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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

UK: Conservatives suspend candidate who called for gay people to face the death penalty

Homophobia
Just a week before the local elections, the Conservatives have been forced to suspend a candidate over homophobic blog posts that called for gay people to face the death penalty.

Matthew Clarke is the Conservative candidate for the Lib Dem-held Manor ward seat on Stevenage Council in the local elections set to take place on May 3.

But Clarke, who has run as a local Conservative candidate on at least 2 previous occasions, was suspended by the party this week after it was revealed he had penned blog posts calling for gay people to face the death penalty.

The candidate, who has described himself as a "fundamentalist Christian," made the remarks in a 2005 blog post exposed this week by Labour activist Jo Phillips.

Published under the name Matthew Celestine, he wrote: "When such behaviour is tolerated in a land it can only expect to see God's judgment."

He added: "In my experience, most people believe that such behaviour is wrong and disgusting. They would be ashamed for their children to behave in that way, but they would never admit it for fear of being accused of bigotry.

"Why should we tolerate such behaviour? If these people think that what they do is decent and good, they are either insane or utterly corrupt morally.

"If a man would do the awful things that homosexuals do, we can only expect that he would steal, take drugs or murder people.

"There is only one penalty in the Bible for such deeds. Death."

The Stevenage Conservatives confirmed to local newspaper The Comet that Clarke has now been suspended pending investigation.

As it is too late to officially alter the party's candidates, however, he will still appear on the ballot paper for the local elections next week.

Gay flagClarke told the newspaper: "I would like to express deep regret for the offensive comments I made 13 years ago.

"I offer my unreserved apologies for any hurt caused by that blog post and I would like to stress that I have moved on and am no longer the angry and bitter person that I was in 2005."

The row comes days after a Labour candidate in Milton Keynes was forced to apologise for sharing a video from a Muslim preacher criticising homosexuality.

The candidate came under fire from his Conservative rivals over a video in which a preacher warns: "These are the days your Prophet warned you about... when intoxicants are consumed in the most despicable way, and illegal sexuality becomes okay."

Labour candidate Kashif Raza apologised for sharing a video, saying: "As we do too often today, I shared the video without watching the full content of it and I do not agree with it. I have learnt from this experience and will make sure to apply due level of scrutiny before sharing things on social media in the future."

Source: Pink News, Nick Duffy, April, 2018


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