Saturday, June 19, 2010

"One prisoner had been brought out of his cell"

"The gallows stood in a small yard, separate from the main grounds of the prison, and overgrown with tall prickly weeds. It was a brick erection like three sides of a shed, with planking on top, and above that two beams and a crossbar with the rope dangling. The hangman, a grey-haired convict in the white uniform of the prison, was waiting beside his machine. He greeted us with a servile crouch as we entered. At a word from Francis the two warders, gripping the prisoner more closely than ever, half led, half pushed him to the gallows and helped him clumsily up the ladder. Then the hangman climbed up and fixed the rope round the prisoner's neck.

"We stood waiting, five yards away. The warders had formed in a rough circle round the gallows. And then, when the noose was fixed, the prisoner began crying out on his god. It was a high, reiterated cry of 'Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!', not urgent and fearful like a prayer or a cry for help, but steady, rhythmical, almost like the tolling of a bell. The dog answered the sound with a whine. The hangman, still standing on the gallows, produced a small cotton bag like a flour bag and drew it down over the prisoner's face. But the sound, muffled by the cloth, still persisted, over and over again: 'Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!'"

The chair in which Ronnie Lee Gardner was shot, still showing the entry holes of the rounds that pierced his heart, from the Deseret News

"The hangman climbed down and stood ready, holding the lever. Minutes seemed to pass. The steady, muffled crying from the prisoner went on and on, 'Ram! Ram! Ram!' never faltering for an instant. The superintendent, his head on his chest, was slowly poking the ground with his stick; perhaps he was counting the cries, allowing the prisoner a fixed number-- fifty, perhaps, or a hundred. Everyone had changed colour. The Indians had gone grey like bad coffee, and one or two of the bayonets were wavering. We looked at the lashed, hooded man on the drop, and listened to his cries--each cry another second of life; the same thought was in all our minds: oh, kill him quickly, get it over, stop that abominable noise!"

from A Hanging, by George Orwell

1 comment:

  1. Deacon Bob YerhotJune 20, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Let us all pray that we truly become a nation that protects all human life.

    The horrors of abortion are equaled, I believe, with the horror of capital punishment and the horrors of war.

    There are obvious alternatives to ending an unborn life; there are alternatives to ending the life of one convicted of a capital crime; there is almost always an alternative to war.

    God help us in this uphill struggle to reform our hearts and our society.

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