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.

6 thoughts on “We Don’t Deserve This

  1. mothra says:

    I wondered, as I read about the botched execution, whether Lockett’s victim’s family was there in the gallery to watch and whether they experienced any sort of peace or closure at watching something so horrific. So well put, Athenae.

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  2. Ariel says:

    Beautifully written, Athenae.

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  3. maplestreet says:

    We’re dealing with unproven and untested drug cocktails put together from anonymous, poorly regulated compounding companies (which can range from bedrooom sized to very large, with many, many examples of those with poor QC). Also, multiple legal challenges to this situation.
    I’d admit that there are some people who are so dangerous that society can’t protect itself or these people, even in prison. But if that is the justification for the death penalty, even an actual non-human animal is put down humanely.

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  4. gratuitous says:

    And for our inevitable “Good, I’m glad” sentiments that burble up from our spectrum of humanity, the question from another sector of that spectrum is, “So, what is the appropriate punishment for the executioners who tortured this person – horrible as he may have been – to death? Is there an appropriate punishment? Who should administer it?”

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  5. maplestreet says:

    Gratuitous, of course you open the door to asking about what we did to our folks who effected Extraordinary Rendition, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, etc. Not to mention the ability to bring us to justice at the world court.

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  6. Clay says:

    Links
    “Cash-strapped Oklahoma to conduct executions by hammering squad” http://t.co/l9QkGIIZS1
    SciAm on executions http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lete28099s-stop-pretending-the-death-penalty-is-a-medical-procedure-editorial/
    One is a joke. The other isn’t.

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