Kind And Usual Punishment

The American courts’ attempt to find a method of execution that is not “cruel and unusual” is a futile enterprise. Firstly, it is by no means certain that the Founding Fathers considered a straightforward hanging to be cruel; the Constitution probably had in mind drawing and quartering, breaking on the wheel, burning at the stake and so forth as prohibited punishments. But sentiments have changed since then. Secondly, if ending someone’s life is not “cruel”, by our modern standards, then what is? The mental cruelty of Death Row is not going to be remedied by any conceivable cocktail of lethal injections. Thirdly, it is quite likely that what the pro-capital-punishment demographic actually wants is cruelty, the more the merrier. It would, perhaps, be both gratifying to that sensibility and in accordance with neo-liberal theology to go the whole hog and return to the methods of Jack Ketch. That is, privatise the function and allow the executioner to turn a profit by making the deaths of his charges as cruel and painful as possible, unless they or their relatives bribe him handsomely.

Posted on December 19, 2011 at 13:44 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, Some Modest Proposals

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