Enthusiasm for Death Penalty Wanes Enthusiasm for Death Penalty Wanes

By our man at the end of his tether,
How Tenji

The recent demise by lethal injection of Kenneth Boyd in North Carolina marked the 1000th execution in the US since the death penalty was re-introduced in 1976. Opinion polls show that a majority of people in the US still support the death penalty although enthusiasm is waning. Utterpants sent How Tenji onto the streets of Austin, Texas to discover if the new mood is a flash in the pan or the beginning of a long stretch of humanitarianism

How Tenji: Here I am in downtown Austin, capital of Texas, the state which has conducted 35% of all executions in the United States since 1976. This seems a good place to gauge public opinion on this contentious subject…. Excuse me sir, (chases after large man in a ten-gallon hat, cowboy boots, etc) would you be prepared to answer a few questions for the Utterpants readers?

Texan: Udder...pants?
How Tenji: No...utter pants. Two T's—no D's.
Texan: Sounds like a faggot name to me, son. Ya sure y'all ain’t from some liberal faggot outfit?
How Tenji: No, no, I assure you, utterpants is a bona-fide British news organisation.
Texan: Boner? Now, lookee hyar, son—
How Tenji (pulling out a press card): Look, two T's. No...um..faggots.
Texan: Then ah’d be honoured.
How Tenji: We are seeking public opinion on the death penalty. Do you have a view?
Texan: Wha’ yes ah sure do.
How Tenji: Er... perhaps you might share it with us.
Texan: Wha’ yes Suh. Ah think we have seen enough death sentences. It’s t’aam to try somethin’ new.
How Tenji: I must say our readers will probably be surprised to hear that; are there many in Texas who feel the same?
Texan: Tha surely are, yes siree. We are sick an’ tired o’ judicial murder in God's own country.
How Tenji: In America, you mean?
Texan: No, ah mean Texas. The rest of the country is going straight to hell in a Godless, faggot handbasket.
How Tenji: Well, I must say that's most heartening. What would you propose as an alternative?
Texan: Ah favour lynchin' mah self.
How Tenji: Oh?
Texan: Yes Suh, Texans favour a short sharp shock rather than ah protractified series o' appeals. We lost our enthusiasm for the death penalty when O. J. Simpson and Michael Jackson got off Scott free.
How Tenji: Weren’t they acquitted?

Texan: Precisely, with Texan justice they would have gone straight from tha Sheriff to a baying mob with a clothes line.
How Tenji: That seems rather harsh.
Texan: Harsh? Ah’m a liberal through an' through, Suh. Ah’d never take part in anythin’ which left the criminal unrecognisable to his family. It would be unfeelin’ and against Texan manners not to let tha widow an’ children mourn in a dignified fashion.
How Tenji: So not all Texans are so soft on crime?
Texan: Hell no. Have y’all spoken to Hank? (Shouts and whistles) Hey! Hank, get over here this Limey faggot wants to talk about lynchin’.
Hank: (Giant of a man approaches; ten gallon hat, leather trousers, six shooters) Howdy, honoured to meet ya’, Suh. Y’all ain’t really a fag though are ya’?
Texan: Says he's from some outfit called 'Udderpants' from England, Britain.
Hank: Jesus H Christ! UDDER pants? Sure sounds like a faggot name to me, Tex.
How Tenji (peevishly): We've been through all that. Here's my press card.
Hank (screwing his eyes up and turning the card over in his ham-sized hands): Never did learn me no Limey. Just because a chicken has wings don't mean it can fly.
How Tenji: Look, I'm not a homosexual. Here's a picture of Tara Reid in that dress and me shaking the President's hand at a Dallas Cowboys hoe-down. And I drive a clapped-out old Diesel Astra and beat my wife regularly like any regular guy.
Hank: Diesel? Fucking fag.

How Tenji: So you have strong views on the death penalty…
Hank: Ah sure do, Suh.
How Tenji: Could you elaborate?
Hank: Y’all sure ya’s a Limey? That ain’t no kinda English ah’s ever heard. Y’all ain’t a friggin’ Frenchie faggot are ya? Them's the worst kinda faggots there is...
How Tenji: No! Certainly not! What do you think about the death penalty.
Hank: Well Suh...ah’s agin hangin’, shootin’, lethal injectin’, electrocutin’ an’ beheadin’ an' ah don't hold with burnin' cos it stinks worse than a coon in shit.
How Tenji: Well I am honoured to meet you, sir. I feel much the same.
Hank: Ah thought you Limeys were soft on crime?
How Tenji: Not a bit of it, ASBOs, community service, tagging, even prison, with appropriate and clearly identified tariffs. No I think you’ll find we know how to deal with miscreants.
Texan: Y’all sure ya ain’t French?
How Tenji: Er, yes absolutely. So Mr…er…Hank, what would you suggest as an alternative in cases of serious crime?
Hank: Ah favours draggin’
How Tenji: Dragging?
Hank: Yes siree, draggin’. We ties their feet to the tow hitch of a pick-up and takes ‘em for a Texan sleigh-ride.
How Tenji: Isn’t that rather dangerous?
Hank: Not if'n y'all use a good, long rope; git tha rope too short and they can bounce up and dent the bodywork.
Tex: Tell him about the boots, Hank.
How Tenji: Boots?
Hank: We always takes off their boots on account of it kin rut up tha dirt.
Tex: Now Hank, y’all know ah can’t abide mutilatin’
Hank: Tex, y’all know as well as ah that the Reverend said it ain’t mutilatin’ if y’all can’t see the damage. Last son of a bitch ah took for a ride was spread over thirty miles of interstate. The coyotes ain’t complainin’.
Tex: Ah says it ain’t manners.
Hank: An’ ah says it is. Y’all callin’ the Reverend a liar?
Tex: No, but ah’m callin’ y’all ungentlemanlike.

(Hank throws punch, Tex reels backwards, breaks the hitching rail and falls in a horse trough.)
Tex: (Spluttering and spitting water, a thin trail of blood dribbling down his double chin, emerges from the trough soaked to the skin) Son of a bitch!
Hank: (Pulls Tex from trough) Bleeding heart liberal.

(Tex, now bone dry, punches Hank in the stomach, Hank doubles up. Tex administers an uppercut which sends Hank reeling backward through the double swing doors of a saloon.)

(The sheriff, a man who makes Hank look like a flyweight, emerges from the saloon with Hank held firmly in an arm lock. He is followed by mean looking posse of hookers, gamblers, cowpokes, sheep-shaggers, cheerleading sluts and other ne’er-do-wells. A slight smudge of blood is visible on the corner of Hank’s mouth.)

Sheriff: Dadgummit, boys! What are you a doin’ of? Kickin’ up a ruckus in front o’ our guest. (Indicates Tenji, now cowering behind large wooden Indian chief outside the General Store). Ah hope y’all haven’t been debatin’ theology agin’.

(Hank and Tex hang their heads, all trace of violence has now vanished, the hitching rail repaired, even the ground around the horse trough is dusty-dry)

Hank: Tex called the Reverend a liar.
Sheriff: (Releases Hank, and in a fluid movement pulls his revolver and backs against the saloon wall). We’ll have none o’ that talk. Drop that gun-belt Hank, ah don’ wan’ any more trouble. Are you carryin’ Tex? Open your wais’coat nice and slow...boy.

(Tex complies and reveals a handgun only slightly smaller than his hat, which he slowly pulls out with his fingertips and drops on the ground. Hank’s gun belt clatters to the sidewalk. A gangling stick insect of a man in a frock coat, who is clearly a man of the cloth comes running across the street accompanied by a scantily-clad young cheerleader).

Reverend Jedediah. T. Armstrong: (for it is he): Now boys what are two God fearin’ Texans like you a’doin fighting in the street?
Hank: Ah was tellin’ this Limey faggot that we are agin’ the death penalty.
Tex: An ah was a’ tellin’ Hank not to mutilate tha criminals.
Rev: Now boys, as a tol’ you last Sunday, the good book tells us ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’.
How Tenji: Reverend, how pleased I am to hear a voice of reason at last.
Cheerleading Slut:(pouting): Hi, y'all really from England? You're cute!
Hank: Shuddup, Dolores. The Reverend is talkin'.
Rev: Honoured to meet y’all, sir. Welcome to our town, ah hope these boys have shown you some good ‘ol Texan hospitality?
Cheerleading Slut: (giggling): If'n they aint...I will.
Hank: (pushing her back): I ain't tellin' y'all again, Dolores. Now—git!
How Tenji: (distracted by Dolores' cleavage): Um..er..yes indeed. I wonder Reverend, if I might ask your views on the death penalty. I um...understand enthusiasm is waning in the USA?
Rev: Ah have opposed the death penalty for many years—as ah hope these boys will have tol’ y’all.
How Tenji: Well I think the message may have got a bit mixed, would you like to explain?
Rev: Surely. The good book tells us ‘Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’. So a criminal trial is clearly blasphemous. Our saviour tells us ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’ Well ah ain’t takin’ no chances on that one so ah don’ do no judgin’.
How Tenji: (Looking older and, perhaps, wiser): So how exactly do you see that working out in practice?
Rev: (beaming): Well...the Sheriff here finds the criminals and the good ol’ boys here does the summary justice.
Hank: By draggin’ y' faggot-loving, bleeding heart liberal up tha road aways.
Tex: (glaring at Dolores): By lynchin’ y' Godless, baby-murderin', lesbian slut by her own hair extensions.
Rev: (Laughs): You see we have a healthy theological debate within our church community.
How Tenji: But suppose the Sheriff gets it wrong and there is a grave miscarriage of justice?
Cheerleading Slut: (wiggling her hips): Gee! Do y'all talk that purdee in England? Y'all wanna see mah belly button ring?
Tex: Now y'all knows that ain't allowed, Dolores, ain't that right, Reverend?
Rev: (placing his hat over Dolores' naked belly): Amen! Y'all should be ashamed, child. Nekkid flesh is an abomination in tha eyes o' tha Lord and against the laws o' the God fearin' state o' Texas. 'specially when it's flauntin' a filthy tattoo that says 'get it here boys.' Now run along home an' be sure to git your Daddy to give your butt a good spanking.
How Tenji: Spanking? Look, I'd be glad to—um...you know...if the young lady...

Rev: Y’all ain’t listenin’. We dispatches the punks and sluts to Jesus, God does the judgin’, if y’all are innocent y’all get to your reward in heaven that bit quicker. Guilty, and its hot branding irons ‘till doomsday.
(Sheriff advances, sound of gun being cocked)
Sheriff: Ah, think a bit o’ judgin’ on this Frenchified Limey fruit is called for, there ain't been nothin' but trouble since he arrived. Where the fuck has he gone?
(Tenji disappears at high speed on horseback pursued by the outside broadcast van and a cloud of dust.)
Tex: Well, butter mah butt and call me a biscuit. No wonder them Limeys ain’t got the balls to support our brave boys in Eyerack.

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Story © 2005 How Tenji. Picture and construction © 2005 utterpants.co.uk / 101205

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