On optimism and the death penalty

This evening I was delighted to learn that @TheOptimismClub had received a nomination for a “Shorty” award, after only 14 days in existence. “I don’t know what good it will do. Just one nomination”, said our sponsor, @favourini, “out of 700 for the ‘non-profit’ category.” I was touched. I’d nominated @innocenceblog (The Innocence Project) a few days earlier, happy to promote a little known but entirely deserving cause and lend to its prominence on the Twitter stage.

Then I reflected. Awards are wonderful. The promotional power of a nomination is a compelling reason to seek even more and to recruit further supporters to the cause in the process. But it’s early days for The Optimism Club. We have work to do. Instead of an award, it would be reward enough to see our efforts and the efforts of all those working alongside us to end capital punishment around the world paying off. And I’m nothing if not optimistic that if we take action we’ll be reaping all kinds of rewards in the months and years to come.

So take note! You read it here first!

Hurray for the end of the Death Penalty!

Hurray for the end of the Death Penalty!

  • In 2010, more countries will abandon the death penalty, Last year, Burundi and Togo took the world total number of abolitionist nations to 139.
  • In 2010, more States will reject the death penalty. Last year, New Mexico became the 15th of the United States to repeal it.
  • In 2010, Troy Davis will be exonerated and released from death row in Georgia, after serving over 20 years for a crime he did not commit. His evidentiary hearing will prove actual innocence in a case that makes history and challenges the constitution itself.
  • In  2010, Reprieve will successfully secure the lives and safety of several British and EU citizens suffering at the hand of injustice overseas.
  • Within the next decade, under pressure from its own constitutional lawyers, international human rights organisations and financial considerations, the USA will have abandoned the death penalty right across the board. Texas may well have seceded from the Federation of course (I speak wryly, with apologies to Stand Down Texas and the Texas Moratorium Network and all the other good folk campaigning hard in that State)
  • Within the next century, capital punishment, mutilation and torture will no longer be tolerated around the world. Some countries will have made steps towards addressing and overhauling criminal justice systems in progressive and significant terms. The planet will have significant challenges to face, but the society of mankind will have moved on.

With your help.

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Welcome to The Optimism Club

Vigil by Candlelight for Akmal Shaikh

Vigil for Akmal Shaikh (Getty Images 2009)

The Optimism Club was born on December 29th 2009, in the early hours of the morning, as a group of loosely-connected people across Twitter and Facebook did what they could to raise awareness of the plight and impending execution of Akmal Shaikh, a Briton suspected of being mentally ill who was duped into trafficking drugs into China. As the morning wore on, hope of his reprieve faded, but the energy created amongst that community was unforgettable. One young tweeter I met that night who was repeatedly posting and re-tweeting links in a passionate and optimistic hope that even at this late hour the Chinese government would show clemency and stay the execution, inspired me with her beseeching earnestness. It made me smile to see such positivity. I wanted to bottle it. I suggested to the young woman, jokingly, that we were founder members of the Optimism Club. And the idea stuck.

Having been interested in the subject of the death penalty and researching for my personal blog for some months, I decided to kick off a new channel to gather and propagate facts, resources and news to give people the tools they need to discuss worldwide death penalty issues in an informed and consistent way; The Optimism Club aims to contribute to the growing worldwide opposition to capital punishment by informing people and promoting action wherever possible. Optimism in itself is a wonderful quality; but it needs to be matched with action in order for us to see progress. So at this site I will post news of conferences, protests, petitions, campaigns and fundraisers. Want to help fight one small corner of the massive global effort towards achieving universal justice and equal rights for human beings everywhere? The Optimism Club hopes to give you some pointers.

In the words of @_Weava, an active blogger, tweeter and campaigner for Iranian justice, “I’ll take the risk that my voice has very little influence and see if I can’t add a note or two to the global choir”.

The objective of this blogsite is to create a repository for articles, links, news etc. Submissions are most welcome – and I will be delighted to link to your website if you wish to contact me at theoptimismclub@gmail.com.

Please stay tuned for more news, information, events and resources