Cruel and Unusual

Uncategorized

Cruel and Unusual

 

According to the Supreme Court, the Constitution does not allow for “cruel and unusual punishment” but does allow for an individual to be confined in  a room for years awaiting the date of their execution. In the case of a recent botched lethal injection in Oklahoma, these executions are sometimes tantamount to torture, and are arguably inherently  inhumane.

I thought I would include two passages on the subject, from Camu and Orwell, who I think both made their points better than I did.

On the notion of the death penalty providing justice by way of equivalence, Camu wrote in his essay Reflections on the Guillotine

But what then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s
deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.

And George Orwell, who wrote about the meaning of extinguishing a human life in his short story, A Hanging

It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working – bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less.

 

 

 

2014 will be like 2013

Domestic, International, Uncategorized, Writing

The unsolved problems that have dominated the national discourse this year will only intensify as we make our way into another election year.

2013 was the first year that I kept a consistent schedule, working with The Gabbler’s editors to pitch ideas and angles for cartoons. Again and again, I found myself focusing on certain themes: the intimate relationship between moneyed interests and the government; technology and the perpetually-multiplying powers of the executive branch; and political events that are shaping the direction of the world.

The closeness between the government and moneyed interests is clearly on display in the legal treatment of banks for their far-reaching crimes. My first cartoon this year – an admittedly conventional and unimpressive illustration of an unidentified character shouting at the DOJ’s Lanny Breuer and an oversized personification of HSBC – was a reaction to small fines for heinous money laundering practices. This topic came up again in October, when J.P. Morgan Chase and their acquisitions WaMu and Bear Sternes also avoided criminal charges for recklessly tanking the economy.

This theme will likely be even more pronounced in 2014, as corporations continue to shape our government by blatantly using massive amounts of money to choose who gets elected, and the gap between the rich and poor widens.