Here goes nuthin’

I should have taken inspiration years ago from my friend Aaron and former colleague, Chris Saul, and the excellence and popularity of their blogs, but I guess I thought I had nothing of interest or wit to say or nothing I wanted to publicly get off my chest. My cousin David, too, as a bit of a creative hero of mine (more of that in a later episode!), has provided much encouragement to me over the years to do more to write and be read; but despite a few tentative contributions to the Arksanctum creative community run by friend David Barltrop, and some tinkering about on Myspace, I’ve never really felt, well….. worthy of publishing a blog of my own.

So why now? Well, I’m neither n00b nor trendsetter, I have finally climbed aboard with Twitter (@k4thybrown) and in doing so have been working out how to partition my digital diarrhoea into different social media for separate, albeit sometimes overlapping purposes.

LinkedIn is clearly about work, career, and professional networking.

MySpace – though seldom visited these days, is still all about music and the arts – and primarily a place I can go to find out more about bands and musicians that I might stumble across via a friend’s recommendation, or in iTunes Genius, Spotify or

Then there’s Facebook; tricky ground indeed for there my social and working worlds are inextricably tangled. But given that it’s the place where I tend to blurt out my irreverences most frequently, and where my family, friends and colleagues intersect and see ‘real Kathy’, I try and keep Facebook informal and within boundaries of public decorum. Er….for the most part…

Anyway, in launching a Twitter ID recently, I looked at other people’s profiles and realised it was OK to describe yourself in a capsule way that captures your different personae in ways people can relate to… Mum, professional, hobbyist, sportsperson, evangelist etc…. And so what in Kathy’s world, encapsulates me in just one sentence? I decided to shrink it back to 3 things: the things that I feel define me and my interests right now. And those things had to be

  1. My working self. Twitter is the primary engine of the self-promotion web. It’s been acknowledged as being the equivalent of standing in the street and shouting. So you have to be careful what you tweet.
  2. My born-again-runningness.
  3. My favourite cause: opposition to the death penalty. I am a member of a UK organisation, Lifelines, which provides penpals for condemned prisoners on the USA’s Death Row. I’ve kept this activity quiet for several months, but my interest and passion for the topic is growing daily, and I think it’s time to come out and be a voice.
Those are the things I want to shout in the street about, and that I feel I can put Twitter to good use around. But 140 characters is a little limiting when you want to get on your soapbox! And so I have decided to give blogdom another whirl. Somewhere to relate my experiences as a Death Row penpal, to dump some facts and thoughts, to shape up how I think and feel on certain topics and to give additional credit to the people whose work in the area of human rights touches this cause, which in turn touches me. This coincides with my recognition that the subject of my cause is unpopular, emotive, gets relatively little coverage and is little understood. It also coincides with my attendance yesterday at my first ever Lifelines conference. Lifelines is 21 years old this year, and my inaugural visit to conference was a day that left me inspired, enthusiastic, in tune with my instinct and with the feelings of those around me, and determined to do more to support both them as a charitable organisation, and the associated campaigners who are doing such great work to improve the lives of convicts and victims’ families. Lifelines is a wonderful UK organisation to belong to and arguably needs a helping hand to launch it into the digisphere. I can help do that a little.

Why this title? Well, it occurred to me a few days ago that I cannot think of a single justifiable reason for the Death Penalty, whereas I can think of any number of reasons it makes no sense and ultimately must be abolished – in the United States as well as the other nations where it is still legitimate punishment. Where are those other nations? As mentioned by Lifelines’ founder Jan Arriens at the Autumn Conference yesterday, they make strange bedfellows for the self-proclaimed leader of the civilised world. In the map below, spot the likes of China, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia

Death Penalty World Map Colour scheme:

Blue: Abolished for all crimes

Green: Abolished for crimes not committed in exceptional circumstances (such as crimes committed in time of war)

Orange: Abolished in practice

Red: Legal form of punishment for certain offences

(Source: Wikimedia Commons : Death_Penalty_World_Map.svg)

The timing as well, is really interesting. The USA is again under pressure from the EU to reconsider its stance on Capital punishment – for a wealth of reasons.

“Currently, a total of 139 countries which have abolished the death penalty in law or practice:
  • 94 countries and territories have abolished the death penalty for all crimes;
  • 10 countries have abolished the death penalty for all but exceptional crimes such as wartime crimes;
  • 35 countries can be considered abolitionist in practice. They retain the death penalty in law but have not carried out any executions for the past 10 years or more and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions.
Since 2005, 12 countries have abolished the death penalty.While figures of death penalty application around the world still remain high 93 per cent of all known executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA and Pakistan.”
(Excerpt from TheGovMonitor , ex European Commission statement 9th October 2009)

…. the State of California, currently undergoing a moratorium on the death penalty [DP] (due to doubts about the lethal injection process and whether it contravenes the 8th Amendment), is now under significant financial pressure to abolish the DP and commute all current death sentences to Life Without Parole (LWOP). Governor Schwarzenegger is alleged to be seeking to sell off San Quentin prison and rehouse the prisoners currently residing on Death Row.
…. whereas in the UK, a recent poll is reported to have shown a swing in public favour towards REINSTATING the DP in the light of recent high-profile crimes which have incited the disgust and hatred of the British public.
That we Brits could even contemplate such a thing today, in the face of the many reasons against makes me very sad indeed. And here I am.

October 18, 2009 - Posted by | blog, california, death penalty, eu, friends, lifelines, map, running, twitter, uk

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