Democracy Now! June 21, 2002

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Democracy Now! June 21, 2002
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The Supreme Court rules that executing mentally retarded people is unconstitutionally cruel, giving scores of inmates on death row the possibility of a reprieve. We'll hear the last words of a mentally retarded man executed in Georgia in 1986. And then, they call him the people's historian. Today, we spend the hour with scholar, activist, playwright, Howard Zinn. All that and more coming up. 9:01-9:06 Headlines: 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 6: PEACE NOW! - Andrew Thomson 20: METAHISTORICAL DISQUISITION - Paranoise feat. Noam Chomsky ISHQ ( 40: THE WORLD WE LIVE IN - Cleopatra Comin' Atcha! (Maverick Recording CD) End: BEYOND A DARK CLOUD - Garnet Silk 9:07-9:20 THE PEOPLE' HISTORIAN: HOWARD ZINN He overturned the sacred myth of Christopher Columbus as a courageous hero. He unmasked military leaders like Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt as racists, war-lovers, imperialists, and Indian-killers. He revealed our most liberal presidents Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy as more concerned with political power and national might than the rights of non-white people. And he exposed the cold war as a competition fueled by thirst for empire and domination. He re-wrote history from the perspective of the people, turning victors into villains and retrieving generations of unsung heroes from the historical record: the farmers of the Shays' rebellion, the black abolitionists, conscientious objectors during the Vietnam war, striking factory workers. I am speaking of Howard Zinn, the great scholar, activist, teacher, author. No other historian has attacked the distortions and myths about the history of the United States as forcefully as he has. In book after book, he has stood the traditional "great men" approach to history on its head. He has shown that historical change occurs more though mass movements of ordinary people than through the decisions of world leaders. His groundbreaking book, A People's History of the United States, was one of the first major looks at American history from this perspective. It transformed the field of historical research, going through 25 printings and selling more than 400,000 copies. But Zinn did not confine his revolutionary work to his scholarship. While he was overturning history, he was also making it adding his voice to the movements for peace, civil rights, social justice, and equality. As a professor at Spelman College in the 1950s, he joined his students on the picket lines and at sit-ins, traveling throughout the south as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He headed north to Boston University in the 1960s and took to the streets to protest the Vietnam War. He was arrested numerous times for his anti-war actions, but he could not be silenced. He traveled to North Vietnam and Japan to speak out against US policies, and he testified at some dozen trials on the importance of breaking unjust laws. More recently, he has been an outspoken critic of the so-called war on terrorism. This spring he published Terrorism and War, a book exploring the loss of civil liberties during war and the history of American resistance to wars from World War I to the war in Afghanistan Guest: Howard Zinn, radical historian, activist, and author of numerous books include A People's History of the United States, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, and most recently, Terrorism and War. He is Professor emeritus at Boston University. IN STUDIO Contact: 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40 THE PEOPLE' HISTORIAN: HOWARD ZINN CON'TD 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:45 THE PEOPLE' HISTORIAN: HOWARD ZINN CONT'D 9:45-9:58 THE SUPREME COURT RULES EXECUTING MENTALLY RETARDED IS "CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT" A divided Supreme Court reversed course Thursday and ruled that executing mentally retarded people is unconstitutionally cruel, giving scores of inmates on death row the possibility of a reprieve. The court ruled in favor of a Virginia inmate, Daryl Renard Atkins, who was convicted and sentenced to death for a 1996 robbery and murder. According to Atkins' lawyers, he has an IQ of 59. The ruling applies to people with an IQ of 70 or lower. The decision comes at a time when two pro-death penalty governors have declared a moratorium on executions, and over 100 innocent people have been exonerated from death row. There are currently over 3,700 people on death row in the US. Over the past decade and a half, eighteen states have prohibited the execution of the mentally retarded. Georgia was one of the first two states to change its law, after public outrage at the controversial execution of Jerome Bowden, a mentally disabled man. Bowden had an IQ of 59 at age 14, and an estimated IQ of 65 when he was executed at age 34. Earlier in the program we heard the last words of Jerome Bowden, a mentally disabled man who was electrocuted in June 1986. Bowden was found guilty of the burglary, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and murder of two women for whom he was doing yard work. Before he was electrocuted, he gave a final statement from his death cell. His words were recorded by SoundPortraits Productions, as part of their project "The Execution Tapes." Guest: Reverend Carol Pickett, who was death chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas for 16 years. He was chaplain for 95 executions and counseled some mentally retarded people before they were put to death. MD Tape: Jerome Bowden, a mentally disabled man with an IQ of about 65, who was electrocuted in June 1986. This is the final statement recorded in his death cell. Time: 2 min Contact: 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits

Date Recorded on: 
June 21, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
June 21, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. June 21, 2002
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