Sonny Bunch – Progress? Nah!

The Washington Free Beacon, a project of the 501(c)4 Center for American Freedom, is a nonprofit online newspaper that began publication on February 7, 2012. Dedicated to uncovering the stories that the professional left hopes will never see the light of day, the Free Beacon produces in-depth and investigative reporting on a wide range of issues, including public policy, government affairs, international security, and media criticism. Whether it’s exposing cronyism, dissecting the relationship between the progressive movement and the mainstream media, finding out just who is shaping our domestic and foreign policy and why, or highlighting the threats to American security and peace in a dangerous world, the Free Beacon is committed to serving the public interest by reporting news and information that currently is not being fully covered by other news organizations.

The Beacon’s editor in chief is Matthew Continetti. Sonny Bunch is the managing editor. Bill Gertz is senior editor.

In short? American Right Wing Magazine. Gotcha!

Sonny Bunch has a rather interesting take on the botched Oklahoma Execution. Interesting in that it shows the poison that has seeped into the Culture of the Right Wing America.

What we have here is the dialogue of bravado. Look let us not beat around the bush here. There are people out there who say things that are terrible but never do them. There are people who do things that are terrible after saying they would. Since one piece of gutter journalism deserves another? I give you a person who did something terrible. There are probably gun nuts furiously stroking their weapons gesticulating furiously about a man’s right to defend his castle by executing thieves. This man will probably be a poster child for the furious wank and conspiracy theory..

But let us concentrate on Sonny here.

Last night, Oklahoma was scheduled to execute two individuals. The second execution was to be of a man who raped and murdered an 11-month-old girl. That execution never took place because the first execution—that of a man who was involved in the murder and burial alive of a 19-year-old woman who walked in on a robbery—ran into some difficulties. The state was using a new lethal injection cocktail and, it seems, the poor murderer suffered a bit before expiring of a heart attack.

The difference between me and Sonny is this.

I would treat Hitler the same as any of my other patients. Even the most hated man in the world would get the healthcare he deserves. I hold my ethics seriously. I am not judge and jury to determine who lives and who dies based on their morals.

There is a difference to the dark humour of a terrorist accidentally blowing himself up. He deserved it, he was destroyed by his own violence.

But this is torture. This is (like Sarah Palin) a man joking about the death of another person at the hands of a state apparatus that we know has probably killed people it shouldn’t have.

How can you claim to be a moral person and the core of morality compared to my decadence.

I want to highlight two reactions to this “botched” execution. The first was an absurd bit of moral lunacy, the second a more nuanced and interesting question.

The moral lunacy first: Anti-death-penalty advocates seized on this instance to post charts such as this one that purport to show the United States is just as bad as China and Iran because we execute criminals and they execute criminals and all executions are obviously the same. The suggestion that the United States taking decades to execute first degree murderers and Iran hanging gays from cranes and China murdering political dissidents is in any way similar is an idiotic bit of false moral equivalence, one that proves the deep unseriousness of a certain segment of the anti-death penalty contingent.

Yet the man gleefully chortling over the painful and slow death of another (albeit more terrible) man is somehow morally superior.

See the thing is these people are being executed for crimes. They broke the law so they are being killed as a punishment and a deterrent to prevent others from doing these crimes.

Some of these crimes are legal in other countries.

But luckily, in the USA. This sort of execution is set aside for murderers of the “worst sort” rather than political dissidents.

But that doesn’t make it right. It is still the taking of a life and the moment one innocent person is killed, the apparatus of the execution has become the apparatus of murder. Who will hang for that?

If your argument is “shut up about executions, at least we aren’t China or Iran” then perhaps you need a better argument. You hold yourselves to the best of the world. Everyone seeks to be the best. This is the problem with the delusion of exception.

See Sonny Bunch thinks no other country in the world has reached the lofty heights of the USA. USA = No. 1 and the rest of the world is filled with ignorant savages and the ghosts of the howling wastes. To them, America is the West. The rest of us may as well not exist. Nothing we do matters, nothing we do is moral. He sees us as sad places where freedom of speech is curtailed because the GLBT can get married. We aren’t free because we cannot own guns. And we all die young, crushed under a death panel.

The second reaction—revulsion that the state would engage in “cruel and unusual” punishment by having the subject of an execution suffer before he expires—is a bit more reasonable and something that we should address. It is, of course, worth noting that Oklahoma in all likelihood did not intend for this poor murderer to suffer a bit before he died. As such, the constitutional worries seem moot. And, frankly, as someone who believes that the death penalty serves as retribution rather than deterrence,* I have a hard time getting upset when someone as disgusting as the condemned suffers a bit before expiring. But as a general matter and a basic principle, I don’t think the government should be in the business of intending to make people suffer horrifically before they die.

I have written about the actual execution here.

And it is here we must point out that rather than learning from the rest of the world we see the USA determined to keep executing people and effectively use untried and untested drugs to kill in an inhumane way.

You have a hard time getting upset about it? Well? A man just got killed using untried medication being heavily misused by barely competent people over 45 minutes. And that is okay with you because no one meant to let him suffer?

So how do we minimize suffering of the condemned? Our biggest problem as a society is that we have decided bloodlessness is a suitable stand-in for lack of suffering (and a way to protect the sensibilities of those who support the death penalty). Well, the pursuit of a bloodless execution seems to have backfired pretty badly here. And there’s evidence that previous lethal injection cocktails weren’t much better. Allow me to propose a rather radical alternative: the guillotine.

Actually it was the banning of the common drugs with legal riders preventing their use for executions and embargoes from the EU that forced the USA to play “science experiment”.

Allow me to propose a radical “fuck you”. You want to fucking guillotine people? After the entire fucking developed world has told you that your usage of medicine for murder is an ugly stain on the human conscience, your response  is “would it be better if it was a guillotine”.

In this we truly see the barbarism of the death penalty supporter. Bring Back Hanging Mate! That will teach em! Except when hanging was about, people still murdered and people still killed.

In fact? After hanging was abolished and we began community policing, the number of murders and violent crime generally fell because police couldn’t look like they were doing work simply by getting murderers to swing.

There are other, less dramatic, ways, of course. Hanging and firing squads would probably be quicker and more painless than lethal injection or the electric chair. But the guillotine really seems to solve everyone’s problems: It was designed to deliver an efficient, quick, and painless death. It performs that task admirably. I understand the irony of a reactionary such as myself embracing the Terror’s preferred method of execution, but one must give credit where it’s due.

Er… No. Hanging requires a skilled hangman or else you end up without a head or struggling. I have rescued people from hangings (self inflicted) who lived. Hanging is a slow process if not for the skill of a hangman. And this is a skill that is lost since hangmen were once apprenticed and none really exist. Also? Still people botched hangings.

Firing Squads? Really? Man people really think being shot doesn’t hurt? Do you know why there is a firing squad rather  than a single bullet? Because no one wanted too know whose bullet was the one that killed the victim.

And the joke is that the Guillotine was considered barbaric because of the understanding that the brain survived for a few seconds or minutes after death and so was capable of feeling pain. Some noted response to stimuli but whether this is autonomic or under control, we will never know.

If we’re going to do something—and a large number of Americans and American states are pretty committed to performing executions—we ought to do it right. And “right” in this case means a quick and painless death. I can’t really imagine any reasonable objections to a widespread adoption of the guillotine.

Have you considered “stopping”?

Either this post is parody that I have not understood or it is a genuine attempt to try and discuss alternatives after the medical industry has spoken out against the usage of its technology to cause harm for the sake of causing harm.

He’s got a disclaimer though.

For what it’s worth: I believe the studies that show the death penalty does nothing to deter crime yet support it anyway, as I believe there are some crimes so heinous that there can be no forgiveness from society. This plays into my whole theory of the judicial system, which is that we should imprison fewer nonviolent offenders, rehabilitate those prisoners who can be rehabilitated, and severely punish the rest. I also think we should probably execute fewer people and heighten the standards of evidence required before an execution can be obtained, but that’s a post for another day

Jailing people for life is not forgiveness. It is stating that they are so horrible that they cannot participate in society anymore and lose all rights and privileges associated with those. The right to live is his though and the killing of a human being should not be part of the judiciary except in the direst of circumstances such as “police response to armed people” rather than an unarmed and currently harmless man.


  1. sugarfrosted says

    I went the whole part about the fold reading “Free Beacon” and “Free Bacon.” I suppose this means I should eat before I read it.

  2. says

    I’ve been in favor of abolishing the death penalty for a while now. This week’s horror finally tipped the balance for my husband as well, from “maybe in some special circumstances” to “no, not ever”. The US is going to have to abolish the death penalty once and for all, if we want to make any claim to being civilized.

  3. says

    I believe there are some crimes so heinous that there can be no forgiveness from society

    This is so bizzare; I just have to write a bit.

    The notion of “forgiveness” never made much sense to me, but certainly makes none at all in the context of “society” – the wrongs that one person inflicts upon another are not for “society” to forgive: the only person who can forgive a wrong is the victim. The whole idea of second-hand forgiveness is a bit of immorality I suspect infuses our society from christianity and its goofy moral theory that someone can forgive sins that they had nothing to do with. If someone kills me, they have not wronged society as a whole, they have wronged me. Society cannot meaningfully forgive (or withhold forgiveness) on my behalf; unfortunately I am dead and can no longer weigh in on the matter. What society can do is decide that the person who kills me is dangerous and therefore should be constrained/controlled/prevented from doing it to someone else. Now that society knows they have a dangerous killer, it’s reasonable to decide that person is irredemable and should be sequestered indefinitely. But in that situation, still, it is meaningless for society to try to take revenge on my behalf – I’m still dead: revenge doesn’t help me and society has no way of knowing whether I want revenge or not. No matter, the only person who can practically take revenge is the party that was wronged. Punishment is also stupid; punishment is basically revenge – so, what, society is going to torment Joe because Joe killed Marcus? How does that help Marcus? How does that help Joe? How does that help society? We cannot meaningfully argue that it will deter Joe from killing because obviously the threat of punishment didn’t deter Joe from his first killing.

    rehabilitate those prisoners who can be rehabilitated, and severely punish the rest

    Here’s the weird thing. Prisoners who can be rehabilitated are rehabilitated more or less instantly, or never. Let’s say we have a drunk driver who kills a pedestrian: they have either figured out that drunk driving is a bad idea and will never want to drink and drive again, or they are going to do it again. “Rehabilitation” becomes a matter of figuring out which you’re dealing with – but putting someone in jail for 3, 5, 10 years to “think it over” isn’t going to help them or society or their victim. It seems to me that by definition repeat offenders are never “rehabilitated” (they would have figured it out the first time) And, if they haven’t figured it out after the first time, punishment isn’t going to do anything except give the offender a lot to be angry about. I hypothesize that a lot of these first-time offenders who have basically figured out what they did wrong and gotten the idea, probably wind up getting probation or something like that – basically society serves them a “you fucked up bigtime” notice and they accept it, acknowledge they fucked up, and everyone tries to move on.

    I can actually imagine a situation in which someone kills me accidentally – even though minor negligence – and I’d forgive and accept it as an accident. Because, in life, shit happens and I’ve made a lot of mistakes myself so I am inclined to forgive. Society has no role in that, however, and cannot because that forgiveness or withholding of forgiveness is not society’s. I actually tend to be forgiving because I see withholding forgiveness as fairly pointless, too, once something has gone wrong.

    So I guess I’m with Hannah Arendt – I think society’s role begins at the point when a group can collectively say “your actions are so heinous that we no longer wish to share a planet with you; it’s time for you to go.” But I don’t think society should commit the very same crime(s) in return; that’s not a moral equation because two wrongs really don’t make a right. There’s no benefit to society, or the victim, or the perpetrator to make their imprisonment unpleasant, either. If you’re sequestering someone from society because they are too dangerous, the cost of doing so is only marginally higher to give them a nice hotel-quality room that is safe and comfortable, and cable TV and all the entertainment they want – while keeping them away from the rest of society. If society makes the person’s sequestration cruel, it is society showing that it doesn’t understand the pointlessness of doing so; it is society demonstrating that it is also capable of meaningless cruelty. How, exactly, is meeting cruelty with cruelty going to teach a cruel person that cruelty is a bad idea?

    So I suppose my solution for people who demonstrate that they are dangerous to society at large, is to sequester them in a nice high security hotel, where they can consume entertainment and food and amuse themselves only in safe and harmless ways, without being able to interact with the society that they have rejected and which in turn rejects them. I would offer someone in that situation the option of a painless assisted suicide if they simply couldn’t handle any more of the dreck that’s on cable TV, or if the boredom got too great. But the most cruel thing I think society can appropriately do to such a person is to remind them, whenever they complain, that their situation is a consequence of their choices.

  4. says

    Quoth Avicenna:
    It is stating that they are so horrible that they cannot participate in society anymore and lose all rights and privileges associated with those

    I suspect that’s how a lot of people see it, but I’d modify your claim to be something more like:

    It is stating that their actions are so threatening that society cannot trust them not to be a general danger – while they still have human rights and privileges, society must protect itself by sequestering them so that they cannot threaten other people. If they wish to rejoin society, it is their problem to convince society that they no longer represent a danger; which is going to be very hard, given the severity of their actions.

    I guess I am arguing that “victimless crimes” should – if anything – be treated as a mental health issue, and that the only things that would ever land someone in prison would be if they had so threatened society that there wasn’t a significant likelihood that they’d ever be allowed to rejoin. Hmm…. So you’d pretty much only go to prison permanently or not at all.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    In all honesty, isn’t the guillotine still pretty much the most humane method of execution out there?

  6. says

    isn’t the guillotine still pretty much the most humane method of execution out there?

    No; the correct cocktail of drugs would be. The availability of those drugs has been restricted – that’s the problem. Being shot through the mid-brain would hurt less but it’s messy.

    Victims of beheading don’t run around like chickens, but there’s going to be brain activity for a while after the head is removed, decreasing after blood flow stops. So think about this – there’s a good chance that the severed head would still experience vestibular motion as it flew into the basket, and if the eyes were open they would still be sending signals for a second or two.

    High explosive must be painless, if the shockwave’s supersonic propagation demolishes the brain faster than nerves can signal. But that would definitely be very very messy.

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