“Allow me to quote that classic philosopher known as The Poster for Death Wish 2: ‘First his wife. Now his daughter. It’s time to even the score!’ Well, in the wake of a terror attack, Step One is to forget about ‘the score’ completely…
“That scoreboard, it turns out, is nothing more than a manifestation of the most primitive, violent, reptilian part of your brain. Seeing someone wrong you and then letting it slide — letting that ‘score’ stay in their favor — is almost physically painful. So, yeah, if SEAL Team Six had exploded bin Laden’s skull on September 13th, 2001, we would absolutely have still gone to war. We’d have still been 3,000 deaths down on the scoreboard. No way we’d let that go.
“So the next time you turn on the news and see that terrorists have blown up 10 children with a car bomb, that’s the first step: Realize that the scoreboard lies. It will tell you that winning the game means dropping bombs that you know full well will splatter ten times as many children as collateral damage. The score — the real score — would then be:
So a number of people have been posting links to news reports about the public beheading of a convicted child rapist / murderer in Saudi Arabia.
The woman screamed she was innocent just before being executed.
Many of these people are outraged to one degree or another by this news.
I’m just trying to figure out what their outrage is aimed at.
Are they universally opposed to capital punishment?
Well, then we’re in agreement. I would hope we can convince all people, cultures, and governments to abolish capital punishment.
Are they upset that the woman proclaimed her innocence to the very end?
We execute a lot of people here in the US who proclaim their innocence to the very end. I do not know enough about this case to have an opinion on whether or not the Saudi government adequately proved the woman had indeed sexually abused and murdered her step-daughter. I do know there’s ample precedence of step-parents abusing and murdering step-children here in the US, so barring proof there was a miscarriage of justice, I’m going to assume the Saudis know more about the facts of this case than I do.
Are they upset it was a woman that was executed?
Women are as fully capable of committing heinous acts as men, and we’ve executed women for such acts here in the US.
Does the manner of execution bother them?
Beheading is a pretty gruesome way to go, but it is swift and relatively merciful. Certainly swifter and more merciful than repeatedly jabbing a condemned prisoner for 30 minutes in a futile attempt to find a suitable vein for lethal injection, followed by several minutes gasping for breath, fully aware one is dying.
Does the fact that it was a public execution bother them?
The last public execution in the US was in 1936, the last public guillotining in France was in 1939. Photographic evidence indicates public executions in France and Saudi Arabia are comparatively sparsely attended as opposed to the jam-packed spectacles the US used to conduct. Now, if the argument is that public executions are a shameful thing and shouldn’t be conducted, we need to ask why that is so: Because they are unjust? Because they offend our delicate sensibilities? Or because they force us to face the facts about what we are doing to people in the name of justice?
Does it bother them that the execution was carried out by brown skinned non-Christians who aren’t big fans of the US of A?
Well, we had no problem with the French lopping the heads off people up to 1977, and here in America we had more than one death by hanging turn into death by decapitation. It is their land, their culture, their government; if they feel they are justified in what they are doing, how can we stop them? Put pressure on them to change their behavior?
Okay, fine, let’s say we do that. Exactly what kind of behavior are we attempting to change? Killing people, or killing them in public? Do we want the means of execution shifted to something we feel more comfortable with?
We don’t hear a lot of outrage about Asian nations executing prisoners by hangings or firing squads.
Most of the world has abolished the death penalty for common crimes, and many nations for all crimes. The biggest proponents of the death penalty remain Far East Asia, the Middle East, and the horn of Africa.
I have to ask, is this what fuels the outrage of some? Not that criminals are being executed, but that they’re being executed by people who are…well, let’s put this delicately by using the phrase coined by the late Peter Bergman…not-us ?
 I think all forms of “punishment” are futile, which, as I have noted elsewhere, is not the same as saying people should not be held responsible and accountable for their actions. By all means, take driving privileges away from drunk and reckless drivers, have people who have committed minor offenses pay some restitution in the form of community service or a fine, imprison dangerous and violent criminals so they will not be able to harm citizens during the time they are behind bars, but never ever “punish” because all punishment amounts to is eye-for-an-eye retribution to try to make the offender feel bad for what they have done. They never feel bad; they feel victimized and refuse to accept responsibility.
 And, yes, the vast majority of executed prisoners did far worse to their victims. The state is supposed to be above petty revenge and retribution and more about justice. By all accounts it took at least two blows to sever the head of the woman in Saudi Arabia, but the first blow was fatal and severed her spinal chord, so death was probably as instantaneous as that by guillotine. Not to make light of capital punishment, but if the objective is to kill someone as swiftly and as mercifully as possible, the electric chair is the way to go; it makes an awful mess and stench, but it kills the prisoner pretty much instantaneously. That’s the problem with killing people: The swift and merciful ways are messy, the clean ways are slow and agonizing (either physically and / or psychologically).
 Rather the last legal public execution…
 That’s pretty presumptive of us, isn’t it? How would we feel if they tried to tell us how to dress?
 Rather, we don’t hear a lot of outrage about our trade partners executing people by hangings and firing squads; we’ll red ass North Korea all day long.
the only thing
I ever felt
when I killed
someone was the
now I’m sitting here
with a fully loaded hand gun
ready to stick it next to my temple
and pull the trigger
how fast will that bullet fly?
will I have a chance
to feel the recoil
before the bullet
only one way
to find out
text © Buzz Dixon
All Along The Watchtower by Bob Dylan
“There must be some way out of here” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion”, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.
“No reason to get excited”, the thief he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”.
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
© Dwarf Music
art by John Rea Neill
lyrics by Bob Dylan
Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” is one of my favorite songs. It sounds like the opening scene of a great, epic fantasy (indeed, writer / editor Jessica Amanda Salmonson tried years ago to turn it into a lengthy story with another writer, but her co-author’s untimely death pretty much killed any momentum that project had; still, it would have been wonderful). Unlike most ballads, it does not complete its story; rather it leaves it open ended and ripe for interpretation. For that reason, it is haunting.
update: “As you allude to, I published Ron Nance’s first story ‘Watchtower‘ about the Jester and the Thief. He wrote a very few more tales of this duo, and he and I co-wrote ‘A Wine of Heart’s Desire‘ set in the world of Dylan’s characters, to be found in the Tor Books anthology Tales By Moonlight.” — Jessica Amanda Salmonson
1. Read. Read a lot. I can’t imagine being a writer and not reading. I read everything from non-fiction to autobiographies to children’s picture books. I am always looking at how other authors use language.
2. Set aside time to think. I have to do this. Once I get an idea going, I need time to just sit and think about it. This looks differently depending on where I am. Sometimes I think in my office. Sometimes I sit on my patio in my favorite rocking chair. Sometimes I think while I’m watching an old movie. This step for me is crucial because this is when I let the idea marinate in my imagination. This is where the story starts to grow.
3. Research. I love to do research for a book, but I have to be careful not to get lost in this step. I can spend hours reading articles and following links that interest me. The research is important to me because I want my readers to have something real to connect with in my books. Good fiction must have a touch of reality to be believable.
4. Map out the story. I have to do this. I know that not all authors follow this step, but for me it is necessary. I don’t have to outline every detail, but I at least want a basic road map of the book. I like to have a sense of where I’m going before I start the journey.
5. Be ready to trash the map. Now, having stated rule #4, I have learned to let the map go and follow the lead of my characters. There is something wonderful about letting go of control and giving myself over to the world I’ve created. Sometimes, it’s better to let the characters dictate their actions to me. In fact, as a writer, I want this to happen. When it does, I know that my story is now a living organism with a life all its own.
6. Don’t revise while writing. I had a hard time with this one in the beginning. I was so worried about grammar and vocabulary that I’d spend all my energy on correcting and editing every line that I wrote. It took me a long time to figure out that was why I never finished a book. I was burning out before I really got started. Now when I write, I just write. I let the story flow onto the page. I just want to get the words out of my head. I want to paint those scenes before I lose them. I don’t worry about the language mechanics until the end.
7. Have fun. This is my favorite rule because writing is too hard and too painful not to enjoy. I love to write. I have to write. It’s who I am and I can’t imagine not doing it. I love to hide out in my home office with my favorite music playing while I slip into my imagination. As long as I’m having fun, that’s all that matters. I write for my own pleasure. If others read and enjoy my work, that’s just wonderful, but I can’t allow that to motivate me. No, I write because I love it.
they tore the roof off the poet’s house
they exposed his walls to the open air
they ripped up the floor where he trod
so his basement office now lay bare
“…there will come soft rains” he once quoted
in a story he wrote long ago
unseasonal rains now came falling
in the place he once let magic grow
he would laugh to see our tears falling
why are you crying? I’m no longer there
my soul has long since found liberty
my stories have taken it everywhere
children not yet born will soon read them
their grandchildren will pass them along
my body and my house are forgotten
but my heart will live in word and song
requiescat in pace, Ray