It will be a joke. Literally. The prisoner wants his last words to be a zinger. He wants to tell a joke. And he's accepting mailed jokes - the funniest one, he says, will be his last words.
Now, as I'm sure you can imagine, this is causing a bit of a stir here in Texas. Do we really want to allow the prisoner to make light of the situation? Do we want this guy stealing the gravity of his own exocution? Wouldn't that be disrespectful to the family of his victims?
Here's my take. I honestly believe that we already have guidelines in place for this. You see, his sentence is being carried out, and it doesn't include curtailing his right to free speech, does it? There's simply nothing in his sentence that says he can't tell a joke. And as for the victim's family, since when is the sentence carried out on behalf of the vicitm's family? It's supposed to be carried out on behalf of the state.
And if it's on behalf of the state, it has to be done by the letter of the law. And since there's no law against an inmate telling a joke before his exocution, voila! An eleventh-hour yuk.
I mean, he can write a book about his murders. It may or may not be a commercial success, and it may or may not be any good, but he can legally write it, can't he? I know he can't make any money off of it, but that's another issue.
He's not writing a book, he's just telling a joke. Bad form? Yep. Poor taste? Of course. But there's nothing, I'm willing to bet, in his sentence that should preclude him from it. Death Row inmates say things like "I'm glad I did it" all the time. This guy says he doesn't want to be disrespectful, he just wants to go out on a laugh.
I still think it's pretty sick, though, and I seriously doubt there will be too many people in the gallery laughing. But it's another example of supporting some semblance of free speech, even though I disagree with what's being said. We're all in the same bowl of water, right? Besides, this guy's about to die for his crimes. Does he also have to keep a certain demeanor about it? How much does he owe?
I realize there are many who simply oppose the death penalty anyway, and for them, the matter of the joke is quite moot. But I wanted to leave that hot potato aside for this post, and just ask you'all what you think about the whole dead-man-joking thing.