A Painless Death Penalty?

Today before the Supreme Court arguments are being made about whether Kentucky’s lethal injection is too painful for the prisoners who are being put to death.


Are we really concerned about the safety or comfort of people we’re trying to kill?  Or is this whole farce really about sanitizing the death penalty, making it "painless" not for the prisoners but for us, the people in whose name our our government executes felons?  Attempts to make the death penalty painless is a whitewash of state-sanctioned murder and nothing more than wool being pulled over our eyes.  Murder is murder – painful or not, state-approved or not.

If we’re going to be a nation that kills in the name of justice, I say we bring back the guillotine and place it in the public square.  If we’re going to kill people, let’s do it out in the open and show the world what kind of people we truly are.  We proudly display and flaunt our freedoms, our democracy, our scientific know-how, our economic and industrial strength . . . so why not our system of justice?  After all, if this is what we believe in, we should be eager to show it off.

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

6 thoughts on “A Painless Death Penalty?

  1. Passionate, are we?
    While I entirely agree with you, I also recognize that there is a process to this, incremental as it may be. If our current method of lethal injection is set as the new standard for “cruel and unusual”, what will be the new form of “humane and usual” capital punishment? The chair, the gas chamber, the guillotine, and the noose have all been deemed unacceptable. I’m not sure about the firing squad, but I fairly sure it’s out.
    Therefore, what is the next form of state-sanctioned murder? I’d imagine the process will look like this: a moratorium (as terrible as that word is for this) will go into effect and temporarily stop capital punishment. States that engage in this form of “justice” will then search for a new method, most likely resorting to a new combination of drugs. There will be many different proposals, but each will be challenged by the lawyers for the defense and will need to go in front of the SCOTUS. Eventually, there may be something that is permitted, but by then we will again be questioning the justice of the system.
    On the other hand, the Bench may simply rule that paralyzing and then stopping the heart of an individual does not cross the line. At that point, it will truly be a sad day for justice.

  2. I like it when you get fiesty, Chris. But my fear is that people would love to see public executions. Just look at the movies and video games people watch and buy. I highly doubt that a public beheading would cause people to cry out in nothing more than cheers.

  3. Thinking about the 24/7 media frenzy culture, the nature of video games and movies that glorify random violence, I wonder if instead of having the effect of horrifying people, it would instead become an event with a graphic and theme music which feeds the “have to look” experience, like the desire people had to see Sadaam Hussein executed.

  4. I think you are right, L and G. Our culture keeps pushing and redrawing the line of what is acceptable. What was once unacceptable 10 or even 5 years ago on TV is completely acceptable today.

  5. Good comments all around. Don’t forget, movies have shown violence and death as entertainment for decades. I wonder about something I read once, that if the movies showed what real death was like, people wouldn’t want to see it. But the comments, above, about always going to the next level of what is acceptable seem more true to me.
    Dr. James Dobson was on some kind of national committee having to do with pornography. He said that people were always craving more and more, ie baser and baser, porno stuff. That the next step was sex with dead bodies. He said that about 10 or 15 years ago. I think that these things get to be like addictions. [I’m not a JD fan these days, but I was when he was less political.]

  6. Call this hearsay, and ancient hearsay at that, however, I remember having a discussion about public executions once, and was informed that one argument in favor of ending them was that people enjoyed them too much. In fact, it was supposedly documented that people became sexually excited by seeing a victim at the gallows.
    Whether these “facts” are true or not, the truth is that our human obsession with death and violence goes much further back than movies or video games. I think you could even make the argument that our culture has sanitized death so much that we have more trouble accepting it now than ever before.

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