In a kind of barbarity that mimics the stonings condemned when they occur in other countries, the Commonwealth of Virginia killed a woman prisoner last night. Yes, she was guilty of plotting the murder of her husband and stepson but only an abysmal ignorance can imagine that the execution was, in any manner, a deterrent. The judge who presided over her trial noted that she was the ‘head of the snake.’
Snake killing is not a past-time in which I indulge, but it is obvious that all one gets by such an act is one dead snake. So far as I know, a headless snake does nothing to effect the behavior of the remainder of the reptile population. No husbands with their stepsons are any safer for Virginia’s having killed Mrs. Lewis. All that was accomplished by this mindless act was some form of brutal, societal revenge.
Executions of criminals is a barbarous act that remains in only a tiny handful of civilized countries. This act, a human rights violation if ever there was one, happening not far outside the doorstep of Monticello, in the very cradle of the notion of a fundamental right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, is a national disgrace.
In the same newspaper that carried Mrs. Lewis’s execution on a back page, the front page declared that the company that manufactures the drug used in executions is asking that States delay such further killings because of a shortage of the drug that is, in a much smaller, managed dose, used as an anesthetic across the country. If only the inability of a manufacturer could halt our nation’s barbarity! That stones are not our method of choice in public executions of criminals is hardly a step toward our participation in the world of the truly civilized.