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Thursday
Dec012005

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

hanging.gifThursday December 1
Paris via Sydney

What do you think of this? Currently running at The RADAR blog at The Sydney Morning Herald reprinted in full. My comments may go up later - if they don't censor them.

"Donnie Mountjoy (not his real name) on the death penalty around the world: First, a disclaimer. The following item includes frank comments on causes of death and may not be something all readers of Radar wish to learn. And for the record, while pitying Van Nguyen’s fate, I support Singapore’s right to apply its laws to those who choose to breach them.

“The death sentence imposed on Nguyen Tuong Van is barbaric”, says Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. Perhaps Mr Ruddock hasn’t visited Richard Clark’s rather macabre guide to Capital Punishment.

I ended up there last week, after learning that there is apparently an “Official Table of Drops” (which has nothing at all to do with the fielding errors of the English cricket team). This was brought about to ensure that “barbaric” and “cruel” hangings did not occur, but that death was as near to instantaneous as we believe is possible. The curious amongst you can read the details here.

Of equal merit on Richard’s page are a series of descriptions of other forms of execution carried out around the world. The firing squad is a favourite amongst other South-East Asian countries (a big hello to Gary Glitter), Saudi Arabia is the only country with a preference for beheading, and the results are, apparently, far from immediate. And the civilised US of A gets by with lethal injection and the electric chair, both of which bring with them postively macabre tales of people “getting it wrong”.

Florida, home of the electric chair, has a handy fact sheet you can download and takes their truly gruesome “transparency” to the extreme by posting a schedule of coming attract,.. er, I mean executions.

So as the sun rises tomorrow in Singapore, Nguyen Tuong Van will be one of the lucky ones. His death will be rapid, clean and dignified. Somewhere else on the planet, odds are a heroin user will lapse into a coma, suffer respiratory failure, or choke on their own vomit. And then on Saturday, the sun will rise again, and people will still be trafficking drugs, using drugs, and dying from them."

I don't know what Mountjoy finds "clean and dignified" about being hung ( or rather "dropped") by a length of rope until your tongue and eyeballs pop out and the shit and piss soils your pants. My apologies for the tasteless gif. but if you read further down on the RADAR site you'll see I have a story on "How to talk to your cat". Which hardly sits well with a piece of tabloid journalism like this. But there again...

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