Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 15, 2014

VALLEY: Cruelty, in the eyes of the beholder?

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Declaration: I am neither condoning nor condemning capital punishment. I am merely commenting on the situation.

The death penalty is making the news, again. Well, the execution of the execution is. It came under fire for what's been described as another bumbling, less-than-smooth application. It seems as though opponents of capital punishment are up in arms over the states' inability to make them (the opponents) feel comfortably guilt-free over the process.

The old “cruel and unusual” adage is bantered about as though the prisoner's actual execution is the only hard part he/she has to go through. (Apparently, there's no anxiety the last 24 hours or so of the condemned person's life – it's just another day at the beach.)

Personally, I feel as though death, all by itself, is the embodiment of punishment, cruel or not. Once you set the dial to "kill" someone, anything before or after that is a minor technicality, especially when you put it in perspective. I think the speed bumps in the process fall far short of the complaint. But that's just me.

Here's the one thing that I can't figure out: The states are complaining that they “can't find” the right mixture of lethal drugs to administer the sentence. They claim there is a shortage of drugs or whatever to carry out the execution. Really?

Have they checked with the prison population? There's a rumor that you can get any drug you want behind prison walls. If not, there is a plethora of other options.

Every bottle of cleaning solution in our closet mentions “lethal if swallowed.” And almost all of the medicine commercials on TV state that as a side-effect the product can sometimes cause death. Just sayin' ...

Furthermore, there are those who claim that large soft drinks are deadly – so why not just buy the prisoner a couple cases of Mountain Dew and say “have at it!”?

Let's not forget the Surgeon General's warning about cigarettes killing people. Can't scientists concentrate a lethal dose of those toxins? What's wrong with using heroin? I'm not all that familiar with the stuff, but if junkies are willing to die for the high, it can't be that “cruel.”

And, not to sound insensitive, but should we listen to the relatives who sit and watch a family member's execution unless we also hear from the victim's family — as was the case earlier this year in Ohio, where a son and daughter were distraught over watching their father put to death?

The grown children in the Ohio case described the scene as the most “awful moments” in their lives. I don't know what they were expecting, but did they realize they were not strapped in for a fun ride at Six Flags Amusement Park? They were watching their father being executed. He was executed for being found guilty of raping and killing a pregnant 22 year-old girl.

And I'd think that, before they point their fingers and sue the state (which was their intention), they may want to look at who's really to blame for putting them in the situation they're in.

The state's intention was to not make their father suffer. Conversely, their father's action was far from unintentional. It was deliberate.

Now, tell me again, which one was “cruel”?

That's the way it looks from the Valley.

Contact Tom Valley at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.