Posted on | July 25, 2014 | 119 Comments
Yesterday, reacting to the botched lethal-injection execution of an Arizona murderer, I said: “Bring Back the Firing Squad. . . . It was good enough for Gary Gilmore.” And most people probably thought, “Hahaha. Stacy’s just being sarcastic again.” Well, guess what? A federal appeals court judge had made basically the same argument:
“Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,” U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent in the Arizona death penalty case of Joseph Rudolph Wood III.
“But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.” . . .
His dissent could be read as much as an indictment of capital punishment as a call for harsher methods, however. He cited California’s inability to execute anyone since 2006 because of legal challenges.
“Old age, not execution, is the most serious risk factor for inmates at the San Quentin death row,” he wrote.
In calling for firing squads, Kozinski said, “Eight or 10 large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time.”
He said the public should not shield itself “from the reality we are shedding human blood.”
“If we as a society cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by a firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.”
Kozinski, a Ronald Reagan appointee, is known for writing audacious, thought-provoking rulings, and legal scholars have been poring over his dissent.
Read the whole thing. My attitude about the death penalty is basically the same as my attitude about war: Git ‘er done.
A hard war makes for a long peace. War by half-measures, hemmed in by political concerns and fears of offending delicate sensibilities, can never accomplish war’s purpose, i.e., to defeat the enemy and force his submission. We ought not deceive ourselves about what war is.
Like the man said, “Talk thus to the marines.”
If we are not prepared to destroy the enemy — to devastate him with the utmost in lethal force — we ought never go to war. If our cause is so just that we will risk the blood of our bravest sons to conquer a foe, it does not behoove us to be too sensitive about the blood of our enemies. A nation that is afraid of war is a decadent nation, and will ultimately be conquered by others.
Similarly, we must not deceive ourselves about the death penalty. It is “humane” only in the sense that it is necessary to protect the innocent from the depredations of savages. Joseph Woods shot to death 55-year-old Gene Dietz, the father of his ex-girlfriend. As Debbie Dietz frantically tried to telephone for help, Woods grabbed her by the neck and said: “I told you I was going to do it. . . . I have to kill you, bitch.” And then he shot her to death, too.
You want to tell me Joseph Woods deserved a humane death? You want to tell me that a firing squad — or the noose, the gas chamber or the electric chair — would be a violation of the killer’s “rights”? You are siding with savages against the innocent.