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I’ve been reflecting the not-guilty verdict of accused murderer, Cassey Anthony. In a press conference, her attorney, Jose Baez, pleaded for an end “ritual murder” (meaning state sponsored execution) and it got me to reevaluate my stand on human execution.
Firstly my personal views on execution are convoluted at best. There is no real evidence that executions prevent crime and I don’t personally like the idea of killing someone as a matter of law. At least that is what I’ve felt most of my life. Over the years that opinion has transformed to apathy on the subject.
I also can’t ignore the fact if someone did something seriously malicious to me or someone close I would likely find an indulgent joy in personally killing them slowly with bare hands and blunt objects.
So I resign myself to the fact that like most people, we demonstrate ourselves to be little more than talking primates when it comes to the need to kill in the name of revenge or “justice”. That there are as few murders/executions in the world is a testament to human restraint.
So what about an argument FOR ritual murder, not the traditional type of state sponsored execution that happens in the sterile isolation of the a florescent lighted chamber. I’m talking turning an execution and into a televised pay-per-view ritual theater of visual and visceral death. I mean, come on, if the state is going to kill someone by order of law it should be done to appease as many of our animal desires as possible.
This should include a lottery for people who want to watch, cheer and participate in this holey (and vulgar) ritual. The highest honor of this ritual should go to the executioner.
Those who win the lottery can be given the option to maintain their anonymity by wearing masks, like executioners of old, or they can become the “celeb of day” and hold press conferences.
Here is my vision of good olde ritual execution:
Venue: The setting has to be as well thought out as any Broadway play or WWF event. This means it’s in a huge stadium setting like executions of olde where people can cheer and revel in the melodrama.
Another venue option is that the execution can be like a Mormon Temple, in that only a select few can actually be present. For the rest they would have to watch the televised version. This closed circuit version allows for more control of the environment.
Cast of Players: This could be where people have the most fun. The active players must each have their parts and purpose. Executioner, escort, priest, are the most obvious. You might also have a character of “Vengeance/Justice” that portrays the injured morality of the people seeking revenge.
Wardrobe: Color! Reds and Black. Robes and masks.
Ritual Group Violence: Turning ritualized state murder into theater means allowing people to express their emotion and even provides them a socially supportive place to do REAL violence. The execution could be the climax of an invocation of anger and revenge and provide a release of our frustrations.
Guilt Purging : Following the execution it would involve a group purging of guilt where all involve ask for forgiveness for having to do such a base and vulgar act. The executioner is to be bathed and brought back into the forgiving arms of society while still keeping his/her identity secret.
Comforting of Those Still Suffering: The worst part of any execution is that it’s just not enough for those who want revenge (aka “justice”) like those who family members have been murdered. They will tell you that “…killing him once isn’t enough.” and they would be right. The solution to this is to acknowledge their suffering and re-include these surviving victims back into society. It is an public announcement to them that the ritual was done for them in a vane hope to ease their suffering … and now they MUST move on. A public execution may not cause closure in itself but by involving them and acknowledging their suffering through a cultural ritual it gives them more support to find closure.
Of course the downside of such a flamboyant expression of gore is that it forces us to embrace the fact that we occasionally think lofty thoughts and believe that we are better than other animals…. but of course we’re not.
Why spend so much energy denying what we really are because we walk upright and use language?
Talk among yourselves. Comment below.