Saturday, January 13, 2007

Osama Captured/Hanged?

I cannot personally attest to the veracity of the claims included in the message below. I received it from a credible source, but have not yet verified it. Still, I thought it not a bad idea to promulgate the info, on the chance that it was true...I have not myself received any such email as the one described...

Addendum: A poster, whom I believe to be credible, describes it as a "hoax, big time." Still, better safe than sorry, imho...

Addendum #2: I have decided, in order not to foster any undue concern, to erase the body of the warning which had previously occupied the rest of this post.


Anonymous said...

Hoax, big time.

-JR, pyro.

Forager41 said...

From: Forager41

I'm kind of ambivalnet about the hanging of Sadaam H. It's not that I'm totally against capital punishment, but it's almost like hanging was too good for him. It is, after all, the death of Irish martyrs like Kevin Barry. Just a waste of good rope in Sadaam's case. If they just wanted to mock and jeer him they could have simply put him in the Bahgdad Zoo and left him there on exhibit for the rest of his wretched life.

Actually in the annals of capital punishment hanging has kind of a controversial history, even among death penalty advocates.

The Romans, as we all know, certainly believed in giving the taxpayers their moneysworth by creating the execution of death sentences as spectacles of public entertainment. Likewise the men of the middle ages tended to simply flog their miscreants--including "sturdy beggars" (ie. "panhandlers")--and hang their felons, unless the felons were of the royalty or nobility in which case they decapitated them as a courtesy--sort of a class thing.

I used to think that medieval society didn't have the capacity to build prisons, but that just doesn't bear up under examination. They built majestic castles and magnificent cathedrals, or for that matter they could simply have turned a quick farthing by selling their convicted criminals as galley slaves--yachting still being in it's infancy--but they chose sterner measures thinking, possibly more clearly than ourselves, that since reform appeared to be unlikely it was probably a waste of time to even contemplate it.

Actually the practice of hanging people got some pretty bad press and sort of died out even before it was supplanted by technically more complicated methods. Down here at Shakespeare, NM south of Lordsburg back in the 1880s they hung two men in the hotel dining room before dinner (one of them for "being a damned nuisance") hanging them from the rafters because they lacked suitable tress there in the Chihuahuan Desert. Of course every school child in New Mexico knows the story of the notorious bandit "Black Jack" Ketchum who was hanged at Clayton, NM on April 26, 1901 except that he had gained so much weight lying around in prison that he was decapitated when he came to the end of his rope. He was sentenced to death in the first place for "felonious assault on a railway train" which may explain why we've had comparatively fewer train robberies around here since then (although just between ourselves, the class of criminals we get today is not at all up to the standard of the early 20th Century).

Actually Ketchum was not the only condemned criminal to be beheaded by hanging in NM. The same fate befell Lucius Hightower in November, 1916 at the old Grant County Jail, not six blocks from where I'm sitting as I note the event now. Hightower didn't live here in Silver City, but down in one of the outlying mining camps down in the Burro Mountains around Leopold or Paschal near Old Tyrone. He got drunk and killed his wife with an axe, and while our juries tended to be fairly tolerant about homicide they took a dim view of Domestic Violence.

The Grant County Sheriff at the time was Herb McGrath (not the Chino Mines Tailing Dam Surveyor, but his grandfather); and, not to put too fine a point on it, the elder McGrath did not live to build that fine three-story brick home at the corner of College Avenue and West Street by trifling with the criminal element. He was quick on the trigger and mooted more than one promising criminal indictment like the time he blew the outlaw Gates brothers away with one of those new-fangled automatic shotguns at the railroad boarding house down at Separ on the S.P. Line. It stands to reason that you don't get much practice hanging people if you shoot them even before trial.

What happened with Hightower was a lot like Ketchum. He probably never ate better in his life than he did there in the county jail waiting for his execution date. His weight ballooned up to the point that it jerked his head plumb off when he dropped through the gallows trap. Well, of course the problem with that is that it's embarrassing. A "Warrant"--whether it be an Arrest Warrant or a Death Warrant--is actually a Command of the Court which doesn't give the officer any discretion in carrying it out (which is why we had to arrest that guy on Christmas Eve in 1999 even though he wasn't driving the truck that took out the chiropractor's fence, he had an outstanding warrant for Failure to Appear in Magistrate Court). The District Courts had commanded the Union and Grant County Sheriffs to hang Ketchum and Hightower by their necks until they were dead. You'd think if they wanted them decapitated they would have said so in the first place..after all these guys were just your common mine-run of felons--train robbers and murderers--it's not like they were royalty or something.

Well McGrath was so chagrined that he wrote a letter to the Warden of San Quentin Prison in California asking for directions on how to hang someone legally--the little niceities--and the Warden wrote him back the nicest letter. There's still a copy of it in the Silver City Museum Archives, and it's about two or three pages long explaining exactly how to figure the drops so that you can hang any number of people just as pretty as ornaments on a Christmas tree no matter how fat they are..but I'm afraid it was a matter of too-little-too-late because by 1933 the big utility company lobbyists had the market sewed up for electrocution and they haven't hanged anybody here since then.