What is an executioner to do when he runs out of his drug supply? Arturo Diaz became the 13th victim of the Texas killing machine last night - and the first to be killed with pentobarbital supplied by an unknown pharmacy or manufacturer.
Earlier this month the expiration date of the state's remaining supply of pentobarbital passed leaving Gov. Perry like a bachelor who has just realized the milk has gone sour.
Now just where did this new dose of pentobarbital come from? The manufacturer of the drug has refused to sell it to states who plan on using it to kill inmates. That leaves either third-party sellers who acquired the drugs under false pretenses or compounding pharmacies whose products don't undergo the same scrutiny as those made by drug companies.
The fact that the state won't reveal the source of its poison should be very troubling to the citizenry. These executions are done in our name (whether we want them or not) by a government that serves at our discretion. Every dollar spent by the State of Texas is to be accounted for and that information is to be provided to us.
We have a right to know where the drugs come from. We have a right to know how they were acquired. We have a right to know whether they were obtained under false pretenses for (what the feds call) off-label purposes.
If the drug was provided by a compounding pharmacy we have a right to know whether the drug was tested to ensure that it did what it was advertised to do. How do we know it put Mr. Diaz to sleep and then permeated his system to kill him while he slept? How do we know the drug didn't cause unnecessary pain and suffering?
We don't know - and that's the problem.
And before anyone stands up and asks why we should give a damn if Mr. Diaz suffered unnecessary pain since he took the life of another man, think about what it says of our society that we continue to insist on an eye-for-an-eye when it comes to capital crimes. We don't live in the Middle Ages anymore. Surely we have advanced past the point of exacting revenge when someone does something we disapprove of. Is the arbitrary cold-blooded murder of a prisoner really a sign of an enlightenment?
Mr. Diaz committed a heinous act. The Houston Chronicle pointed out in its headline that he stabbed his victim 94 times. So, you see, he was bad and he deserved to die. I'm not going to get up and say that Mr. Diaz didn't deserve to be punished for taking a life and leaving a huge void in a family. But at what point do we wake up and say we've killed enough?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, no one was brought back to life when the drug was injected into Mr. Diaz' vein. Nothing can ever undo the horror of what happened back in 1999. Killing a man doesn't change what happened. And when we treat the lowest among us with such contempt that we don't think twice about killing them, it says something very profound about our culture.
We want to portray ourselves as enlightened. We want to portray ourselves as exceptional. But when it comes right down to it, we're no more civilized than savages. When, as a society, we reduce the value of a life to the point that we take it upon ourselves to decide who lives and who dies, we reveal our true nature.
We have raped the planet. We have raped the environment. We have raped those with whom we disagree. We have raped the powerless and the voiceless. We are savages.