Gut Rumbles

July 11, 2005

i have ideas...

If I replied to this post the way I really WANT to, I'd probably alienate a few readers and get another Domestic Violence Order served against me. Oh, yeah. I have some VERY creative ideas about how to handle spammers.

But let's forget those. I want to talk about executions.

As a student of history, I've always been sickly fascinated by the ways that man has discovered to kill his fellow man. Go back a few centuries and you find crucifixion, breaking at the wheel, burning at the stake, drawing and quartering, evisceration, skinning alive, impalement, the Iron Mistress, the rack, and all other sorts of really sadistic ways to make a person suffer LONG during a painful death.

After a while, we became "civilized" and invented hanging. In theory, hanging should be a quick and merciful death. Hell, I saw my Aunt Chassie wring many a chicken's neck on the farm, and when she got through (in about 2 seconds), the chicken hit the ground dead as a doorknob.

But hanging didn't always work so well. If you didn't have the proper drop, the victim dangled there at the end of a rope and strangled. If you dropped him TOO FAR, his head popped right off. (which would be better than strangling in MY humble opinion.) Whatever the wisdom behind it (oh, it WORKED!), I just don't believe that hanging is a good way to die.

The guillotine was better, but sensitive sorts considered that form of execution too bloody after a while. I still say that it's better than hanging.

The Firing Squad wasn't a bad idea, as long as you get some good shots on the team. Get shot in the heart and you'll never know what hit you. But I've read MANY stories about firing squads that had to reload and shoot more than once before the condemned stopped breathing. That's pretty ugly, too.

So, some brilliant people came up with the idea of the electric chair. That was a fantastic idea, because it was quick, painless and merciful... except when it wasn't. Old Sparky didn't always get the job done on the first try, and some people ended up being barbecued before they died. Sometimes, dying that way made hanging look better.

Then came the gas chamber. That's another idea that looked good on paper but wasn't so good in reality.

A study of the execution records of 113 prisoners executed at San Quentin showed that the average time taken to kill them was 9.3 minutes. The prisoner will usually loose consciousness between one and three minutes after the gas hits their face and the doctor will pronounce them dead in around ten to twelve minutes later.

That's worse than a poor hanging, too. I have a question to ask about the gas chamber. Why use cyanide? Why not just pump some car exhaust or a tank of pure nitrogen in there? I've seen people pass out from both of those gases and they never felt better until they hit the ground unconscious. Take oxygen away and the brain stops functioning. You don't need cyanide to do that.

We've finally found the right way to do it, unless you're a really vindictive sadist who wants to see a condemned prisoner suffer before he dies. That's lethal injection.

Have you ever "gone under" before surgery? I have, several times. When that guy with the gas or the needle hits you, it's lights out. Pure and simple. You don't feel anything. You don't know or care WHAT happened to you until you wake up.

Give a big enough dose of the right stuff and the person simply goes lights out and doesn't wake up. I've put down a few dogs and that's how the vets do it. And it is quick and merciful.

Why did it take us, as an allegedly civilized society, so long to approve this method of execution? And why did inventors come up with electric chairs and gas chambers in the first place?

We're too fucking clever for our own good sometimes.


You forgot the ever popular "Exposure", which was practiced both by the russkies in syberia in the 1900-s, and by spaniards in the 16-1800's. It generally involves a box of some sort with no protection from the environment.

Posted by: Yogimus on July 11, 2005 11:11 PM

THE WHEEL put him on the wheel!!

Posted by: gravdigr on July 11, 2005 11:18 PM

Didn't hanging also have the rather dubious benefit of escaping judgement if the rope snapped?

Posted by: tincanman on July 11, 2005 11:38 PM

Did it not also made you sht your britches?

Posted by: gravdigr on July 11, 2005 11:58 PM

That's why the hangman gets his boots before the drop.

Posted by: Yogimus on July 12, 2005 12:14 AM

Young buddy, old pal, I kinda agree that giving 'em a tad more gas than sleepytime would be just about OK for yer general run-of-the-mill rapist or murderer but there are some folk that need a touch more in the way of "paying their debt to society". Don't know if it's still on the books but the Brits used to have hanging, drawing, and quartering as the standard punishment for treason. The perp was hung until almost dead, then eviscerated, then dismembered by way of horses and rope.

Some folk would be highly improved by such treatment.

Posted by: Bogdaddy on July 12, 2005 01:20 AM

After reading the above comment, I wonder why Michael Moore just popped into my head? Hmmmmmmm..........

Posted by: PamelaRN on July 12, 2005 01:47 AM

You missed a good special on executions this weekend, shown by the History Channel. Check the schedule; they'll probably show it again soon.

Posted by: Juliette on July 12, 2005 03:10 AM

"Don't know if it's still on the books but the Brits used to have hanging, drawing, and quartering as the standard punishment for treason."

After reading the above comment, I wonder why Michael Moore just popped into my head? Hmmmmmmm..........

I was kinda thinking the same thing PamelaRN, except that it was Karl Rove that popped into my head. Since he is obviously the one who is guilty of treason for outing the cover of one of our brave undercover CIA agents, then I couldn't help but wish for the hanging, drawing, and quartering as his standard punishment. Any patriotic American would wish the same right?


Posted by: PJ on July 12, 2005 03:18 AM

PJ, who hired you to crash this party? Is paying people now to post their rhetoric on every blog?

At least use original or interesting phrasing in your arguments for God's sake, so we can be impressed by your literary prowess.

Posted by: Suz on July 12, 2005 06:00 AM

I thought I saw on a History Channel show that Thomas Edison invented the electric chair as a way to show that Westinghouse's new AC current was too powerful (or something) to use as a form of electricity for transmission to the public. Edison was trying to push his DC voltage transmission system. His theory was that once the public saw how horrible a death in the electric chair was by using AC current, that they would favor his system. Of course, the public didn't care that much about the execution and the AC transmission system had a lot less drawbacks than the DC system.

I personally endorse public executions on prime time. That might deter some people. It would deter me - except for the lethal injection. That's way too nice a way to go.

Posted by: DrugStore Cowboy on July 12, 2005 09:02 AM

I'm generally an opponent of the death penalty because I don't like the idea of the state having that much power.

But if we're going to have it - let's have it. Let's execute the murderer in the same way he murdered. For instance Usama bin Laden should be executed by chaining him up inside a building that's going to be demolished, then blowing the thing up around him.

Posted by: Juan Paxety on July 12, 2005 09:15 AM

I am also generally against the death penalty but not for moral or political reasons. Killing a criminal is not punishment-it just puts the criminal out of his misery and is probably doing him/her a favor. Hard labor at bare subsistance for life-and make the bare subsistance sufficient that the criminal lives a lin, long. long time to do the hard labor. Then when the criminal is no longer able to perform hard labor put him/her out of their misery. This is punishment. Suffices for revenge for the victoms, and the hard labor might just earn enough to pay for the keep.

Posted by: GUYK on July 12, 2005 09:47 AM

I personally believe in "An eye for an eye". Lethal injection is too easy on criminals. Everyone should have the same crime committed to them as they committed on others. I think the punishment should be on public television also. Hiding a criminals punishment is just a way of pussifying the other criminals. That's why you get repeat offenders. If you take a rapist and publicly rape his ass with a baseball bat for all to see, not only will he think twice before raping again but someone else who is thinking about being a goddam pervert and raping someone will think twice as well. You take a murderer and shoot him in the head with say a 50 caliber in public view, number one he will never murder again, number two when others see his goddam head explode like a watermelon dropped off a 2 story building, they will think very hard before murdering someone. The problem with the USA is that we have pussified everyone by hiding the gruesome truth about what criminals do. We need to show people that if you fuck up you are going to goddam pay with the same thing you did to someone else. Don't even get me started on the so called war on drugs. 'nuf said?

Posted by: assrot on July 12, 2005 09:51 AM

Chainsaw. Yeah, use a chain saw to cut off the limbs first.
Have a microphone taped to the mouth for all to hear the howls and pleading as the guilty punishment is dispensed.
Then start slicing up the torso until the guilty one has expired.

Play this recording back thruout the prison. Pass out free cd's of this sound.
Get it into the hands of every punk and gang out there. Fuck the liberal justice bleeding hearts,
This will be the real message to the one's out there doing these crimes.
This will be their punishment when they are caught and found guilty in a court of law.
This will put the stop to many crimes now committed.

Posted by: mrchuck on July 12, 2005 11:09 AM

There are some internet sites that provide descriptions of executions for the last several decades. After reading the descriptions, it was clear to me that execution by lethal injection was frequently not a painless ordeal. Many of the people receiving lethal injections were habitual drug users prior to incarceration. As a result of their drug habit, it is extremely hard to place a needle into their veins. The doctor inserting the needle frequently would have to spend more than 10 minutes inserting the needle. Accordingly, the condemned is being treated like a pin cushion all the while knowing that the purpose of the pricking is to kill him. Moreover, different states use different cocktails. With some of the cocktails, the condemned started thrashing around after being injected, and the thrasing would last up to a couple of minutes. I actually don't think that hanging is such a bad execution method. It's quick. Much quicker than injection and electrocution. True, the head does pop off on occasion, but that does not impede the efficacy of the method. Besides, the executions take place behind closed curtains nowadays. If the head popped off behind closed curtains, no one would have to see it happen. True, some poor schmuck would have to go in and clean up the mess. I feel for that sucker. Maybe we should force a convict (who is about to be released) to clean up the mess. Might make them think twice about recidivism. Hanging, it's not just for the 19th century.

Posted by: Kukulkan on July 12, 2005 01:44 PM

My personal feeling is that the body of anyone sentenced to death should become the property of the state and be carved up for organ transplants. Keep them alive on machines as they get more and more of their organs removed and given to more deserving people.

As for torturing a spammer, I don't have the patience

Posted by: Graumagus on July 12, 2005 01:49 PM

I bet many people think that burning at the stake was over fairly quickly. A big pile of brush and wood, whoosh, and the victim is dead in a few minutes.

Not so.

When Calvin in Geneva caught a particularly bad heretic, who was espousing the belief that there was only ONE God, not one God with three divine persons, he had him burned at the stake.

The skilled executioners kept him alive for least least two hours while he slowly burned to death. They used very small sticks to burn him as slowly as possibly, starting with this toes and finally getting to his face.

They say he didn't scream until the flames reached his face.


Posted by: joel on July 12, 2005 06:52 PM
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