In Arkansas, “the natural state,” we’re now going through a battle between nature and culture, and it appears for the moment that nature, “red in claw and tooth,” has the upper hand. I’m talking about the Death Row inmates here, whose executions were mandated by the new Republican administration and then stayed by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 31 of our 50 states carry the death penalty. As you may know, a few of these states, like Arkansas before the Hutchinson administration, have a legal, or virtual, moratorium on executions. But the bulk of these bloody red states, principally in the South and the West, may be eager to follow through with the termination of the bad guys on Death Row.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, as the new evangelical Bible proclaims. Christ in his glory, and his bloodthirstiness, is on the prowl. Of course, as we well know, conservative Christianity and guns are intimate bedfellows, well and lovingly bundled.
What’s saving us as a civilization, so far, is that the pharmaceutical companies, those paragons of civic virtue and restraint, will not sell the deadly chemical cocktails to death-penalty states. They don’t want their reputations stained by blood, after all. Part of the appeal by Arkansas’s Death Row inmates challenges a new law that would keep the manufacturer of these chemicals a secret.
For blood money is hush money, and the shame must not get out. If we as a state, or nation, or people must have an eye for an eye (consider Israel and the Palestinians), then we must keep the struggle hugger-mugger, under the table, decorous, lest we frighten the children, I suppose, the natural heirs, in this natural state, to our own thirst for violence and vengeance. Pass the butter, please, and the sour cream, we simper. Pass that bloody steak, we roar.