Straight Talk from Al Jacobs
LESSONS IN ABSURDITY
A recent editorial in one of America’s politically progressive newspapers expresses its unfavorable opinion of capital punishment, emblazoned with the headline: “Death penalty absurdities.” It first describes a prison inmate awaiting execution for the 1985 murder of a police officer in Alabama, but who is now so old and infirm he’s unable to recall the crime. The question posed to the court: Does his inability to remember committing the offense make the decreed penalty unconstitutional? A second appeal under consideration relates to an inability to insert a lethal-injection catheter into the arm of the condemned, with the defense’s contention an execution will constitute torture and is therefore impermissible.
I acknowledge both situations constitute absurdities. The fact endless appeals – rules enacted by death penalty opponents – extend the lives of those sentenced to death for decades insure they’ll eventually recall little or nothing of their offenses. As for lethal-injection malfunction – a ludicrous procedure also instigated by death penalty opponents – it allows no consideration for a simple death by hanging, which is certainly not historically regarded as torture.
As we’re discussing absurdities, let’s include one the editor failed to mention. Over the years I’ve encountered philosophical emoting as to why capital punishment is inherently evil, but never a rational justification why Charles Manson and his murderous cohorts were never executed. After their death penalties were voided by the California Supreme Count, headed by then California Chief Justice Rose Bird, an avowed death penalty opponent, they remained incarcerated even after capital punishment was reaffirmed by the voters of the state. Why is it 46 years of taxpayer-provided room and board for Manson, who died in 2017 at the age of 83, did not constitute an absurdity?
A final comment: As a Californian, I’m now a capital punishment opponent. Even if the death penalty remains on the books, it will never again be carried out, so those who receive the sentence will permanently reside on death row – which has become private residential quarters for deranged murderers pursuing continuous appeals. For society’s benefit, it’s far better to terminate the death penalty, insuring that these vipers become life sentence prisoners who must regularly mingle with other inmates. It will then be instructive to see how well they fend for themselves.