FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lethal Injection, the Supremes and China

The question everyone is asking is whether anything is happening in the United States of America other than a two year long marathon to decide who will be the next president of the United States, news of each milestone being covered as though it were the determining factor in establishing the winner. As we draw closer to the time when there will be an event that actually determines that fact, news of all else is virtually eclipsed by news of what was, was not, is, is not, will be, may be, or won’t be insofar as it affects those seeking the presidency. I am happy to report that there is other news even though it is not altogether new news. It concerns the death penalty. And it is a subject with which two countries that treasure human rights above all else–the United States and China–are dealing.

In the United States the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on January 5 addressing the important question, simply stated, of whether being executed by a three drug lethal injection is more likely to hurt than being put to death by a one drug injection because of the protocol accompanying the injection. If it does, it may be unconstitutional and if it doesn’t, it isn’t.

The people who are best able to answer that question are those who have received the injections and they are unable to give an opinion. Next best, however, are lawyers and Supreme Court Justices and it is the lawyers who presented the arguments as to why the three-drug injection is apt or not apt to hurt, and the Justices who will decide whom to believe.

As the Supreme Court case demonstrates, many people in the United States are concerned about the pain inflicted on those being executed notwithstanding Justice Antonin Scalia’s sensitive observation during oral argument that there’s no constitutional requirement that executions employ the “least painful method possible.” Some medical evidence suggests that a single barbiturate is easier to administer and less likely to cause pain than the three-drug approach now commonly used. The one drug method is used by the humane society in Kentucky and other states when euthanizing animals and is reportedly painless yet effective. According to Adam Liptak of the New York Times, however, one of the objections to switching to the single drug method employed on animals is that it is employed on animals. Death penalty proponents think that human beings are better than animals and should not be put to death the same way animals are put to death. It devalues the entire procedure.

While the Supreme Court contemplates the question, China has announced it, too, is trying, to use Chief Justice Roberts’ words from the oral argument, to have a procedure that produces a “humane death.” Traditionally China has executed those who have earned the right to be put to death by one shot to the back of the head. Mindful of the sensitivities of the survivors, those being shot have been asked to open their mouths when the shot is fired so that the bullet can pass through the head and out the mouth without disfiguring the victim.

Early in the New Year, Jiang Xingchang, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court announced that lethal injection was more humane than the shot to the back of the head and would eventually replace the latter method of execution. It is already being employed in some places in China although the formula is the same three-drug formula that the Supreme Court is considering. Thanks to a relatively new invention, however, death by lethal injection has been made much more pleasant as well as efficient, in China.

According to a report in USA Today, in 2004 authorities began acquiring a new death van designed by Kang Zhongwen in which executions by lethal injection take place. Mr. Kang says that their introduction shows that China “promotes human rights.” The vans enable executions to take place in the communities where the condemned lived thus making it more convenient for family members who want to attend, a truly thoughtful touch. Mr. Kang was quoted in USA Today as saying of the van: “I’m most proud of the bed. It’s very humane, like an ambulance.” He then shows how the bed in the van slides out so the victim can lie down and when secure, be powered into the van. All in all, it seems like a highly civilized approach to state sponsored death. Whether China will be influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion of three drugs vs. one drug only time will tell.

Now you readers who have wasted two minutes reading the foregoing can go back to the internet to see if the polls that are frequently wrong but slavishly reported and commented on, show any change in the standings of the candidates.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. Visit his website: http://hraos.com/

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail