The Island of Doctor Musso

June 24, 2011

In the 19th century H.G. Wells novel The Island of Doctor Moreau the narrator, Edward Prendick, at first fears that the mad Doctor is carrying out experiments on live human beings.  “Could it be possible, I thought, that such a thing as the vivisection of men was carried on here?”

It turns out Dr. Moreau is actually performing grotesque surgeries on animals to try to turn them into humans.  He had been run out of England after a journalist exposed his “wantonly cruel” experiments on animals.

Last night, in 21st century Georgia, state officials, with the participation of Dr. Carlo Musso, carried out something of an experiment on Roy Blankenship.  For the first time in Georgia, the anesthetic Nembutal was used in an execution, despite warnings from its manufacturer that it was not safe for that purpose.  Dr. Musso took part despite the fact that he is alleged to have illegally imported and sold Nembutal to other states without the proper license.

According to the AP, the execution didn’t go smoothly:

As the injection began, he [Blankenship] jerked his head toward his left arm and made a startled face while blinking rapidly. He soon lurched to his right arm, lunging with his mouth agape twice. He then held his head up, and his chin smacked as he mouthed words that were inaudible to observers.

Dr. Musso, for his part, is whining that he is being singled out for criticism, stating to the AP:  “When they fail to make progress with policymakers, groups opposed to capital punishment continue to attack physician licensure.”

Clear policy successes of the abolitionist movement aside, if Dr. Musso is being singled out, it is because, by dealing in drugs for use in executions and by participating in executions himself, he is demonstrating a unique contempt for basic medical ethics.