Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Modest Proposal About the Death Penalty

Georgia's Pardons and Parole Board has denied Troy Davis’ request for clemency.  In Georgia, the Governor has no role in the process.  Barring something totally unexpected, he will die tomorrow night about 7:00 p.m. in the state prison in Jackson.

I did some surfing to find out just what will happen and couldn't find the protocol.  My recollection from the past is that there are “official” and other witnesses who sit behind a window watching the person being strapped down, needles inserted, drug flow started and doctors checking to make sure the process “worked.”

I think that is a much too sterile way to go about it.

For proponents and those on the fence, we should go back to public and gruesome spectacles – hanging, firing squad, electrocution, maybe drawing and quartering, or the “give it to him the way he gave it to his victim” approach.  Give the proponents their money’s worth and the fence stradlers a graphic view of what their ambivalence leads to.

The village square is thing of the past so I suppose we’ll have to rent the local sports stadium and broadcast the execution on PBS and the local public access stations.  If we go pay per view it would provide a quick straw poll on public support for state killing, the more viewers, the more support there is.  I don’t want to hear NIMBY crap or that isn’t in good taste or suitable for children.  The process is in place because “We the People” put and keep it in place. The spectacle will get them ready for real life, which includes death by way of the State.

Now, I’m not unsympathetic to the needs of broadcasters and the regular TV viewing habits of people in our country.  We could treat the process like elections – conduct all the executions in a big batch on say the first Monday of each November, just in time for elections the next day.  We could have “cards” with the lesser offenders and their quicker, cleaner, less gruesome killings coming first, leading up to the main event, it is to be hoped, a drawing and quartering or ritual torture.

My proposal satisfies all the stated purposes of state killing – vengeance, the “he won’t do it again” value and a much better “deterrent to others” potential, with a huge bonus for hockey, UFC and video game fans.

Come on, death penalty advocates, poke holes in my proposal.  If the death penalty is a good thing, it should be open and made into a societal event.  If you are squeamish and want to hide it away, what does that say about your real feelings?


Anonymous said...

I think people feel so disconnected- from government and from each other- that attempting to jar them into action just won't work. We live in a world where the cause and the effect are completely obscured.

Dave said...

I go back and forth between as pessimistic as you sometimes are and as trying to be as joyful as you sometimes are.

Dave said...

Let me try that again:

I go back and forth between being as pessimistic as you sometimes are and trying to be as joyful as you often are.

Anonymous said...

In theory, I support the death penalty and think that executions should be public events. There are some truly evil human beings who don't deserve to live and aren't worth the cost of being kept alive every year (approximately $25k per inmate). I would much rather spend the money on the poor! This is the same reason I support legalization of marijuana by the way and for the record, I've never been a recreational drug user.

But in practice, I know that the process is fraught with problems, the most glaring one is that death row inmates are disproportionatly black.
And of course, there are the legal machinations that blur the line between justice and technicalities.

It's not a perfect system, it could definitely stand to be reformed although I really don't think it should be abolished.

Barbara Burch Allen

The Curmudgeon said...

I'm ambiguous, as you know, because -- like any lawyer -- I know that the court system is not perfect. On the other hand, I also know there are some people for whom the death penalty would be entirely too lenient. I know you're working your Jonathan Swift chops here, but I have to agree that, if we must have executions, they should be public, as executions traditionally have been. I even see the logic in PPV -- now excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

Dave said...

I've been banging mine. I can't decide whether or not I want to turn on the TV and watch the safely away from the event spectacle overseen by a bunch of State Troopers. I think I'll stick with radio updates on the local NPR affiliate.