Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Kill the right way, ok?

Two news items piled on one another today, that seemed oddly related:
  • The U.S. reaffirms that it did indeed kill Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, and has an autopsy to demonstrate that he was killed by two 500-pound bombs dropped on his house, and not anything as pedestrian as ordinary gunfire or as brutal as being roughed up by the Haditha Boys.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the death penalty, but also upholds the right to challenge lethal injection as "cruel and unusual punishment" on the basis that it may be too painful.

I'm not sure if it's a sign of our humanity and societal evolution that we are painfully conflicted about our methods of killing people. On the one hand, there is a constant-but-not-complete consensus in the society that certain people deserve to die. We just can't bring ourselves to face the messy details of how we do it. So, the President of the United States can congratulate the Armed Forces for "completing their mission" of rubbing out the #1 terrorist in Iraq, but then we have to insist that we killed him "fair and square" with a military airstrike, and that we even tried to give him medical attention before he expired. We want to eliminate our most violent criminals from society, but we're so weirded out about a state-sanctioned killing that we haven't updated our lethal injection drug cocktail in thirty years.

I think it's probably a good thing. I don't realistically think we are going to come to a day when we stop killing people, though we can certainly hope to minimize it. (After all, we've managed to keep the casulties from our most recent wars down to thousands of people instead of millions. Smart bombs, indeed.) But it would be a sad day indeed if we could ever be comfortable with the need to kill.



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