Thursday, May 04, 2006

Shoot to Kill

Every time I read about it in the headlines, which is often, I have the same reaction: revulsion and plain old disbelief--and anger--that the United States is the only industrialized democracy in the world that condones the death penalty. It's galling, shameful. Capital punishment strikes me as so obviously barbaric, I get worked up just thinking about the absurd moral contortions we do to justify it.

It's less frequent that capital punishment strikes me as...funny. I'm a little sheepish to say so, but there was a big Death Penalty Funny yesterday. Both funny haha, and funny fucked-up. In our absurd dedication not only to killing criminals, but to figuring out how to kill them most efficiently, it turns out we're still making a lot of mistakes. Now, how it is that we can create technological marvels like cloned animals, heat-seeking missiles and space stations, but we can't figure out how to shoot up a dude with chemicals so he can die peacefully--I don't know.

But that's exactly what's still happening. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that it took almost 90 minutes to execute Joseph L. Clark in an Ohio prison, because the good people at the correctional institute...couldn't find Mr. Clark's vein. Tap tap tap! they went. Damn drug user hasn't got a good vein left! But the best part happened when the exasperated Mr. Clark is lying there after they've finally found a vein and the chemicals are allegedly trickling into his body and taking him out of Ohio once and for all. "After about three or four minutes," a prison spokeswoman said, "the inmate was able to raise his head off the gurney and said, 'It's not working.' "

Oops. Sorry man, you don't mind sticking around for a few minutes while we continue to stick you, do ya?


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