Monday, 21 July 2014

Darkly Pythonesque.

I read today that somebody on death row somewhere in America has had his execution stayed because he wasn’t given full information on the chemical that was to be used to kill him. It seems the State (I forget which one) is saying:

‘We are going to kill you, but you have the constitutional right to be told exactly how we are going to kill you. We will, therefore, refrain from killing you until we’ve given you the chemical formula of the stuff we’ll be injecting you with. That way, everything will be above board. Of course, once you’re dead you won’t have any constitutional rights because you will no longer exist. Happy now?’

To us in Europe, where every state save Belarus grants its citizens the right not to be killed by the state in the first place – at least not in peacetime – this seems extremely bizarre, a sort of Theatre of the Darkly Absurd which Mr Becket would probably have applauded heartily.

And an interesting little piece of trivia: the first country to abolish capital punishment was Venezuela back in 1863. Isn’t that interesting?

3 comments:

Madeline said...

Believe me, it is equally bizarre to many American citizens. Death penalty laws vary widely between the states. Some outlaw it, some seem to love it. We're a strange country.

JJ Beazley said...

One of the high profile cases which turned British public opinion against capital punishment was the murder trial of two young men called Christopher Craig and Derek Bentley. Bentley got hanged, Craig was too young. Craig was the one who fired the gun.

There's a rather good, if a little heart rending, film about the story called 'Let Him Have it, Chris.' As far as I can tell it's pretty accurate, because the story was told to me long before the film was made by the chief defence counsel for Christopher Craig. He taught me law for a year. If you come across it, it's worth a look.

JJ Beazley said...

Oh, and by the way...

It's very good to see you, Maddie. When any of the small group of Highly Esteemed Persons goes quiet on me, I'm tempted to wonder whether he, she, or I have died and nobody's told me yet.