Tag Archives: Arkansas

What do you think about the death penalty?

We just had an execution by lethal injection. Everything went fine. If, by “fine,” we mean a guy died as a bunch of people watched emotionlessly.

The execution was carried out so late in the process that only a few minutes passed between the pronouncement of death and and the expiration of the court order to kill.

What if the execution had taken twice as long? With the order expired, would it be stopped during the final minutes? Would someone dial 911, get EMTs in there, try to save the guy’s life?

I’m against the death penalty. I think it is time we recognized that this is the 21st century, and that we have this whole civilization thing. But, if we are going to execute someone, this absurd idea that somehow modern medicine can do a better job than the old methods is crazy. Perhaps our reluctance to use tried and true methods like hanging, beheading, and firing squad, all modern methods developed to replace the ancient horrible methods like crushing to death, burning to death, and stoning to death, is an indicator. Our preference to pretend that this is all very scientific and clean may be an indication that not very far below the surface we find the whole thing abhorrent. By pretending it is a medical procedure, painless, controlled, etc., we also pretend it is a civilized act to take the life of a person already imprisoned for life.

I’d rather live in a society where the argument “these people will not feel good about the horrible death of their loved ones until another horrible death has been carried out” is reserved for the anthropology textbooks, in the chapter on vengeance based societies.

By the way, I lived for years in a vengeance based society, a society in which all deaths, including from disease, or even being killed by a wild animal, were considered homicide, and the homicide should always be avenged. There were many deaths during my time there. Never once was a death avenged. The process of adjudication, of finding the party who caused the death (most likely by which craft) was very carefully done. The guilty party was always identified, but strangely, it always seemed to be an individual that lived very far away, that no one quite seemed to know well enough to find, or even bother looking for. So please don’t think that a tribal vengeance society is necessarily less civilized than our Western society.

But I digress. What do we do about the Death Penalty in America?