Going to New Mexico to kill a man -- that was Limited Inc's brainstorm a few days ago, when it occured to us that there was a feature story in Texas sending a crack team of hangmen, out of our well known heart, to our needy neighbor, New Mexico, to help inject a killer and child rapist with a lethal fluid. Texas and New Mexico refused to give the names of the bourreaux, our Lone Star Rosenkranz and Guildenstern, but it suddenly occured to Limited Inc that some magazine somewhere would be interested in this story. Too late: on the same day, Clark, the childkiller, was murdered by the state.
The Albuquerque Tribune ran a big story about Terry Clark, the killer and killed.
Joline Gutierrez Krueger had the byline. Here are the crucial grafs:
"Terry Clark does not seem like a monster in letters and phone calls from death row, rare glimpses of a man few have come to know - or have wanted to - since that day 15 years ago when he put three bullets in a 9-year-old girl's head.
The state Supreme Court affirmed Clark's death sentence on July 8, 1999. Dena Lynn Gore had already been almost 13 years gone, longer dead in a White Oaks cemetery than she was alive. Clark had spent those years as inmate No. 34930 in the state penitentiary, segregated from the general population more for his own safety than anything and allowed out of his cell one hour a day.
"Yeah, this place is a trip," he wrote Sept. 28, 1999. "I have met a lot of people in here, and it has not been all bad. But I still do not wish to die of old age in here, either. Nothing could be offered me to want to spend my life in this place. Nothing!!"
Clark had grown weary of Mitchell's attempts to save him from execution, and he began filing briefs on his own seeking the right to waive counsel and the right to die as the courts had ordered."
In short, the classic American psychodrama. Clark wants to commit suicide, the state wants to kill him, and the opponents of the state committing the capital crime of murdering murderers (or other criminals) trying to prevent the machine from operating one more time.
Our p.o.v. has been outlined in some scattered post a week or so back: we oppose the death penalty. But our more novelistic interest is in the executioners. Our readers by now are way ahead of us: of course, you are thinking, what would be perfect for this post, Mssrs. Limited Inc, is a nice long quote from Joseph de Maistre's amazing and sinister defense of the ancien regime, Soirees de St-Petersburgh. Wow, such readers we have! We are totally in synch with your wishes! And besides, it is one of the great moments in political rhetoric, de Maistre's astonishing elogium to the hangman. Here's our translation:
"I believe that you are all too clever not to have more than once meditated on the fact of the hangman. What is this inexplicable being who prefers, before all the other agreeable, lucrative, honest and even honorable jobs in the world crowding upon the mind which muses on human force or dexterity, that of tormenting and even putting to death his fellows? That head, that heart, are they made like our own? Don't they contain something peculiar and strange to our nature? For me, I can't doubt it. He is made like us on the outside; he is born like us; but he is an extraordinary being, and in order that he exist in the human family there had to have been issued a decree, a fiat of the Creative Power. He is created like a world. See what he is in the opinion of men, and understand, if you can, how he can ignore that opinion or confront it! hardly has authority chosen his residence, hardly has he taken possession of it when his neighbors recoil, giving him the blind eye. In the middle of this solitude, this sort of vacuum formed around him that he lives alone with his female and his little ones, who make known to him the pleasing sounds of the human voice. Otherwise, he would known nothing but shrieks... a lugubrious signal is given, an abject minister of justice comes to knock on his door and tell him he is needed. He gets up, he goes, he arrives at a public place entirely filled with a palpitating, dense crowd. They throw him a poisoner, a parricide, a blasphemer. He grasps the wretch, stretches him out, ties him to a horizontal cross. He lifts his arm, while a horrible silence surrounds him, and one hears only the cry of bones breaking under the iron rod and the screams of the victim. He unties him, carries him to the wheel. The broken limbs dangle in the spokes. The head hands miserably, the hairs stand up, and the mouth, like a urnace, only gargles, at intervals, some bloody words to call upon death. He finishes, our hangman. His heart is beating, but it is with joy. He applauds his own work, he says in his heart: no one runs the wheel better than me. He climes down, he extends his bloody hand, and justice tosses him some gold coins which he carries off, making a passage through the ranks of the horrified audience that yield to him as he passes. He goes back and sits at his take and eats. Then, he goes to bed and sleeps. The next day, in waking up, he reflects on anything else than what he did yesterday. Is this a man? Yes. God receives him in his temples, and permits him to pray. He is not a criminal, yet no language would consent to say that he is virtuous, honest, estimable, etc. No moral praise is due him, for all such praise supposes a human relationship, and he has none. Yet all grandeur, all power, all obedience rests on the executioner. It is the horror and the tie of all human association. If you take this incomprehensible agent from the world, in that instant order is turned into chaos, thrones are thrown into the abyss, and society disappears."