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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Humane Alternative?

"It doesn't matter a whole lot to me that someone may have felt some pain before they were administered poison as a method of execution"-Steve Stewart, prosecuting attorney in Clark County, Indiana, on hearing the report of a study that suggests death by lethal injection can be painful, and involve suffocation while awake

And therein, folks, lies the problem.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. First, the facts, which are pretty simple according to a new study published in an online medical journal-lethal injection is not a humane method of execution. The drugs often don't work as they're intended, the study's authors point out, causing a severe burning pain and/or a feeling of suffocation. The death of the inmate can involve a great deal of suffering.

I think, however, that Mr. Smith probably speaks for the majority of death penalty supporters when he says, what? What the hell do I care if a brutal, barbaric serial murderer suffers some before he dies? That's all he deserves, after all. Don't waste my time with this trivial shit.

Well, ok, then, Steve...if it's not the state's responsibility to alleviate pain and suffering in those it is executing in the name if its' residents, why not just feed them into a live furnace? Crucify them? Plant cement shoes on them and throw them into the ocean? Certainly, that's a punishment that would more likely fit the crimes these guys have committed, isn't it? If it's all about vengeance, an eye for an eye, as your comments suggest, why even make a pretense at a humane execution?

Capital punishment is the ultimate "the devil made me do it" scenario. We as a society have taken a stand that killing someone is wrong, most of the time. It's not wrong, however, if a person did such a bad thing-cruelly, heinously and willfully took the life of another human being, usually-that it makes us break our own rule. We have no choice in the matter. No matter what we think of killing in general, we have to kill this person because of the bad thing he did (and it's almost always a he). Not torturing the heinous person beforehand proves our moral superiority to the heinous person, even though we're essentially committing the same act he did.

Now, apparently, we don't even have that to hide behind, and the facade begins to crumble. No one who believes in capital punishment cared anyway.

"It doesn't matter a whole lot to me that someone may have felt some pain before they were administered poison as a method of execution"

I would venture a guess and say that it is these types of attitudes that have cost the death penalty a great deal of support over the past 20 years (well, that, and the number of innocent people killed...and the inherent unfairness in the system...oh, and don't forget the cost...) Death penalty proponents don't get it and never will. Legally sanctioned execution is not about the person being killed. They did a horrible thing, usually. It's about us a people, and how much do we really want to be better than the worst among us?

As long as there are state-sponsored executions, then I'd say not so much.

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