For the second time this year, a state has botched the execution of a prisoner. This time, it’s Arizona that apparently can’t figure out how to kill a man. The convicted killer gasped and remained alive for approximately two hours while waiting for his lethal injection to take hold. For reasons that still perplex me, people who support the death penalty find this unacceptable.
Several months ago I got up on my high horse about our strange American conception of the death penalty – we like to kill our bad guys, but we hate to hear that they suffered. It’s clear to me that we really just don’t want to have to think about what we’re actually doing. Nobody wants to look behind the curtain.
If we’re going to kill our prisoners the least we can do is face it for what it really is. Well now, someone with an actual platform seems to agree with me. As the LA Times reports, 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski described an execution as a “brutal, savage event.” That might make Kozinski sound like as much of a bleeding heart pansy as I am when it comes to the death penalty, but in fact our agreement ends with the acknowledgement that an execution is some fairly messy business.
In fact, Kozinski is a hard line conservative and death penalty supporter who is simply willing to acknowledge the fact that if we’re going to kill our prisoners we might as well get right down to business. He’s even gone so far as to advocate the guillotine as a method of execution or, failing that, reinstituting the classic America firing squad.
I’m anti-death penalty. Those who disagree with me always will, and I’ve accepted that. Some people just think that the death penalty is sound policy for reasons that have nothing to do with economics, deterrence, or wrongful convictions, all of which firmly support the repeal of capital punishment.
For many there’s a certain righteousness to killing those who are convicted of killing that transcends practical considerations. But if that’s you, then why nitpick about the method of execution? Once you’ve decided that a man will be killed by the State, why think twice about what he goes through along the way?
If you like the death penalty then take solace in the fact that so far you’re on the winning side of the debate, at least in this Country. But if we’re going to kill prisoners, why not really kill ‘em good? If you’re comfortable with an execution, why would you object to a firing squad?