Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Law & Order

I'm pretty happy to have classic Law & Order back on the air. I mean, it's nice to have any new TV to watch these days, but Law & Order is an old stand-by. (Plus, it now has Jeremy Sisto!) It's so formulaic that it's sort of fun to play spot the issue. Like, in last night's second episode, you sort of knew as soon as they mentioned that the husband/father of the kidnap victims was a hedge fund manager that that would be relevant later on.

But the first episode was absurd. It had to do with an assisted suicide scheme, in which terminally ill people commit suicide using the protocol that is used in this country for lethal injections. Now, it just so happens that I have a professional interest in lethal injection protocols, but my immediate reaction was that this was a ridiculous premise.

First, because it is just way too hard for the average person to commit suicide this way. I have no experience with trying to stockpile restricted drugs, but I think it would be much, much easier for the average person to get access to barbiturates than for them to get drugs like pancuronium bromide (a drug that paralyzes people) that are normally used only by anesthesiologists in hospital settings and have to be administered by IV. Why go to all that trouble?

Second, the protocol is not really conducive to suicide. The drugs have to be administered by IV. And they have to be administered in a certain order -- the first drug knocks you out, the second drug paralyzes you, and the third drug stops your heart. How exactly is an unconscious person supposed to administer two more drugs to themselves? That was sort of glossed over.

Third, committing suicide this way would just be an insane thing to do. The second drug serves no purpose except to prevent the executed person from exhibiting signs of pain that would be unsettling to witnesses. Also, it creates a risk that you will be awake, experiencing pain, and unable to express it when the third, extremely painful chemical is administered. That's why it is illegal in many states to use that drug when euthanizing animals. There is just no way that anyone who was trying to minimize their own suffering would use this drug to kill themselves. Same goes for the third drug, potassium chloride. It is caustic, and it is known to be extremely painful when administered intravenously at high enough doses to stop the heart.

Isn't this a fun post? Anyway, my point is that it seemed like they were really stretching to get current events into the episode.


Blogger Isaac, your bartender said...

Completely agree re the inanity of the episode. I was also struck by the sudden discovery by the new ADA of the issues re the three drug cocktail. Considering this is an issue currently before the Supreme Court, I find it difficult to imagine a reasonably smart prosecutor--even in a state with no executions in decades--would be unaware of this issue until the last minute. (And could Michael McKean at least have made one sly spinal tap joke. For me. Please.)

1/04/2008 12:08 PM  

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