This guest editorial introduces the recently published special issue of Political Theology focused on Jacques Derrida’s Death Penalty Seminars.
In the days and weeks – indeed, years – before the execution of Troy Davis, a variety of voices, many purported theological, others secularized, addressed his case. Some argued that Troy Davis was innocent. They pointed to the details of his trial, including witnesses who had changed their testimony. Innocence is a tricky, and a dangerous, rhetorical implement. At the end of the day, we are all guilty. But the point that the Davis case illustrated is that our guilt is always opaque. To pretend that guilt is transparent may be necessary in some circumstances, but in such cases there should always be a spirit of humility.