Not everything is getting more and more barbaric in America. A New York court has just declared the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional. An article in Salon argues that this may be part of a trend:
"New York's [death penalty statute] is now in limbo. Kansas' statute was deemed unconstitutional and awaits a federal review; Connecticut, Nebraska and New Mexico have come close to abolition, and Illinois' moratorium on executions has lasted through two governors, one Republican and one Democrat. "
About time! I’m ancient enough to remember the state-sponsored killing of Gary Gilmore, back in 1977 and the international revulsion that caused (though it did produce a very good punk song, “Looking through Gary Gilmore’s eyes” by the Adverts). Since then the corpses have piled high in America’s death rows, many of them as a result of the current president of the United States (in Bush's five years as governor of Texas, the state executed 131 prisoners -- far more than any other state). Finally, Americans seem to be waking up to the fact that judicial murder of the mentally retarded, the poor, and the marginalized is doing nothing to prevent crime and making a mockery of their country’s claim to be a progressive force in the world.
No society can ever claim to be decent while it engages in judicial killing.