‘Fundamental standard’

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Saturday, May 3, 2014


OXYMORON. The word gives me the shivers. And not because it has “moron” in it. Although, morons do frighten me. And definitely not because it has the ring of something darkly verboten. It’s just so primal sounding.
An oxymoron, according to Wikipedia, “is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory.”

Its etymology is Greek: oxus (sharp) and moron (foolish). Put them together, you get oxumoron, or pointedly foolish. It wasn’t until the 17th century that it got its present form.

Among common examples are “awful good,” “civil war,” “bitter sweet” and “clearly misunderstood.”

So why am I talking about oxymoron?

Earlier in the week, I chanced upon a report on CNN about a botched execution in McAlester in the US state of Oklahoma.

Death by lethal injection is the most common method of execution in the US, although electrocution, gas chamber, hanging and firing squad are also applied in certain states as a secondary method.

So for Clayton D. Lockett, who was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to death for killing 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman the year before, it was to be lethal injection. He not only assaulted her, but he ordered his two accomplices to bury her alive afterwards.

Lockett’s date of execution was April 29, 2014, or last Tuesday. The day started out early for Lockett. Prison officers tried to shackle him around 5 a.m. so he could be X-rayed, but he refused. So they tasered him. (To the uninitiated, a taser is a weapon that “uses electric current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles causing ‘neuromuscular incapacitation.’ Someone struck by a Taser experiences stimulation of his or her sensory nerves and motor nerves, resulting in strong involuntary muscle contractions.” Well, how civilized.)

When they finally got to examine him, they discovered that he had slashed his own arm but an assistant physician said he didn’t require any sutures.

Okay, before I continue, why were they taking him to get an X-ray? To check if he had TB?

Anyway, as his 6 p.m. time for lethal injection approached, Lockett was strapped on a gurney in the execution room.

It took officials 51 minutes to find a suitable vein where they can place an IV line. Finally, a doctor decided on his groin area. They inserted a catheter into his groin and then they placed a sheet over him for privacy.

Seriously? They have no qualms injecting a lethal concoction into his body to kill him but they don’t want the viewing public to see his genitals?

What transpired in the next 53 minutes prompted one witness to describe the scene as torture. That was before prison officials lowered the blinds between the execution chamber and the viewing room 15 minutes into Lockett’s ordeal.

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety was directed to review why it took Lockett so long to die.

Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told NBC News that the Oklahoma execution fell short of “humane” standards.

“In this case, or these cases, the crimes are indisputably horrific and heinous. But it’s also the case that we have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely. And I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard,” Carney said.

Humane execution? Death should not be sugarcoated by political correctness, especially when it is administered by an institution that claims to value human life.

By the way, the plural of oxymoron—oxymora—always reminds me of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” Go figure!

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 04, 2014.

Opinion

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