Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

The violent aspects of some cultures are just plain scary

Tough Justice, Pakistani style:

Far be it from this reporter to criticize the customs of other cultures, but there's gotta be a limit, political correctness or not, to what we can be expected to respect.

In Pakistan, a judge who was particularly annoyed with Javed Iqbal, who they say killed 100 children, sentenced the offender to be strangled 100 times with an iron chain, hacked into 100 pieces and dissolved in acid in a public park in front of the victims' parents.

Me? I'd appeal.

Sounds like this sentence pretty well defines "cruel and unusual punishment," not to mention "overkill." I mean, you can drown somebody in 10 feet of water as easily as you can in 1,000 feet.

And we thought it was extreme when we read of China executing a public official for bribe-taking. Compared to the Pakistan sentence, the China thing was a kung fu chop on the wrist.

If you tuned in late, you'd think, as one colleague suggested, it was a recipe from Emeril: "After dicing thoroughly, marinate for two hours..."

I can't get a grip on it. Except for giving the furious judge closure, what does such a sentence accomplish _ even as a deterrent? So you strangle a guy 100 times. After that first strangle, obviously, you can't hurt him any further. The rest is just ugly street theater, a primordial thrill for the mob and one heck of a cleanup job.

Once you get past the gruesomeness, it's as silly as Milton Berle's petulant line, "I'll kill you a million times!"

It's similar in mentality to the American habit of sentencing criminals to two or more consecutive life terms, as though concurrent life sentences wouldn't cover it. Why, a guy could die before he gets out of there.

Is there such a thing as a posthumous parole?

It's especially scary to see such maniacal fury in the hands of the officially powerful. Be it Pakistan, China, the Mideast or America, it is not the business of government to froth at the mouth.

Speaking of capital offenses, it says here Georgia is dropping the electric chair. I guess they're going back to just plain lynching. We first learned of the new policy when someone saw the chair up on blocks in the warden's front yard.

In other old news, there was a Teamsters strike a while back that caused a shortage of Twinkies on the east coast. Yep, those union guys sure know how to bring a nation to its knees.

First they lost the ballots for the Academy Awards, then they lost the Oscar statuettes. If only some of the winners could have lost their speeches.

Tampa tea, anyone? Weedon weed? Hillsborough hash? St. Pete peat? Blind Pass grass? Maximo mulch? Says here the Tampa Bay area is still a leader in growing marijuana, mostly indoors, and it's high quality pot, too. Authorities gauge the size of each season's crop by looking at Gro-Lite sales.

New information suggests that some herbal products may cause illnesses rather than cure or prevent them. I told those people herbal tea is for drinking, not smoking.

The Incongruous Congress: There was quite a to-do when the House of Representatives fought over who should be House chaplain and what his (yes, his. No his-or-her here) denomination should be. Considering the moral and spiritual fiber of your typical elected official in Washington, Congress hiring a chaplain is like the People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals hiring a butcher.

Feminine Bulkritude in the News: Experts have observed that Miss Americas have been getting skinnier over the years. Just ask last year's winner, Annie Rexia.

Floe Flotsam Down South: An enormous iceberg _ about 4,000 square miles _ has broken off the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica. If only it would drift our way. With a hot hair dryer and a long straw, we could end our water shortage right quick.

Speaking of Elian (somebody probably was), what do you make of that official policy of allowing Cuban refugees to stay if they happen to make it to shore, but sending them back to sea if they're wading in the water? Seems like the difference between safe haven and rejection depends on how low the tide is at the time.

Words of Wisdom from Children: Here are just a few examples of sage axioms from kids, collected by Joe Levee and worth repeating even if you've heard them before:

Never trust a dog to watch your food.

Don't squat with your spurs on.

Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.

Don't sneeze when you're eating crackers.

When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?," don't answer him.

Never try to baptize a cat.