Continuing the Search for Kinder Executions
Mark Essig, in his essay, "Continuing the Search for Kinder Executions," explains the impossible search for a simple way to handle judicial murder. Judicial murder, also known as the capital punishment, uses pancuronium bromide to "humanely" execute those who have a conviction for a capital crime. Pancuronium bromide is a drug that paralyzes muscles but does not affect the nerves. Leaving its victims wide awake, but immobilized, as they painfully suffocate. Although many find the death penalty a better way to dispose of criminals, the author's stance on capital punishment disagrees entirely.
Humans trying to control and manipulate death is not a new topic. In fact, hanging criminals goes back all the way to the 1800s. The author mentions Albert Einstein, the inventor of the electric chair, claiming capital punishment as "an act of foolish barbarity" (Essig 1). Essig repeats the word barbaric many times in his essay trying to convince the reader that the death penalty itself is savage and cruel. The essay made note of hanging in 1847 when a Brooklyn officer had to use ether to knock the murderer out cold before hanging him (Essig1). Essig makes this reference to prove once again that our ways of killing convicts are cruel. Coincidently, Essig provides the reader with anomalies by saying, "a three-drug cocktail: sodium thiopental, to produce unconsciousness; pancuronium bromide, to paralyze the muscles; and potassium chloride, to stop the heart" (Essig 2) should promise a painless death. The reader is shocked by this comment due to author's purpose of the paper is how cruel, barbaric and inhumane capital punishments can be. One can find a contrast in Essig's essay when he brings up "technological leap-frog is a game they can't win" (Essig 2). At this moment Essig is contradicting his title, searching for kinder execution. The reader is fooled again simply by the title of the essay, making yet a second contrast for the reader to find. When first reading the title, a reader may believe the essay is about an individual for the death penalty, just yearning for a kinder approach. The author's point is that capital punishment is barbaric. Essig does not wish to find a better way of killing convicts; he desires the banishment of capital punishment. Another repetition in the essay a reader can find is Essig's use of sarcasm when declaring government attempts of judicial murder humane, painless, and antiseptic execution. He proves he detest for these statements by giving the reader a quote from Amnesty International. Essig recalls the statement, "The search for a ‘humane' way of killing people should be seen for what it is — a search to make executions more palatable" (Essig 2).
Mark Essig's use of literary devices makes a reader concentrate on the article and the message he is trying to convey. The most prevalent literary device that Essig uses is tone. Any reader could tell Essig loathes capital punishment. One can discover this from his derogatory word choices when talking about the death penalty and its history. Essig uses words like gruesome, cynical, and cruel to describe the history of capital punishments and its current forms. Another literary device that one could pick up on is Essig's use of Allusion in the essay. One allusion a reader can find is Essig's reference to Edison and Westinghouse, "Edison's advocacy was inspired by a wicked plan to hurt his business rival, George Westinghouse — the chair was powered by Westinghouse's alternating current and Edison hoped consumers would begin to associate AC with danger and death" (Essig 1). A reader can also find an example of allusion when Essig says, "In 2001, John Bryd, a convicted murderer in Ohio, requested electrocution rather than the needle" (Essig 2). After forty years of debating, Bryd was forced to be executed by lethal injection. The situation mentioned is a very well-known event that has occurred, making it an allusion. This allusion shows yet another view of defilement toward lethal injection. Another famous event, and also another allusion, as is the case involving Earl Bamblett. Bramblett protested, "I'm not going to lay down on a gurney and have them stick a needle in my arm and make it look like an antiseptic execution" (Essig 2). However, his case was more successful than Bryd's, sending Bramblett to the chair on April 9. Even though the examples are entirely different, a reader can assume Essig put the criminal views in the essay to show us they would rather die a painful death than by lethal injection.
Mark Essig portrays his hatred for capital extremely well in his essay "Continuing the Search for Kinder Punishments." His use of repetition brings out the importance of his arguments. The use of sarcasm when referencing a kind word about the executions shows the reader his character. Essig's overuse of literary devices causes the reader to think for oneself instead of assuming. The essay gives a reader a whole new perspective on capital punishment altogether.