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Tennessee State Capitol Building, Nashville

The Tennessee State Capitol Building is pictured in Nashville. | Source: Education Images / Getty

For all Republicans’ blustering about how Democrats once supported slavery and started the Ku Klux Klan (ignoring the fact that today’s KKK identifies most closely with the GOP, and vice versa), they sure seem to be the ones who tend to celebrate callbacks to America’s dark past, don’t they? In fact, it appears that when conservative Republicans aren’t serving on the front lines in the “culture war” to protect Confederate flags and monuments, they’re advocating for practices rooted in anti-Black oppression.

Or, whatever, maybe this Republican Tennessee lawmaker was just joking about wanting to lynch death row inmates.

According to News Channel 5 Nashville, State Rep. Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta) has apologized for suggesting Tuesday that his state’s death row inmates be executed by “hanging by a tree” during a House Criminal Justice Committee meeting about an amendment to a bill that would allow death row inmates to be executed with a firing squad. (Bruh, are right-wingers OK?)

Sherrell supported the amendmentwhich already feels like some weird gun nut fantasy camp idea that someone made it to state Congressand even went so far as to pose the question: “Could I put an amendment on that it would include hanging by a tree, also?”

Naturally, the backlash was swift, and Gloria Sweet-Love, President of the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, did a decent job of explaining the problematicness of Sherrell’s remark to obtuse white people who will inevitably pretend they don’t understand how it could be construed as racist when Sherrell made no mention of race.

Here’s Sweet-Love’s statement in full:

“Representative Paul Sherrell stated: ‘I think it’s a very good idea, and I was just wondering about, could I put an amendment on that it would include hanging by a tree, also?’ Representative Sherrell’s comment is beyond disgusting. He is celebrating a particular form of execution used against African Americans in Tennessee and across the nation, including innocent and wrongfully convicted persons. In many parts of the South, lynchings took place in nearly every county as it exemplified racialized and anti-Black violence. We know from numerous research studies that Blacks are also disproportionately executed, especially when the alleged victim is White. Sherrell’s comment–with reference to the most detested form of racialized violence–appears to be tinged race. It is a sad day in Tennessee politics when a lawmaker publicly announces that he wants to resurrect the lynching tree. We demand an apology from Representative Sherrill and ask the House leadership to condemn statements advocating racialized violence.”

And here’s Sherrell’s apology:

“I regret that I used very poor judgment in voicing my support of a colleague’s bill in the Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday. My exaggerated comments were intended to convey my belief that for the cruelest and most heinous crimes, a just society requires the death penalty in kind. Although a victim’s family cannot be restored when an execution is carried out, a lesser punishment undermines the value we place on protecting life. My intention was to express my support of families who often wait decades for justice. I sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been hurt or offended.”

So, basically, state-sponsored killings aren’t enough punishment for death row inmates, they must be executions performed in the cruelest and most primitive ways possible to appease conservative bloodlust.

Nah, these people are not OK.


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