By The Editors Feb 23, 2014 9:11 PM ET
A grisly new consideration may start a necessary debate over capital punishment in the U.S., which is unique among advanced nations in its use of the death penalty. The distinction isn’t one to be proud of and should be brought to an end.
Since the 1980s, the use of lethal injection has made executions seem a little more clinical and a little less barbaric. But recently pharmaceutical companies have refused to supply some of the fatal drugs, and some executions have raised doubts that this way of killing is less cruel. Executioners are now preparing to rely on more traditional methods. Firing squads, gas chambers and electric chairs might make Americans queasier about the whole business, and willing to consider the issue afresh.