I've written on the death penalty before, specifically on the problems associated with substituting chemicals for the drug cocktails used in lethal injections. Unfortunately, the subject is still a relevant one. The dwindling availability of the tried-and-true drug combinations are now forcing states to consider older methods of execution[^1] like the electric chair in Tennessee and, most recently, the firing squad in Utah.
The firing squad. How does that conversation even come up?
"Hey everyone, I know we as a state outlawed the firing squad a while back, but we really want—excuse me—need to kill this guy. Kill him dead, ifyaknowwhatImean. But how can we dead-kill a person without lethal injection drugs? It's not like we could just shoot him, right? Well that's the thing. We can. I mean, it's like JUSTICE BLAM BLAM."
What's troubling is that even though I just gave you a morbidly comic version of that discussion, the assuredly sterilized and euphemistic version happening behind legislature doors is probably much more unsettling. It's horrific that people in 2014 are talking about bringing back a punishment where five or six folks get to shoot someone to death with legal approval.
Eventually, if there's any goodness working within our public sector, we'll start talking about how the end of certain versions of the death penalty should signal the end of the death penalty altogether. I won't rehash my previous post, but it bears remembering that we don't have to kill those who've wounded us. We don't have to praise all measures and decisions of the judiciary. We can question, we can adapt, and we can reform.
Thanksgiving is a week away, and there seems to me no better time to consider what grace is at work in our lives, and what that grace might lead us to do when we stand before our enemy, when we stand before the convicted, before a possibly innocent person. Will we be thankful for forgiveness given us and for the forgiveness we may bestow on others? Or will we pull the trigger?
[^1]: Though not forcing them to consider non-execution, remarkably.