Leo Tolstoy Witnesses a Beheading

Comments

1
Can't imagine seeing ANY execution. But, a beheading is particularly gruesome. Evidently, it is still done in Saudi Arabia and publicly. Not a guillotine though. It's a fellow with a sabre (?) who does the deed.
2
Better the state than random barbarians beheading each other ritualistically in a society without government. Capital punishment is horrible, but his conclusion was extreme.
3
You decided not to Herz it!? I'm really unprepared to see sociological critiques without accusatory commentary on Slog these days.
4
@2 - Funny how Somalia just keps popping up as a perfect - and real - reference implementation of so many econo-political theories. Even more amazing how it continues, despite being so clearly undesirable.

While I think capital punishment is barbarian, I'm not sure that beheading is that much worse than electrocution or some botched forms of lethal injection. Certainly it's more painful for viewers, but that's more an argument for public executions (leading to widespread revulsion and support to eliminating the penalty) than for different methods. It seems to me that the death penalty would never have persisted in this country as long as it has without executions being hidden from public view.
6
"Memento mori—remember death! These are important words. If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different. If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour. Perhaps you have half a century before you die—what makes this any different from a half hour?" -Leo Tolstoy, "Path of Life"
7
If we're going to have capital punishment, it should be administered by beheading. In public, by the governor of the state. Using a sword, Saudi-style, takes a certain amount of skill, so perhaps an axe would be better. I'm looking at you, Rick Perry - let's see how tough on crime you really are.
8

Despite the blood, beheading seems (to me, anyway) more humane and merciful than strapping someone down and paralyzing them with one drug so they can't scream while you slowly poison them with another.

Of all the forms of capital punishment, lethal injection always struck me as the most downright _perverse_. It's inherently very sadistic.
9
In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it. The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter's Logic: "Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal," had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius — man in the abstract — was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others.