Friday, April 23, 2010

Better Reporters, Plz.

Here's an article on Utah's practice (abolished in 2004) of giving prisoners a choice of death-by-firing squad. The reporter notes that the method is a "rarely used relic that harkens back to Utah's territorial history."

There's a hint of why the barbarity persisted for so long:

Lydia Kalish, Amnesty International's death penalty abolition coordinator for Utah said her organization opposes the state's effort to see Gardner executed. But despite Utah's strong religious roots – it's the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – most here support the use of the death penalty.

"I think in Utah, when it suits their purposes, they go back to the Old Testament and the 'eye for an eye' kind of thing," Kalish said.

You think? What's missing from the article is the term "blood atonement," a doctrine favored by Mr. Joseph Smith.

For Smith, a believer in state-sanction killing, hanging was not enough of a punishment. He would rather, he said, "shoot him, or cut off his head, spill his blood on the ground, and let the smoke thereof ascend up to God."

Let the blood hit the floor. (Beheading was also an option, but was not often chosen by the condemned.)

Point is, reporters ought to feel free to observe that, yes, Utah's uniquely barbaric judicial system had a little something to do with the prevailing religion.

Would it hurt to say so?

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