“The Last Supper”

if you knew you were going to die today and could enjoy one last meal, what would you ask for? 

The term “morality” can be used either

  1. descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or,

    1. some other group, such as a religion, or
    2. accepted by an individual for her own behavior or
  2. normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.       (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Descriptive or normative, morality is quite the sticky wicket. As a fairly moral person, I do not spend much time contemplating the mores of action, nor do I think about how morality is justified by a group. However, when trying to read and understand this terminology for class, there is realization of why there can be so much disagreement within a society of how to handle certain moral situations.

After being lectured on about morality, imagine the somber serendipity of seeing this article on artist Julie Green scroll through the blog reader. Usually, I skim with no linking – this time the link was clicked and the article consumed. The topic captured my mind – imagine, your last supper …

Did you know that death row inmates are offered a last supper before they are executed? Julie Green does and has been painting them for twelve years. She paints each last supper in 2D (she is mono-vision, so she only paints in 2D) on a white plate, the food is painted blue. The Last Supper is her way of addressing the morality issue of the death penalty in this country.

One plate was only a blue circle with white words: “No final meal requests. 23 July 08 TX”.

What must go through the inmates mind as they contemplate their last meal? What must have gone though the mind of the prison staff who decided to give one inmate a birthday cake after finding out he had never had one in his lifetime?

A last meal is somehow to make the inhumane process of execution a bit more humane. It made me think of Sophie Scholl, when the prison guard went against the rules and allowed the three to gather for one last smoke minutes before they met their death. Granted, quite a different situation, for Sophie Scholl never committed a crime. That said, our system has been guilty of wrongful executions.  I wonder if those inmates wanted their last supper. ~

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6 Comments

  1. Here’s another take on the morality of the death penalty- the great Chuck Brodsky’s song “Death Row All Stars.” It’s a true story about a baseball team made up of prisoners on Death Row. I found it powerful stuff. You can find it at http://www.chuckbrodsky.com/music.html. Scroll halfway down to his album Tulips For Lunch; you can hen play the song in a widget. (The rest of the album is terrific as well).

    Reply
  2. Green’s project is absolutely brilliant. Says what needs to be said so much better than words often do.

    Reply
  3. I’m sure the victim’s had no last supper or at least one of departing commemoration.

    Reply
  4. Probably some psycho-active mushrooms and some iowaska tea lol. I think by the time you are actually upon that day, you must already be very disconnected. I probably would be fasting anyway.

    Reply

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