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Opening Arguments

The edge of death

It was just 30 years ago that the guillotine was last used in France. That method of execution, as horrible as it sounds to us today, was adopted during the French Revolution as a more humane method of capital punishment than some of the methods then employed. In this country, our search for the most humane way of execution has taken us from hanging to firing squad to electric chair to gas chamber to lethal injection. The search continues:

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Tennessee's new lethal injection procedures are cruel and unusual punishment, interrupting plans to execute a killer next week.

The protocol "presents a substantial risk of unnecessary pain" and violates death row inmate Edward Jerome Harbison's constitutional protections under the Eighth Amendment, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger said.

The new protocol, released in April, does not ensure that inmates are properly anesthetized before the lethal injection is administered, Trauger said, which could "result in a terrifying, excruciating death."

It seems to me, forgive me for being insensitive and tactless, silly to worry about a "terrifying, excrutiating" experience that will last only moments, followed by eternity. You want the most humane way to execute someone? Tell him his appeal is in the process, still years away from resolution, of course, then sneak up behind him and put a bullet in the back of his head.  No lingering, excrutiating pain. No years of watching the end come ever closer. 

We either execute people as a policy of our criminal justice system -- the most awesome power a state can exercise -- or we don't. Let's debate that, instead of arguing around the edges.


tim zank
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 9:04am

I like that "sneak up on 'em" idea. heh heh heh...

Bob G.
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 9:22am

I'd gladly volunteer for THAT detail!



Larry Morris
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 9:24am

I'll bring my own ammo, ...

tim zank
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 10:07am

How do you like that, the three fastest responses by the three "reddest" necks?? Ha! Just kiddin' guys....

Larry Morris
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 10:46am

Good company, ...

A J Bogle
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 11:32am

I don't see how one can be pro life and support the death penalty at the same time.

There isn't one scintilla of evidence that the death penalty deters crime.

This is a struggle I have - I am generally opposed to it, but sometimes the crime is so heinous that it really appears to be the only suitable penalty.

In those cases and where there is no possiblity of reasonable doubt and preponderance of evidence then the execution should go forward swiftly and surely in the most humane way possible.

tim zank
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 1:02pm

"There isn

Larry Morris
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 1:19pm

If it is true that "sometimes the crime is so heinous that it really appears to be the only suitable penalty" (and I believe there are several situations that apply) then why are we so concerned with "the most humane way possible" to carry out the sentence. Perhaps I'm just an "angry white boy", but I think in these cases the punishment should not only fit the crime, but should probably match it, ...

Bob G.
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 1:50pm

Now THAT is one damn fine idea, Larry!


A J Bogle
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 1:56pm

Except that last I checked we considered ourselves a civilized society

That's why it matters to be humane.

Two wrongs never make right

tim zank
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 2:32pm

AJ...Tell that to Simon Rios' family.

Larry Morris
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 3:50pm

Yes, and being a "civilized" society is why we haven't been able to win a war since WWII, ...

Bob G.
Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:57am

Touche', Larry...!

Well said!