Friday, July 25, 2014

What This String of Botched Executions Says About Us

What This String of Botched Executions Says About Us

(Spoiler, We're Horrible People)

     "I am concerned by the length of time it took for the administered drug protocol to complete the lawful execution of the convicted double murderer, Joseph Wood. While justice was carried out today, I directed the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the process.
    "One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims – and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family."  -Gov. Jan Brewer

The above quote says just about everything that needs to be said about how barbaric, simplistic, and generally horrible Americans are when it comes to the death penalty.  It explains why we are the only remaining "first world" nation that kills its own citizens.  It demonstrates how shallow and callous we are when it comes to human life.  A relative of Mr. Woods' victims echoed the governor's sentiments about this, but her thirst for retribution was based on her own suffering, which is somehow even more disturbing.  Using murder as a punishment for murder is uncivilized and primitive.  We are a nation of barbarians.

Even if one accepts capital punishment as just (I, for one, do not), holding the idea that it is alright that that punishment be sloppy, drawn out, possibly horrendously painful and, in the words of John McCain no less, torture reduces us, through our representatives, to blood thirsty murderers ourselves.  Gov. Brewer dismisses the horror of this botched execution (one in a series recently) by intimating that he deserved it because of what he did.  The way this execution was carried out has nothing to do with the crimes of the convicted, it is about how we as a people treat the condemned.  Using the "eye for an eye" rational for dismissing concerns about how we treated Mr. Woods points to the larger disgrace of our overwhelmingly bloated, inefficient, and human rights violating prison system and systemically racist, classist, and alarmist judicial system.  Once a shining beacon in the forward march of social progress and human rights we are sliding back towards a society more likely to burn people at the stake and rejoice at their cries of anguish than we are to act like thoughtful, sober, modern human beings.