August 06, 2015

Today in History: First use of the electric chair (1890)

John RobsonResident Historian

August 6 is a landmark in progress gone mad. Not for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, a legitimate act of war that saved many lives, mostly Japanese. But for the first use of the electric chair in 1890.

Capital punishment is a contentions subject.

But there is no excuse for succumbing to the latest fad and electrocuting people when perfectly reliable methods had existed for centuries that certainly didn’t cause more suffering than the new system and very likely caused less.

It is a serious business to take a human life.

When it is done in a trendy way it really is progress gone mad.

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commented 2015-08-06 23:49:55 -0400
No method of capital punishment is good in my view. But I entirely agree that electricity was and continues to be a bad idea. Smell of cooked meat? Good Gawd!

The hatchet method is very gruesome, very bloody, not so different in result, sometimes, than what happens when a boy kills his first chicken. It too often takes several blows, several hacks, to sever the head – or, as we’ve seen in ISIS executions – extensive sawing and it is just plain barbaric.

Beheading should always be done Bolyn style – with a heavy, sharp sword wielded by an expert.

Chemical overdose has proved to be unduly cruel. Taking too long, wrong drugs, several tries required, viewing lounge ordering take-out. Seriously. Drugs and electricity are bad.

Hanging I abhor – too often inexperienced or overzealous executioners have miscalculated weight, rope, knots, and fall so that decapitation occurs (Saddam) or it takes half an hour (Coffin).

Firing squad is most humane.

But no capital punishment is humane unless the victim doesn’t see it coming and when does that ever happen? No, I oppose capital punishment. Murder by deranged and deviant individuals is bad enough but murder by all of us as represented by the state is a blight on civil society that sullies all humankind.
commented 2015-08-06 15:41:55 -0400
Still think that a sedative overdose is far more humane.