I am not, and will not, go to bat for Clayton Lockett in this piece. What he did was horrible, and he deserves to be punished for his role in the murder of Stephanie Neiman. But what happened to him in Oklahoma last night was horrible, and it speaks very badly of our society as a whole.
The state wasn’t able to get their hands on the drugs that they need to carry out executions, and so they resorted to freelancing on the matter of life and death. They turned Lockett into a lab animal, to see if their closely-guarded secret method of putting him to death was workable. The fact that it dragged on and on, and Lockett was apparently aware of what was going on during the process, proves that it did not work as intended.
The governor has ordered an inquiry, and hopefully the results will be made public for the world to see. I don’t live in Oklahoma, and there are undoubtedly some who believe that this gives me no standing to comment on this case. But as an American, I disagree. There weren’t any executions in this country in my lifetime until I was eight years old. The execution of Gary Gilmore troubled me then, and the continuing practice of taking someone’s life troubles me still. Justice demands punishment, yes, but civilization also requires humanity and respect, even for those who commit heinous acts. Contrary to what some want to believe, our Constitutional rights stay with us, no matter what.
The bloodthirsty mob, who would be happy to kill Lockett themselves if they could, will call such a position weak.Let them say what they will. But if they were the ones strapped to a gurney while being subjected to the state’s mysterious chemical stew, I don’t even have to wonder if they would have a different view. I already know the answer to that.