taking out the trash, again.

Ronnie Lee Gardner has a date with five men and their .30-30 lever-action rifles tonight at 2AM at the Utah State Prison in Draper.

Ronnie Lee Gardner doesn’t want to die, and has launched some last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

While I can understand Ronnie Lee Gardner’s motivation–dying is a most un-fun affair, from all I know about it, and people generally want as little to do with it as possible–my sympathy is tempered by the following factors:

  • Ronnie shot and killed two people in the 1980s.  One was a bartender named Melvyn Otterstrom, and the other was an attorney named Michael Burdell.
  • Neither of those men wanted to die, either.
  • Neither Mr. Burdell nor Mr. Otterstrom got to launch any appeals before being shot by Ronnie Gardner.
  • Neither Mr. Burdell nor Mr. Otterstrom got to spend 25 years getting three squares a day and family visits before Ronnie Gardner pulled the trigger on them.

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m a big cheerleader for the death penalty.  I don’t trust the state to fairly and impartially issue parking tickets, much less mete out that sort of punishment.  However, some people just don’t get me all that worked up at the prospect of their forced permanent excision from society, much like I don’t get upset about a homicidal pitbull getting put to sleep.  Ronnie Gardner forfeited his rights and privileges as a member of society the moment he killed another for fun or profit, and tonight at 2AM, the bill comes due.

15 thoughts on “taking out the trash, again.

  1. BobG says:

    One of the few cases where a 30-30 is considered a proper varmint rifle.

  2. Morlock Mommy says:

    The society of human beings who live in proximity to each other is a body, functioning complexly and for the most part in willing harmony. Creatures like Ronnie Lee Gardner are a virus, injuring and endangering that body.
    Would you take a pill to maintain an illness subdued forever in your body, risking that one moment of inattention would release it to destroy you? Or would you take a pill that killed that illness and left you free of it’s worry forever?

  3. MarkHB says:

    Mmph. I think that termination should be kept for cases where – without a shadow of a doubt – the accused killed without mercy, or need, for gain or for sport. (I have a couple of other offenses in mind, but they’re not germane to the discussion).

    This would appear to be one of those cases. Where any shadow of doubt exists – such as the absense of multiple eyewitnesses, recordings, blahdiblah – then it’s too steep a call on data that’s too soft.

    In this case… five rounds well spent.

    • LittleRed1 says:

      Like the creature who broke into a “closed” (i.e. cloistered, contemplative order) convent not far outside of my hometown, raped and murdered an 80-year-old nun, and showed absolutely no remorse? He also had a reputation when he was a teenager for animal cruelty and for basically being one of those people everyone avoided at all costs.

      IIRC, it took the jury all of 20 minutes to find him guilty as all get out and there were no appeals by anti-execution groups. Rabid dogs and all that.

  4. abnormalist says:

    As much as I hate to defend someone like Mr Gardner, if you have a negative view of the death penalty, then its cases like his where you have to defend your view the hardest.

    Its easy to say you don’t want to defend a racist, a fascist, or a religious fanatic when it comes to free speech, but free doesn’t mean popular. Likewise if you feel the death penalty is wrong, cases where its the easiest to view it as OK are the ones you should rally against the most.

    Corporal punishment as its handled in the US is a joke. You live in a box, a shadow of a life but still a life, for decades, before you are given a last meal, allowed to see a religious person of your choice, say good bye to your loved ones, and pass into the abyss in a generally clean, pain-free manner. Is this supposed to be a deterrent?

    Do it right, or dont do it at all.

    My hopes and prayers for the victims families. In this case though I consider Mr Gardner a victim of the states sanctioned “humane” murder

    • perlhaqr says:

      I think it’s important to distinguish between “a negative view of the death penalty” and “a negative view of the people administering the death penalty”.

      If you can know for certain you’ve got the wrong guy, then yes, there are certainly some offences for which I’m willing to eliminate the offender. Which, I’m pretty sure, puts me not in the camp of “people opposed to the death penalty”.

      However, like Marko, I don’t much trust the government to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So achieving that level of “know for certain” is a pretty high bar, IMO, especially given the stories one reads on The Agitator about prosecutorial abuse and outright evidence manufacturing.

      This is part of why I’m such a fan of widespread pistol carry and liberal (in the original sense of the word) laws about self defence. The woman who is being raped knows she’s got the right person. I have… less faith in the system to have that level of certainty after the fact. (Plus, if the woman can kill her attacker before she’s actually violated, so much the better.)

    • Randy says:

      Corporal punishment is spanking & paddling.

      Capital perhaps?

  5. RevolverRob says:

    I find it interesting that Utah uses a firing squad. I’ve maintained all along that if we’re going to administer the death penalty, we should make it quick, as painless as possible, and as affordable for the tax payer as possible.

    -RM

  6. Nick says:

    RevolverRob: Unfortunately, we’re actually getting rid of it–Gardner was convicted prior to the passage of the “no more firing squad” law in 2004 and chose firing squad as his method of execution; he was allowed to be grandfathered in.

    I really don’t understand what’s so inhumane about four bullets to the heart. Hell of a lot more humane than anything Gardner ever did.

  7. abnormalist says:

    A bit more flesh to my opinion earlier.

    If you’re going to do it, do it right or not at all.

    If you believe in the death penalty, make it a serious deterrent. Make it gory, gruesome, and public. Put it on TV, all channels, no commercials. Make it awful. Bring back drawing and quartering. Disembowelment is an awful, painful way to go. Broadcast the screams in digital surround sound 7.2 channels.

    Before hand, don’t tell the guy when its going to happen. Leave him in utter fear and record it. Make a best of real for the day after. Have him go to bed every night knowing that at any point guards may rush his room, grab him, drag him out screaming down the hall to his utter awful demise.

    That way you remove him from the population as many are fans of, and you make it an honest to god deterrent.

    Or just don’t do it.

    • Tam says:

      You assume that I care one way or another about its effect as a “deterrent”.

      I do know that it’s the only 100% proven effective cure for recidivism. Like others, I’m mostly opposed to it because I don’t trust the government to send me the right damn license plate in the mail, let alone ice the correct guy.

      But yes, I firmly embrace the fact that there are some crimes you just don’t say “sorry” for: “Hey, I know I killed those three kids and ate their spleens after frying them on the stove top, but I was crazy then. I’m okay now.

      Nope, sorry, sport; once you’ve done something like that, you don’t get to frolic with the other reindeer anymore because you might do it again, and I don’t see why we should have to expose doctors, shrinks, or prison guards to you, either.

      As I grow older, I find myself more comfortable with feelings of ambiguity about stuff like this. Yes, I don’t like the state’s power of life & death and its capricious and error-filled and sometimes downright malicious application; no, I’m not particularly troubled by the execution of a confessed murderer who was caught almost literally red-handed. I’ll sleep just fine tonight.

      • og says:

        Deterrent? There is no such thing as a deterrent except to the already law abiding. The law abiding will not ccw, for instance, for fear that they will end up in the stripey hole. That fear, to an honest person, is often greater than their fear of goblins.

        To the criminally inclined, there is no deterrent. If their crime is heinous enough, I’m right with Tam about the recidivism. Otherwise, let the prisons be run like Greenhaven in upstate new york, or Baldwin in Bay Minnette Alabama where the prison is required to turn a profit. Let’s make incarceration a profit center instead of a cost center, and let that profit pay for death penalty appeals instead of taxpayers.

        I’ll sleep just fine too.

        • abnormalist says:

          I don’t really agree with you. Deterrents are created through fear. Fear of getting caught, fear of being punished. Most criminals aren’t afraid of prison, and the death penalty is so remote as to not inspire any fear.

          We could change that. Take a page out of the old (still mid to late 1900s) French prison system for example. You get put in a 4wx6lx4h stone box. It has no light, no doors, no bed, no facilities but a bucket. You stay in there 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Showers? No. Medical care? No. Light or human companionship? No. You get fed the bare minimum to keep you alive, and get your cell hosed out every few weeks.

          That is punishment. Read the accounts of people who went through that. Those that survived have no wish to ever go back again.

  8. dave says:

    I have to agree with abnormalist, at least to a degree. The current method doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent, considering the humane treatment such animals get while awaiting their sentence to be carried out, followed by a quick and painless death.

  9. Will says:

    It shouldn’t take years to get in front of a judge for a crime. If you read the NRA compilation of The Armed Citizen, through the ’30s, it seemed common for criminals caught in the act to be hauled in front of a judge a couple days later and be sentenced to prison.

    Some states allow the inmate to chose the method of death. I’d like to see that expanded to all states. Maybe a “spin the wheel” deal. It could be called “the Wheel of Death”tm, and the perp has to give it a spin themselves, or else the relatives of the victims get to directly chose. Could be combined with abnormalist’s ideas for an over the top effect.

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