Sunday, September 16, 2007

America's Culture of Death

I'm not sure why I pay $55.00 monthly for a New York Times subscription when the news is routinely depressing. Part of me would just prefer to remain ignorant.

On the other hand, I'm glad they cover state executions with such excruciating detail. People need to understand how this works.
He looks almost like a young child buckled into a car seat, with his closed eyes and freshly shaved head, with the way the black restraints of the electric chair crisscross at his torso. He yawns a wide-mouthed yawn, as though just stirring from an interrupted dream, and opens his eyes.

He is moments from dying.

Daryl Holton was the first person executed by electrocution in Tennessee since 1960. And in my opinion, the details of his execution are equally as grisly as his crime of killing his four children by shooting them in the heart.
Two corrections officers step forward to place a sponge soaked in salted water on Mr. Holton’s bald scalp to enhance conductivity. Next comes the headpiece, which the procedures describe as a “leather cranial cap lined with copper mesh inside.” Finally, a power cable, not unlike the cable to your television, is attached to the headpiece.

The copper mesh pressing wet sponge sends salty water streaming down the inmate’s ashen face, soaking his white cotton shirt to the pale skin beneath. When officers try to blot him dry with white towels, Mr. Holton says not to worry about it, “ain’t gonna matter anyway.”

Damn right, it's not gonna matter. But it gets worse.
With the push of a button on a console labeled Electric Chair Control, 1,750 volts bolt through Mr. Holton’s body, jerking it up and dropping it like a sack of earth. The black shroud offers the slightest flutter, and witnesses cannot tell whether they have just heard a machine’s whoosh or a man’s sigh.

Fifteen seconds later, another bolt, and Mr. Holton’s body rises even higher, slumps even lower. His reddened hands remain gripped to the arms of the chair, whose oaken pieces are said to have once belonged to the old electric chair, and before that, to the gallows.

SCOTUS is dead wrong on this one. While it may not be unusual in the United States, it certainly is in the civilized world, and it's absolutely cruel to the core. A civilized nation does not proclaim murder to be a crime and then murder the murderer.

If I believed in hell, I'd swear the prosecution, the jury, and the fucker who pushes the botton on the ECC would all burn there eternally, as well as the politicians who refuse to condemn the brutality, and the assholes who continue to elect them.

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