Joe Nathan James Jr was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, against the wishes of his victim’s family. He was the eighth person to be put to death in the United States so far this year, and the second from Alabama.
In the moments leading up to his gruesome murder by the state, a news reporter was forced to change her outfit by the Alabama Department of Corrections, because her skirt and her open-toe high-heeled shoes were considered too revealing.
Yes, while a man was being strapped down to meet his end in the world’s largest prison system at the hands of a governmental institution designed to serve power rather than justice, Ivana Shatara’s skirt and shoes were deemed by authorities to be the most offensive thing going on in that moment.
And it was arguably the most American thing that has ever happened.
This is the backwater cowboy theocracy that we are all currently preparing to fight a third world war for. This is the knuckle-dragging puritanical regime who rules our planet.
A place where a tiny bit of skin is more of a problem than injecting a Black man with poison in a judicial system that turns the poor into slaves while not even recognizing the crimes of the wealthy.
A place where conservative modesty is a higher value than refraining from state-mandated murder.
A place where the dress code is more important than human life.
Come on, Ivana, this is an execution not Mardi Gras.
Come on, Ivana, you’re dressed like a hooker instead of a witness to a modern-day stoning.
Cover that skin as you see Joe Nathan James Jr poisoned to death by your government; don’t you know Jesus is watching you?
How can you expect to get into Heaven when you can’t even dress properly to watch us choke the life out of a man’s eyes?
Let us all dress like proper servants of the Lord while we execute and enslave those who our systems have failed.
Let us all dress like proper servants of the Lord while funneling impoverished communities into the largest prison population in the history of civilization.
Let us all dress like proper servants of the Lord while turning the gears of industry for God and country.
Let us all dress like proper servants of the Lord while we prepare to show Russia and China what real violence looks like.
Let us dress like proper servants of the Lord while we ride that ICBM straight into Beijing, waving our cowboy hats and giving them commies a taste of that old rebel yell.
Let us all dress like proper servants of the Lord as we march with unquestioning faith into the sweet welcoming embrace of mass extinction.
Let us all dress like proper servants of the Lord as we abandon our humanity and march to the drumbeat of money and empire over the edge and into the loving arms of oblivion.
Let us all become American, with prudish moralism and private porn addictions, with Bibles in our hands and murder in our eyes, with indoctrinated minds and calloused hearts, with proper attire at our executions and pious abandon at our extincion.
Joe Nathan James Jr, I witness your execution, even while the people around you are arguing about open-toed high heels in your final moments.
Joe Nathan James Jr, I see you, even while your death is eclipsed by the madness of our day.
Joe Nathan James Jr, I am so sorry for everything.
I can only promise you that those of us who go on living will keep trying to make things right as best we can.
My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.