I learned that the State of Georgia executed Troy Davis when I heard it announced on NPR as I was driving in to work. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. I’m still trying to process these events; trying to think about this execution alongside a history of extralegal executions in the state, which led to it being called “hang ’em up Georgia;” against a story that I read, perhaps told in David Levering Lewis’s biography of W.E.B. Du Bois, about Du Bois being on his way to the Atlanta Constitution office to discuss the reporting on the hunt for alleged rapist and murderer Sam Hose. Upon observing Hose’s knuckles in a store window, Du Bois makes an about face deciding that his intended audience was simply unreasonable; alongside the legacy of Gone with the Wind and the imprint that the book and film have left on Atlanta: Tara Boulevard, Tara Stadium, Twelve Oaks everything else; “The city too busy too hate.”
I read today that Michael Moore is calling for a boycott of the state. Brian Robinson, a spokesperson for Governor Nathan Deal, responded to Moore’s request that his publisher pull his latest book from the shelves in Georgia this way:
We think it’s cute that he thinks anyone in Georgia would buy this book, but if any Georgian does, I’m happy to double the royalties and buy a pack of gum for a charity of Michael Moore’s choice.
These remarks reflect very poorly on the Governor’s office. Dismissing Moore’s claims that the state’s officials are “racists” and “killers” by smugly and falsely imagining a wholly conservative Georgian populace ignores a claim that requires a serious, thoughtful response from the state’s highest office. How do you seriously respond to the parole board’s decision to dismiss the 663,000 petitions for clemency? How does Robinson, as a mouthpiece for Deal, define a Georgian anyway? Does being a Davis supporter exclude a person from that identity?
There is nothing “cute” about anything surrounding an execution. Robinson’s claim that he would “buy a pack of gum” for a charity of Moore’s choice along with doubling any royalties that would result if a Georgian purchased Moore’s book is equally troubling. How can Robinson justify his callousness in the face of constructing a person with real needs? One thing’s for sure: There are certainly “other models by which to live” and Brian Robinson does not provide a single one in his remarks that I would recommend.