herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

CIVILISED IS NOT KILLING SOMEBODY OVER TWO HOURS

During the week the United States executed a man. That's not surprising. They execute a man pretty much every week (on average).

Some 32 states are still happy to kill people, seeing it as a sensible approach to crime and punishment.

Nothing says "we're a civilized and thoughtful nation" like strapping a guy to a table and poisoning him through his veins, of course.

Most of the time it gets very little attention (other than from the person about to be killed and a few well-meaning lawyers, hippies and advocates).

This week's killing drew slightly more attention. Largely because it took Joseph Wood (inset above) nearly two hours to die.

One hour and fifty seven minutes to be precise. 660 laboured guttural gasps. Then nothing.

His lawyer attempted to file and emergency petition to stop the killing on the grounds that the US law required execution to be humane.

He argued that struggling to breathe for one hour and fifty seven minutes while poison floods your system is not 'humane'. This argument was ignored.

But there again, maybe his argument is silly.

Hanging people, running thousands of volts through them, shooting them in the chest, locking them in an airtight room and pumping gas in - these are not humane things.

They may not usually take two hours, but that does not confer humanity upon them.

They are in-human. Sub-human. And they are counter-productive.

Egregious punishment does not foster surrender. It fosters hatred and rebellion.

Look at Gaza right now. Whatever the short-term effect of the Israeli shelling of the Palestinians, the long-term effect is definite - searing, blinding, committed hatred among those most hurt and disenfranchised.

And so it is with the death penalty.

POOR

It teaches the poor and the disenfranchised (for it is mainly them that are killed) that life is valueless.

It also teaches them that justice is about retribution and that civilization and the rule of law are founded not on common decency and respect for each other, but on hate and vengeance.

As one witness put it: "Why didn't they give him a bullet, why didn't we give him Drano [drain cleaner]? These people that are on death row, they deserve to suffer a little bit."

That's ironic Gerry

We've come to accept that we have to ignore the atrocities committed by Sinn Fein's military wing, the IRA, so that the party can provide peaceful political engagement, thereby discouraging the terrorists from going back to murder and torture.

Every now and then though Sinn Fein seems to go out of their way to make accepting that difficult.

Their President, Gerry Adams, asked for the Dail to return from it's summer break to discuss the crisis in Gaza.

He said that he believed the Irish Government's position on the violence and fighting did not "represent the overwhelming view of the Irish people".

Imagine being out of step with the vast majority of the Irish people in relation to mass killing? Where have we seen that before Gerry?

We can accept that the past must be swallowed, but please lads, don't use irony to make us choke on it.

Terry's right on the money

So one in 40 people in Dublin is a millionaire. This is according to Spears magazine and analysts WealthInsight.

Damn near 26,000 millionaires knocking about the capital then. I suppose the rest of us can comfort ourselves with the old cliché that money doesn't buy happiness.

Although as Terry Wogan once famously pointed out, it sure helps when you go shopping...

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