Yesterday’s bungled lethal injection execution in Oklahoma reminds me of a story set in Paris during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. The guillotine had been disposing of the politically-incorrect of that era, when a condemned man was led to the platform and placed on his back in a position that would allow the blade to sever his head. The executioner read the sentence of death, there was a drum-roll, and the blade dropped, stopping just two feet above the man’s neck. The executioner announced that the order of execution could not be repeated, as that would constitute double jeopardy. The condemned was thus released. The next person to be executed was a young woman who was placed on her back, the death sentence read, followed by the drum roll and the release of the blade which, again, stopped two feet above the woman’s head. She, too, was released on the same grounds as the first man. This same result followed for the third condemned person.
The fourth condemned person, an engineer, was led to the platform, placed on his back, and had his death sentence read by the executioner. As the drum roll took place, but just before the blade was to be dropped, the engineer shouted “I see the problem!”12:32 pm on April 30, 2014