No Pain, No Gain

Our solution for saving Texas's claim to capital punishment fame

As White House counsel, Gonzales submitted memos outlining just how far the Constitution allows an administration to go when it comes to torturing people. You might be surprised that the answer is…pretty damn far.

It’s gonna take some balls to put Texas back on the world’s outrage map, and balls Gonzales has. Any White House lawyer who argues that the Geneva Convention is “quaint” obviously has what it takes.

In an August 2002 memo, Gonzales outlined the pros and cons of dropping the Geneva Convention. Among the pros: Doing it “preserves flexibility.” Among the cons: “Concluding the Geneva Convention does not apply may encourage other countries to look for technical ‘loopholes’ in future conflicts to conclude that they are not bound by [the Convention] either.”

An inmate, a cattle prod and Rice University alum 
Alberto Gonzales -- perfect together.
John Ueland
An inmate, a cattle prod and Rice University alum Alberto Gonzales -- perfect together.
No more time wasted on elaborate last meals. A can 
of Slim-Fast should hold 'em long enough.
John Ueland
No more time wasted on elaborate last meals. A can of Slim-Fast should hold 'em long enough.

Now that is the Rice-bred thinking we need — when we do it, it’s to preserve flexibility. When they do it, they’re looking for loopholes.

Not to mention Gonzales’s definition of torture. Unless there’s “death, organ failure or serious impairment of bodily functions,” you’re just having some good, clean fun.

So we say it’s time for Alberto Gonzales to come home. Texas needs him. In fact, the world needs him, because a world that cannot look down in horror at Texas prisons is not a world worth living in.

Just think of all the things the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can do that don’t involve death or organ failure:

A Clockwork (Burnt) Orange
In Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie A Clockwork Orange, the character of sociopath Alex de Large is forced to rehabilitate by being strapped to a chair with his eyes pried open so he has no choice but to watch whatever his captors want him to see.

In Texas there are many, many awful things that would have the most hardened criminal screaming for mercy and set solidly on the road to recovery. You could put on KPRC news during a sweeps month — sure, the shouts of “Cynthia Hunt putting on a fat suit to shop with a hidden camera? And they say I’m guilty of crimes!” might get tiresome, but no one said ignoring the Geneva Convention was easy.

You could put on Time Warner’s public access channel, to determine just how long it takes for someone to go nuts by watching slightly out-of-focus, stationary-camera coverage of an incompetent speaker talking about the Trilateral Commission or Jesus. Or sometimes both.

But if revenge is what you seek on a person who has committed a heinous crime, there is no better choice for a Texan than to put on video of every Texas-OU game coached by Mack Brown. For really despicable offenders, you can splice in press-conference coverage of every national signing day when Brown has once again been declared the nation’s best recruiter.

Sure, there may be some “serious impairment of bodily functions” — your fingers will never again be able to form the “Hook ’em Horns” sign — but we’re not sure the Geneva Convention folks will notice. Besides, they think “football” is soccer. (As does Brown, at least in terms of points scored against OU.)

For at least some Texans, this procedure will have them begging for the lethal-injection needle. Aggies, of course, would enjoy the show. Then again, Aggies don’t commit capital crimes. Except of taste.

Don’t Mess with Texas
The entire Alberto Project is designed, of course, to bring Texas back to its proper place of world scorn. Therefore it will require using all the deep, rich history of the Lone Star State to drive the point home.

What says “Texas” more than cattle prods? Nothing, that’s what. But why keep ’em down on the farm?

All right, all right, we already hear you naysayers out there. Yeah, yeah, we know: Applying electrical shocks is so Abu Ghraib. And we also realize that the Houston Police Department is ahead of the curve on this with its energetic use of Tasers on anyone without a “100 Club” sticker on their car.

But it’s not just a matter of cattle prods. It’s how you use them.

We realize this is where the Alberto Project may run into some political trouble in Austin. Implementing the proper use of cattle prods would require state legislators to sign off on some changes to the sodomy law, and you know how tough that might be.

And man, all the wrinkles to be considered. Say you’ve got a TDCJ guard doing the implementing. Is he thus labeled a sodomite and forever banned from marrying? (It’s gotta say that in the Bible somewhere.) Is it possible he might find himself enjoying the procedure, and therefore the lege would have been instrumental in creating even one more sodomite? (Not counting their support of the arts, meager as it is.)

The mind boggles, to be sure. But that’s why we have lawyers. And since these lawyers won’t be busy tying up courts with capital appeals, why not put them to work?

If there’s anything that says “Texas” more than cattle prods, it’s fire ants. Strap the inmate down, pour on the honey, and let these six-legged homeboys do their bit to reduce recidivism. If you want to push the envelope, put on a Clint Black album.

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