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Today's Featured Article - Cruel and unusual punishment

Kirk

Cruel and unusual punishment is a platitude found in the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, was written to ensure that the new American nation would not suffer from the excesses of the former English overlords, such as drawing-and-quartering, death by torture (no matter how entertaining it was to contemplate it being done to Mel Gibson in Braveheart), or repeats of Mr. Bean.

That the Founding Founders in the execution-happy colonies would have written an amendment to ban executions entirely is so unthinkable that it has taken the finest minds in the United States to explain why it means exactly this.

Most uses of the Eighth Amendment in the U.S. court system therefore concern executions, the exception being the rare lawsuit to demand premium cable channels on prison televisions. In fact, no prisoner has ever been drawn-and-quartered or tortured in the United States at all. And slavery, the Alternative Minimum Tax, and Instant Replay in Major League Baseball are technically not even "punishments."

The Supreme Court, then, has had the task of understanding what the Founders could have meant by writing an Amendment that, on the surface, seems meaningless. In the American renaissance called the Great Society, it first occurred to the Court that the death penalty itself could be "cruel and unusual punishment."

As in most things, the Court advanced this "jurisprudence" gradually, first saving from execution only:

  • The insane, who obviously did not know what they were doing
  • Premeditated murders, because the nation needs their expertise and attention to detail in National Economic Planning
  • Child killers, because we need to give them a chance to grow up
  • Spouse killers, because we need to give them a chance to grow old
  • Elderly killers, because sometimes writing kids out of the will just doesn't work
  • African Americans, because we don't execute a fair share of white folks and we wouldn't want blacks to take this the wrong way
  • Authors of gun massacres, because this is the fault of gun shows, SUVs, and rodeos.

(more...)

Recently featured: Cruel and unusual punishment

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In the news

On this day...

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April 24: The Feast of Maximum Occupancy, Zombie Jesus Day (Christians and Eggnogstics)
  • 33 - Zombie Jesus rises from his tomb and partially devours the brains of his apostles, resulting in most of the inane ramblings in The New Testament.
  • 89 - Pope Clement I celebrates the first Zombie Jesus Day by decreeing that people consume copious amounts of high cholesterol in the form of chocolate and painted chicken embryos.
  • 1353 - Badger maulings reach record levels in Europe.
  • 1704 - The first regular newspaper is published in America: The Boston New-Letter, containing overly-opinionated columns and hyped-up headlines. Circulation soars.
  • 1856 - The word 'chairman' is introduced to the Oxford English Dictionary as 'A person with a proclivity to stand sitting'.
  • 1862 - The Amerikan Sivil Whar on spelling begins, the letter u in color being the first victim.
  • 1981 - IBM create the first known evil computer.
  • 1982 - IBM reveals computer wasn't "evil", it was just running a Microsoft operating system.
  • 1984 - Apple builds the world's first do-nothing computer.
  • 1986 - Time begins, to the disappointment of trillions.
  • 1995 - The most amazing child on earth was born
  • 2000 - Fat-free chips withdrawn from supermarket shelves in the UK due to risk of intestinal implosion.
  • 2005 - George W. Bush declares, "America is officially full." Congress approves bypass for Haitian boatpeople to row to Canada.
  • 1995 - The most amazing child on earth was born
  • Today - You eat too much food and spend five hours on the toilet thinking of Uncyclopedia jokes.

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