The Unnecessary Execution of Jose Ernesto Medellin

If at 9:59 pm Central Time on Tuesday night you were refreshing your browser to “sort by date” the latest news on “Medellin” as part of your death-watch ritual. And if you clicked to read a somber AP report posted at the Oroville Mercury-Register, you may have seen what I saw: a blank page that only loaded a banner ad at the top, paid for by the United States Army: “What do you see in your future?”

It was some kind of e-haunting that hissed without noise and moved on.

But that lone banner, floating there on nothing but white noise, seemed to make more sense than anything else, because it placed the question of the future in a context of violence as foundation for the United States. If you joined the Army, they’d sock away $40,000 in your behalf to buy a home or start a small business. “After the Army” the American Dream called.

But for any of this to begin to make sense, first there must be some guarantee that the Army makes sense. And for that to make sense, there must be some reason to think that the killing the Army trains you to do will be necessary killing. Which means there has to be something like necessary killing in the first place. And in the second place you have to be quite sure that the killing the Army is put up to these days is of the absolutely necessary kind.

But remember, we got started on this singular meditation during a death watch, by attempting to click into a story to find out if Jose Ernesto Medellin had been killed. And in no way could you come to the conclusion that the killing of Medellin was necessary. He wasn’t going anywhere, especially not on Tuesday night after the Supreme Court had once again split 5 to 4 in their last-minute deliberation. As the Army ad raised the spectre of necessary killing, the Medellin case redoubled the question as universal: “What do you see in your future?”

In the Medellin case, the World Court had twice ruled that the execution should wait for a review. The President of the United States had issued an order that the execution should wait. And the U.S. Supreme Court had twice split 5 to 4 over the question. The death warrant for Medellin would have run out by midnight. The government of Mexico was standing there like an insulted neighbor, having secured both World Court decisions that Mexican citizens in the USA deserve a right to consular assistance. All the Governor of Texas had to say was: “In consideration of our special relation to the people of Mexico, and out of respect for international law, let me take some time to read this evening’s US Supreme Court decision, which was split 5 to 4, and take some time to think about this.”

But Medellin had already been moved into position for the killing. Before it was possible to find out what the Supreme Court had said, the news was out. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the Governor, all invoking the Confederate Principle of State’s Rights — backed by a recent op-ed column at the Houston Chronicle — had proclaimed death. And death was dealt.

Of course, we agree with all the authorities from the World Court on down that the killings for which Medellin was found guilty were altogether gratuitous, horrible, and shocking. Two teenaged girls raped and murdered while walking home through a park. It is difficult to talk about punishments being “cruel and unusual” when crimes like that get done. “Find your strength” says another Army ad. And what strength should we ask the people of the United States to find if not the strength to know, not when killing is strangely satisfying, but when and only when it is necessary.

What is necessary about killing killers? What was necessary about killing Medellin last night?

It’s not at all likely that the killing of a Mexican-born killer in Texas, who had raped and killed teenaged girls, is going to help many people around here to “find their strength” to stop killing. Otherwise the Governor would have stepped in. But the late night killing of Medellin in Texas nevertheless proves that we have not yet learned that what we see in our future is way more killing than necessary.

Greg Moses is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and a member of the Texas Civil Rights Collective.. Read other articles by Greg, or visit Greg's website.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Tom Joad said on August 7th, 2008 at 7:20am #

    Two teenaged girls raped and murdered while walking home through a park.

    I’m glad to hear this creep is dead.

    “If you’re looking for sympathy, it’s in the dictionary in between shit and syphilis”

  2. Al said on August 7th, 2008 at 10:06am #

    Typical brain dead American asshole!

  3. Danny Ray said on August 7th, 2008 at 5:02pm #

    I agree with Mr. Joad, What should the author reccomend be done with a predatory killer?
    I am glad he is dead, that the State of Texas did its duty. And most of all I am glad he will not ever be on my street.
    left or right an outlaw is an outlaw, And thats just what the name implies someone who has done some so bad they are now OUT SIDE the law.

  4. Brian Koontz said on August 7th, 2008 at 10:52pm #

    The Death Penalty is the most overrated issue, by far, of the left.

    By means of the death penalty the American state kills 60 people per year. This is a miniscule fraction of the deaths caused by the foreign policy of that same American state.

    It’s also a miniscule fraction of the suffering caused by the American state upon the American people.

    To make matters even worse, the common alternative, *even proposed by the left*, is indefinite incarceration in place of murder. Nevermind that life in jail, many conclude, is worse than being killed at the hands of the state.

    This issue should be an utter embarrassment to the left, yet groupthink has seized control and refuses to let go.

    Whether or not the American state sentences 60 people to death a year rather than jail them for the rest of their lives is not worthy of a fraction of the time and interest the left gives it.

    What should take more of the focus is the prison system itself, in terms of being a means for the state to terrorize the population. The prison system needs to be phased out and replaced by one that cares for all people, and enables people to lead healthy productive lives and to avoid pathologies. If those pathologies cannot be avoided, then they need to be removed from society, but in such a fashion that is non-abusive.

  5. Natchal said on September 10th, 2008 at 3:47am #

    I hope the executions of the others who were senteced to death follow.If we had the death penalty up here in canada I believe alot less of the murders that are committed here would happen.May the 2 younge beautiful ladies rest in peace and may their killers rot in hell

  6. Tony Tedeschi said on September 12th, 2008 at 4:28pm #

    Maybe we should have released him so he could kill again on the streets, locked him up for life so he could kill in prison an cost hundreds of thousands to house? —He who lives by the sword dies by the sword, this scumbag is in hell where he belongs get of your high horse you moron!!!