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Monday, July 17, 2006

A Modest Proposal on Executions

The use of lethal injections to execute condemned convicts continues to be controversial, at least in the sense that cases are turning up in courts all around the country. Most recently Missouri murderers maintained mixups made by a dyslexic doc made the injections "cruel and unusual." [As we always say, "Dyslexics of the world: Untie!"] Apparently it would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act to relieve the dyslexic doc of his duties. A federal judge then ruled that an anthesiologist must preside over Missouri executions to be sure they are done correctly. Alas, there are evidently no anesthesiologists available in Missouri, so the next steps are unclear.

The suggestion that lethal injections are "cruel and unusual punishment" may appear to be a ploy to stop excecutions in general, since those advancing this viewpoint tend to consider all forms of execution to be cruel and unusual. However, surely we can all agree that no murderer, no matter how horribly his victims may have been made to suffer, should have to undergo the slightest discomfort associated with his punishment. After all, it's really society that is to blame for the crime anyway.

Here in The Great American Desert the lethal injection question is moot, since we still use the older, more humane execution method: the electric chair. However, with the continuing increases in energy costs, pressure to find a cheaper way is sure to increase here in the future. While we urge the rest of the country to return to the tried and true approach, represented by Ol' Sparky, it's clear this is not going to happen at the current price of electricity.

At times like this the world often looks to France for guidance, and indeed the French developed a very efficient system for removing heads of state in 1789: the guillotine. It's certainly quick, although messy. Moreover, how could we be sure the head in the basket was not feeling pain from its severance? We're afraid that even the French cannot help us here.

We humbly suggest a solution at hand that can satisfy everyone: The Schiavo Method. We simply deprive the condemned man of all food and water until he dies. The New York Times and the courts have already determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that this treatment causes the patient no pain. If it was appropriate therapy for Mrs. Schiavo, who as far as we know never actually killed anyone, who could possibly think it was cruel or unusual to apply it to a condemned murderer?

Some physicians find it un-Hippocratical to assist in carrying out an execution by lethal injection, but dehydration/starvation therapy is the well-established medical practice for dealing with the inconveniently-not-quite-dead-yet. Even those doctors with qualms about the ethics of participating in an ordinary execution should have no problems assisting in making the patient comfortable while he is undergoing the Schaivo Treatment. After all, they are not really killing him, just Letting Nature Take Its Course.

Another advantage of this approach is that it allows plenty of time for the appeals process to run its course. None of this here today, dead tomorrow stuff; these treatments will last for weeks. The murderer's attorneys will have all that extra time to fiddle with their briefs as they seek to win a stay of dehydration.

Now it's true that those who think it's appropriate that the murderer suffer a bit, e.g. the victim's family and friends, may be disappointed. While we can all agree it would be best for these people to Put This Behind Them and to Get On With Their Lives, perhaps some special allowance could be made for them. We suggest letting them kick and punch the patient a few times once he's adequately sedated.

We believe this proposal to be a win-win situation for all concerned. Furthermore it will give America's image abroad a new shine, restoring the luster we have lost by refusing to treat the al-Qaeda captives as visiting diplomats. We urge state lawmakers around the country to get behind this idea.