I have always had a fear of death. That seems pretty natural, compared to a fear of public speaking. That is to say that when I was ten years old, I used to lay awake worrying about what would happen when, if, or how my life clock had reached its end. This would account for the somewhat regular bouts of insomnia. If I fall asleep, will I wake up again?
Morbid, I know, but it also points to my stance against the death penalty. Over the years, I have determined that one of the most terrifying things about death is its inevitability. Along with taxes, it is promoted as one of two things in life that are certain. Even prisoners on death row are required to pay taxes if they are making any kind of substantial earnings, like the royalty checks Charles Manson gets for "Look At Your Game Girl." Except those kind of checks are usually rerouted to victims families, as is the case for Charlie. And Mister Manson is no longer on death row, having had his sentence commuted to life back in 1972. So, without taxes or death hanging over his head, he probably leads a relatively carefree existence inside a maximum security correctional institution.
Charles Manson's crimes were both cruel and unusual. That is why he was initially sentenced to death. Pablo Lucio Vasquez beat a twelve year old to death with a pipe and then drank his blood. That was awesomely cruel and pretty unusual. Pablo was also sentenced to death, and since he was convicted in Texas, that sentence was carried out this past Wednesday. No more wondering about when and for whom that bell tolls for Pablo. Mister Vasquez did hang around a Texas prison for fourteen years before he was executed, so he had roughly a decade and a half to consider his crimes and ponder the nature of existence. Before it stopped. Abruptly.
Last year, the number of executions worldwide jumped dramatically to 1,634. Half again as many killings in the name of teaching that killing is wrong as the year before that. What lessons are we teaching? Crime does not pay. Well, at least not enough to have to file a tax return. So all those inmates on death row can sleep a little more soundly, knowing that both death and taxes have been taken care of for them.
If we really wanted to punish them, we would sign them up for a public speaking tour.