Dr. Jack Kevorkian has again unstrapped me from what has become my personal gurney, here, in the lethal injection facility at Huntsville, Texas. Jack has now supervised fifteen controlled near-death experiences for me. Hey, Jack, way to go! On this morning’s trip down the blue tunnel to the pearly gates, Clarence Darrow, the great American defense attorney, dead for sixty years now, came looking for me. He wanted WNYC’s listeners to hear his opinions of television cameras in courtrooms. “I welcome them,” he said, if you can believe it. This man with the reputation of a giant, comes from a rinky dink little farm town in Ohio.
“The presence of those cameras finally acknowledges,” he said to me, “that justice systems anywhere, anytime, have never cared whether justice was achieved or not. Like Roman games, justice systems are ways for unjust governments—and there is no other sort of government—to be enormously entertaining with real lives at stake.”
I thanked Mr. Darrow for having made American history much more humane than it would have been otherwise, with his eloquent defenses in court of early organizers of labor unions, of teachers of unpopular scientific truths, and for his vociferous contempt for racism, and for his loathing of the death penalty. And the late, great lawyer Clarence Darrow said only this to me: “I did my best to entertain.”
Signing off now. Hey, Jack, waddaya say we go downtown for some of that good old Tex-Mex cuisine?
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