Yesterday, reacting to the botched lethal-injection execution of an Arizona murderer, I said: “Bring Back the Firing Squad. . . . It was good enough for Gary Gilmore.” And most people probably thought, “Hahaha. Stacy’s just being sarcastic again.” Well, guess what? A federal appeals court judge had made basically the same argument:Executions, like abortions, should be safe (for the bystanders and mothers), legal and rare. They should only be used where guilt has been established to a near statistical certainty (let's say p < 0.0001), since nothing is absolute, and after extensive review of the evidence. And only for certain especially heinous murders.
“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 beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,” U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent in the Arizona death penalty case of Joseph Rudolph Wood III.Read the whole thing. My attitude about the death penalty is basically the same as my attitude about war: Git ‘er done.
“But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. 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.” . . .
A hard war makes for a long peace. War by half-measures, hemmed in by political concerns and fears of offending delicate sensibilities, can never accomplish war’s purpose, i.e., to defeat the enemy and force his submission. We ought not deceive ourselves about what war is.
The recent rash of "botched" executions I lay at the feet of death penalty opponents. Humans are, if nothing else, remarkably able to kill other human beings. The experimental drug cocktails being used now and producing the "botched" executions are being used because opponents of the death penalty put pressure on drug manufacturers and doctors not to participate, forcing states to go to untried cocktails.
I don't consider this execution "botched". A bit drawn out, perhaps, but there is no credible evidence of any pain or even awareness on the part of Joseph Rudolf Wood III. Inconvenient for the participants and bystander, perhaps, but not botched.
Want a killing drug that causes no pain? Heroin. Lot's of people die of heroin overdoses, and more than a few have been saved by interventions, and as far as I know no one has ever complained about how painful it is. Feel good, nod off, the end.