Cruel and Unusual

The supreme court is hearing arguments today in a death penalty case. The issue here is not guilt or innocence, or even the constitutionality of the death penalty itself, but rather the method of execution. The contention is that the current method - a cocktail of three drugs - may cause undue suffering to the inmate, and thus constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

I think it's fairly obvious that the death penalty itself is cruel, and it's become pretty unusual in Western democracies. All of Europe has banned capital punishment, as has Canada and Mexico. Although this case is not about the abolition of the death penalty, I hope it sparks national debate on the topic. It's time the US joined the rest of the modern world and stopped executing prisoners - especially in light of the recent exonerations. Since 1973, 126 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. From 2000 to 2007 there has been an average of 5 exonerations per year.

We have no idea how many people may have been put to death wrongly, but it's safe to say that even one is too many. If we are to call ourselves civilized, we must treat even our prisoners with dignity and compassion.

Of course, our current administration disagrees...

Which of the Presidential hopefuls will have the courage to step up and take a stand on this? Does the death penalty stance of a candidate affect your feelings toward them, or are there more pressing issues for you? Do you think the Black Pope is a bleeding heart hippy liberal? Feel free to comment - anonymously if you wish - and we'll have ourselves a regular ol' cyber-salon right here...

6 comments:

Flynn said...

If you're going to have a death penalty, does it really matter if it stings a bit? You're killing a guy for love of...
Bah.
This is absurd, there is a larger issue here and it's being completely ignored.

Claytonian said...

I think I read somewhere that Kusinich (sp) and Ron Paul are the only anti-death candidates. I could be wrong...

Nerdygirl said...

My guess is that none of the "biggies" will even touch the smaller, specific issue of legal injection, much less the larger issue of the death penalty.

I wonder if there's any correlation between the US's reluctance to be secular and the gov't's reluctance to give up the death penalty.


...naaaaaaaah.

Bunny said...

I agree with Nerdy. Why would any of the "big ones" touch something like the death penalty when they can get the Bible Belt fired up talking about Moses coming down from Brokeback Mountain with a new definition of marriage... MARRIAGE WASN'T EVEN IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!!! Sorry, I'm still very, VERY angry about that comment.

becca said...

In regards to the bible belt and the president-I've always thought the whole death penalty issue was really strange:

Here is a group of people that think that killing a fetus is murder (and in some cases are even willing to promote violence against doctors to prevent an abortion) and yet think that killing a fully formed adult is ok. Whatever happened to forgivness and compassion?

His Sinfulness said...

Claytonian,

I think you're right. I also think that there may be a few more who are anti-death penalty but won't admit it for fear of alienating blood-thirsty voters. Damn, the American public is icky...

Nerdy,

Cogent as always. I haven't crunched the numbers, but I'm almost certain that there is a correlation between the prevalence of fundamental religious belief and the death penalty in the countries that still have it.

Bunny,

On the gay marriage issue, I have always said that Christians should take a look at the very first marriage in their mythos - when Adam and Eve got married, there was no officiant present. It was just two people and the divine... and it should still be that way, in my opinion.

Becca,

Amen, sister. Testify!

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