Why Didn’t We Use the Guillotine to Execute Troy Davis?

In liberal circles the case of Troy Davis, a black Georgia recently executed, has caused much discussion and outrage. Mr. Davis was innocent, many say, and the death penalty is inhumane anyways. Opponents counter that Mr. Davis deserved what he got for the crimes that he committed.

I personally don’t know enough about the case to really comment, nor do I really have an opinion about the appropriateness of the death penalty. But there does seem to be validity to the claim that the current method of executing individuals – lethal injection – can cause severe pain. This is especially true when injection is done incorrectly, which has sometimes happened.

Which is why I have a – slightly satirical – suggestion to those worried about the suffering caused by lethal injection: Why not use the guillotine?

The guillotine is one of the most humane, least painful, and quickest ways to execute a person possible. After a mere couple of seconds, a person falls unconscious. He or she dies after thirteen seconds, not a lot of time to suffer even if you hadn’t fell into a coma during the first two seconds of having your head severed from your body.

Better yet, the guillotine always works. There are multiple instances of lethal injection and the electric chair not working properly – and thus causing extreme pain to the sentenced. In contrast, there doesn’t seem to be a single instance in recorded history of the guillotine failing to chop off the sentenced’s head. That’s quite something, considering the number of times it was used in the French Revolution.

A person might argue that the guillotine causes considerable mental suffering to the sentenced. But what method of execution does not? It’s hard to believe that a person being led to the guillotine suffers more in his or her mind than a person being led to a lethal injection bed.

Of course, the real reason why America’s justice system doesn’t use the guillotine is because it causes such revulsion amongst the wider public. The guillotine gets a pretty bad rap due to the French Revolution. More importantly, seeing decapitated heads tends to do wonders to the polling numbers of death penalty opponents.

Nevertheless, there is definitely merit to say that execution by the guillotine is more humane than execution by lethal injection. Lethal injection is much less distressful for the public, but sometimes much more painful for the sentenced (if, for instance, there’s a problem with the dosage). The guillotine is much more distressful for the public, but causes much less suffering for the sentenced. The fact that America executes through lethal injection rather than the guillotine says a lot about human nature.

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4 Responses to Why Didn’t We Use the Guillotine to Execute Troy Davis?

  1. Brett Heffner says:

    Spencer’s gift-store chain used to have little boxes for sale that said ‘French birth-control device.’ You would open it to find a miniature model of a guillontine. It was perhaps crude, but humourous nonetheless. If abortion is wrong, it could not possibly rise to the level of the murder of a born baby.

  2. eelhsa says:

    The fact that America, (in the states which uphold and carry out the death penalty), executes people at all, is what says a lot about human nature. The real issue is not so much HOW it’s done…but that it IS done at all. Killing someone, whether under the law or “illegally”, is still killing just the same. All it does is cause more pain and brokenness, and it diminishes us all as human beings.

    Let’s not argue about the best way to put a person to death. The very fact that we are searching for the most humane way to carry out such a sentence, indicates that perhaps deep down we all know we’re not meant to have such authority over whether someone lives or dies.

    • inoljt says:

      I guess everybody has good arguments for or against the death penalty. You definitely have a pretty passionate position, and I applaud that.

      • eelhsa says:

        Thank you. You’re right, there are many arguments out there on either side of the issue. I understand that, I just truly believe it needs to be given careful consideration and be taken seriously.

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