Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The longest hour in a man's life

How fast did today fly by for you? What about the last hour? Think about one hour out of your day and what you were able to do during that time.

Now, imagine spending that time strapped to a table while the State tried, rather ineffectively, to find a vein in your arm to inject the combinations of drugs to be used to kill you.

Imagine sitting there remembering the long drive to Lucasville, Ohio the day before to prepare you for the execution. The solemn walk into the death chamber. They strap you down, you see the IVs. You feel the needle, and you're finally ready for the reality of the moment, and then nothing. And then you feel it again.

Nothing.

And then again.

For an hour.

If you don't know what I'm referred to, read this story. And then think about it for the next hour. Sometimes, we get lost in the gamemanship about turnout and number crunching we forget. For one hour today, one man received the full brunt of the State's power. Politics isn't a game.

I don't mean to start a debate on the death penalty, nor should you take this story as any indication of my views. But sometimes we need to have some perspective, and I think this story brings today into a new perspective for me.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

How do you think that Mr. Manning and Mr. Harris's families feel? They have had to live through over 20 years knowing that the man who took thier loved ones' lives was alive and well. I am sure Mr. Clark's one hour of discomfort is minimal compared to the agony THEY have lived through. So sorry if I don't feel any sympathy for a murderer.

Anonymous said...

It also interests me that you can be anti-death penalty and pro-choice. I think that those are mutally exclusive. I don't believe in either and I think that's pretty consistent. But if I had to choose the lesser of two evils, I would spare an unborn baby's life to a confessed murderer.

Modern Esquire said...

Boy, you couldn't have misunderstood the story more. It's not about sympathy for the condemned. It's about why we are focusing on politicians campaigning talking about ridiculous, poll-tested wedge issues and who's ahead of who, we had a man strapped to a table for a full hour taking the full brunt of the state's most serious power- the power to take away a person's life.

I don't weep for him. But I do think it means politics should be taken more seriously. That's all

Modern Esquire said...

I'm not anti-death penalty. In fact, I specifically said in the story I wasn't. Try reading sometime.

I believe there is a distinction between the death penalty and abortion. One is about the power of the state to take away the life of one of its citizens. The other about the extent we allow the state to define what life is and at what point does the state have both the interest and the power to protect it.

obsessivelawstudent said...

Okay, Modern might not be pro-choice and anti-death penalty, but I am. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive because of the reasons Modern stated in his response. But, I'll elaborate a little more.

We do not know when life begins, but we certainly know when it ends here on Earth. Unless you believe that the moment the egg and sperm meet, life begins, then it is difficult to classify what constitutes a life. And the definition that life begins immediately upon conception is religious in nature. Without religion, I firmly believe that we as a society would consider life to begin upon birth, not conception. It is only because David noted that God knit him together in his mother's womb, and other verses of a similar nature, that we believe life begins at conception, or near abouts.

In adopting this view, the government must implicitly adopt some religious concepts and dismiss others. This is not the place for the government. This is never the place for the government. I do not want the government interfering in any of my religious beliefs. I do not want them to define when life begins for me - and I happen to be a born-again Christian. I am capable of determining when life begins for myself. I am capable of that because I have the guidance of prayer and the Bible. I do not need the government to tell me when life begins nor do I want it to. If we allow the government to interfere even in this one area, then we allow it to interfere in the dictates of our prayers. That is not the place for religion. If you do not believe me, ask those in China or Saudi Arabia whose religion is dictated for them.

But, death. Now, that's another thing. We know when death occurs. There is no speculation. There is no religious interpretation. We have scientific fact as to when death occurs. And death should not be the place of the government. The government should not be stopping life. There are cases when it is necessary - just wars, and fights for freedom (i.e., WWII, Korea, and Afghanistan, but not Iraq). But, those instances in which the government causes death should be limited to issues of public safety and welfare, not vengance. There is no evidence that the death penalty curbs crime. In fact, studies have indicated that the death penalty does not factor into crime statistics. So, the death penalty is solely about vengance. It is not about public welfare. And vengance is not an appropriate place for the government.

There are other differences. If you believe abortion is murder, it is the mother and the doctor taking the life. The government does not intervene. That is substantially different than the government taking a life. It is different to have private citizens doing something we disagree with, but when the government does something, it is done presumptively with the stamp of approval from society. We should not be putting our stamp of approval on murder in cold blood.