Now let me explain about the methods used, past and present, by the nation that I come from: the United States. My former country has always preached peace yet basked in violence, and its treatment, historically, of murderers, etc. has been ruthless. In the distant past, they hanged people (as in England), and then, during the obscenely disgusting power struggle for control of the electricity market in the USA between arch-asshole Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse -- termed "War of the Currents", and aided by a Serbian named Nikola Tesla-- a machine known as the "electric chair" was invented.
(The first execution of a man named William Kemmler in 1890 turned out to be a hideous mess, with the condemned gentleman catching fire after having awakened during the process, roaring his head off. It was enough, apparently, to make good Christian men wince and good Christian woman faint. Then somebody else came up with the concept of a "gas chamber." A guy would be placed in a small capsule-like enclosure and cyanide pellets dropped onto the floor, leaving the doomed inmate choking and gasping as if somebody had just let a supernova fart in a crowded elevator-- while the deadly poison coated his lungs. Believe it or not, the authorities considered these methods to be more "humane" than the previous ways. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, that's what they did with men, and occasionally women, who were thought deserving of the ultimate punishment.
If you want to know what these executions were like, look up some videos on YouTube. I found a couple which, whether real or fake, just about got it right. Or you can watch the film "The Green Mile," based on a Stephen King novel. Seeing a guy get "fried" (electrocuted) is a pretty stressful sight, not the least when the dude's eyes start popping out of his head. Some people thought then (and think now) that this is appropriate punishment for someone who -- for example -- after methodically cruising the neighborhood, -- sees his chance and kidnaps, rapes, and murders a little girl out gathering daisies -- and then dumps her body in a garbage can. A lot of folks in America think that no punishment is too harsh for such a killer. (What do YOU think?)
But in the 1960's a great wave of idealism swept across the American nation, and capital punishment (death by order of the State) was abolished. This was the time of Civil rights, Flower Power, Peace and Love. Yet idealism gave way -- as it often does -- to cynicism, and gradually a few states began to reinvoke the death penalty. I guess they got pissed off when they realized that offering the chance of a university degree to a convicted killer serving time in the state pen did not turn him automatically into a sweetheart of a guy. Most of these American states were in the South where, not coincidentally, there was and still is a lot of religious fervor. It is generally true that wherever you find some part of the world steaming with religion you also find a lot of gruesome forms of punishment. It seems to go with the territory. Now in America the majority of states are death penalty proactive -- 32 out of 50, at last count.
However, in America they don't just find you guilty and then take you out back and throttle you like they used to. Now, the condemned are put in the state prison and placed on "death row" -- where they sometimes sit for a whole decade or more while all the legal appeals are heard (the lawyers get rich doing it) and all bureaucratic hurdles between life and death are surmounted. It has happened more than once that a teenager who commits murder when he was 18 is not actually executed until he is 30. In effect the state is killing, or so it could be argued -- a different person by then. Well, maybe not really -- these guys usually "get religion" on death row because that's the thing to do in America (turn them loose and they would, 95% of them anyway, revert to their old homicidal form within the time it takes for autumn to turn to winter), but once in a while a guy really does improve, however by then it's too late. Legal retribution does not take 12-step programs into account. Moreover, it has happened that innocent people died at the hands of the state -- simply because the police and state attorney (an elected office in the USA) wanted to make an arrest and impress the public, or because the guy was poor and/or Black and easy to dispose of. That's always been one of the big arguments against the death penalty.
What is more -- this too is typical of America -- they have now 'sanitized' it. Now they give you a "lethal injection" - supposedly painless. They haul you in on a gurney -- as if you were going to surgery to have your tonsils taken out -- and pump one chemical into you to help you relax -- you get to mumble of few words to the official witnesses and family members of the victims "(I ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive me and I apologize for murdering your family") -- and then they pluck you with the other spike and away you go to Never-Never Land. Case closed. Nice and humane. Like euthanizing a sick animal. And the television-watching public never get a glimpse. (To me, that's the big letdown. If you are going to do it -- if you feel proud or justified in doing it -- why not show it to the world?)
Such is what the state has done and such is what those areas of the world that believe in capital punishment continue to do. As of 2013 (the most recent stats I could find on the internet), 58 countries have the death penalty. (I already gave you the American numbers). The nations that execute the most people every year are China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. Drug trafficking is now a capital offense in almost all of the 58 nations, and, predictably, in the Islamic countries 'sports' like sodomy, adultery, and other unholy No-No's will get you air-lifted on the end of a rope to wherever Islamic bad guys are sent..In America, capital punishment is a response to secular crimes; in the Islamic world, religion grabs its fair share of the pie.
Is that the right way? Civilized, highly 'evolved' people, the kind that write editorials in the Washington Post and New York Times (career liberals, in other words) think capital punishment is a form of barbarism that has no place in modern society.. Taking another human life is NEVER justified, they insist. Except if we have to send our boys off to war in some faraway place to protect "democracy." Or, in shit-holes like Texas, where if you feel that you need to "stand your ground" -- an actual law which enables you to legally shoot someone dead on the merest provocation -- you can start busting caps in a guy's ass if he so much as looks at you the wrong way. But capital punishment is held by the intellectual elite to be inhumane and uncivilized. The average American obviously disagrees, but most of the rest of the world, including. Europe and, surprisingly Russia, appears to buy into it. Who was the last guy executed here - Chikitilov?
So, returning to the present, the 18-year-old murderer got a 9 year sentence and the 21-year old received 16 years. This means that the teenager that callously slaughtered a taxi driver who was only out doing his job -- will be riding next to you in the metro before long. He will be 27. HIS life will still be in front of him. And do you know what? He will likely feel no remorse, maybe he will even be proud of what he did. An emblem, in some twisted way, of his manhood.
Nine years. Is that enough for you? Enough for the mother of the murdered taxi driver? Sleep on it, and we will talk more in a day or two..
===Eric Richard Leroy===