a carrot and a bottle of barbecue sauce shoved up your rectum? No? It could be worse: You could have a carrot and a bottle of barbecue sauce shoved up your rectum – and then be told this is what you really wanted. You liked it. You asked for it. A 34-year-old […]