The story of Cameron Todd Willingham (via Digby) ought to be read by everyone. Willingham seems to have been a kind of Texan dumbass, an uneducated, wife-beating piece of work, but he was also the father of three children, who he, by all accounts, loved. Those kids died in a house fire. Forensic 'experts' declared the fire an arson, Willingham was arrested, tried, and convicted of murder, and was executed.
Only problem: he didn't do it. The fire experts were good ol' boys who were operating on folklore and fairy tales about how fires propagated; real experts have looked at the scene and since declared that it was an accidental fire. Nobody killed those little girls, but their father was killed for their deaths.
That's not the most disturbing part of the story to me. You have to watch these videos of Judge John Jackson (he was prosecutor in the case, and is now a judge). He openly admits that the evidence for arson was weak, and that he looked at the circumstances to determine Willingham's guilt. Those circumstances? Willingham was a low-class ruffian with tattoos of skulls who like heavy metal music. Therefore, he was probably a satanist. Therefore, he probably killed his children.
I'm not joking. That was the basis for this smug cracker's determination of guilt, that led directly to his execution. Why not just criminalize tattoos and Metallica? It would make it easy to round up the riff-raff and exterminate them.
The state of Texas murdered an innocent man, and we can see the whole chain of incompetence, bigotry, and cowardice that led to the tragedy, from this ass of a prosecutor to Governor Perry, who refused to heed the evidence of malfeasance. Why aren't all of them being impeached or fired, and facing criminal charges in a court of law? Is it because they don't have any tattoos and listen to patriotic tripe from Lee Greenwood, Brooks & Dunn, and Tim McGraw?
End the death penalty everywhere. Drum the red-necked blundering boobs out of office, at the very least.