Saturday, March 7, 2015

The reason for the bloodlust



When I wrote the last line of my article on the Jodi Arias verdict I hadn't planned to write anything more about it.  To say I was disgusted with the festival of bloodlust is an understatement.  It was pathetic and disheartening. 

You need to know that my issue is with the mad rush to the gallows and not the conviction.  Is the death penalty warranted? possibly but when it's the preferred option we have to take a step back and examine our own values.

After catching an episode of Makers: Women who make America I had an epiphany of sorts.  It's a PBS documentary series that deals with different aspects of the female experience.  

This particular episode chronicled women who shaped and brought to light women's issues in America.

Ok, so what.  Just another PBS humanities study right up there with whatever Ken Burns is doing these days...

Where my epiphany comes in was the discussion of how women's roles are still in flux even after a century of progress.  Men by and large still hold a very 19th century view of women and in conservative circles even more so.

Remember, Arizona is a staunchly conservative state.  Gloria Steinem probably wouldn't find much of a fan base here but Phyllis Schlafly would probably be given keys to the Governor's executive toilet.

It's that characteristic that made me do a bit of digging.  Specifically, I was curious about women who were sentenced to death in the U.S. for capital crimes.  There are 27 states that embrace the death penalty and Arizona has ranked in the top half at #13 as recently as 2012.   

While it's still true that the overwhelming majority of death row inmates are male, the 1% or so that are female seem to have a few traits in common.  One is that their victims were usually a spouse or a boyfriend the other is obvious, they were men.   Another increasingly common factor is questionable prosecutions with groups like Amnesty International frequently becoming involved.

Conservative values are very much tied to a 19th century ideal and with that a definition of women's roles.   Much of the bluster you've seen in recent political campaigns is a reflection of those values.  

Which brings me back to the whole bloodlust thing...

You see, while a man has a roughly equal chance of life imprisonment or death row for killing a woman when the roles are reversed the odds can change dramatically.  In a state that leans conservative (like AZ)  women often find themselves running headlong into conservative ideologies when they challenge the status quo.

Now before anyone runs off on a tangent know this...

I don't suggest for a minute that Jodi Arias is innocent but I do suggest that the public reaction to her sentence had more to do with wanting to punish an "uppity woman" than justice for Travis Alexander.

It's not the crime, it's the attitude that's intolerable to their very core.  An attitude that those with such views feel must be punished.  Preferably with blood if possible.


I'm surprised I missed it the first time.  I must have been overcome by the vitriol.