DailyDirt: Suicide Isn't Painless — Neither Is The Death Penalty (Yet?)

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Regardless if you’re for or against the death penalty, there’s at least some agreement that the method of execution shouldn’t be cruel and unusual. The drugs for lethal injections seem to be running into supply problems, resulting in some botched executions. One might think the methods for assisted suicide would step in, but doctors like Jack Kevorkian are pretty scarce.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “DailyDirt: Suicide Isn't Painless — Neither Is The Death Penalty (Yet?)”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Some people are bona fide killers and will kill anyone for any reason or none at all.

Super max prisons are sparse and are usually filled with all the wrong people. (escape artists, leaders of drug cartels) Which means serial killers roam our prisons killing thousands of inmates (which most (3 out 4) are serving time for non-violent crimes) every year.

In other words, some people are not fit for civilization and to lock them in a box with no contact is a fate worse than death.

The only humane thing to do is to put them down for the sake of everyone and anyone who has to deal with their bloodthirst.

Go to bestgore.com and you’ll see just how evil these people are…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Some people are bona fide killers and will kill anyone for any reason or none at all. “

Agreed. However, the reason I think the death penalty needs to go away has nothing to do with that. I think the death penalty needs to go away because people get put to death for crimes they didn’t commit. Even one single innocent person being wrongfully put to death is murder, and that’s enough to warrant doing away with the system unless it can be made perfect.

Which it can’t. Errors are inevitable (and, in the US, aren’t terribly rare). As long as that’s the reality, then the punishments being given should be reversible, so the errors can be corrected if they’re discovered later.

If the justice system never wrongfully convicted people, then I would be fine with the death penalty because I think that putting someone to death is less cruel than locking them up for the rest of their life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The death penalty is really just a holdover from an earlier era, before the concept of the penitentiary, and when the cost (to a much poorer society) of keeping a person imprisoned for long terms was prohibitive. It’s odd that our society has completely done away with flogging and other corporal punishments as “cruel” (except for children) but execution remains (since the Supreme Court’s approval) and despite the controversy, is still as popular as ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Firing Squad? Waste Of Taxpayer Money!

Also, it’s traditional for one guy’s rifle to be loaded with a blank … or at least that’s what they’re told. Though it would seem that the guy with the blank would immediately notice substantially reduced recoil, so it would hardly be secret who got the blank. The same thing was done with electric chairs, two people flipping a switch at the same time, but only one has live current.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Firing Squad? Waste Of Taxpayer Money!

If someone aims a gun at a person, and pulls the trigger, it’ll be considered attempted homicide, even if the gun jams, or if some joker had secretly switched its ammo with candy.

It’s the same here. It doesn’t matter if your gun had the blank. You aimed and shot with the intention to kill.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Firing Squad? Waste Of Taxpayer Money!

It doesn’t matter if your gun had the blank. You aimed and shot with the intention to kill.

It’s not a legal issue, it’s about allowing the executioners to consider that they might not have killed someone. I’m wondering who the shooters would be in a Utah execution by firing squad. Cops? Not sure that sounds like a good idea, but who else?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Firing Squad? Waste Of Taxpayer Money!

Though it would seem that the guy with the blank would immediately notice substantially reduced recoil, so it would hardly be secret who got the blank.

Maybe, maybe not. What kind of guns do they use? A small caliber rifle can have minimal recoil to begin with. And how much of the recoil is due to the bullet, and how much to the charge? If the blank had the same charge as a regular round, you still have the same explosive energy with nowhere to go but out the barrel. Would it make that big a difference to the recoil whether it was pushing air or a bullet?

Talk about off topic. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: enough to miss any vital organs

“The usual execution technique is to hold the gun against the side of the head, or alternatively insert it in the mouth, pointing up towards the brain.”

You’re confusing suicide with execution. The ‘standard’ way these days of executing prisoners by gunfire is to have them with their hands cuffed behind their back, lying face-down on the ground (the only way American police like to deal with suspects). At least that’s how it’s been down in Iraq for over a decade. (though ISIS has modified the execution rules somewhat since arriving in the country)

The older, traditional, though now somewhat outdated way was the “mob style execution” in which the person would be kneeling on the ground and be shot point-blank in the back of the head. This may have been a reason why newly-arrived prisoners at Guantanamo were forced to kneel for long periods, blindfolded and handcufffed, while US soldiers paced back and forth behind them. It was all part of a psychological breaking-down, by forcing prisoners into a position which has traditionally been used for execution, and then keeping them on that emotional cliff-hanger for hours if not days at a stretch.


Anonymous Coward says:

Chop Suey

Michael Ho is obviously not from an (old fashioned) Arab or Muslim background — having completely left out the preferred execution method (and big spectator sport) of this major civilization of the world — head chopping.

Although executions in the USA tend to be invitation-only closed-door affairs, in countries like Saudi Arabia, it’s like a day at the races, a day out to bring the wives and children to the town square and watch the weekly entertainment. Though personally I think I’d find watching a Roman-style gladiator match a bit more exciting, since the ending is not as predictable.

Hey, why not let two death-row prisoners slug it out with swords on national TV? The ratings would surely be through the roof. What, something about ‘civilized’ people? Well, I think that Americans are basically bloodthirsty savages at heart, so why try to hide it any longer?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Chop Suey

Funny how the beheading is still more humane than anything the US came out in the last 100 years.
Acid in your lung? Must feel awesome. Cooked alive in a chair? Some guy said a hammer would have been easier.
While the needle seems good its only because they are paralized and the few survivors were not impressed at all.
Hanging is fine but even an idiot can botch it intentionally, as the US did with german prisoners…

Im all for a deathmatch thou, unless they donate their organs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Chop Suey

“Funny how the beheading is still more humane than anything the US came out in the last 100 years.”

Who says the goal is to necessarily be quick and painless? (Are Tasers quick and painless? Hell no!) The US Constitution forbade punishment that was “cruel AND unusual” and it was interpreted to mean punishment that satified both conditions. In Medieval times, torture and death became art forms, with all kinds of creative devices invented for that purpose. (Even Jesus didn’t get off easy, and the Romans were just getting started.) I’ve got to wonder if any of these torture/execution devices were ever patented, as the only patents I’ve been able to find are for magician’s props that only simulate head-chopping and other execution methods.


“Im all for a deathmatch thou, unless they donate their organs.”

If the goal is for organ “donation” then the best way (obviously) is to put the guy under anesthesia, on a hospital operating table, and then cut out the organs one by one. When it’s all over, the person (or what’s left of him) is by then essentially dead anyway, even if technically still under anesthesia. So no formal execution ritual is required. And then while you’re at it, why not just use up all of the human body (surely every part can be used for something!) and that would have the added benefit of saving on burial costs.

But back to the topic of beheading …

the Saudis use long, heavy, curved swordes that will separate a head from the body in one whack, but Isis and other Islamic fundamentalists use much smaller “hunting” knives that take much longer to accomplish the same goal — the complete separation of the head from the body. Which for some reason is an absolute necessity in that section of the world, as apparently it’s considered barbarian to only sever a head 90% and then call it a day. The Daniel Pearl executioners in Pakistan also practiced the “ISIS” method of head-severing, as that famous Ogrish video showed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Firing squad seems like a bad idea.

How many people do they have to assemble who are willing to shoot?

Will it be the old timey “back against a pole/wall and 5-6 people shoot with rifles” or more like “gun to the head” style?

Isn’t “get hit by bullet and die instantly” just a movie/tv trope?
IIRC most people don’t die instantly, except headshots to critical areas. Massive trauma may put people into shock till they just bleed out.

So you have several people who might not be quite so eager to aim for the head, shoot one round each somewhere into the body?
Doesn’t sound very quick and “painless” to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“It is, yes. But if the bullet is very well aimed and fired at very close range, it can be instant.”

Whatever “very close range” is supposed to mean, the type of rifles typically used by firing squads fire bullets that can still have lethal velocities (almost supersonic speed) a mile away.

Of course at point-blank range, blanks can be very lethal due to the explosive blast alone.

Amabo Kcarab says:

death penalty

There is no shortage of lethal drugs. The state police have plenty of the stuff locked up in evidence rooms. A nice injection of heroin should do the trick, and if they botch it and don’t use enough, the condemned prisoner might even look forward to a second dose. But beyond that, a successful execution will send a clear and useful message about street drugs. It’s a win-win!

Richard (profile) says:


There is only one guaranteed painless method.

It consists in being placed near to a large atomic bomb which is then detonated.

Being instantly vapourised is as close to painless as you can get.

Fortunately this would also provide a big deterrent to the imposition of the punishment in the first place – which would be a good thing in my book.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Painless

It consists in being placed near to a large atomic bomb which is then detonated.

Being instantly vapourised is as close to painless as you can get.

A bomb doesn’t need to be all that big to instantly kill someone right next to it. Certainly not atomic scale. A few pounds of C4 would definitely do it – probably a few ounces could do it if applied properly.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Painless

To be guaranteed painless requires that you be vapourised before your nerves have time to respond.

That does require a nuclear device.

“Nerve impulses are extremely fast, with some myelinated neurons conducting at speeds up to 120 m/s.”


“When detonated, C-4 rapidly decomposes to release nitrogen and carbon oxides as well as other gasses. The gasses expand at an explosive velocity of 8,092 m/s.”


You would be mush before a nerve impulse could get to your brain and be interpreted as pain.

GEMont (profile) says:

I love the smell of fried brains in the morning...

For the love of pete, if you’re hell bent on killing people for their crimes, why not simply anesthetize them and dissect them alive, but unconscious, until bleeding, or the lack of some important organ stops the heart.

That way you get their organs fresh and intact and without the stress chemicals or poisons induced by hanging, toxic injection, or other painful death types – organs which can then be used to save other people’s lives.

In this way, the criminal is handily and efficiently eliminated, but at least semi-humanely and in a manner that will lead to the saving of other lives.

Oh yeah… I forgot. The death sentence is also a means to exact a little barbaric pain-filled revenge for the victims of the criminals acts and the viewing public, before the ultimate end is achieved – such as watching his brain melt in the electric chair, the convulsions induced by injection of toxic chemicals, the firing squad bullets punching holes in his chest, or the death throes and bowel release of the hanged.

Spectator favourites all.

Silly me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Per the headline, I don’t see why suicide shouldn’t be painless or open to the public. We need to establish that ownership of a person’s body belongs to no one but himself, and however well-meaning others’ interventions might be, the person should not be obligated to cooperate with them.

Not that I’m saying it’s OK to take 150 airline passengers with you on the way down. Just that we shouldn’t be so paternalistic in allowing people for whatever reason to snip the threads of fate themselves.

Clair Wilson says:

I doubt victims of the criminals sentenced to death will feel relief once they die. For example, serial killers carry out brutal murders and just imagining what their victims may have come through before they died makes me think that death penalty is an easy way out for them. And if someone says death penalty decreases number of crimes, I’d say it doesn’t. As pointed out in this essay on death penalty, a person who wants to kill will kill and death penalty won’t stop them. The mind of a criminal works differently. In most cases they suffer from some kind of a psychological disorder. In such a state they won’t be thinking about what happens after they murder someone. I guess we can try to treat such people. Still killing them or letting them out after a successful treatment is out of the option (at least to me). Besides, capital punishment system isn’t perfect and we may kill an innocent person.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...