Lethal Injection Mess: An “Absurd” Campaign?


The controversy over whether lethal injection is too cruel and unusual to be used to kill unusually cruel people involves what Slate.com commentator Dahlia Lithwick calls an “absurd” campaign to create a “Happy Death Box.” Writing in the Washington Post, Lithwick notes that in an argument in a Florida case, U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter said that the state should be obligated to execute “without causing gratuitous pain.” Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out that the Framers had no problem with even the most painful executions, saying that “hanging was not a quick and easy way to go.”

Lithwick says the outrage of death penalty opponents is strategic: “They want their fight to outlaw this procedure to grow into an effort to abolish executions altogether.” By emphasizing the cruelty of the means of execution, opponents tacitly concede its basic rightness, she says. Lithwick calls capital punishment backers misguided in their opposition to finding a less cruel method of execution. Death penalty advocates insist that lethal injection is too good for the ruthless killers who merit it. As Ronald Bailey wrote in Reason magazine, “As harsh as it sounds, if lethal injection is good enough to end the suffering of a beloved pet, it’s probably too good for a pre-meditated murderer.”

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/05/AR2006050501770.html

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