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Dead guy of the day.. and the ways to die (part 2)

And now Part two. The Firing Squad. An age old tradition and way to die. Its still offered in two states-Utah and Idaho. More in the extended entry.

George Kendall was one of the first people in the United States (back when we were just collonies) killed by a firing squad. The year was 1608 and Kendall was one of the original councilors for the new colony. The colony was my own, beloved, Virginia (gag me with a spoon).

When facing a firing squad, the victim has two forms of death. Either instant. Or slow. The way it works is simple. The victim sits in a chair-why do they always die sitting?-and is straped down. The gun men are asked to aim for the heart (clearly depicted by a piece of white fabric on the victims shirt). If all the shots hit the heart then it is a short death. If all the shots miss, the victim can die slowly of blood loss.

There is a myth that all but one man has a blank bullet. This is false because an experienced gunman knows he is shooting a blank by the recoil.

The first man condemed to die by firing squad, after the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, was Gary Gilmore. He took over two minutes to die, even though all four bullets pieced his heart.

And as one final oddball fact. The inmate is surounded by Sandbags. So as to absorb the blood.


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Morbid, truly morbid Rachael. Heheh keep it up! *laughs*


This is all interesting stuff. But doesn't it just prove how barbaric the death penalty is? I know there's been a recent movement in some US states to suspend the death sentence because a disproportionate number of blacks and poor people are on death row. Let alone people who've been proven innocent e.g. via DNA testing.

I think the US is with China and Lybia in keeping the death sentence. The mark of a civilised society is rising above an "eye for an eye".

Any chance of you letting us know what you think about all this? Is state sanctioned killing of people, criminals or not, right or wrong (OK, that's pretty biased, but you get the idea).


I guess no one need to guess how you feel about it Simon.
There is no "movement", the majority of the country supports the deah penalty by a wide margin.
I have no problems with the death penalty and no problems with the number of blacks and poor people on death row if they are murderers. I think we are using DNA more now and if DNA and a jury says someone is guilty they should die but in a more timely fashion than now.
I do not agree with you that it is the mark of a "civilized society". That is just your opinion.
There is nothing barbaric about it unless you are squimish about putting to death mass murderers.
Let me ask you this, should executions be televised? Would you find that more barbaric or less?


Obviously I'm against the death penalty as it's applied at the moment. I am 99% sure the Governor of Illinois declared a moratorium on the death penalty in one famous case and several others have since. I actually support the death penalty in certain cases such as crimes against humanity (e.g. genocide). Televising the deaths would simply turn them into a form of entertainment, something that I thought went out in the French Revolution.


Mookie, since you're also interested in drama you might see if you can get ahold of the script for "The Exonerated," and maybe check out some reviews of the various productions. The stories are thought-provoking when you are focusing on capital punishment, and the way it is staged is a little different from traditional plays.


I have a problem with people using capital punishment as a yardstick for civilized behavior. In my admittedly-biased mind, there's a world of difference between the US version, with it's automatic sentence appeals and years-long process to conclusion, compared to China's fast-track version. There are also many governments who condemn capital punishment while sanctioning 'unofficial' execution of undesirables (political opponents and critics).

Like any other process, there are improvements being made, and I'm glad DNA testing is becoming the standard of proof where possible.

Poor and minority percentages on death row is a simple fact to explain (in broad generalizations). Non-poor white people are more likely to be able to spend more money on legal representation. One compensitory factor that is hardly ever mentioned is that everyone gets adaquate legal representation. There's no 'right' to get more than adaquate, and I'd bet that it's all 90% of Americans get within the system. I can't afford a great lawyer, so I'll get the best one I can afford, which mostly means adaquate.

I'm not rabidly pro or anti-death penalty, and I'm not foolish enough to think that there have never been mistakes either way. But I do believe that the system is fair overall.

Objecting to capital punishment on arguments of 'playing God' and such are a whole different category, and I don't worry about them, because I'm not very religious, and different Gods have different rules. So far, the law applies to everyone equally, which is a more even standard than the various church-goers can agree on.


Actually entertainment is a new one to me.
The ones I have heard are either:
1) Televise so people will see how cruel it is and be repulsed and want to stop it
2) Televise it so that its actual deterent factor would be enhanced.

I have no position on it either way, I don't think it will change much.


After all the appeals are done, after all the years it takes, if the person is still found guilty of murder, my vote goes for the death penalty... Are there better ways to execute the guilty?... Sure... Do the ones we have now work?... Yep... In the back of my sometimes twisted mind, I wonder if we should just off these criminals in the same way that they commited their crime... Problem is then, we're getting into revenge, and that's no good... I'd prefer to just get rid of those on death row simply from an economic point... Why are we spending all this money keeping the criminal around after they went through the entire legal process?... The prison system is crowded enough...


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Are some of the people on this forum who favor death penalty for real?
Killing a human being, a person, so that "Justice" will prevail?
The death penalty is as useful to stop crime as charity is useful to stop poverty.

Hilmi Koca
Amsterdam, Holland


Wow, disregarding the spam, I'm still statled that this comment thread is alive. As such I just want to mention that I believe I state my beliefs later in the series of posts.. Read the whole category if your truly interested. And Hilmi, this isn't a forum per se, though it does occasionaly act as such. Thanks for your comments!