Thursday, 24 July 2014

Perhaps a guillotine would be more humane

Given the steady undermining of the Fourth (search and seizure) and the Fifth (due process of law) Amendments, it is not surprising that we now witness the demise of the Eighth (cruel and unusual punishment) in the hands of, even more fittingly, the State of Arizona—that place where 8-year-old refugees from gang impressment are considered public enemies.

The revolting spectacle of the torture by injection drugs of a convicted murderer is different only insofar as there were witnesses not intimidated into secrecy. One can only imagine the strong stomach required on the part of the Arizona Republic reporter who said he counted the prisoner gasping for breath 660 times. I guess hypnotic counting would be a good way to get through a situation like that without hurling breakfast.

As Albert Guillotin discovered to his dismay, attempts to find a ‘humane’ way to put another human being to death are doomed by the law of unintended consequences. In this case, secrecy reigned as usual because cruelty always has to be performed in the dark even when perpetrators insist they are justified. Attempts by the prisoner’s lawyers even to find out what drugs were going to be used were unsuccessful even though an appeals court had placed a stay on the execution. The Catholic-majority Supreme Court, otherwise eager to defend the sacred principle of fetal life, removed the stay without comment.

No comments: