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Execution By Obliteration

In yesterday’s article I mentioned that the new regime in North Korea had executed one of its top generals using a mortar. Apparently he had been drinking during the mourning period for Kim Jung Il so Kim’s son, the new Dear Leader, ordered him ‘obliterated’. That seems a little excessive to me but ever anxious to do his bidding, the military marched the poor guy to a spot on the ground they had marked where they made him stand and then lobbed a mortar shell at him.

Talk about overkill; but it did get me thinking about capital punishment.

Personally, I’m opposed to capital punishment. I think locking people away for the rest of their lives is sufficient and there is no need for the rest of us to degenerate down into barbarity. We’ve seen lots of that when a society imposed ‘justice’ on the condemned over the centuries.

The ancient Greeks used to make the condemned open their veins and bleed to death if they were in the upper class. They merely stabbed them with spear and sword if they weren’t. The Romans had their military commanders fall on their swords and either crucified everyone else or tossed them over a cliff or into the arena to amuse the lions or whatever else was prowling around down there.

The Chinese Empire liked beheadings and the Japanese favoured crucifixion and beheadings although many were so eager to take their own lives with seppuku because of the shame they felt that it was a bit of competition to see who could take someone out first; the state or the individual themselves.

Things really came into their own during the Middle Ages in Europe; talk about creativity! Not content with merely hanging someone or cutting off their head, the Europeans combined those into a full-day spectacle where the condemned would be hung until almost dead, drawn and quartered while still alive and then decaptitated and their head stuck on a spike as a warning to others.

The town folk found it quite festive and would come out in droves for the event.

They also employed burning at the stake, the Iron Maiden and the burning iron chair. The Ottoman Empire employed, for a time, what looked like a giant razor and forced the condemned to straddle it so that they were neatly sliced in two from stem to stern, so to speak, as the weight of their body pulled them down on the blade.

A century or two later, the French perfected and mechanized beheading with the invention of the guillotine.

Some African cultures impaled the condemned on a sharpened stake so that they died slowly as the weight of their body pulled them down driving the stake deeper into their body. According to legend, this was the preferred method of execution employed by Vlad the Impaler who would later become knows as Dracula.

Delightful. Just the thought of it is enough to make you sit with your legs crossed for the rest of your life.

Over the centuries people have been executed by being tied to the front of the mouth of a cannon which is then fired; backbreaking (Mongolian); flaying; falling; gas chambers; electric chairs; buried alive; drowning; the Catherine Wheel and dozens more.

These days, however, all western countries except the United States have done away with capital punishment but there remain many countries on other continents that still incorporate the death penalty into their justice system.

Russia, which only employed shooting the condemned as its form of execution has not executed anyone since 1996.

China, which executes more people than all other countries combined,  simply shoot the condemned and then somewhat insensitively, charge the family of the condemned for the bullet. In recent years, however, the Chinese have increasingly employed lethal injection for most white-collar capital crimes while still using death by shooting for violent capital crimes.

In many Middle Eastern countries beheadings, hanging and stoning are still employed.

The United States uses lethal injection, in most cases, as the preferred form of execution. and it can take years at a cost millions before the condemned is actually executed. Sometimes, he or she dies of old age or some terminal disease before their date with the executioner. I never understood why the state tried so valiantly to keep a condemned person alive when they were dying of some fatal illness only so that they could kill them later.

But then, I suppose that’s what happens when you turn these things over to the bureaucracy. Like everything else it gets bogged down in process and conflicting objectives.

But if you absolutely have to execute people, why put ourselves through all the cost and hassle we go through now? Why not simply wait until the prisoner is having a bath and toss in a clock radio that’s plugged into an electrical outlet? They sell for about $29.95 at Wal-Mart and are easily replaceable. If the current model is sold out, there is built-in flexibility. Any model will do in a pinch so to speak. If it’s a really, really big person. Throw in two. They’re cheap enough.

Of course, the government would find a way to bugger that up. They’d go through some tedious, overly complex and expensive procurement process to acquire the radios. We’d also have to unionize the whole process. There would have to be an electrical union employee to ensure that the radio was properly plugged into the wall and the person who actually threw the radio into the bath would have to have rubber protective shoes and clothing to avoid electrocuting themselves.

Wouldn’t that be a treat to try to explain to Workman’s Compensation?

Like I said at the beginning, I’m against capital punishment but I have to admit that the North Korean approach, if a little over the top, was somewhat creative. It reminded me of Chrome’s browser cache clearing tool that always asks if you want to ‘obliterate all items from the beginning of time’.

Nope. Just the General will do for today thank you.

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  • Scott M

    It seems the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree for Dear Leader Jr. does it. Death by motar, eh? In the words of Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok “He blow’d up good, he blow’d up real good”

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      It’s sort of like having your firing squad composed of a couple of A1 Tanks.