I don’t think that I go out of my way to make fun of Texas. I’ve done it once or twice I guess. The problem is that Texas is like a siren singing to me from the rocks. The mental rocks. In the ocean of my mind. Whatever. The point is you can almost always rely on the Lone Star State to do something that, while obviously popular within the state, is nothing short of backwards and dysfunctional to the rest of us.

“A death row prisoner who has been medically diagnosed as “mentally retarded” and therefore exempt from execution is set to die on Tuesday in Texas, a state that rejects scientific consensus and instead applies its own definition of learning difficulties based on a character in a John Steinbeck novel.

Barring a last minute intervention by the courts, Marvin Wilson, 54, will be put to death by lethal injection even though he has been subjected to scientifically-recognised tests that show him to be intellectually disabled – or “mentally retarded” as the US legal system still calls the condition.” – THE GUARDIAN

I’ve always believed that most people in this country would be willing to get rid of the death penalty if life in prison meant life in prison. Personally I’ve never been comfortable with such a perfect justice for our heavily flawed system. But, I understand the demand for that final justice when rapists, child molesters and even killers are returned to society over and over again.

If this guy killed someone then he should probably stay in prison eternally regardless of his mental handicap. Or a hospital. Whatever. Just keep him off the fucking street. That frustration brings out the worst in people which becomes reflected in the actions of our leaders.

“Instead of a clinical or scientific approach, based on widely recognized tests set out by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Texas decided to go its own way.

It came up with a set of seven criteria, known as “Briseno factors” after the decision that announced them, to determine which prisoners with learning difficulties should live and which should die.

The determinants were posited around the character Lennie Small in Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men.

“Most Texas citizens,” the argument ran, “might agree that Steinbeck’s Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt” from execution. By implication anyone less impaired than Steinbeck’s fictional migrant ranch worker should have no constitutional protection.”

So the legal basis for executing someone in Texas rests on the interpretation of a fictional character in a book that most Texans have probably never even read. Or remember reading. And of course it had to be Texas. It would just seem odd somehow if this weren’t happening in Texas.

But that’s cool. I have a STORY OF O policy when it comes to my marital happiness and a WILD BUNCH standard for all of my friends. Not to mention the AMERICAN PSYCHO benchmark for all of my power tools and kitchenware. And the less we talk about the IRREVERSIBLE threshold for appropriate movie night selections the better.



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