April 23, 2010

"I would like the firing squad, please."

In Utah, one has a choice of execution method.

If you faced unavoidable execution and had a choice of lethal injection or firing squad, what would you pick?
Firing squad if I believe I deserve the death penalty, but otherwise, lethal injection.
Lethal injection if I believe I deserve the death penalty, but otherwise, firing squad.
Whether I deserve the death penalty or not, I'd take the lethal injection.
Whether I deserve the death penalty or not, I'd take the firing squad.

  
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: Almost no one is going for the idea that your choice of method would depend on whether you deserved harsh punishment. I put those alternatives in there because I thought people would quibble about that. But no. Now, the 2 choices have been polling about equal, and I wonder if it's because there's a difference of opinion about which is actually less painful or if it's a preference about the sort of drama you'd feel best about.

71 comments:

Trooper York said...

How about reading hdhouse's comments?

JayC said...

Death by snoo-snoo

Ron said...

If Scarlett Johannson is between pictures, I have a suggestion for a method...

Original Mike said...

Death by phaser.

garage mahal said...

Forced to wear a #4 Vikings jersey.

Synova said...

Lethal injection seems sort of wussy.

I mean... I guess that's the the point. The whole idea is to make death as gentle as possible.

But if I were falsely convicted I think I'd want it to be loud and messy.

Pogo said...

"Whether I deserve the death penalty or not, I'd take the firing squad."

Oh, wait.
Which way are they aiming?

Pogo said...

I'm not afraid to die; I just don't want to be there when it happens.

rhhardin said...

"About, face!"

It worked for Maxwell Smart.

Richard Dolan said...

Firing squad, and signing 'E lucevan le stelle' all the while.

campy said...

Firing squad, and signing 'E lucevan le stelle' all the while.

If you're going to go the operatic route, why not choose to be sealed in a tomb with a sexy Ethiopian princess?

New "Hussein" Ham said...

Firing squad (either way).

Society invented lethal injection not for the benefit of the victim, but to make it easier on the hangman to murder people.

Firing squad forces the shooter to have to live with it on his conscience.

XWL said...

Would death row inmates forego the appeals process if A)they accepted their guilt, and B)you offered 'death through pleasure' as an alternative?

Richard Dolan said...

campy: Becasue being buried alive wasn't among the choices.

garage mahal said...

Don't give Arizona any ideas, Utah.

Fred4Pres said...

Do you get a cigarette in Utah? I would want a cigarette under those circumstances.

I really liked the Executioner's Song. It is the only Mailer book I really liked.

Ann Althouse said...

"The whole idea is to make death as gentle as possible."

That's how it looks from the outside. How it feels from the inside, we don't get to find out. There was a Supreme Court case about it recently, and the issue had to do with whether the person, immobilized by drugs was then fully rendered unconscious before the drug that would stop his heart went in. It's possible that the heart-stopping is extremely painful. At least the bullets to the heart are fully painful. It's also much more dramatic and it involves the executioners more directly in the event.

Ann Althouse said...

"I really liked the Executioner's Song. It is the only Mailer book I really liked."

The description of the firing squad (and the subsequent autopsy) is quite vivid.

Pogo said...

"It's possible that the heart-stopping is extremely painful. "

Bug, or feature?

Pogo said...

I have no love for the death penalty. If there were an actual life sentence without parole that was never commuted because someone felt bad for the murderer once he became decrepit, then I would be cool with that.

But noooooo.
Someone on the parole board gets all misty-eyed when the serial killer smiles at 75 and coughs and wobbles.

Pushes me right back into the arms of Azrael.

Eric said...

It's also much more dramatic and it involves the executioners more directly in the event.

If there's ever a time in life for drama, surely it's your own execution? Hopefully if I were actually innocent I could do my best Sydney Carton give some version of the "It is a far, far better thing that I do..." speech, my favorite soliloquy in all of literature.

Synova said...

I chose firing squad for the drama.

I didn't answer "if I felt I deserved it" because that struck me as nonsensical. If I was guilty, the crime would be on purpose, so the drama of a firing squad would go along with that. If I wasn't guilty it's a much better, and more dramatic, final statement.

Doug Wright said...

During preparation for the Gilmore execution, the Utah process was explained. The five rifle were lined up through a wall, pre-aimed and pre-loaded. The firing squad pulled lanyards, which pulled the triggers. It was claimed that only one rifle had an actual live round in it, the others had blanks. Gilmore's brother disputed that, saying Gary's shirt had five bullet holes though it. So much for truth in reporting, whatever the actual facts of the case.

Just another instance of the government screwing over someone!

reader_iam said...

How about giving me a gun and letting me shoot myself?

edutcher said...

There's always, "Let the punishment fit the crime". Some creep who rapes a kid so badly, the kid dies, f'rinstance.

Utah's had those choices a long time. You'd think they'd have retained hanging, as well.

Eric said...

The five rifle were lined up through a wall, pre-aimed and pre-loaded. The firing squad pulled lanyards, which pulled the triggers.

The firing squad fell out of favor as a method of execution because it was believed in some high-profile cases the executioners shot with the intent of causing a slow, painful death. I'm guessing they cooked up this arrangement to ensure that doesn't happen.

Eric said...

Utah's had those choices a long time. You'd think they'd have retained hanging, as well.

In line with my earlier comment, I wonder why they don't allow the guillotine. That one seems like it would be pretty quick and sure.

Hanging would suck.

reader_iam said...

Seriously, that would remove the "conscience of executioner[s]" issue, wouldn't it? Assuming putting a bullet through one's own head, or whatever, was just one on the menu of options--I'm not suggesting FORCING someone to shoot himself or herself.

oleh said...

I still believe the French had it right. The Guillotine is the most humane method of execution.

RuyDiaz said...

Firing squad, exclusively for the drama.

KLDAVIS said...

Is the bullet to the heart, or to the brain? I would think a bullet to the brain would be the least painful option. I'm pretty sure lethal injection is at least more painful than that, and perhaps even more so than a bullet to the heart. I couldn't give a damn about the drama.

wv: anquenti - Old timey prospector speak for San Quentin.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

The lethal injection method is so much more dramatic than a fast firing squad. It's so protracted. There's the alcohol swabbing, the tourniquet, the needle, the search for a vein, the . . . drama.

Could you make the Soylent Green euthenasia method one of our choices, please? It would be so much more humane.

Eric said...

Do you get a drum roll for the firing squad? Isn't that traditional?

Trooper York said...

reader_iam said...
How about giving me a gun and letting me shoot myself?

They call that the Jon-Erik Hexum.

Trooper York said...

It was all the rage in the eighties.

Trooper York said...

You could try the "David Carradine."

All you need is a rope, some lube, a curtian rod and a Barbara Hershey video.

Trooper York said...

Or the "William Shatner's wife."

Three martini's, two Ambiens and a swiming pool.

Big Mike said...

Bullets travel faster than the speed of sound; you never know what hit you.

Eric said...

Bullets travel faster than the speed of sound; you never know what hit you.

I suspect the hydrostatic shock from five rifle bullets would stun you to the point you wouldn't know your own name in those final few moments.

Jason said...

Hey, Barbara Hershey was executed by firing squad in "A Man Called Intrepid!"

I'd take the firing squad.

You give lethal injections to animals. I'm a soldier, and a firing squad is a soldier's death.

"Shoot straight, you bastards! Don't make a mess of it!"

Balfegor said...

There was a Supreme Court case about it recently, and the issue had to do with whether the person, immobilized by drugs was then fully rendered unconscious before the drug that would stop his heart went in.

Really? Given all the money we spend on appeals and all that for execution cases, you'd think we could spring for some general anesthesia. I think we have a pretty good handle on how to ensure we don't feel pain when surgeons are rummaging around in our innards, so putting someone under for execution should be well within our technical capabilities.

Trooper York said...

Or they can give you the "Barbarian Queen"

You just have to go on a date with Phil Spector.

Seven Machos said...

Can't I go out like Bodhi Zoffa?

MadisonMan said...

I am reminded of the Far Side cartoon -- early -- wherein the condemned is having his cigarette lit by the executioner while the riflemen stand at the ready, and the lady next door is screaming "Fire" from a burning building.

Larson did a great job of drawing the look on the soon-to-be-in-the-line-of-fire Executioner's face.

Big Mike said...

@MadisonMan, I don't think they offer a cigarette to the condemned person anymore. It's illegal to smoke in public places.

Brian Dunbar said...

I wonder if it's because there's a difference of opinion about which is actually less painful or if it's a preference about the sort of drama you'd feel best about.

Neither. If the State is going to put me to death I want the executioner(s) to look me in the eye and know what they done.

Big Mike said...

How about reading hdhouse's comments?

Because of the 8th amendment prohibition against cruel punishments?

Big Mike said...

@Brian, it's been a while since I read Executioner's Song, but I seem to recall that the condemned person wears a hood. No looking in the eyes.

phx said...

Either way, as GG said, "Let's do it!"

edutcher said...

Eric said...

Utah's had those choices a long time. You'd think they'd have retained hanging, as well.

In line with my earlier comment, I wonder why they don't allow the guillotine. That one seems like it would be pretty quick and sure.


'Cause we ain't no frawgs.

Trooper York said...

reader_iam said...
How about giving me a gun and letting me shoot myself?

They call that the Jon-Erik Hexum.


Troop, you need to get away from the TV more. Or do you remember the show he was on when he did it?

David said...

During preparation for the Gilmore execution, the Utah process was explained. The five rifle were lined up through a wall, pre-aimed and pre-loaded. The firing squad pulled lanyards, which pulled the triggers. It was claimed that only one rifle had an actual live round in it, the others had blanks. Gilmore's brother disputed that, saying Gary's shirt had five bullet holes though it. So much for truth in reporting, whatever the actual facts of the case.

That's substantially inaccurate. Only one of the rifles is loaded with a blank. The rest have live ammunition. Here's a more complete (and accurate) description of Utah's procedures:

The Utah statute authorizing execution by firing squad only provides: "If the judgment of death is to be carried out by shooting, the executive director of the department or his designee shall select a five-person firing squad of peace officers." At the appropriate time, the condemned offender is led to the execution area or chamber, which is used for both lethal injection and firing squad executions. The offender is placed in a specially designed chair.... The offender is dressed in a dark blue outfit with a white cloth circle attached by Velcro to the area over the offender's heart. ...Approximately 20 feet directly in front of the offender is a wall. This wall has firing ports for each member of the firing squad. The weapons used are 30_30 caliber rifles. No special ammunition is used. Following the offender's statement, a hood is placed over the offender's head. The warden leaves the room. The firing squad members stand in the firing position. They support their rifles on the platform rests. With their rifle barrels in the firing ports, the team members sight through open sights on the white cloth circle on the offender's chest. On the command to fire, the squad fires simultaneously. One squad member has a blank charge in his weapon but no member knows which member is designated to receive this blank charge.

reader_iam said...

Thus, the equation is not "just one of us" has the possibility of being the executioner (and we'll never know), but rather "all but one of us" has the possibility of being the executioner (and I'll never know). Plus, there's no betting on just one person to be dead-on, so to speak, or making it as easy for someone to rig the "one not-blank" to belong to sharpest-shooter out there and thus masking and complicating all sorts of things.

Methadras said...

oleh said...

I still believe the French had it right. The Guillotine is the most humane method of execution.


I'm with you on this. Muslims should be so sophisticated.

themightypuck said...

Wouldn't you defeat all attempts at cruel and inhuman punishment arguments buy slowly pumping the perp full of heroin until he or she passed out and stopped breathing. The put a bullet in their head just to be sure.

themightypuck said...

Actually heroin and verced and a head shot. Simple. Humane.

reader_iam said...

Frankly, I was surprised that, in response to my initial comment, somebody didn't come back with either, "What if given the gun, the condemned started shooting at the people there?" or "What if the condemned shot himself or herself, but didn't finished the job?" I'm not sure whether that gives me hope or makes me despair, but in any case, it lets me off the hook of responding further.

reader_iam said...

Embracing the moving on.

Diamondhead said...

How about the Terry Schiavo?

former law student said...

My dad explained to me when I was a kid, and we were watching an old war movie on TV, that the difference in recoil between a blank and a loaded cartridge would be obvious to each firing squad member.

Revenant said...

Lethal injection should be more pleasant. That's my reasoning.

Balfegor said...

Frankly, I was surprised that, in response to my initial comment, somebody didn't come back with either, "What if given the gun, the condemned started shooting at the people there?"

I've often thought that would be an ideal setup for a first person shooter video game. You start out in a library, with a revolver. The gamer has no idea what's going on, but it's a video game, and he's started out with a loaded revolver, so he knows he's supposed to do -- pop out of the library, kill the guards, and take their weapons and ammo. It proceeds from there.

reader_iam said...

Revenant: For whom?

Revenant said...

Revenant: For whom?

For me, were I being killed.

Lethal injection typically starts with sodium thiopental, which knocks you unconconscious. After which you never wake up, if all goes right.

Revolution said...

If I feel the need to ever commit that level of crime that deserves death, I'll do it against the government and should get a firing squad. Besides that, injection really isn't painless, it just makes you unable to articulate the pain.

reader_iam said...

Balfegor: Given that you neither presented my whole sentence or bothered to use an ellipsis to indicate your choice to truncate it, why the hell should I take a metaphor of yours seriously? Or, while I'm at it, think well of your idea of good game?

Fen said...

Actually, a bullet to the brain is more humane, less painful and quicker than lethal injection.

AllenS said...

Just keep the convict in his jail cell and don't feed him.

james said...

I would like to maintain a nice bright Hippocratic line between doctors and executioners. They probably use medical technicians instead of MDs, but that doesn't change the principle.

BrianE said...

Fundamentalist Mormon doctrine teaches that some crimes require the spilling of the blood of the guilty party for redemption.

Hence the choice of firing squad.

Balfegor said...

Balfegor: Given that you neither presented my whole sentence or bothered to use an ellipsis to indicate your choice to truncate it, why the hell should I take a metaphor of yours seriously?

Not a metaphor -- it's a riff on the way video games often start: you get dropped into some situation with a gun (or a crowbar or something) and start killing people until you figure out what the plot (such as it is) is. Revolver in the library, expected to do the decent thing, is one of the only situations I can think of where that would even make sense.

And I'm not sure why you would even try to take it "seriously" as a metaphor, it's so obviously not one.

Or, while I'm at it, think well of your idea of good game?

I don't actually play video games much. I would have no idea what makes a "good" video game. I think that has to do with the mechanics of the game itself, not superficialities like how the game starts out.

caplight said...

firing squad. I don't trust chemicals. I wouldn't want to run the risk of addiction anyway.