This article was truly chilling and it is shocking to learn the extent of the complicity of American physicians in judicial killing.
The BMJ is right to remind us of this ugly practice and how it degrades a people, its health professionals and the whole of western civilisation.
The American Medical Association through its Council on Ethical and Judicial affairs forbids participation in legally authorised execution. This passive, useless organisation pays mere lip service to medical ethics and where it should have a civilising influence on its members and the country as a whole, it does nothing to ensure that its ethical policies are obeyed. In this land of freedom and democracy, doctors are free to do what they like and a morally destitute profession likes to kill. Doctors are no different of course from the majority in American society who relish a judicial killing. (Viz. the public execution of home-grown terrorist Timothy McVeigh on 6/11 2001)
This enthusiasm is no better illustrated than in the contemporary arrest of the Washington snipers and the 'unseemly' scramble to achieve execution for man and boy. The great 'Pooh-Bah', the US Attorney General, the unimpressive John Ashcroft leads this rampant bloodlust and will himself ensure that death will follow not just the man but the boy as well. The US is not a signatory to the UN Convention on the rights of the child - which outlaws execution of anybody under the age of 18. The United States is one of only two countries -- the other is Somalia -- that has not ratified the treaty. Among the states around Washington hit by the sniper(s) only Virginia is happy to kill children and will almost certainly get the prosecutors job. It's the American way.
It is Texas of course - the least sophisticated state of the union - but the one with the most enthusiastic killing machine - which makes a speciality of the execution of juvenile offenders. This year already, the cruel and unusual people of the Lonestar State have dispatched three young African American men. The immaturity of the juvenile mind prevents those under 18 from voting, marrying, entering into contracts and in Texas you can't buy an alcoholic drink until you are 21 (though you can own a gun). But at 17 years old you can be sentenced to death. You will be in your mid twenties though before you eventually reach the doctors needle. And so it was for Napoleon Beazley on the 28th May this year; he had been within two hours of death the previous August after 8 years on death row. He had no previous criminal record, had had a promising academic and sporting record and his behaviour in prison had been exemplary. He made a terrible mistake at the age of 17 and killed an elderly man. A jury of Texas people decided that he posed a future danger to society and as one of the 'worst of the worst' this juvenile offender should die. Presumably Texas is a safer place now that this killer is off the streets at last.
We should remember well that the 'Lord High Executioner' is a Texan and he is in vengeful mood on behalf of his vengeful people. The �Lord High Executioner� Ko-Ko, the other clowns and assorted nutters think that they have the final solution. But then so did the Nazis - with the help of an ethically bankrupt medical profession.
Consumed as they are with thoughts of vengeance the American people are not going to end capital punishment any time soon, with or without the veneer of respectability that the medical profession affords judicial killing. If doctors withdrew their labour (unlikely) then there are obvious dangers that the states will revert to their next favoured form of extinction � the electric chair. For those who didn�t know it, the state of Alabama chose electrocution to dispatch a woman called Lynda Lyon on 10 May this year. Doctors aren�t needed for this; only electricians and even a Texan can be trained to throw a switch � again and again.
God bless America. Heaven help the rest of us.