Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes, interviewing Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski about methods of execution for criminals who have been sentenced to death, was appalled. “The guillotine!?” She was shocked.
How rude of Judge Kozinski.
The United States, the only developed nation that still has a capital punishment, has a big problem. Hanging is messy and unreliable. The electric chair is messy and unreliable. Firing squads are messy and unreliable. Cyanide is reliable, but messy. The gas chamber– apparently– is horrifyingly messy and inefficient. All the methods are imperfect. The solution seemed to be drugs. One to sedate. One to paralyze. And then one to stop the heart. No muss, no fuss. The death penalty is saved!
The problem is that the drug used to paralyze the victim may have give the deceptive impression that the victim was not suffering. It has been learned that, in fact, the patient may be suffering tremendously, but we can’t know it because the body has been paralyzed. There have been patients who were administered this drug for an operation who remained conscious but unable to move or speak during the surgery. They described the experience as excruciating.
So what Stahl objected to, clearly, was the messiness of it; the repugnance of a murder that looks like murder. This is precisely the mentality that has led to the disaster of capital punishment in the U.S. Let’s do it in a tidy, antiseptic way that that doesn’t offend those who like to pretend they are virtuous, decent, morally upright persons but still want to kill.
Let’s find a picturesque way to murder.
Yes, drugs: he will just fall asleep, forever.