The state of Ohio conducted a “little experiment” last week, said Paul Whitefield in The subject was a human being—a death row inmate whom prison officials tried to execute using an untested cocktail of a sedative, midazolam, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. The experiment did result in death—“but it wasn’t quick, and it may not have been painless.” In the 25 long minutes it took Dennis McGuire to die, the convicted murderer gasped, convulsed, and heaved on his gurney. A week earlier, Oklahoma inmate Michael Lee Wilson remained fully conscious as prison officials injected lethal drugs into his veins; his last words were that he could feel his “whole body burning.” In death-penalty states, such gruesome spectacles may become commonplace, said Ian Steadman in Now that manufacturers of traditional lethal injection drugs refuse to sell them to executioners, states are resorting to untested cocktails that may result in slow, agonizing deaths. The “medieval anachronism” of state-sanctioned killing just got even uglier.

McGuire may have “suffered a fearful, painful death,” said Jeff Mullin in the Enid, Okla., News and Eagle. “But don’t expect me to feel sorry for him.” His execution was nothing compared with the trauma he forced upon Joy Stewart, who was 30 weeks pregnant in 1989 when McGuire raped and sodomized her. He then slashed her throat so deeply that it severed both her jugular vein and her carotid artery. So while McGuire did not die quietly—and no one can say with any certainty what he experienced while on the gurney—there’s little doubt he suffered far less terror and pain than his victim.

If that’s our standard, said Rick Moran in, let’s “attach electrodes to the killer’s genitals” and torture him. Do you really want the state to mimic a psychopath’s barbarity? In that sense, “there is something very honest about these last two executions,” said Andrew Cohen in Lethal injection was created as a tidier, more humane alternative to the electric chair, firing squads, and other gory execution methods, which raised both legal and moral concerns, since the Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” Now that Americans can no longer pretend we’re painlessly putting the condemned “to sleep,” we must face anew the question: Do you really want the government to kill people in your behalf?