John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 02.26.01
Fool's Hollow, Quebec


A case for public executions

Listen here, I think there's an elegantly simple way to satisfy the public's insatiable need for bread and circuses, pander to the devotees of the growing Cult of Vengeance, and help reduce the National Debt.

Bring back public executions.

Sports fans - I love that term, sports fans - can't get enough of violence in professional football and hockey. And, of course, watching their heroes buy the farm at high speeds in hopped up four-wheeled space ships on the racetracks of America.

People are clamoring to watch the federal government pump Timothy McVeigh full of lethal poison on May 16.

McVeigh, the convicted Oklahoma bomber who killed 168 people in 1995, wants his execution televised for all to see.

There's only space in the death room for eight witnesses representing the victims' families. The feds are talking about an invitation-only, closed-circuit live videocast of the legal killing.

It would be a first for the U.S. Government, and in country where being first counts for a lot, well, it would be a first.

Some 250 people have already signed up to watch McVeigh breathe his last.

One mother of a child who died in the bomb blast put it this way: "As long as I get to view it, I'm a happy camper."

So, here's my suggestion.

First, dispense with execution by injection. Bring back beheading, the way the French did it -- with a guillotine.

When you give 'em the chop, it's quick, it's neat, it's relatively pain-free, and it's very final -- when the head drops in the wicker basket, there are no lingering doubts whether there in any life left in the old bod.

Next, kill them in full public view in a large space, like a football stadium or a hockey arena. No need to erect expensive single-use buildings -- utilize existing structures. They have lots of parking space and people know where they're located.

If we can put a man on the moon and efficiently kill Japanese high school students with multi-million dollar submarines, certainly we can design portable guillotines. And we could save money by having them built in prison workshops. There might even be a small side benefit of deterring some potential beheadee.

The obvious final step would be to sell tickets to the event, just like to a football game or a rock concert.

For those who can't attend in person, we broadcast both audio and video on a pay-per-view basis.

Big biz would line to get some high visibility air time...lots of deep pockets there waiting to be tapped.

And think of the collaterals - videocassettes, audio cassettes, CDs, DVDs, tee shirts...

The potential revenues are enormous -- our jails are teeming with convicts -- guilty ones and not guilty ones.

This way, they would get one final chance to make a meaningful contribution to society.

And the rest of us will benefit by reducing the prison population and thus cutting maintenance costs, satisfying our deep, righteous desire for retribution, and paying down the national debt.

Elegant solution, eh?

And not a whole lot messier than a hockey punch-out or a heavyweight boxing match.