Dying to Get Thin

In 2007, Ohio executioners repeatedly stabbed condemned inmate Christopher Newton to try to insert IVs so they could inject the poison. The prison blamed his weight: 265 lbs. Now an even heavier man faces the same ordeal.

10 thoughts on “Dying to Get Thin

  1. Ted,

    I’m reminded of the story from the 1930s(?) about the Death Row inmate who started gorging on food. No one could figure out why. He ballooned up to some incredible weight (I think about 300 pounds, which back then was sideshow size). Finally, he let someone in on it: he was trying to get so fat that it would be physically impossible to fit him into the Electric Chair.

    According to one of the witnesses, the Chair fit the convict as though it had been built just for him.

  2. Is there a point to this cartoon? I understand the humor in several different directions, but “Dying to Get Thin”? It just releases a bit of rage in me to realize that the good’ol’ USA has a higher percentage of its citizens incarcerated than almost any other country on earth… Does that mean that Americans are intolerant or pasively loser people? – or does it mean that we are incapable of treating people in a manner consistent with the truths and beliefs we used to hold true?

  3. mhenriday,

    I can barely remember reading the story (about 30 years ago — dear God, how did I get old?) and I can’t remember any sources. “The Chair fit as though it had been made for him” is the exact phrasing that I recall. Let me check Google. Holy Christ on a gurney waiting for the injection, here’s a link:


    There might be something to this Internet after all …

  4. I hear .45’s repeatedly to the head tend to be pretty effective. Decapitation is clearly the most humane way to kill someone If you sever the spinal cord there can be no suffering. Oh well.

  5. Thanks for the reference, alex ! By the way, any experienced anesthaesiologist should be able to gain access to a vein even on a very obese person – for example on the feet or the neck. But presumably the state doesn’t want to pay the fees an anesthaesiologist would charge – and hopefully, as a medical doctor, an anesthaesiologits would refuse to participate in murder….


  6. Well, the whole “issue” is nonsense anyway. Lethal injection, shooting, cyanide gas in a sealed chamber, ALL these methods, if you’re going to be fair about this, cause the recipient suffering. Can you imagine NOT suffering as they prep you for death? I can’t imagine anything more traumatic. You — irreplaceable you — are about to be ended. And you’re being put to death because that’s what the system has decided is fair.

    Plenty of methods exist to kill someone in nearly painless ways. (The legal argument invokes “cruel” and “unusual” punishment. There’s nothing in that saying the punishment must be “completely without pain.” Ever been to a dentist that was absolutely pain-free? Even when he’s putting that needle in your gums? Do you sue him because there was a little bit of discomfort?)

    Need to kill someone in a painless-as-possible way? Fire a cannonball at point-blank range at the back of his head. Boom! Over before it began. No suffering. Drop a 20-ton block of metal on his head. The pain impulse probably won’t even be processed by his brain before the brain in question gets compressed to a thickness of 1/32 of an inch. Fill him up with sleeping pills and put him in a room with a running car. Carbon monoxide is apparently a very painless way to go.

    I’m not trying to be gruesome here; I’m just approaching it from a practical point of view. The whole prison system in the United States is built on lies and illogical procedures. To detail them here would be like taking coal to Newcastle, but the first, most obvious fix is to turn prison into what it should be: a place where people who are dangerous and violent are kept, not a place that’s used to create and maintain a permanent underclass.

  7. Alex is completely right: the prison system in the US is rigged and filled up with many unfortunate folks who wouldn’t be serving a prison sentence in a civilized country: users of forbidden/controlled substances, people who own money to the government or cheated on their filings etc. And, of course, capital punishment, no matter how “humanely” it is carried out, is barbaric: the state should not have power of life and death even over a soulless thug.

    The only irony I see here is that I don’t think Ted Rall (and many who post here) are against the death penalty per se: they just wish it was Donald Trump rather than Donald Snyder who was fried up in the chair.

  8. «… I don’t think Ted Rall (and many who post here) are against the death penalty per se …» Bucephalus, can you adduce any evidence at all to support your presumption ?…


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