Texas executed David Lee Powell yesterday for the murder of police officer Ralph Ablanedo.
Ablanedo’s family has been waiting for Powell’s appeals to end for 32 years. They have endured a lifetime of watching Powell be cast as some type of especially sensitive, peace-loving man as he manipulated the legal system — a spectacle they were forced to subsidize with their taxes.
They have also endured a lifetime of name-calling, rage, and accusation directed at them by Powell’s “peace-loving” supporters, including the editorial staff at the Austin Statesman, which disgraced itself last week by misrepresenting the family’s public statements in an editorial.
The Statesman was a little more careful in its news coverage of the execution. For instance, they quoted entire sentences from the victims:
Afterward, Bruce Mills, a former Austin officer who was Ablanedo’s friend and later married his widow, said it felt as if a weight had been lifted. “Relief would be the word to describe it,” Mills said. “No more hearings. No more appeals.”
But then the Statesman ran another editorial accusing the Mills/Ablenado family of “rage and revenge.” The author of that op-ed, Francis “Sissy” Tarlton Farenthold, claims to represent the “Restorative Justice” movement — one presumes that is why she feels entitled to levy hateful, false accusations against crime victims.
You know, in the name of dignity and love.
Actually, she probably is speaking for the RJ movement: Restorative Justice was long ago hijacked by criminal’s rights activists who have taken resources, including federal tax dollars, designated for victim services and directed them against victims who believe the proper outcome for crimes like murder is incarceration. It’s a shameful legacy, one that the original founders of Restorative Justice should be a whole lot more forthcoming about opposing.
Because what the movement has become is a parody, a cruel parody in which victims are scolded, bullied, and policed by “spiritual counselors” (many just academicians and activists) whose allegiance lies with the people who have victimized them — when the victims aren’t simply being ignored. Ms. Farenthold, for one example, is associated with the anti-victim, pro-offender ACLU. Now she claims to be speaking for crime victims? In many places, Restorative Justice is just a front-name used by other activists groups to gain federal grant money they then use to attack the criminal justice system in general and incarceration in particular.
Although the movement was started by a group of well-intentioned pastoral workers, Restorative Justice is currently just another arm of the radical prisoner’s rights movement, fronted by useful idiots on and off the federal payroll.
“Useful idiot” is a good term to describe Farenthold’s op-ed. Like so much of this type of thing, she seems more interested in promoting herself as a special observer than actually practicing the virtues she loudly trumpets. What sort of person feels comfortable imposing herself into a strangers’ intense pain at the loss of a loved one and claiming to know what they are thinking? What sort of person claims such insight into other people’s souls, leveling ugly words at them like “rage” and “revenge” and “retribution”?
Even worse, Farenthold actually scolds the Ablanedo/Mills family for not being welcoming enough of David Lee Powell’s magical efforts at healing them. I can’t believe the Statesman felt that this was appropriate for publication:
Restorative justice calls for Powell to be spared so that he can continue to address the needs and concerns of the Ablanedo family . . .
Address the needs and concerns of the Ablanedo family? What is this, The Green Mile? For the record, Powell didn’t apologize to his victims until his legal team decided it would be a good step . . . very recently. Yet Ms. Sissy (her nickname, not mine), the ACLU activist, has a different story (she also downplays the “throwing a live hand grenade at officers” thing, observing that the pin wasn’t pulled):
Powell has demonstrated his remorse and humanity by living a redemptive life for three decades. He has taught illiterate inmates how to read, write and improve their lives. He had no history of violence before his crime and none in his 32 years on death row. And he has expressed his deep remorse to Ablanedo’s family.
Well, actually not. And there are plenty of grade school teachers who teach people how to read without, you know, blowing them away with machine guns.
If you oppose the death penalty, oppose the death penalty, but stop pretending manipulative thugs like David Lee Powell are special humanity mascots. Because taking an innocent man’s life should not be weighed against (allegedly) prepping people for the SATs.
Because it’s degrading. And “degrading” isn’t the same thing as “restorative,” unless what you’re seeking to restore is the special hell Powell and his supporters put the Ablenado/Mills family through with their three decades of legal antics.
The editorial is really just sick stuff, coming from an attention-seeking old woman:
Why do I want this convicted killer not to be put to death? As a legislator, lawyer and human rights campaigner, I have been opposed to capital punishment all my life. For decades, I fought without knowing anyone on death row. Then, 20 years ago, I met Powell.
I, I, I, me, me, me. Like so much death row activism, attention-seekers glom onto other people’s tragedies to make themselves feel important. They claim to have superior knowledge of murderers’ souls to enhance their own sense of superiority. That pretty well describes the motley anti-death penalty activists you see publicly protesting. And that would be just their own character burdens, until the media gives them a platform to lash out at the victims, and lash out they do, despite all their high-and-mighty rhetoric about love and respect and valuing life.
Which one of these photographs really reeks of “vengefulness”:
Or this one?