If there is any single event that can stand as a model for the wrong-headedness of our society, it is a series of court hearings taking place in Northern California.
A judge, one Jeremy Fogel, has halted all executions in the state. Why? Because he is concerned that the method of execution -- injection of lethal substances -- may somehow be "inhumane."
Let me see if I understand this: Fogel has put the execution of Michael Morales -- the next prisoner in line for the Big Needle -- on hold because he might experience a few moments of discomfort before the lights go out forever.
I wish Terri Winchell could testify in this case. She was 17 in 1981 when Morales raped her, beat her with a hammer and stabbed her. But no one seems particularly concerned with whether her final moments might have been a little bit uncomfortable.
Instead, time and money are being spent to make sure that Morales doesn't feel a thing when he pays the price for the atrocity he committed. He has had 25 years of life that Terri Winchell was denied, 25 years of regular meals, free medical care and lawyers working to keep him alive.
By the time Winchell's body was found, no one could bring her back to life.
Okay. I'll say right now that if Morales wants a big shot of heroin or a couple of slugs of Jack Black before the execution, I'm all for it. Anything to ensure that this vermin gets what he so richly deserves.
But, on the other hand, if he has a few moments of hideous pain that make those last seconds endless, that make him eager to die if only to stop the agony, I'm perfectly okay with that, too.
As far as I'm concerned, those who oppose the death penalty and/or make the comfort of the execution method an issue are missing an essential point.
In this instance, the essential point was named Terri Winchell.
Putting Morales to death won't bring her back, but it will keep him from committing another hideous crime. And it will mean there is one less violent killer for society to support.
When Morales is, at long last, executed, his suffering, if any, will be inconsequential when compared to his victim's last moments.
And that is what judges, lawyers, and assorted do-gooders should bear in mind.
15 hours ago