During our extended floor session, Rep. Cornish sends photo to all DFL representatives with subject: Crime Bill on My Desk. It contains only a photo of a gallows with two empty nooses.
Yet another way to fostering the bipartisanship the public so desires, as well as promoting public confidence in the institution as well on Cornish's part.
I messaged the House member to see if I could have the email forwarded; a screen shot is at right. What a kidder, that Tony Cornish.
Cornish chairs the Minnesota House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance committee. That's might clever of him to send that photo to his Democratic colleagues. What a kidder.
Given the symbolic meanings that gather around nooses these days, meanings differing by race, age and other factors, perhaps one might have wished that the chair of the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee might have been mature enough to control his wit for a moment, or at least reflected on the possibility that his colleagues on the other side of the aisle might not all share his taste in rick-rolling emails.
It's not as if he's just a poor country blogger or something. He's actually a poor country chief of police. UPDATE: Reader T.Pa Or Coffee notes: "By the way, Cornish is no longer a police chief. He resigned so that he could do a better job as a legislator." Point taken. [end update].
But there's something else that might have given him pause if he grasped a larger sense of history: the role hanging played in Minnesota's decision to end the death penalty. In 2008, the Star Tribune's Brian Leehan reviewed that story in Botched hanging led state to halt executions:
A small item in the Wednesday Feb. 7, 1906 edition of the Minneapolis Tribune reads, "Sheriff Miesen has arranged to test the rope and gallows upon which William Williams is to be executed next Tuesday at midnight."
Ramsey County Sheriff Anton Miesen's test seems to have been successful, but it didn't keep the execution of Williams at 12:31 a.m. on Feb. 13, 1906, from being a hideously botched affair that resulted in him being the last person executed in Minnesota.
Double murderer William Williams was certainly guilty of killing his former lover (a teenager) and the lover's mother, but his death was cruel, if not usual:
Sheriff Miesen was confident of his rope's strength, and the proper functioning of the trapdoor of his gallows, but his math was faulty in calculating both the height of Williams and the gallows platform.
As the condemned man dropped, his feet hit the floor.
A lurid description in the next day's issue of the St. Paul Daily News said that William's "neck stretched four and one-half inches and the rope nearly eight inches."
So deputies quickly grabbed the rope and pulled it upward, then took turns holding Williams' feet off the ground for almost 15 minutes while the life was choked out of him.
The death certificate stated that the cause of death was strangulation.
The debacle, and the newspaper coverage of it, gave ammunition to those in the state Legislature who opposed the death penalty.
House member George MacKenzie, R-Gaylord, had tried to abolish capital punishment in Minnesota in 1905 and again in 1909. He succeeded in 1911 when Republican Gov. Adolph Eberhart signed the legislation into law.
But Bluestem suspects Cornish didn't have that in his mind--or much else--when he decided to send the "Crime Bill on My Desk" email to colleagues while they were meeting in chamber. Perhaps he should just stick to the little handcuffs pin he loves to wear.
The photo can be found on Cornish's Facebook page in an album called "Arizona Trip 2012" that documents a short stay in Tombstone. The caption below the photo there? "The Only Sure Cure for Repeat Offenders." Stay classy, Representative Cornish.
Screenshots: The gallows humor of Tony Cornish.