The Norman Transcript

Columns

May 3, 2014

Remember the cruel, unusual death

NORMAN — Let me, for a brief moment, put on my lawyer’s hat. The Eighth Amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment is not a suggestion. It is a mandate carved in stone. We do not torture, we do not cause undue suffering, we do not stretch the bounds of humanity in the name of vengeance.

Now let me toss that hat to the side.

The merits of the death penalty have been and will continue to be debated as long as justice is viewed through a personal prism. I believe that a society must impose the most draconian punishment for the most heinous crimes, otherwise we do violence to the humanity of the victim. Others have a legitimate, heartfelt and sober belief that the government has no right to essentially “murder” one of its citizens.

This concern for process, which is important, shouldn’t turn our focus away from the fundamental issue: Capital punishment is legal and constitutional; cold-blooded murder of innocents is not.

News reports about the 43-minute execution of Clayton Lockett focused on him writhing in pain. This, of course, is horrible. Even a rabid animal elicits sympathy when it’s in the final, foaming agony. But few mentioned the reason Lockett was on that gurney in the first place with an IV strapped to his arm, the reason his life was justifiably forfeit: Stephanie Neiman.

Stephanie was shot by Lockett, who then stood by and watched his accomplices bury her alive. I’m guessing that her agony lasted a bit longer than 43 minutes.

It is obviously true that two wrongs do not make a right, but there is really only one wrong here, and that is the vicious extermination of an innocent woman. The botched execution of her murderer is troubling from a procedural standpoint, but it should not blind us to the true tragedy in this case.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Congress must accelerate solutions

    Congress has roused itself, at the last minute, and now is scrambling to save the Highway Trust Fund. Better late than never. Better still will be if lawmakers agree to come up with the money to prevent the fund from becoming insolvent. ...

    July 20, 2014

  • The heavy burden of college aid

    Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid....

    July 19, 2014

  • James bears weight of Cav’s dreams

    LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician....

    July 17, 2014

  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matt Lauer is so last century

    How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953? Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 ...

    July 14, 2014

  • Religion’s role shrinking

    Surveying the response to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision, I was struck by a comment from progressive Massachusetts senator and possible Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren....

    July 12, 2014