By Timothy Vance Kaufman-Osborn
From Noose to Needle contributes a brand new standpoint at the debatable subject of capital punishment by means of asking how the behavior of country killing unearths broader contradictions within the modern liberal nation, specifically, yet no longer completely, within the usa. relocating past extra universal felony and sociological ways to this topic, Timothy V. Kaufman-Osborn asks a number of questions. Why do executions not take the shape of public spectacles? Why are definite equipment of execution thought of barbaric? Why needs to the liberal nation strictly segregate the imposition of a demise sentence, no matter if via pass judgement on or jury, from its real infliction, even if via a country legitimate or a normal citizen? Why are ladies so every so often sentenced to dying and done? How does the nation search to conceal the ache inflicted via capital punishment via its endorsement of a bio-medical belief of ache? How does the nearly-universal shift to deadly injection pose difficulties for the overdue liberal country through complicated its punitive and welfare obligations? Drawing on quite a lot of theoretical assets, together with John Locke, Max Weber, Nicos Poulantzas, Friedrich Nietzsche, J. L. Austin, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Pierre Bourdieu, Elaine Scarry, and others, Kaufman-Osborn grounds his appropriation of those authors in analyses of particular contemporary executions, together with that of Wesley Allan Dodd and Charles Campbell in Washington, Karla Faye Tucker in Texas, and Allen Lee Davis in Florida. From Noose to Needle should be of curiosity to scholars of legislation, political conception, and sociology in addition to extra common readers attracted to the frustrating factor of capital punishment. Timothy V. Kaufman-Osborn is Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and management, Whitman collage.
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Extra resources for From Noose to Needle: Capital Punishment and the Late Liberal State (Law, Meaning, and Violence)
568 ), dubbed “fighting words,” that is, words that are 26 From Noose to Needle “experienced as a blow” and so “by their very utterance inflict injury” (572). What distinguishes the death sentence from mere fighting words, on this construction, is the fact that it issues from a judge who, in his capacity as officer of the sovereign state, has the ability as well as the authority not merely to wound but to kill via his utterances. His voice is the source of the agency that abolishes the distinction between wig and gallows.
The 32 From Noose to Needle moment when the trapdoor release mechanism, a steel pedal embedded in the death chamber’s wooden floor, was engaged. But is this answer entirely adequate? The noun execution suggests that this was a well-bounded event (as does the phrase death sentence, which I have now rendered problematic), and hence that we should be able to specify with some degree of precision the temporal boundaries that distinguish this event from those that led up to and followed it. But if that is so, then just when did this execution begin and when did it end?
From these two constraints, it is possible to tease an emendation of Austin’s argument, one that is predicated on a criticism that in a sense reverses that made by Bourdieu. Bourdieu takes Austin to task for failing to consider the structures of power that invest a judge’s utterance with illocutionary force. I now want to suggest that these same structures constrain and indeed constitute the identity as well as the agency of that judge. Although Austin is aware of the requirements imposed by what he calls conventions, this does not prompt him to subject to critical interrogation the “I” who utters this or that performative and, more specifically, to call into question its status as an autonomous speaking agent.