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Ritual Punishment

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To the editors:

I read with interest and revulsion your topic concerning the death penalty as applied in the state of Illinois [November 30]. John Conroy gave a well-detailed account of an hourglass bleeding societal detritus till the bloody end in sacrifice, and I was reminded of a similar Zeitgeist in systematic elimination half a century ago. And insofar as the bioelectrical scaffold may pose the usual problems that the family vet and Dr. Joseph Mengele would encounter in their respective trades, the issue here is not one of conduction efficiency, but rather, the disgusting RITUAL of a sacrificial spectacle in the light of so-called righteousness.

Without getting into the Pros who profit from this and the Cons in consequence of a legal modus operandi of lethality, let us consider here the present-day garrote in the context of all our heads buried in the sand. To put it country simple, today's execution is carried out like some Rube Goldberg-approved, we'll-do-the-dirty-work-you-stay-at-homestyle lynching--all sanctified by The Big Lie of a litmus tested, law & order Doctrine of Death.

But not so simple really, as Conroy's step by step elaboration disclosed. And like the Ol' South posse of know-nothing passersby, the state-sanctioned lynching finds its reconstruction antecedents in the ritual of call & response--muted death screams and NO REPLY.

As with any modern convenience ware of production, nobody knows or really cares to know the unsavory details of the production process any more than the condemned man wonders what went into his final Whopper, Coke, and fries. This is The Last Supper as a media spectacle of news bite bolus in a red herring of death by capital punishment--GIVING NO MORE THOUGHT TO THE DEATH HOUSE THAN ONE WOULD GIVE TO THE GOLDEN ARCHES. A bizarre curiosity in our totem history of scapegoating.

If the mass of living Volk out there REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE TACITLY APPROVING, their primal screams of consternation would awaken their OWN sense of self in life-as-they-know-it-this-far, stuck on a rung at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder in melioristic Limbo . . .

So all of you silent lifers among us playing electro-armchair hangman in a Bluebeard marriage of convenience should really contemplate, for once in your lives, a conscious-raising divorce from your dark and primal half. Rather than brandishing pitchforks and torches like so many frothing peasants and farmers in the old Frankenstein films, try addressing OUR failings as a society and THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE ENDORSING.

Only through a self-altered consciousness will we begin to perceive the dead-time present between the tap of the gavel and the groove of the guillotine. Human life, regardless of how rabidly diseased, is still human life and NOT the life of a mad dog. And until people tap into the notion that KILLING IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AS A RITE, the conviction that MURDER IS NOT ACCEPTABLE IN ANY FORM cannot be credibly maintained. The days of the red-hot pincers and state apparatus under cowl are still with us. And so long as the insidious practice of sacrifice continues, our future is certain toward death rows in serial.

Reid M. Johnson

N. Winchester

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