Dead Man Talking

Kenny Carnes ponders life, mortality, and transformation on death row.

Yes. So people do this even off of death row. We're all bargainers, aren't we?

"Yes!"

And don't you think there's something wrong with that?

"No," Carnes says with an easy conviction that more confused people might envy.

Which is why a guy like Carnes — who admiringly refers to hoary old Western religions, such as Christianity, as "wisdom traditions," despite the fact that they hold all the world records when it comes to the wanton execution of innocents — might be just the right kind of person to tackle a question like capital punishment. He has some wild notions about things, and he tends to think the world is a little simpler than it might actually be (rape of the earth = rape of the mother = that evil scheming patriarchy). But it's not like Carnes is trying to rewrite the tax code. He's plumbing issues of life and death, and those really are pretty simple. Or should be. The more nuanced among us — judges, say — will often try to make us forget that. Of course, Carnes has never killed anybody. They have.

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