Friday, August 10, 2007

Video Activism: Save Kenneth Foster

Kenneth foster is on death row in Texas and all of his appeals have been exhausted. He is scheduled for execution at the end of this month. It is now a matter of very narrow legal options and a the possible notice of the governor. Kenneth is unique in that he will be someone who the state is executing even though they admit he didn't committed the crime he is being executed for. Kenneth was driving the car that a different man stepped out of and, without the knowledge of anyone else in the car, got into an altercation 80 feet away and ended up killing someone. Because Kenneth and these men were driving around committing crimes earlier, he is seen as a party to the murder that one of them spontaneously committed after the fact and without his knowledge. The law making this connection is called The Law of Parties. Under this law, if you are participating in a felony and a murder results, you are guilty of the murder as well. The problem here is that the murder was not the result of the felony, it was a seperate incident that occurred while they were all heading home. The prosecutor has basically claimed that the crimes were still in progress. The Jury was instructed that if they believed Kennith was doing something wrong by driving the men around, they must find him guilty of the murder itself under the law of parties and, therefore, qualify for death. The man who committed the murder was executed already but, adding insult to travesty, the state is not applying the same standard to the other two men that they applied to Kenneth. Those men will simply go to jail like most other felons.

If I had to define my political views I would say that I am either on the progressive side of conservative or on the conservative side of liberal. One of the things that has always put me on the more conservative side is my support of the death penalty when it comes to the worst of the worst offenders who have been proven, with direct indisputable evidence, to have committed the crime. The story of Kenneth Foster, however, gave me an epiphany. It may have single handedly changed my mind because it proves to me beyond any shade of a doubt that the prevailing social culture and the government structure in the USA today does not have the wisdom or integrity to handle the grave responsibility of taking someones life on it's own terms. Politics is the result of society and government is the result of politics. If a society is "sick" with destructive attitudes and ideologies, the government, the laws it makes and the process of enforcing those laws will carry the same sickness.

American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:

sociopath [(soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-uh-path)]

Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.
I think that the combination of advertising, dirty politics and a culture of consumerism, celebrity worship and rabid self interest has led our society as a whole into the realm of a collective sociopath. Until we have a society, a political system and, therefore, a government that doesn't reward this sociopathic behavior we have no business letting our government set up a system that decides how to take someones life.

Texas has now become the poster child for me of why the death penalty is too much for politicians and prosecutors to handle wisely. Not only have they killed almost 4 times more than any other state, they have allowed themselves to codify that lust for tough punishment onto the heads of people who didn't even commit the crime. This is the worst kind of perversion of justice and responsibility I can imagine. If this is the result that our society is bringing to our law enforcement today, then this whole level of punishment should be done away with completely, in the name of humanity, until we have a more socially stable, wisdom driven, society. Kennith Foster deserves to be in jail as an accessory to armed robbery and maybe even manslaughter or accessory to second degree murder if you want to be really tough. He should NOT be on death row for failing to realize a murder might take place. Go to If you want to see all the details of this case. There is also a Save Kenneth blog. There is an article from the Galviston County Daily News there with a good summary of the case.


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