British intellectuals view Americans as uneducated, naive, stupid, racist, intolerant, insular, easily manipulated, arrogant and violent. On a good day. If you thought Barack Obama’s election would have softened the Oxbridge elite’s opinion of their American cousins, guess again. “It is the first execution by firing squad in the United States for 14 years but the return of raw frontier justice has shocked many Americans. It puts the spotlight on the barbarism of a nation that still kills criminals by the electric chair, gas chamber, hanging and lethal injection.” The “many” referred to here probably includes (i.e. is limited to) the left coast liberals with which LA-lovin’ Daily Express scribe Peter Sheridan hangs. “The death penalty is an anachronism in a world where most civilised nations have eliminated executions.” Nations like . . . the UK! “America still uses hanging, which Britain abandoned after its last execution in 1964, and the gas chamber and electric chair though both can cause drawn-out and agonising deaths. And now the firing squad is bringing back the antiquated notion of justice at the barrel of a gun.”
After presenting a litany of botched executions, the Brit abroad lets Ronnie Lee Gardener—whose forthcoming date with a firing squad inspired Sheridan’s sanctimonious rant—have the last word. Well, almost.
Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, sentenced to death for killing his lawyer during an escape attempt while on trial for murder, has been on Death Row for 25 years. When given a choice of lethal injection or being shot he told the judge: “I would like the firing squad, please.”
In pain from rheumatoid arthritis and frustrated by decades of failed appeals, he has repeatedly asked judges to let him die.
“I like the firing squad,” he said in 1985. “It’s so much easier‚ and there’s no mistakes.”
Many Americans believe the biggest mistake is allowing Gardner to go out in a macho blaze of gunfire and publicity.
Some people would kill for that sort of notoriety.
And some wouldn’t. And the ones who wouldn’t are executing one who would.
Which reminds me: nowhere in this article does Sheridan mention the men Gardener murdered: Melvyn J. Otterstrom and attorney Michael J. Burdell. Or Bailiff Nicolas G. Kirk, who never fully recovered from a bullet fired by Ronnie Lee Gardener. Or the way the second murder went down.
“That son of a bitch shot [Michael] for no reason,” Burdell’s lifelong friend and detective Craig Watson told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Melvyn never got to see his son grow up.”
There. Fixed it for ya.