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by Burt Prelutsky
by Mark Steyn
||The Anti-Death Penalty Hysterics' Newest Angel
by Mac Johnson [writer,
Joseph Nagy had no entourage at his death. I have never seen a picture of him. I would not even know his name had I not found it in a court document. To the leftist legal class and the mainstream media that propagandizes for it, Joseph Nagy is just a background character, undeserving of focus or a name. In every story I saw last week, he was referred to as merely “a Miami topless bar manager,” because that is what he was to the gang of armed robbers that shot him to death in December of 1979.
Johnson is a freelance writer and biologist in Cambridge,
Mass. Mr. Johnson holds a Doctorate in Molecular and
Cellular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He
is a frequent opinion contributor to Human
Events Online. His website can be found at macjohnson.com [go
to Johnson index]
Among this gang was Angel Diaz. Angel Diaz’s death made international news. He died with an entourage of indignant activists and lawyers screeching like a chorus of over-educated harpies on his behalf before any camera or microphone that paused within their vicinity. I have seen many pictures of him, and his family, all of whom were there to tell what a victim of injustice the dark Angel surely was in his martyrdom for mere murderdom.
An execution is always a joyous occasion for the sanctimonious leftist morality mill that seeks spiritual self-aggrandizement in the principled public defense of the indefensible. But Angel Diaz’s execution turned out to be a grander stage than planned, because what was billed as a simple and boring lethal injection turned out to be a complicated and exciting lethal injection—the technician had to insert an IV needle twice. This meant there were not only two pinpricks into the outstretched arm of Diaz, but there was the remote possibility, if his anesthesia had worn off, that there was a burning sensation as well.
This led one anti-death penalty physician to declare expertly, “It really sounds like he was tortured to death.” And so the frenzy began, lethal injection—a method adopted specifically to assuage anti-death penalty activists who sued to ban hanging, shooting, gassing, and electrocution as too painful—was now itself a form of “torture”—cruel and unusual punishment. Within hours, a moratorium was declared on all executions in the state of Florida. And Angel was officially a purified martyr in the minds of the sort of deranged fools that, had they been witnesses to the crucifixion of Christ himself, would have looked past Jesus and wept solely for the thieves on either side.
Worse yet, it now appears that “torture” (like “ironic,” “literally,” “fascist,” and “imperialism” before it) has been added to the purgatorial ranks of words that have lost all real meaning through moronic misuse. I mean, it’s literally ironic what torture these verbal fascists have committed with their legal imperialism.
There are two key points of the new assault on lethal injection prompted by Angel’s alleged agony.
1) IV needles hurt—and often have to be inserted more than once.
As someone who was once tortured by a failed and medieval IV needle myself, I can tell you that the pain was so unimaginable that I nearly complained the second time. No mere murderer should have to face that possibility—a possibility more likely than many know. One story cited the disturbing news that in a hospital setting it takes an average of 1.6 tries to successfully insert an IV into your average non-murderer.
Now that sort of torture may be acceptable when we’re just talking about old people, women in labor or little kids with inflamed tonsils. But what sort of people would allow an innocent killer of nameless bar managers to endure that? On the other hand, if 1.6 is the average then how is two tries a cruel and unusual act? Seems pretty usual to me
2) If the powerful anesthesia were to inexplicably and suddenly wear off, then the lethal chemicals themselves might cause pain.
It’s true. Without anesthesia, most people report an increased sensitivity to pain. And knowing you were dying might be really scary—a fact that Joseph Nagy could probably shed some light on for us, were it not for the fact that he is still dead. In order to make the possibility that poor Diaz may have lacked for anesthesia more real and frightening, his entourage claims that for several minutes following his first injection, he may have done some or all of the following: “grimacing, blinking, licking his lips, blowing and appearing to mouth words.”
To me, that sounds like a perfect description of a man that was “feeling no pain.” As a matter of fact, I remember seeing a stoner at a party doing just those things on an old couch once back in college, and he was definitely feeling no pain. That comment may seem callous, but hey, it’s not like I shot an unarmed man to death during an armed robbery or anything. So relax.
But let us suppose Diaz felt some pain through the haze of his drugs. Was that disproportionate to his offenses, i.e. cruel and unusual punishment? To answer that we need to look at his crimes.
Unfortunately, we can’t look at all of them because of the constraints of space in this column. But below are the highlights. (Keep in mind that most of the following somehow never made it into the “Green Mile” wannabe stories on Diaz’s martyrdom.)
In 1977, while serving a sentence for armed robbery in a drug rehab center for criminals in Puerto Rico, Diaz violated the rules of the center severely enough to merit his return to a standard prison. His innocent reaction to this was to murder Monsarrati Torres DiVega, the director that wrote up the report, by stabbing him 19 times while he slept. DiVega would have died of brain asphyxia following loss of blood circulation. Interestingly, that’s the same way Mr. Diaz would have died following his lethal injection—except DiVega received no painkillers, so Amnesty International has no concerns that they may have worn off before his death.
Being the 1970s, Diaz was sentenced to just 10 to 15 years for murdering DiVega. He never served even that though, since he escaped within two years by attacking a prison guard with a knife—something of a motif in his life.
Soon after his escape, he moved to Florida and by his own admission was part of the gang that robbed the “Velvet Lounge” strip club. During the robbery, Diaz fired shots over the heads of terrified patrons and dancers, who were then herded into the bathroom and locked up. While imprisoned there, they heard screaming and gunshots—club manager Joseph Nagy being executed. They believed they might be executed next.
The medical examiner reported that a bullet entered Nagy’s chest and exited his back, penetrating the aorta of his heart and his lungs. In fact, the bullet seems to have penetrated much deeper than the horrible little needle that gives such woe to the poor little Angel’s supporters. As with DiVega, Nagy would have died of brain asphyxia following loss of blood circulation—again, just like Diaz 27 years later. Only Nagy received no anesthesia, and so was unarguably distressed as he died in a pool of his own blood, fading into twilight while hearing his coworkers being terrorized at gunpoint by a band of murderous thugs. No lawyer was present. His family was not there to beg for his life. He did not have 27 years to argue his worth. And he had done nothing wrong, other than meet Diaz and his gang.
After his arrest for Nagy’s murder, (he was turned in by his frightened girlfriend) Diaz claimed in court that another gang member was the “real killer,” but a blockmate testified that Diaz confided in him (while the two were planning to attempt an escape by killing a guard) that HE was the one who had shot Joseph Nagy. He also claimed in the conversation to have intimidated one witness into not testifying by firebombing her home. In a remarkable coincidence, one witness refused to testify, claiming her home had been firebombed.
A jury considered the evidence, and after due process of law decided to deprive Diaz of life—a sentence that was blocked for 27 years by the tectonic court system and the advocates who game its idiosyncrasies to impose their will on society.
To spare men like Diaz the pain of a needle prick, these advocates have the gall to claim that the death penalty must be prohibited by the courts. Should they get their way, one wonders how long these same lawyers could then stand seeing men like Diaz suffer the pain of life imprisonment. It seems there is always one more layer of pain to peel away for the criminal.
None of us are guaranteed a painless exit from the world. Only in the rarified moral air of the murderers-are-martyrs movement could such a reassuring guarantee be the absolute and inviolable right of the executed.
Denying society the benefits of deterrence and punishment for fear of a botched IV makes as much sense as denying it the benefit of hospitals for the same reason.
Mistakes will happen; but the good news is, just like in the hospital, they can always be corrected with a second IV.CRO
First appeared at Human Events Online
2006 Mac Johnson