Language is peculiar. Depending on context, the same word can have different meanings.

Take “botched,” for example

As the dictionary defines it, botched means something was “done badly or carelessly.” More specifically, “mismanaged, bungled, ruined, fouled up.”

Casually speaking, it was “screwed up.”

Yet, the outcome can have a totally different meaning when you’re talking life and death.

In abortion, the purpose is to kill the unborn child.

If the child survives the abortion – in fact, lives – the abortion is considered a botched abortion.

In the case of an execution in a prison, if the convict takes too long to die by the chosen method, of if he “suffers,” the execution is considered “a botched execution.”

There were commonly used lines in movies that dealt with people deciding how the bad guys would die to carry out justice.

String ’em up – pick your poison – burn ’em – drop the pellets – face the firing squad – and even, in earlier days, the long wagon ride to the guillotine. The result was death.

In terrorist nations today, there’s no compunction on dealing with people considered to be deserving of death.

“Off with their heads” is not a figure of speech. It’s what they do, and it occurs regularly.

In addition, it’s frequently accompanied by cameras to record the grisly act for bragging rights – and to put fear in the hearts of potential enemies.

But the “civilized” Western world is being torn in two by the dilemma concerning capital punishment.

Do we do it or not? Many nations have outlawed it, and there’s constant pressure to have the United States do the same.

So far, it’s a state issue, but the battle continues.

Are there crimes so heinous that execution is the only resolution?

If so, how soon after conviction, how many appeals should there be, how long should that take and, ultimately, what execution method should be used?

The U.S. has used hanging, the firing squad, the gas chamber and the electric chair.

The French are known for use of the guillotine during the Revolution, but they didn’t invent it.

Dr. Joseph Guillotine introduced it in France because he believed, as did others, that it was a more humane execution method. In fact, it was used in France until the 1970s, after which capital punishment was outlawed.

The whole idea of a humane execution is what’s driving the battles in our country today.

In states that allow capital punishment, the most common means is lethal injection. Supposedly, the prisoner dies a quick, “peaceful” death.

But, not always.

Last week in Arizona, it took Joseph Rudolph Wood nearly two hours to die after being injected with a combination of a sedative and a painkiller. His lawyer said death should have come in 10 minutes.

The uproar that followed was predictable, including from Sen. John McCain, who called Wood’s death “torture.” Others are using the situation as further arguments to eliminate the death penalty.

This was the third “botched” execution by injection in the last six months, and there is growing opposition to the procedure.

Making the situation even worse, there’s a shortage of the drugs used because companies that produced them have stopped, tried to remain unidentified because of threats of violent retribution and, in some cases, have moved overseas and then run into problems with import/export restrictions.

I do wonder why it’s so hard for a person to die. Domestic pets are “euthanized” – killed on purpose – in veterinarian offices every day.

I’ve had to see my own pets die; the needle barely goes in, and the animal is gone.

Why is it different with a person?

California uses “the more humane” lethal injection, but it’s been on hold since 2006 because of challenges, and now there’s another problem.

Three weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney ruled that California’s capital punishment law is unconstitutional because it takes too long for executions to occur after sentencing.

Continual appeals make it almost a reality that a prisoner could spend his life on death row while lawyers wage a continual appeals battle.

The last prisoner executed was on death row for 26 years before the sentence was carried out.

Judge Carney blames the state for the delays and, if his ruling stands, it could eliminate capital punishment in the state.

Then, there’s Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week, he spoke out about capital punishment, criticizing the injection method, saying it’s just a “dishonest” way to disguise the brutality of execution.

He said the foolproof method that should be used is a properly trained firing squad. It would work and would be quick.

He added the guillotine would also be quick and foolproof, but he doubts the public would accept that.

He’s probably right about that, but I agree about the firing squad.

Ready, aim, fire. It’s over.

It’s certainly a less painful and faster death than that endured by the victims of these murderers.

But at least it’s justice.

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