Saturday, July 26, 2014

Arizona Shows Us How to Execute People!

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer: Our execution sucked but it was "lawful."

I've long been against the death penalty, and since we've had two horrifically botched executions recently -- one in Oklahoma and, just this week, in Arizona -- the 8th Amendment has been making a comeback, at least in rational circles.

Murderers don't make for very sympathetic characters. I don't need to describe their crimes here to demonstrate why at least a few of us will rise up and say, "I'd throw the switch in a heartbeat!" A decent majority -- 60% -- still favor the death penalty in the U.S. That number has been slipping steadily for years, and, after the execution of Joseph R. Wood in which it took two hours -- two hours! -- for him to die by a barely lethal injection, it's sure to slip some more.

Like Josh Marshall, in this excellent piece on his TPM blog, I feel that we are seeing an end game emerging in the slow movement toward a nationwide ban, but like Marshall, I don't see it happening soon. But it will happen.

In the meantime, we'll see something that we've seen in policy differences brought on by regional politics: Blue states will increasingly block or ban executions, and red states will account for more and more of them as time goes by. This actually makes sense and is reasonably predictable, as rural and mountain states that favor guns and law-and-order will continue to embrace the death penalty. A pick-up truck owner with a gun rack in Montana is more likely to support the death penalty than a Prius driver in Berkeley, California.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate puts it about right:
On Wednesday afternoon, in a ritual that has become increasingly—indeed almost numbingly—familiar, the state of Arizona administered a secret drug protocol that took almost two hours to kill a man. Joseph R. Wood III was sentenced to death in 1991 for shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend Debra Dietz and her father, Eugene. The murder was gruesome, and Wood was guilty. He shot his victims in the chest at close range. The only question that remains, as yet another state botches yet another execution, is whether the two hours of gasping and snorting by the accused before he finally died is excessive, or whether it sounds about right to us.
If it doesn't "sound about right" to you, then you might someday if not today join me in moving past barbarism and vengeance and say enough is enough. Ban the death penalty.

We'd have the extra pleasure of joining the rest of civilized society. The U.S. is the only country in the Western Hemisphere to employ the death penalty (Cuba hasn't executed anyone in 10 years), and Japan is an example of a civilized country also using the death penalty, which is commonly accepted in Asia.

Yeah, America, let's continue doing this.

No comments:

Post a Comment