Friday, July 25, 2014

Is It Really Botched If He Ends Up Dead?

An hour and 57 minutes.

He gasped some 650 times for all but the last 17 minutes or so.

They gave him the fucking drugs a second time because, well, who knew if he'd ever die.

It was torture said John McCain who knows a thing or two about torture.

Smooth sailing said Jan Brewer and the AG and Kent Scheidegger and a spokesman for Arizona's DOC who all declared, with the certainty of the ignorant, that he was sound asleep through the whole thing and felt absolutely no pain or discomfort even if it took longer than they'd expected.

The family of his victims complained that it wasn't nearly ugly enough, and how dare people wish it were easier on him.

What if the federal judge had ordered it stopped and him revived?  Could they have done it? Apparently, they could have.  And could they then have tried to kill him again?  Nina Totenberg pointed to Ohio where the Supreme Court has agreed to answer that question in Romell Broom's case.

Like Ohio, and like Oklahoma, and like every other state where lethal injections go horribly wrong despite repeated declarations that it was all cool, they'll investigate and review.  And like all those states, they'll guarantee that the investigation will be independent because it will be conducted by the same people who ordered and carried out the killing.  Inspector, investigate yourself.

And like those states, and Missouri and Georgia and Texas and Louisiana and everywhere else, they'll explain that it's vital that they kill and insist that the who and how and where they get the drugs must be secret.  Because the people demand killin' but would stop it if they knew who was involved.

We once executed at high noon.  In the town square.  So the people could see the consequences and learn.  The killing was to be as John Bunyan says in a different context in Pilgrim's Progress, both "caution and example."  But of course the people partied.  And the pickpockets thrived.  

So they moved it inside.  Hidden away.  Did it at midnight.  Away from the throng, which just wouldn't learn.  And then earlier in the day, because why pay overtime or force the killers to miss time with the wife and kids afterwards?

I've said before that if we're going to do this, we should own up to it, give up the pretense of gentle killing and necessary murder.  Forget the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  Admit that it's by God murder.  Have them tied down and gnawed to death by rats in Yankee Stadium. Put it on pay per view. Then we'd have to allow that it's no more than revenge.  Really just blood sport.  

Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, dissenting from that court's refusing en banc review of a decision of a panel of that court staying the execution so that Wood could get information about the drugs Arizona was going to use and where they came from and like that so he could determine whether his killing would likely prove to be torture (citation deleted, emphasis added). 
Whatever happens to Wood, the attacks will not stop and for a simple reason: The enterprise is flawed. Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful—like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. See  But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.
If some states and the federal government wish to continue carrying out the death penalty, they must turn away from this misguided path and return to more primitive—and foolproof—methods of execution. The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos. And the electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps. The firing squad strikes me as the most promising. Eight or ten large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time. There are plenty of people employed by the state who can pull the trigger and have the training to aim true. The weapons and ammunition are bought by the state in massive quantities for law enforcement purposes, so it would be impossible to interdict the supply. And nobody can argue that the weapons are put to a purpose for which they were not intended: firearms have no purpose other than destroying their targets. Sure, firing squads can be messy, but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn't be carrying out executions at all.
He's OK with that splatter.  I'm not.  But then, I'm opposed to the whole enterprise.  We're better than that.  Or we're supposed to be.  That's why we hide it.  Why we pretend to medicalize.  Why it's supposed to be kinder and gentler.  Really, this is for your own good.

Which is, of course, bullshit.

His name was Joseph Wood.  He was murdered by the State of Arizona.  It took an hour and 57 minutes.  He gasped some 150 times during all but the last 17 or so of those minutes.  They had to drug him a second time.  They said it all went really well.  They lied.

No comments:

Post a Comment