Friday, May 21, 2004

Designing Death

I watched a very interesting documentary about a very unusual designer: Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr. Before Leuchter gets involved with a group that denies the Holocaust ever happened and becomes (even more of) a pariah, he was a designer of Death Row killing devices like lethal injection systems, hanging platforms, and electric chairs.

Aside from the nature of the products he designs, what's really interesting are his explanations of why he designs them the way he does: to be more humane, both for the prisoner to be executed and for the guards who have to do the deed (and clean up afterwards). Older electric chairs "cook the meat too much" and are too hard on the guards who've overseen the prisoner for years. And although Leuchter considers himself an engineer, his concern for the whole system of usage and the humanity of those who have to use it, are suspiciously designer-like, as horrible as that (and he) are.

Posted at 02:27 PM | comments (0) | trackback (0)


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