Cruel and unusual: the new lows we hit in our thirst for blood (updated)

The death penalty is a disgusting, cruel and barbaric business. It is nothing more than a manifestation of our basest instinct for revenge, wrapped in primal anger and fear. It is the worst of us.

In this pursuit of revenge under the guise of justice, the depths we have fallen to are stunning: state governments are sanctioning secret protocols to poison people to death, just so their nefarious concoctions cannot be questioned by those who are subject to die by them.

Our blood-thirst has driven us so mad that we are willing to make threats about impeaching state supreme court justices for staying executions and those justices are willing to back down rather than ensure that no person suffers torture.

So it was, in a sense almost inevitable that the debacle in Oklahoma would occur, an event that was so eerily foreshadowed by a statement of the attorney for one of the condemned.

I can’t reproduce anything more poignantly than those who were covering it live, so there it is:




What have we done? What are we doing? Is this who we want to be? As CT’s Supreme Court considers the continued viability of capital punishment for the 10 remaining on death row, it would do well to keep in mind the kind of inhuman torture that we are endorsing – explicitly or implicitly – by keeping this punishment alive.

Of course, this puts the latest findings that a full 4% of death row inmates may be actually innocent in a disturbing and urgent light.

Shame on us all. Today is a day future generations will turn away from in history books and shed a quiet tear. For today was the death of humanity.

Update: See this post by Gamso and this by Philip Bump at The Atlantic Wire. Both must reads.

7 thoughts on “Cruel and unusual: the new lows we hit in our thirst for blood (updated)

  1. leslieksmith

    I am absolutely disgusted by this. And the only reason all of those in favor of the death penalty are, as well, is because it is awfully hard to watch anyone suffer, which, in the end, is kind of the point. Shame on Oklahoma. Shame on the U.S.

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  4. TP

    “Thirst for blood” is such a cop-out. This man shot a woman and then buried her alive. Letting him live out the remainder of his days is simply not justice. The fact that he suffered – possibly due to his own lawsuit meant to prevent the State from acquiring the drugs that would have prevented that suffering – is kind of ironic, in a You Totally Deserved It kind of way. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

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