Just another young rambling liberal...
|America: The World's Sketchiest Daredevil
The death penalty was a horrid enough thing to begin with...but now, executions are becoming more and more hazardous, and it still hasn't stopped us.
On April 6, 1992, Donald Eugene Harding was thrashing and struggling beneath leather restraining straps of an Arizona prison's asphyxiation chamber. "Harding's jerks and spasms lasted 6 minutes and 37 seconds. Obviously, this man was suffering. This was a violent death...an ugly event. We put animals to death more humanely," explained one unfortunate witness. So, this was an execution...the killing of another human being in the hopes of avenging the death of another. Indeed, "asphyxiation chamber" is the euphemism used for "gas chamber." 37 of our "50 nifty United States" have the death penalty as their ultimate form of punishment, and five of these states have gas chambers: Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri, and Wyoming. I suppose you must be thinking something along the lines of this: WHAT?!?!?!?!? SINCE WHEN?!?!?! Since just after World War Two, and that's not all; Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia are all states that have prisons housing electric chairs. Many people think that our country had done away with those horrid contraptions a long time ago, but they are sadly mistaken--on top of that, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Utah still allow death by firing squad. The list of methods of execution ends with the most primitive and least expected of them all: hanging. America's last remaining gallows stand starkly in Washington and New Hampshire.
The four methods of execution that I have just mentioned are only used under certain circumstances; every state that has the death penalty, with one exception being Nebraska, uses the lethal injection as its sole method of execution unless it is somehow proven unconstitutional, or the prisoner chooses otherwise. Everybody knows that this injection perfectly humane and just, right? So it will never be proven unconstitutional, which means that we'll never have to start using those old nasty methods ever again! Right..? Wrong. Killing, no matter how you do it or how you try to justify it, IS JUST PLAIN WRONG. Electrocution, poison gas, shooting, strangling, or venemous IVs, it is ALL murder. And what if something should go awry during one of these "harmless" little acts of justice? Consider the example above, where it took an inmate almost seven minutes of agony to die. The convicted man's death was more heinous than the one he was dying for! Incidents like these are called "botched" executions. They're easy to prevent though, right? Because we only use lethal injection..? Wrong again. Sometimes, the needle pops out during the first phase of the execution; sometimes, it is so difficult to locate a vein, that the condemned individual has to sit there and help find a usable vein through which the poisonous chemicals may flow. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, "Elkins tried to assist the executioners, asking, ‘Should I lean my head down a little bit?’" Another example of this sort of thing is far more grotesque: "‘They butchered me back there,’ said Demps in his final statement. ‘I was in a lot of pain. They cut me in the groin; they cut me in the leg. I was bleeding profusely. This is not an execution, it is murder.’" Obviously, there is no rational or moral reason to risk something like this.
In the 1995 movie Dead Man Walking, the final words of inmate Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) were, "Killing is wrong, no matter who does it, whether it’s me, or y’all, or your government." Not only is it just plain silly to teach that killing is wrong by killing, but there is also nothing on God's green Earth made by man that is perfect. If you add together the facts that vengeance is just as hateful as the deed itself and the imperfections of machinery, it is clear that capital punishment is nothing but a sick and desperate idea that clings to our country's judicial branch like a hang-nail. It's time to bring out the nail clippers and put an end to the monstrosity.