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The Lounge: Chat. Relax. Unwind. > Unorthodox professions: Executioner

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments Seen recently a humorous TV program, where people were interviewed for a high-paid state service they didn't know about in advance. The interviewer played them explaining as if the death penalty was re-introduced (it wasn't) and the state started recruiting employees for this important mission with excellent salary, perks and benefits... The reaction of most interviewees was quite funny.
Anyhow wherever there is a death penalty, there is an executioner to ..... (I better omit the description).
I guess one needs to strongly believe that what s/he's doing is just or be not very sensitive...
Is it a regular job? What do you think?
Would you shake hands or kiss on the cheek a neighbor, engaged in this?


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments It isn't a regular job. Wouldn't have a problem with it although I couldn't do it myself.


message 3: by Mike (new)

Mike | 181 comments I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with someone who did it as a job, but I would probably be morbidly curious to ask him/her about it. I also wouldn't get too drunk around that person until I felt like I knew him/her reasonably well.

I may be making this up, but I seem to remember hearing that when they executed by firing squad, in the US anyway, there was a rule that one gun had to be loaded with blanks; presumably so no one would ever know for sure that he had fired a killing shot.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Mike wrote: "I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with someone who did it as a job, but I would probably be morbidly curious to ask him/her about it. I also wouldn't get too drunk around that person until I fe..."

True. Same holds for lethal injection. More than one doctor is present and they push the IV bolus simultaneously with one being deadly and the others being saline.


message 5: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) I don't even know my neighbors now so any one of em could be an executioner.

The better question is what do they put on their resume if they ever get a new job?

"Says here you used to execute people...?"


message 6: by Mike (new)

Mike | 181 comments if i had to guess, i would imagine someone (here in the US, anyway) who doesn't think of himself as bloodthirsty, but who believes strongly in himself as an arbiter of justice, perhaps god's justice, and believes that if 'the law' says it, it must be true.


message 7: by GR (new)

GR Oliver | 479 comments Being an executioner on a regular bases has been a problem throughout history. It gets to be a psychological problem. Example: At the end of WW2 the Germans executed the imprisoned daily. It became a big problem with the selected soldiers. They turned to gassing to stop the psychological issue. Knowingly killing somebody imposes a big psychological problem. I saw this with our troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Nobody talks about it. Nobody wants to know about it. Killing somebody becomes a mental hell. If one enjoys it, there is something wrong.

As I remember Lawrence of Arabia once said, "I left the military because killing became addictive."


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments I think part of the issue here is who is being executed. If you can be assured the person is truly vile, then maybe you can stop thinking of them as humans. I once worked in a meat works as a student to get money, and as one of the slaughtermen said, you don't even think of them as animals. Just a neck passing by that you have to cut. For an executioner, if you are convinced that the subject is so vile he is no longer human, it should be easier, but in any case, he should not think about what he is doing -merely do it in as detached a way as possible.


message 9: by GR (last edited Jan 22, 2017 11:43PM) (new)

GR Oliver | 479 comments This what armies try to do when training men to be soldiers. They are not human. The enemies are animals without souls trying to kill you. This was my military training, and I'll never forget it. It's everything I was educated against.


message 10: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments This is a crucial part. No matter what you are told by others, what your orders are and what ramifications you face if you disobey, it's important in my opinion, to evaluate and arrive at your own conclusion whether you endorse a certain action or don't. I like Muhammad Ali's example in this respect...


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments I didn't say it was virtuous; I said it was what you have to do to retain your sanity :-)


message 12: by GR (new)

GR Oliver | 479 comments Nik wrote: "This is a crucial part. No matter what you are told by others, what your orders are and what ramifications you face if you disobey, it's important in my opinion, to evaluate and arrive at your own ..."

Which may not be ethical, Nic. On the case of Muhammad Ali, he took the consequences. He didn't go into the military.

During the Vietnam War this issue came up: Ethics vs non Ethics. They decided that you can be a conscientious observer without consequences. You just go in as a non-combative. When I went in, 1960 and during Muhammad Ali's time, I had no such choice. It was either jail or active military. Conscientious Objectors had to be of certain religious orders that express Conscientious Objection. I don't know how it is now since the all enlisted army was enacted back in the 1970s. The men I got to know during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were all gung-ho, soldiers of fortune, adventures, etc. They were part of what the military wants--people who do without question. And you get situations like My Lai in Vietnam--Abu Ghraib in Iraq.


message 13: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments Would you befriend an executioner?


message 14: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Uh, it would make for rather morbid work discussion at the local pub.


message 15: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments -:)


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments My gut feeling is the talk at the local pub would be about football, or whatever, like most other talk at the local pub, or at least at the ones I have been to.


message 17: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments I've never met an executioner, as far as I know. But who would admit to being one if you met him in a bar? I do know a mortician, and I'm friendly when I see him, but I think it's a weird profession that requires something I wouldn't want in a friend.


message 18: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments Is an executioner an "essential" worker in corona's context? What do you think?


message 19: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments In my opinion, executioners aren't needed in any context. Executing someone because they committed murder is a paradox and self-contradictory, as well as morally insupportable.


message 20: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie | 1753 comments I agree with Scout.

I don't see how it could ever be considered essential. Death can wait, the state can support the $64 a day for housing an inmate. Unless something has changed in the last year, they were unable to get the drugs sanctioned for use for the death penalty. AZ, at one point, got some type of drug from outside the country, which was illegal and intercepted by Federal Agents.

Coroners and morticians are definitely essential.


message 21: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie | 1753 comments Scout wrote: "I've never met an executioner, as far as I know. But who would admit to being one if you met him in a bar? I do know a mortician, and I'm friendly when I see him, but I think it's a weird professio..."

Scout, what if you knew a coroner? Would you consider that weird like the mortician?


message 22: by Scout (last edited Aug 05, 2020 11:36PM) (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments More scientific, I guess, but takes a different sort of person to do the job. Not someone I'd want to sleep with.


message 23: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie | 1753 comments Scout wrote: "More scientific, I guess, but takes a different sort of person to do the job. Not someone I'd want to sleep with."

A coroner wouldn't bother me. That is a doctor/scientist. Morticians and used car salesman both give me the heebie jeebies.


message 24: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments An occupation born of the virus: mask maker. Who would've thought that would be job a year ago?


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments Scout wrote: "An occupation born of the virus: mask maker. Who would've thought that would be job a year ago?"

Burglars? Bank robbers?


message 26: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments Ha! Okay, Ian :-)


message 27: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments Ian wrote: "..... Burglars? Bank robbers?"

Mask makers risk becoming an accomplice :)


message 28: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments Yeah:-) "You're charged with making masks. You have the right to remain silent . . ."


message 29: by Papaphilly (new)

Papaphilly | 3258 comments Mike wrote: "I may be making this up, but I seem to remember hearing that when they executed by firing squad, in the US anyway, there was a rule that one gun had to be loaded with blanks; presumably so no one would ever know for sure that he had fired a killing shot...."

That is true, but having fired both blanks and full loads, you know the difference....


message 30: by Papaphilly (last edited Sep 10, 2020 12:18AM) (new)

Papaphilly | 3258 comments Scout wrote: "In my opinion, executioners aren't needed in any context. Executing someone because they committed murder is a paradox and self-contradictory, as well as morally insupportable."

While I am not a huge fan of the death penalty, I do believe it is necessary. I certainly see the paradox, but then we do have wars. As for moral support, I think that is left to each individual. As for the state, sometimes it must be used.

I do believe in robust defense and I believe every one charged needs it. I also believe the death penalty should be a long drawn out process just to make sure an innocent is not put to death.


message 31: by Papaphilly (new)

Papaphilly | 3258 comments As for strange jobs, just think of the show Dirty Jobs and you get the idea. Somebody has to do them. In many ways, it is like having cops or lawyers for friends. My dad was a professional mourner when he was a teenager. It is certainly unusual, but once again needed. just imagine if we did not have those that did the nasty work of humanity like caring for the dead or cleaning up roadkill.


message 32: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments As for dirty jobs, my admiration goes out to those who clear sewer blockages. I have seen some of them in action and, er, yech!

As for the death penalty, we don't have it but from my point of view I would be happy to see it for the guy who murdered over fifty people in the mosque shootings here. He is getting life and will never be outside a maximum security prison until he dies (at least that is what the sentence says) but that is very expensive since he has to be protected from the other prisoners.


message 33: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments So you think killing is morally okay for the state, but not for the perpetrator? Deliberate killing is either okay or it's not.


message 34: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments Yes, I do, Scout. In clear and certain circumstances.


message 35: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments Papaphilly wrote: "... lawyers for friends ..."

Those lawyers can be so unfriendly :)


message 36: by Papaphilly (new)

Papaphilly | 3258 comments Scout wrote: "So you think killing is morally okay for the state, but not for the perpetrator? Deliberate killing is either okay or it's not."

As I said, we do have wars.....


message 37: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie | 1753 comments Ian wrote: "Yes, I do, Scout. In clear and certain circumstances."

Is 50 deaths more egregious than 1 murder?

Is the cost of incarceration a consideration in the terms of punishment?


message 38: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments My view is 50 killings for no better reason than hate warrants removal of perpetrator. Note there is no ambiguity as to who is guilty.


message 39: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5776 comments Killing a person in cold blood by injection or otherwise would be considered a crime under the law if a citizen did it. Murder. It's a paradox that the state does the same thing and it's condoned.

Papaphilly, I should have qualified my statement that "deliberate killing is either okay or it's not." Killing in self-defense or in defense of one's country is okay with me. Kill or be killed. But tying someone down and killing them has nothing to do with self-defense. It has to do with vengeance, and that's not ours to take, lest we become like those we condemn.


message 40: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments As for me, why should I pay the guy who for no good reason killed over 50 people praying in a mosque because he could? Why should my taxes go to giving that guy an extended life when I could buy some medical treatment for the poorer who cannot afford it and the system fails them? As far as I am concerned, that person is simply worse than an animal because animals only kill for food. I have killed animals to eat, so I have no problem if someone would cut his throat.


message 41: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie | 1753 comments I don't disagree with your reasons. My problem is the definition of "we know who did it." I have seen the guilty go free and we have all seen the news of DNA evidence now proving the innocence of others. I also have the issue of is it a hate crime or is it a mentally ill person? Mental competence to stand trial is a far cry from not being mentally ill in our legal system.

i have worked too long in the legal system to ever be able to say yes, put that person to death. It is not the laws that are the issue on the subject for me, it is the manipulation at every level of the system.

I have always wondered if those who commit horrific crimes, especially towards children or which involve mutilation of the victims are mentally ill or if there are simply those who have no ability to feel connected to humanity.Were they born that way or did someone else destroy them? It is difficult to not believe they should be put down like a rabid dog as we know rehabilitation is not possible. I don't know if "hate" can be cured, because I have never hated anyone.

For me, it is probably less of a moral issue and more about absolutes. I have difficulty believing in absolutes in anything, because life is never static. I would have to be excused from a jury where the death penalty would be on the table.

At the same time, I don't deny that the expense of keeping someone imprisoned for life is not the best use of my tax dollars.


message 42: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments I don't think "maintenance costs" should be a sound deliberation whether to execute someone or not. Death penalty is not only punishment or vengeance, it has also a deterrence aspect. And sometimes captive terrorists, for example, encourage their followers to kidnap hostages to bargain their release... Understand the deliberations. Haven't given it enough thought to form an opinion.


message 43: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments I completely agree you have to b e 100% sure. In the case I was discussing, there was absolutely no doubt - he was caught with the guns, identified by survivors and he had photographed himself doing it. I would never execute for one killing because there could always be the possibility of getting the wrong person. In N Z there are about five cases (not all murder) where someone has been sentenced to a long jail time, and I am really doubtful they were really guilty.

Another reason for having the death penalty is the occasional hostage situation when some other crime is committed. It is a lot easier to save the hostages if the criminal knows what he does next is the difference between jail and execution. And Nik's point about terrorists is sound.


message 44: by Papaphilly (new)

Papaphilly | 3258 comments Scout wrote: "Killing a person in cold blood by injection or otherwise would be considered a crime under the law if a citizen did it. Murder. It's a paradox that the state does the same thing and it's condoned.... But tying someone down and killing them has nothing to do with self-defense. It has to do with vengeance, and that's not ours to take, lest we become like those we condemn."

I agree it is vengeance and that is the point. I fully believe there are certain crimes that are so bad that the person committing them does not deserve to live and society has the right to remove them from their life. It is a statement of enough of this crime and society will not tolerate it.

Unlike many that support the death penalty, I hope it is rarely used. I do not believe in torturing the condemned or making their death painful. It should only be used in certain circumstances and only when it is absolutely 100% proven. I also think there needs to be a robust defense provided with enough resources to guarantee a fair process.

As for saving money, it is more expensive in the United States to put someone on death row and try to execute them than it is to lock them up and throw away the key.

I do not know if there is a deterrence factor or not. I have read plenty on both sides of the argument on why their side is right.


message 45: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 0 comments The police (and sometimes civilians) execute criminals and terrorists during criminal acts on the basis of legal action. A state execution by police only differers in terms of timing proximity to the action. In the NZ case if the police had arrived during the incident I presume they like London police would have shot the terrorist dead.

Executing 6 months or 10 years later does not change the outcome.

The issue for post trial is burden of proof. Police sometimes get the wrong person in live incidents as well as in slower investigations.


message 46: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments If the NZ police arrived while the gunman was shooting, they would have been authorized to shoot to kill. However, in an "if" situation with so many unknowns, it is hard to know for sure what would have happened. What did happen was somehow two policemen saw him moving between mosques and arrested him. (There was a third mosque targeted and that was saved.)


message 47: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14876 comments Call it vengeance, but I guess the liquidation of bin laden doesn't raise too many reservations


message 48: by J. (last edited Sep 10, 2020 01:35PM) (new)

J. Gowin | 3650 comments I would like to point out that a cop who shoots an armed aggressor is acting in defense of himself and any innocents. The threat is immediate. A state sponsored execution is a deliberate premeditated act which is usually carried out a significant amount of time after any other violence.

My personal opinion is predicated on the fact that all men (generic) are flawed, and the theory that everything a nation does is done in its citizens' names. As we are flawed, it is inevitable that we will convict innocents. If we have capitol punishment, it is inevitable that we will execute innocents. And as citizens the blood of those innocents will be on our hands. Any "justice" which risks the deaths of the innocent is not just.

As for the vermin who's actions have demonstrated that they deserve to be ended, throw them in a dank pit and let God take them at his leisure.


message 49: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10662 comments It sounds like J. would favour the Soviet three year sentence?


message 50: by J. (last edited Sep 10, 2020 04:42PM) (new)

J. Gowin | 3650 comments Ian wrote: "It sounds like J. would favour the Soviet three year sentence?"

There's a big difference between a fair trial delivering a sentence of life without parole, and a show trial with a meaningless sentence.

And while an ultra-max resident might view his 4'x7' cell as a inescapable pit, I think that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn might disagree.


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