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Parisian Charm. Omelette & Champagne Breakfast. Beautiful Crepes. Afternoon Cocktails. Gallant Waiters. Delicious Quiche. Evening Romance. Continental Steaks. Mysterious Women. Famous Pastries. Cognac & Midnight Rendezvous. at’s li c ,MrAboit? In short, it’s about everything a great European style restaurant is all about. The_Old mc St 1P-I-k 310 East 6th St. 0,11,* Austin, Texas Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 SMILife DIALOGUE 0. Perils of Gonzo Journalism The death penalty should always prompt thoughtful consideration. The Observer’s recent pieces on the subject were well-timed, given the number of citizens on Death Row and the current policy in Mark White’s office of opposing stays of execution formerly routine as each capital case wends its way through direct and collateral appeal in state and federal court. But Bill Stott’s article, I think. trivializes this debate, deflecting it from the fundmental issues. He allows that “the problem with execution by injection . . . is that it sets up the wrong relationship between the executioner and the condemned person.” By indirection, of course, this supposes that there exists a correct method of execution. But my quarrel is not that Stotts favors capital punishment, while I oppose it. Rather, it is that Stotts disguises, or rather circumvents, the fundamental question. By reducing a serious political and moral issue to the level of esthetics, he prettifies capital punishment or uglifies it just as he complains that “death by injection ‘humanizes’ execution in the wrong, way.” What, in fact, is the ‘right’ way to humanize execution? And what has the personal relationship between the condemned person and the executioner have to do with the basic questions posed by the existence of the death penalty? Capital murder stands alone at the far end of the spectrum of state power over the individual. We willingly sacrifice some individual freedom so that We can pursue personal goals protected by the state from violence by others. Outside of wartime, government countenances only one form of murder capital punishment. Myself, I have long been convinced that this maximum penalty neither deters nor reduces crimes. But advocates and opponents of the death penalty can and should debate the questions of whether executions deter crime, vindicate victims, or in any way serve any goal our society professes to protect. But Stott’s essay demonstrates the moral and analytical limitations of gonzo journalism, or gonzo essay-writing. There are times and topics in which the subjective sensations, reflections and relationships of the individuals involved simply do not properly define the issues. The executioner-condemned relationship falls well short of being an adequate metaphor from which to launch a discus the legendary RAW DEAL Steaks, Chops, Chicken open lunch and evenings 6th & Sabine, Austin No Reservations g innys ‘ COPYING SERVICE Copying Binding Printing Color Copying Graphics Word Processing Austin Lubbock Son Marcos sion of the death penalty. His starting point and premise that the relationship matters much dangerously confines the ethical sweep of his examination of the death penalty to a small and inconsequential fraction of the whole. He has. I fear, badly served a critical public debate. He gave us a teacup painting of offended sensibility when what we need is a broad canvas of fundamental inquiry. Surely the Observer can better define the issues so as to enlighten -rather then obscure our discussions of the death penalty the rawest use of state power, the power to murder with impunity. Martha McCabe, 420 South Vine, Tyler. Tx 75710 Execution “No less wrong” As I write this, I am not sure it serves any useful purpose but, nevertheless, I feel compelled to write because I have grown to expect something better from The Texas Observer than Bill Stott’s essay on death by injection. While I am sure his musings are heartfelt. they are, at the same time, strange and confusing. Electrocution requires the laying on of hands as much as does death by injection to shave the head and ankles. to put the prisoner in the wooden chair. to buckle the leather straps, to place the electrodes on the body, to pray with him before he is killed by the “community… Stott writes of the “ties and prohibitions that bind the community together” that are reinforced by the execution. I don’t feel a greater sense of community at those times. 1 feel sick deep inside just as I feel sick deep inside when I read of the death of the murderer’s victim. The inescapable fact of execution is that it is intentional killing, perhaps more organized than the earlier killing and definitely more thoughtful but no less wrong. I am appalled not so much at the murderer’s “fate” but at the carefully s 641 40,