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Another Reason to Be Outraged About the Botched Execution: The Oklahoma Governor’s Response

Win McNamee/Getty Images

If you've been online at all this morning, you probably know all the gruesome details of the botched execution-cum-fatal torturing of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last night, so I won't trouble you with the details.

I will, however, trouble you with the infuriating reaction from Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

"I have asked the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of Oklahoma’s execution procedures to determine what happened and why during this evening’s execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett,” she said.

At a glance, this looks like fairly standard protocol, given that a prisoner was tortured to death on her watch. But it's actually incredibly damning.

For understandable reasons, the Times buried the backstory at the bottom of its article, but before the execution went appallingly awry, Fallin was gearing up to provoke a constitutional crisis in her state by ordering Lockett executed in defiance of a Supreme Court stay—originally granted due to concerns about the provenance of the drugs intended to anesthetize and euthanize him. That was a pretty big story in Oklahoma before the 40-minute killing made it national news. Ultimately the court backed down.

So to spare Governor Fallin the suspense, what happened was that she was aching to see Lockett executed, used political pressure to hasten his execution, and when she got her way, he died horrifically. Whether or not it was due to the drugs, the implication that she's treating it as nothing more than a procedural failure should be a bigger story.

Even if you grant the assumption, which I don't share, that an intentional, scheduled killing can be done in a non-torturous way, if something (i.e. intentional, scheduled killing) requires a zero percent error rate in order to not be torturous, probably you just shouldn't do it.

But you certainly shouldn't be hungry to do it.