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Mourning Roundup: December 1, 2010
DECEMBER 1, 2010 TAGS:
Lee Harvey Oswald’s CoffinHere’s a great holiday gift for your favorite conspiracy theorist: Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin. An auction house in Los Angeles announced today that the disinterred coffin of JFK’s “alleged” assassin will be sold on December 16th.
The reason the coffin isn’t still in the ground compounds its conspiratorial intrigue. In 1981, Oswald’s grave was dug up to a settle a dispute:
According to the Guardian:
The simple pine coffin was unearthed in October 1981 after a legal dispute between Lee Harvey Oswald's widow, Marina, and his brother, Robert. Marina successfully sought an exhumation to test a theory that a lookalike Russian agent had been buried in her husband's place.
The body was Oswald’s and he was re-buried in a new coffin. Baumgardner Funeral Home, who handled the second interment, held on to the extensively water damaged and decaying casket for almost 20 years.
It’s been almost 50 years since JFK’s assassination, it’ll be interesting to see how much this ancillary piece of funerary paraphernalia fetches. Bidding starts at a modest $1,000.
UK Limits export of Death Drug…
There is only one FDA-approved manufacturer of the drug sodium thiopental, which is used in lethal injections. That company, the Illinois-based Hospira Inc., is unable to make more of the drug because of a “raw-material supply issue,” according the Los Angeles Times.
Arizona refused to disclose where they secured a batch of the anesthetic. The AFP reports that Arizona imported the drug from Britain in order to carry out the October 26th execution of 48 year-old Jeffrey Landrigan.
No more say officials in the U.K. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The U.K. government said Monday in a London court that it would issue an order requiring anyone supplying the anesthetic thiopental sodium to the U.S. to first obtain an export license.
Licenses will be denied if a risk exists that thiopental will be used in executions, said a government spokesman.
States have gotten creative in the absence of the drug, which Hospira claims will be available again in the first quarter of 2011. Oklahoma, for instance, received court clearance to use pentobarbital, which is used to euthanize animals, to execute death row inmates in the meantime.
At the New York Review of Books, retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, offers a review of a Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition by David Garland.
Stevens offers a glimpse into his evolving thinking about the practice towards the end of the review, citing his opinion in the 1977 case Gardner v. Florida.
He penned a defining maxim for considering the ultimate punishment: “that any decision to impose the death sentence be, and appear to be, based on reason rather than caprice and emotion.”
That’s a dry proclamation, but it is also a thoughtful bit of evidence-based compromise. Opponents of the death penalty cite reasonable arguments for its abolition. But they also cite emotional ones: “Civilized countries don’t execute” “The death penalty is an abhorrent practice.” Sure it might be disgusting, but that doesn’t preclude its reasonable use.
Those for the death penalty share that mix of the reason and passion. “Eye for an eye.” “Closure for the victims’ family.”
Reading Stevens’ review the test case that could belie pure reason is the death penalty’s finality.
Can you reasonably assess “the risk that the state may put an actually innocent person to death?” without recourse to emotion?
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