Thursday, June 22, 2006

Small, Local, and Green

BLDGBLOG discusses China's ever-expanding use of mobile execution chambers:

As a replacement for the firing squad, this is nomadic power, bringing the state – and lethal injections – to your doorstep.

"Makers of death vans," USA Today reports, "say they save money for poor localities that would otherwise have to pay to construct execution facilities in prisons or court buildings. The vans ensure that prisoners sentenced to death can be executed locally, closer to communities where they broke the law."
Or as Kingsley Amis would put it, "Wherever you may be / they bring it to you, free."

Personally, I can't help but applaud this step towards our Dark Green Future. I trust the vans will eventually run on switchgrass-derived biofuel.

The environmental benefits are clear enough, but there are other compelling economic incentives. Firing squads have an unfortunate tendency to perforate otherwise marketable organs. The judicious use of lethal injection can put an end to this wasteful process, and might even help to pay for the expense of switching over to the death-van system. (Adding a dissecting-room to the vans would be even more economical, and a solar cremation unit would be the icing on the cake).
To guarantee that each execution is "carried out legally," they are all "recorded on video and audio that is played live to local law enforcement authorities" – state-induced death as a form of avant-garde cinema.
It’s not avant-garde at all; it’s as perfectly conventional as only a product of the bureaucratic gaze can be (cf. China's filmed executions of opium users in the 1930s). That said, I admit that the first thing I thought of here was Harrod Blank’s Camera Van turned outside-in.

Also, it's worth noting that whereas the Chinese government used to bill the prisoner's family for the cost of execution by firing squad, lethal injections are free. Everybody wins!

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