Fleet Street veterans Bryan Cooney and Jim Black welcome you to their new venture: an interview website aimed not only at restoring confidence in a much-maligned Fourth Estate, but also giving you, the public, a real insight into the famous and how they conduct themselves. Cooney & Black, originally a sports website, has broadened its base and now also embraces the worlds of films, theatre, music and books.
Friday, 9 May 2014
UNCLE SAM'S SHAME
BY JIM BLACK WHEN it comes to sheer hypocrisy and the practice of double standards, America leads the world.
The master race, as they like to view themselves, is quick to lecture the rest of mankind on the subjects of morality, fairness, common decency and the rule of law. Yet, Uncle Sam consistently fails miserably to practice these values.
Maybe some of you have never heard of Clayton Lockett. For those of you who haven’t, he is a deceased 39-year-old black American.
Lockett was put to death on April 29, by order of the State of Oklahoma. His crimes were truly unspeakable.
He and accomplices abducted two teenage girls (as well as a man and his baby). One of them, Stephanie Neiman, refused to say she wouldn’t tell the police, so Lockett shot her. But she didn’t die, so he then ordered his accomplices to bury her alive.
In addition to first-degree murder, Lockett was charged with conspiracy, first-degree burglary, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, three counts of forcible oral sodomy, four counts of first-degree rape, four counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery by force and fear.
Lockett had previously served time for various crimes, for four years and seven years.
That Lockett was pure scum is, I suggest, not open to debate. Nor am I inviting a discussion for or against the death penalty.
But even a rabid dog deserves some compassion. Lockett received none. Indeed, the manner of his death was almost as horrific as his crimes. It took Lockett 43 minutes to die inhumanely at the hands of the state when it botched his execution.
Apparently his death certificate states that he suffered a heart attack shortly after a failed execution by lethal injection.
Lockett was administered an untested mixture of drugs that had not previously been used for executions in the United States. Although the procedure was stopped, by then Lockett had been subjected to various forms of torture.
According to several witnesses, he writhed, groaned, convulsed and spoke during the process and attempted to rise from the execution table 14minutes after being sedated, despite having been declared unconscious.
The time line issued by Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester makes grim reading.
The first drug was administered at 6.23pm and Lockett was declared unconscious at 6.33. The execution was halted after about 20 minutes and he was pronounced dead at 7.06 due to a heart attack.
Oklahoma Department of Correction Director Robert Patton said that one of the doctors present stopped the execution after Lockett had a “vein failure”.
A subsequent report showed Lockett’s execution was halted 33 minutes after it began, his vein collapsed as the drugs were administered. A doctor said there were not enough drugs left and that Lockett had not been given enough drugs to cause death, adding that there were not enough drugs to continue.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin had strongly pushed for the execution to take place despite the lack of standard drugs. Oklahoma officials, for their part, testified that the drugs to be used had been legally obtained and had not expired. However, they refused to divulge the source of these drugs.
It is not difficult to understand why the State has refused to disclose basic information about the drugs used with such catastrophic consequences.
Put plainly, Clayton Lockett’s treatment was barbaric and inappropriate in a so-called civilised society.
The idea of actually spectating while a victim is put to death also surely clashes with basic humanity and dignity.
As a nation of animal lovers we Brits would not tolerate for a moment the idea of putting a dog to death with such barbarism, let alone turn the event into a glorified “peep show” viewed by a select audience.
It is not the first time execution US-style has been botched. Many other condemned prisoners have died in an appalling manner at the hands of the State.
President Obama is said to be deeply troubled by the ghastly events of McAlester carried out in the name of justice. I’ll bet he is.
Uncle Sam should hang his head in shame before choosing to take the moral high ground and lecture other nations.