We Don’t Deserve This

Lethal injection halted and inmate dies of heart attack:

One execution stopped midcourse, another postponed.

Oklahoma corrections officials looked for answers Tuesday following the death of inmate Clayton Lockett, who convulsed and writhed on the gurney after drugs to carry out his death sentence were administered.

“His body started to twitch, he mumbled something I couldn’t understand,” said Dean Sanderford, his attorney. “The convulsing got worse, it looked like his whole upper body was trying to lift off the gurney. For a minute, there was chaos.”

He said guards ordered him out of the witness area, and he was never told what had happened to his client.

The execution was halted, but the result was still death.

I’ve seen a lot of comments this morning about how these guys deserve to die painfully, and you know what? They probably do. Lockett was a murderer, rapist, kidnapper. He was scum. But we keep having the same stupid conversation, about capital punishment, because we think capital punishment is about the people we’re punishing. About what they did.

It’s not. It’s about everything, literally everything, but that.

Do these guys deserve to die painfully? Ask the other question: Do we deserve to kill them painfully? Do we deserve to kill them at all? Is that what we deserve to do? Watch a man writhe on a gurney while the prison guards panic and try to get him to die already: Does that sound like something you’d enjoy? Does that sound like something that wouldn’t be a double feature in every dream you ever had after?

Does that sound like something that wouldn’t destroy you from the inside out, no matter who the man you killed had killed? No matter what he’d done?

Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, so get thine own sandbox. Not because you can’t do it. We’re supremely talented at screwing up our lives, ladies and gentlemen, we can do hate and violence better than any other living creature. Vengeance is mine, because you shouldn’t have to carry it. Because being the person who punishes punishes no one more than you.

A.