There was another “botched” execution on Wednesday, this time in Arizona, where it took Joseph Wood nearly two hours to die after being administered a lethal injection that was supposed to take 10 minutes to kill him. This led our own Tommy Christopher to wonder why it would be unacceptable for the fully-sanctioned execution of a convicted murderer to be aired on television, while at the same time TV stations across the country broadcast video of a man accused simply of selling untaxed cigarettes being killed by a police chokehold.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of George Carlin’s unique take on the death penalty back in his 1996 HBO special, Back in Town, and how to make it more efficient and appealing to a mass audience at the same time. (Strong language)
“Now, I don’t care about capital punishment one way or another because I know it dosn’t do anything. It doesn’t do anything, except maybe satisfy a kind of Biblical need for revenge. You know, if you read The Bible, you see that it’s full of retrebution and revenge. So really, capital punishment is kind of a religious ritual. It’s a purification right. It’s a modern sacrament.
“And as long as that’s true, I say, let’s liven it up a little! I honestly believe that if you make the death penalty a little more entertaining and learn to market it correctly, you just might be able to raise enough money to balance the stupid fucking budget! Balance the stupid fucking budget! And don’t forget, the polls show the American people want capital punishment, and they want a balanced budget. And I think even in a fake democracy, people ought to get what they want once in a while. Just to feed this illusion that they’re really in charge.
“Let’s use capital punishment the same way we use sports and television in this country, to distract people and take their minds off how bad they’re being fucked by the upper one percent.
“Now, unfortunately, unfortunately Monday Night Football doesn’t last long enough. What we really need is year-round capital punishment on TV every night with sponsors. Gotta have sponsors. I’m sure as long as we’re killing people Marlboro Cigarettes and Dow Chemical would be proud to participate! Proud to participate! Balance the stupid fucking budget! And- and let me say this to you my interesting Judeo-Christian friends. Not only do I recommend crucifixions, I’d be in favor of bringing back beheadings! Huh? Beheadings on TV, slow-motion, instant replay?
“And maybe you could let the heads roll down a little hill. And fall into one of five numbered holes. Let the people at home gamble on which hole the head is going to fall into. And you do it in a stadium so the mob can gamble on it too. Raise a little more money. And if you want to expand the violence a little longer to sell a few more commercials, instead of using an axe, you do the beheadings with a hand saw! Hey, don’t bail out on me now, God damnit! The blood is already on our hands, all we’re talking about is a matter of degree. You want something a little more delicate, we’ll do the beheadings with an olive fork. That would be nice. And it would take a good God damn long time. There’s a lot of good things we could be doing.”