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On the Judicial killing of Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain.
One of Britain’s leading newspaper columnists William Connor, writing under his pen name Cassandra, argued forcibly for clemency. On June 30th, 1955 he wrote:
"It’s a fine day for hay-making. A fine day for fishing. A fine day for lolling around in the sunshine. And if you feel that way -- a fine day for a hanging...In human nature where passion is involved, love and hate walk hand in hand and side be side...Ruth Ellis does not matter…But what we do to her -- you and I -- matters very much. And if we do it, and we continue to do it to her successors, then we all bear the guilt of savagery, untinged with mercy."

This was written about the execution of Ronald Ryan, the last man hanged in Australia. Convicted of the killing of a policeman, there was some doubt as to his guilt when he was hanged in Victoria. A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love Bruce Dawe Dear one, forgive my appearing before you like this, in a two-piece track-suit, welder's goggles and a green cloth cap like some gross bee—this is the State's ideaà I would have come arrayed like a bridegroom for these nuptials knowing how often you have dreamed about this moment of consummation in your cell. If I must bind your arms now to your sides with a leather strap and ask if you have anything to say —these too are formalities I would dispense with: I know your heart is too full at this moment to say much and that the tranquilizer which I trust you did not reject out of a stubborn pride should by this time have eased your ache for speech, breath and the other incidentals which distract us from our end. Let us now walk a step. This noose with which we're wed is something of an heirloom, the last three members of our holy family were wed with it, the softwood beam it hangs from like a lover's tree notched with their weight. See now I slip it over your neck, the knot under the left jaw, with a slip ring to hold the knot in place . . . There. Perfect. Allow me to adjust the canvas hood which will enable you to anticipate the officially prescribed darkness by some seconds. The journalists are ready with the flash-bulbs of their eyes raised to the simple altar, the doctor twitches like a stethoscope —you have been given a clean bill of health, like any modern bride. With this spring of mine from the trap, hitting the door lever, you will go forth into a new life which I, alas, am not yet fit to share. Be assured, you will sink into the generous pool of public feeling as gently as a leaf—accept your role, feel chosen. You are this evening's headlines. Come, my love.

Sourced online Copyright Bruce Dawe My great year 10 English teacher, Miss McLoughlin, who was a great one for getting us to think for ourselves, gave us these to read and then lead a class debate about the rights and wrongs of the death penalty. There was the usually ‘eye for an eye’ argument, and the people (like me) who said killing someone made you as bad as the criminals themselves. I cannot believe that 47% of adult Australians think its ok to Van Tuong Nguyen executed. Well, I can believe it, and it’s horrible. MESSAGE TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH I did not appreciate your bet hedging coverage of the execution today, in which you gave equal part of the front page to talking about the deaths caused by heroin as the execution itself for the following reasons: 1. No-one seriously believes that judicial killings of desperate, naïve drug mules such as Nguyen prevents the tragic deaths of heroin addicts by overdose. Has anyone noticed a massive decrease since Nguyen was locked up three years ago. 2. I think you will find that your readers who have no compassion for Nguyen also have no compassion for junkies, and probably believe they should all be left to rot, so I don’t know who you were trying to impress. 3. It’s quite irrelevant what he actually did. A government coolly planning a violent death is sickening. Other bloggers: Ausculture Ashlee

272 Responses to “ALMOST LOST FOR WORDS”

  1. Blogger Ashlee 

    I totally agree. This morning I felt sick knowing what time Nguyen would be killed and imagining as the minutes on the clock ticked by what it would be like to wait for a certain death. I can't even begin to imagine how terrible it must have been for his family when I feel sickened and saddened and I don't even know the person.

    Statistics like the 47 per cent, as well as some of the disgusting, uninformed and judgemental letters I saw in my local paper make me ashamed of the direction Australia is heading in.

  2. Blogger Ashlee 

    They are all on the newspaper's website (today it changes every day) if anyone fancies a look at the disturbing views some Australians hold:

  3. Anonymous Helen 


  4. Anonymous Mum 

    There IS something unspeakably sad about it all. Some sense that there is no justification for calculated killing by the state, somehow it is more horrifying than a person killing in rage, though I don't know why. Maybe because the premeditated supposedly justified killing is more senseless, more ruthless, more dreadful - when there is time for contemplation and compassion to take over from ideas of revenge and yet revenge triumphs.
    There is a sense that we all share in this evil.
    "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee" Thank you for the poems and writings Emma in Sydney.

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