Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« Bill Moyers Rewind: Henry Steele Commager (1974) | Main | Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace »

Dominique Green: In his own words

At 7:59 PM on October 26, 2004, Dominique Green, 30, was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas.

The following is an excerpt from an interview Dominique gave while on death row, where he spent 11 years before execution. In this clip, he discusses his home life, specifically his mother:

We invite you to respond by commenting below.


TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
/mt/cgi/trackback/747

Comments

Rest assured all that believe in God, For judgement will come soon for the wicked that have not and will not repent. God please continue to bless us that have sinned and ask for foregiveness. There are allot of Dominique Green's in this wicked world who have been through allot and by God's grace have repented and been foregiving by him, who are we to say that they should be put to death? I for one "DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE DEATH PENALTY!" No man should have that devine power to take life, let God be the judge of such.

Just as (the show continuing past his comments on the Green Matter) I was beginning to like Cahill again, then up pops the A-bomb thing. How can Mr. Cahill, or anyone, differentiate (in terms of "racist" or "moral" or any other quality) between the killing of 100,000 Tokyo residents in one night of bombing by 334 U.S. bombers just 5 months before "Hiroshima" and "Nagasaki" and the killing in those two cities. Mr. Cahill cannot, I must hope and believe, have read the account of the Tokyo firestorm event by the french writer who was there ... Robert Guillian (Guillain, Robert, I Saw Tokyo Burning 1981).

Otherwise Cahill is required to explain how it was better that we more slowly fried, roasted, baked, and boiled to death those 100,000 citizens in one night than it was to deliver an instant or near-instant death to most of the 80,000 dead in Hiroshima. He is required to explain why it would have been better to lose up to 500,000 of our OWN citizens (and millions of Japanese) in an invasion of Japan, determined to fight on after repeated firebombings of cities in the fashion of Tokyo, when instead two planes and two bombs brought it all to an end in 3 days.

The controversy about Russia's entry into the Pacific fray at that time aside, there is little doubt that the specter of one aircraft and one bomb wiping out one city at time from an indefensible height (unlike the low flights of the incendiary bombers) was "a", if not "the", deciding factor.

Earlier attempts ("learning" experiences) at incendiary attacks in somewhat less fire-prone cities such as Hamburg and Dresden in Germany led to the fiery deaths of 50,000 and 30,000, and there were estimated to be 300,000 - 500,000 deaths from all such Allied efforts in Germany ... the same sort of range of casualties from bombing in Japan.

There can be no doubt that, had the war in Germany not begun to wind down by spring 1945, the first nuclear weapons would have been used to aid the Soviets and finish off Berlin, the bombing of which, despite huge numbers of attacks and bombs, was considered a failure. The Germans, after all, had begun the quest for such a weapon and there was NO doubt in anyone's mind that they would have used it. How could anyone think that after the savagery Germany showed in its prosecution of the war on Europe with indiscriminate bombing that the Allies would not have gladly traded the loss of thousands of aircraft and tens of thousands of crew for a one plane, one bomb, one city, one day scenario?

Japan could have been "held in place" until that effort ended the European war (if needed), being an isolated island. As it turned out, the Allies could turn their attention to and finish the war in Japan much sooner than expected.

How can it be that causing 120,000 nearly instant deaths by nuclear bombs ... ending WWII and saving 500,000 of our citizens from death (invasion of Japan) is "racist", when causing 200,000 (Tokyo + other Japanese cities) or more slower, painful deaths from a few nights of raining down firebombs, like gasoline, on them is not. I cannot fathom the twists in logic in a mind that can so think.

Thanks for this thoughtful conversation. America's application of capital punishment is receiving a critical examination, and Mr. Cahill's perspective is welcome.

In particular, Texas' zealous over-prosecution of death sentences has focused attention to problems seen in virtually every jurisdiction with the death penalty. Green's case is an example of someone who never represented the worst of the worst -- those for whom the death penalty is supposed to be reserved. Among post-Furman death sentences in Texas, executive clemency has simply failed to provide any check on prosecutors and courts.

His comments about the sin of the father is so visible among those on death row, as well as many others in prison. We must find some other way to resolve these problems of neglect and abuse -- to break the infliction upon future generations. Keep up the excellent work on the Journal.

A thought to consider~
While all agree that our justice system is unfair and biased on the basis of race and class, what I never hear anyone say is that because of it there are ONLY 2 million people in American prisons.
Fix the system by all means, but don't be shocked by the price tag for dealing with the tripling (or more) of our prison population.

Thank you for a most practical review on forgiveness- a must do for those heaven bound.Perhaps Cahill would agree that those who forgive help save civilization.

Our system of justice in the United States of America is excellent, but it is not perfect. Truly innocent people have in fact been convicted of capital crimes, and sentenced to death.

I think the argument about executing people who have truly done the things for which they were convicted distracts us from the real moral question. In order to maintain the death penalty for people who have actually done capital crimes, how many innocent people are we willing to execute? If you are a death penalty supporter, what is your answer? Are you willing to tolerate the execution of one innocent person in ten to which the death penalty is applied, one in a hundred, one in a thousand, or one in a million?

Unless and until there is no chance whatsoever that an innocent person will be subject to the death penalty, it seems to me the essential question is at what rate you are willing to accept the execution of innocent people? In the real world of imperfect justice, to support the death penalty is to accept the execution of some innocent people.

"Liberalism fails because it is inconsistent, and holds no one accountable for anything."

If this is true.

Conservatism fails because it imposes accountability only on those without the power and funds to work the system.

So Kenneth Lay is laid to rest with a clear record when his action financially devastated countless lives. Yet I never heard any of the "moral right" calling him the scumbag that he was.

The world is not black and white it is all shades of grey. We must stop living out of the two extremes and seek to operate from the middle ground. A first step should be to loose the labels and stop the name calling.

If we loose all compassion in this society it will not be worth living in

Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for presenting up this topic. And thanks for the chance to speak and share thoughts about it. The death penalty is an issue I've wrestled with for a long time.

Without compassion, as a society we are lost.

I believe that killing other people is wrong, just flat out. It is immoral. Doing it with legal sanction as a society doesn't make it right.

Studies show PTSD in executioners relating specifically to their role in the intentional deaths of others. The effect can be as devastating as any trauma inflicted upon an unsuspecting victim of violence. It seems counterintuitive since presumably an executioner has the support of the courts, their employer, their coworkers and their own choice in work, but it’s not as uncommon as it would seem. If that isn’t an endorsement of the intrinsic value of human life I don’t know what is.

There is also the problem of some people being, for a wide variety of reasons, hopelessly and irreparably violent. I've personally seen the exponentially destructive effect of severe violence on victims, their families, and on our society. We can’t afford to think just because severe violence hasn’t happened in one’s own circle or one’s own neighborhood it doesn’t affect each and every one of us. It takes only a few really violent people to cause tragedy and despair for hundreds, for decades.

I don't think we're framing the question properly.

The only reason we should have a death penalty at all is because we need it as a form of protection and regard, for a reasonably safe life for all of our citizens. Our brothers and sisters, our children, our neighbors, our coworkers, our future friends, our future enemies, our communities, ourselves. We have to take it out of the arena of morality and justice because quite frankly, there are no such measures applied fairly and which stand the tests of time and compassion.

At this point I do think we have to have a death penalty, much as I hate it. It should not be the sentence of a first offense, however heinous, but a last resort, a response to proven recidivism among the worst of our most violent criminals, those who cannot be fixed or taught or contained and every attempt to do so has failed. We cannot afford to indulge any notion that the death penalty is ever morally right or deserved, or is anything but tragic. At best, it would be the final chapter to a story that has ended badly but which has, thankfully, ended.

Society's goal for lawbreakers should be reformation. If our prisons held the hope of a new life for the criminal, even a murderer, I believe our society would be transformed. Even if we could not reach some and they must live the rest of their life behind bars, we can say we have adhered to this Biblical promise, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice."

Cahill states, "The crime is secondary. Crime is secondary. There are no millionaires on death row nor will there ever be. Almost everyone on death row is poor. And do you really think that no millionaire ever committed a capital crime? I'm saying that there are certain people that we are willing to offer up, and not others, and they're the people who have no power. We're not killing Dominique Green because he committed murder. We're killing Dominique Green because we want to kill somebody."

This is pure liberal hogwash! I AM a “liberal”by most any measure, and I can smell liberal hogwash as well as anyone . If Cahill’s last sentence were true then (among other things) the act of execution would not be secret and hidden, as Cahill seems to criticize. If the death penalty is because “we” want to kill, then “we” would want to hear much more about it ... but seldom do unless some “liberal” makes an issue of it. Too, would we not have death row commonly populated with perpetrators of many other crimes ... or none at all. Statements and notions such as his give liberalism a bad name.

My belief is that, as yet unstated, the death penalty is about our own perceptions of carrying out the perceived, and highly likely, “last wishes” of the innocent victim of the crime of murder.

Few of us are so brave ... and foolish and senseless ... when it comes to the value of our own life to ourselves, as to not want, if given the choice, to end the life preemptively of one who would, especially capriciously and without provocation, end our own. History demonstrates that as fact if nothing else ... daily. The presumptive “last wish” of anyone in such a position is that the murderer, not the innocent victim, shall die if someone shall and must. The death of the victim does not erase that presumed last wish.

I support this theory with the observation that, quite to the contrary of what Cahill would have us believe, we (generally) do not cheer the death of the murderer after trial and conviction much at all, but it is often a national cause for celebration when we hear of the 70 year old store proprietor who “gets the jump” on a would be robber/killer and does him (or rarely her) in ... or when under the threat of murder a mother successfully defends her child and herself thus.

I believe it is that fact, the presumptive last wish of the victim, that is the real impetus to maintain a death penalty for the crime of murder, and not “deterrent” or any other of the theories that those who oppose the death penalty proffer only to shoot at with statistics. Not “blood lust”, and not, so much, hate either. It is in essence the feeling of need to carry out of the presumed last wishes of the deceased innocent.

Make the process fair, to be sure. Spend time and effort to insure guilt. Then unburden this badly overburdened world (by the crush of humanity) from having to support such a one any longer. No excuses. For every mistreated “Green” there are tens who suffered worse and who will not kill the innocent.

Be concerned, if at all, only for him or her who does not know enough to value his or her own life and thus cannot appreciate the gravity of the taking of another. Obviously Green valued his ... he was desirous of spending it in a tiny cell rather than lose it. He knew what he was doing.

I would be for letting the family of the victim, when applicable/available, decide “prison or death”, perhaps according to what they would think their kin would want (or ... not). That added capriciousness (like that of the murderer him/herself) may be just what the concept of punishment for murder needs. Frankly, it’s getting way too “civilized” to fit the crime. The crime is no more “civilized” than it ever was, nor are the perpetrators.

If Green had exuded the same charm to his victim as he does in the picture above this post, Mr. Cahill could save his "bleeding" for a better cause.

And as for (Cahill and) death row conversions ........... oh how I hate liberals.

God may hold his mother accountable, but it's our job here on Earth to hold murderous scum like Green accountable for their crimes. Penitence and forgiveness? Why stop at murder? I didn't see Moyers lining up guests to discuss how Ken Lay should be "forgiven" for the Enron debacle.
Liberalism fails because it is inconsistent, and holds no one accountable for anything.

What I also found so sad is not only do we kill but we kill the wrong ones. Why wasn't the white person who also robbed & murdered charged with anything? Again we have no justice in this country if you are Black or Brown

Cahill's take on the Fall of Rome and Irish literacy is one of the most simplistic statements I have ever heard on PBS. Civilization IS NOT determined by the literacy of an opressive, outside culture. It is historically clear that the Ogham alphabet predates the 5th century, as does Pictish and Old Norse. So the Irish were not illiterate when St. Patrick showed up. They were merely not facile with an oppressive Christian language and world view. The idea that Germanic/Celtic tribes were "envious" of a Latin oppressive culture and economy that had carried their loved ones into slavery for 400 years is ludacris. The fall of Rome was due far more to the increase of immigrants into the military and positions of civil power over 450 years, a loss of infrastructure, a loss of a common tongue and heritage, and finally the loss of a consistant agriculture and trade from Egypt. I think Cahill can find a better argument than the inequality of Roman tax infrastructure in an effort to make a point on modern U.S. taxation. It is a typical Catholic arrogance that Greco-Roman culture is superior to so-called "barbaric" pagan cultures that often ALSO had a WRITTEN language and a set of technologies useful in their geographies, which is so conveniently forgotten. Consider the pagan Norse and their nautical technologies which were far superior to anything ever devised by "literate" Greco-Romans.

Bill Moyers is such a great gift to American life, and I appreciate his paying attention to capital punishment, but beside the intellectual conversation, it would be good if he provided tools for changing public opinion -- such as urging that many see a film that helped eliminate capital punishment in Europe, A SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Nevertheless, thank you, Mr. Moyers -- There is just you and Keith Obermann -- all else in the media is lies.

Such a sad statement for our civilization. I liked that Thomas Cahill stressed penitence should be the way to go instead of the death penalty whenever possible.

The tragedy in this Country is child abuse and the heartless attitude that holds these damaged people up to standards as if all were from loving homes.

The judgmental, in tolerant, no excuses allowed, get over it world we have created rubs salt into the wounds of the abused.

How sad that this man saw death as preferable to the life he endured.

God rest his soul, he is now at peace. God will hold his Mother accountable.

Post a comment

THE MOYERS BLOG
A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

Your Comments

Podcasts

THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

Click to subscribe in iTunes

Subscribe with another reader

Get the vodcast (help)

For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ