Michaels: Relishing Olson’s demise while condemning U.S. death penalty

Just as B.C.’s bogeyman is about to be vanquished by time and disease, a U.S. man named Troy Davis renewed the debate there about capital punishment.

Just as B.C.’s bogeyman is about to be vanquished by time and disease, a U.S. man named Troy Davis renewed the debate there about capital punishment.

Davis’s controversial death row destiny played out in front of thousands of rapt TV viewers Wednesday night in a chain of events many have since compared to torture.

Davis, reports stated, would have been brought into the room where his death sentence was to be delivered, only to be told to wait in hope for a last minute reprieve.

Then, three hours later, at 11:08 p.m., hope would have slipped away as a lethal injection was administered.

Right to the end he claimed innocence, and people from all walks rallied around in hopes he’d be added to the 273 others exonerated (some posthumously) through the Innocence Project.

Whether his claims were true may never be known. But the process that dragged him, his family and the victim’s family through the ugly side of the justice system, prompted just about everyone to wonder if capital punishment is really appropriate in this day and age.

It was already a lot to digest, but then another announcement came out of B.C. news agencies that sweetened the rumination pot.

As of Thursday afternoon, self proclaimed “B.C. beast” Clifford Olson was on the brink of death, reports said, and crowds cheered. Well, the latter part of that sentence is a slight exaggeration.

“It’s not right to rejoice,” said the parent of one of his 11 victims, but secretly they admitted they were.

Can’t really blame them, considering I was pretty pleased with the news.

Not only did Olson kill 11 teenagers heading  up to his 1981 arrest, he tortured their families with manipulative publicity-seeking behaviour in the three decades that followed and he flat out haunted the dreams of B.C. children raised in the Lower Mainland in the ’80s.

As several of my friends pointed out at different moments Thursday, he was our childhood bogeyman—the seed for all ensuing fears of the night.

It’s difficult to imagine what purpose this man served, what cosmic forces were failing to allow his existence to continue.

Frankly, I can’t say that I didn’t think he should have been dead a long time ago, or that I wasn’t relieved upon hearing news of his imminent death.

But is it hypocritical to applaud news that the now 71-year-old man’s body is being eaten by cancer while condemning the death penalty?

Probably, but perhaps the system we have here north of the border, at the very least, gives us the moral highground to have these internal debates.

And I’m glad for it.

Kathy Michaels is a reporter for the Capital News.





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