Subscribe to RSS Feed

Death penalty drugs

August 23rd 2011

Hello All,

I never thought I’d find myself making a point of saying something positive about drug companies. Given that in far too many respects the pharmaceutical industry must certainly rank in the upper echelon of criminal organizations. (I’ve read enough learnéd articles, watched enough in-depth documentaries, spoken with enough ‘insiders’ to know that I’m on fairly solid ground in making this assertion.) Which doesn’t mean these dudes don’t frequently shower us with any number of exceptionally beneficial products. Far from it. Not only do I regularly gulp my fair share of Ibuprofen (you know, like when I’m feeling a trifle tired and still have work to do or places to go); but as someone who managed to get the clap all of eight times, rest assured that I heartily applaud (hah!) the happy existence of antibiotics. And did all the more so after reading how gonorrhea was treated before penicillin came along. (For an especially harrowing description, see Vance Bourjaily’s novel Confessions of a Spent Youth.) So yes, there are plenty of top-notch drugs around, including legal ones -:) Notwithstanding past horrors like Thalidomide, and despite a shameful plethora of harmful to outright deadly drug-industry malpractices that are still rampant today. From making sure the world stays awash with unneeded (and yet highly profitable!) medications to freely using the peoples of so-called third-world countries as guinea pigs for their potential poisons. In between which the list goes on and on, ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

So what then in God’s name could I possibly have good to say about the buggers?! It’s this: a few pharmaceutical companies are actually taking a stand against the drugs they produce being used to kill people as opposed to healing them. You can read about one such instance in a moment. And when you do, pay particularly close attention to the following passage. Close enough so that maybe you’ll even feel  what might be happening:

Virginia, like many of the 34 out of 50 US states which allow capital punishment, uses a “cocktail” of three drugs to execute condemned prisoners. If all goes according to plan, the first drug renders the prisoner unconscious, a second paralyses the prisoner (thus masking signs the first drug worked or did not work) and a third drug stops the heart. “A lot hinges on the first drug,” Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a research organisation, told the BBC. “It causes unconsciousness, and if that doesn’t work well, the next drugs are very painful.”

That’s in one of the news items. About the execution by lethal injection of a young (30) African-American man who was much younger (20) when, in all likelihood, he did commit the heinous crimes for which he was tried and convicted. I say ‘in all likelihood’ because additional stories reveal that it was never entirely certain that the accused acted alone and was even the actual killer. You can search for those yourself. As well as for others that tell of the cruel abuse the alleged perpetrator suffered as a child. Relevant as these are, they are still beside the main point. Namely that the state of Virginia yet again murdered a human being, and employed as one of its murder weapons a drug that the manufacturer vociferously objected to being used. Objections that fell on deaf ears:
Virginia executes Jerry Jackson amid death-drug row

My stance on capital punishment is straightforward and unambiguous. It is wrong, period. I made this clear in my Zahra Bahrami story, published earlier this year. I’ve made it clear in more than one poem. And I shall make it even clearer in an essay on the death penalty that enshallah I will get back to putting the finishing touches to shortly. In which I shall prove beyond doubt that, regardless of the circumstances, capital punishment is never right, can never be justified, and serves no useful purpose whatever. It is morally repugnant, politically violent, and in fact absurd on every practical level imaginable. End of story. Indeed, it was the one and only issue that the director-poet-anarchist-etc Julian Beck would consent, if needs be, to working through the System he so abhorred to effect a change in. He was “not interested in legalizing marijuana/not interested in electing a better police commissioner” because “the law enforces the system and the system is not just” and so on. But says further in no. IX of his 21 Songs of the Revolution: “i want to get rid of capital punishment/because anything we can do to stop the killing and prolong the living comes first.”

There is hope. Numerous official organizations, among whom the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), have issued public statements reminding members of their ethical obligation not to participate in legally authorized executions. Yet the road remains a long one. In both America and too many other countries outside the European Union (where capital punishment is banned, as is the extraditing of individuals to countries where they could face the death penalty). Nor is that road made easier by two-bit drug dealers like this one:
Lethal injection drug sold from UK driving school

Have a nice day, EDDIE

“Only on your bookshelves, Eddie Woods, would you find Martin Buber’s On Judaism nestled alongside Mein Kampf.” – Ira Cohen

The Zahra Bahrami story

Karla Faye Tucker poem

Execution Poem

Ode to the Clap

From 21 Songs of the Revolution

IX
not interested in legalizing marijuana
not interested in electing a better police commissioner
we do not need restrictive law
its not that no one kills
its that everyone lives

no use improving the laws
myth that the law can be improved
myth that the law has to do with justice
the law enforces the system and the system is not just
we dont need justice we need life
justice awards the verdict to authority and property
justice within the system is the illusion of a people afraid to do for themselves
and it is the system that makes us afraid of one another
it is the system that requires the law

i want to get rid of capital punishment
because anything we can do to stop the killing and prolong the living comes first
but i dont want to change the marijuana law
i want to keep breaking it
i want to break the law
to shatter it on the rocks to see the scattering of the pieces
         maya the dissolution of illusion
i want to break the law
i want our freedom

Julian Beck

Categories

Archives