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New Triad

Some death row prisoners who have been executed attain celebrity. We have all heard about the Rosenbergs, Carryl Chessman's name comes to mind, Gary Gillmore also.

But do you know Joseph Paul Jernigan? No? Come on, if I tell you CD-Rom disk ... Internet ... that's it - you've got it! At 12:15 am on August 5, 1993, in Huntsville, Texas, someone pushed a button, his body was injected with lethal chemicals, and the state of Texas took his life.

Seven hours after his death he was X-rayed, then frozen, embedded in gelatin and sliced into thin cross sections. So after five months of slicing, Paul Jernigan became 1,871 human slices. Each thin cross-section was photographed and digitized. His body is now immortalized as the "Visible Human Project." $1.4 million worth of human project.

The project needed a good "subject" in order for the "product" (his digitized remains) to sell well. So it was mandatory to obtain a prime quality human body - not an old one, not too deteriorated, no death caused by traumatic injury. Paul Jernigan was just the ticket. As do many other convicts, Paul exercised and lifted weights so he was well developed. Real prime quality meat!

As a medical doctor, I very much doubt the utility of the Visible Human Project for medical purposes. The practice is revolting. Jernigan didn't know that in donating his body to science (or was it business?) that he would be dissected, digitized, turned into a commercial product, pressed into a CD-Rom and transmitted over the Internet. The Visible Human Project exploited Paul Jernigan's notoriety as an executed convict. Would the project have been nearly as famous and profitable if they had used the body of an unknown person? Certainly not.

The most deplorable aspect of the entire project is that it is being used to implicitly justify the death penalty. Jernigan's execution is legitimized by virtue of the "good use" his body was put to. Don t they come in handy, these death row prisoners? They are subjected to harsh prison conditions, humiliations and violence, they do "voluntary" jobs in prison, and to add to this good fortune they get to become profitable as well!

In this brave new world mentality, such prisoners can be part of the new triad -- a symbol of the ending 20th century: CD-Rom = Internet = Profit. So why not adopt legislation as proposed in Arizona and allow the "harvesting" of the organs of executed prisoners? A final solution. Human beings as supermarkets for organs. Oh, I forget, there is a project to include Paul's body in a video game. Frightening. Fascinating. In "Mortal Kombat" style! What will they think of next!?

Come back Hippocrates, they are going mad! Really, they did con you, Paul.

Oh I forget, I think you conned them also: You had your appendix removed and you only had one testicle ... no one is perfect!

[Editor s Note: The author is a well known physician, residing in France, and an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, especially of the practice of using "medical procedures" to inject lethal poison into the veins of human beings, a practice which he soundly denounces as a violation of the Hippocratic oath to which all physicians are supposed to be bound.]

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