Thursday, October 26, 2006

Last Hymn

Mills of the gods

The state of Florida killed Danny Harold Rolling last night. I would like to se the running total of the number of executions that the Bush brothers presided over as Governors. I have a feeling that they hold the all time record for number of executions by brothers as Governors.

This particular fellow is a little hard to defend. You have to be awfully strong in your beliefs about the death penalty to say that Rolling should have been spared. He is the kind of killer who makes me ambivalent about capitol punishment. I like to believe I'm against it, and then I read that the late Mr Rolling "possed" his victims after their murders, even decapitating one and displaying her head on a shelf, and I quickly move back into the undecided category. Maybe there are a few folks out there that we can do without.

Danny boy had quite a spree back in 1990. He broke into three apartments (of college women) and stabbed and slashed five bodies with a hunting knife. He sexually assaulted three of them. Then he got to spend the next 16 years avoiding the "last innoculation". He became, according to the Associated Press, a super star among the condemned. He blamed his tresspasses on being victimized as a child and for the treatment he had received in an earlier prison sentence. Maybe he had a tough life, I'm sorry, but no one cut off his head.Even after he murdered these women he got 15 more years of liife which by my calculations is exactly 15 more years than he gave to each of them.

So Danny boy had his last meal of "lobster, shrimp, baked potato, strawberry cheesecaker and sweet tea" (I guess Florida prisons get Red Lobster takeout) and went off "cooperativley" to the gurney. Cooperatively is prison code for the fact that it was unnecessary to use the "extraction squad" to drag him out of the cell and off to the execution, kicking and screaming like Jimmy Cagney did in that movie where Pat O'Brien was the Priest.

A peculiar thing happend when Danny was aked if he had any last words. He broke into a Hymn of his own making. Those who heard it say that the catch phrase of the Hymn was "none greater than thee Lord."He sang until they turned off the microphone and then he kept singing until after about two minutes his voice and breathing became labored and he stopped. None of the witnesses, relatives of the murdered were amused or sympathetic. Who can blame them ?

But what is the committed Christian to think of all of this ? By committed Christian, I mean those whose relatives were not slashed to death by a hunting knife. I am sure Jesus gives those folks a pass to think what they want. But how about the rest of us ? I suppose that at the very least we have to acknowledge that the religion requires us to forgive. If God forgives, who are we to differ on the issue ?But how about the death itself. Is it right for we mortals to strap a fellow sinner on to a gurney and stick a needle in him until he is dead ? Does the hymn he sang soften your view of state sanctioned executions (murder) ? It is an issue I have wrestled with all of my life. I suspect I will wrestle with it for the time I have left. Unless asshole decapitates someone I love.


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