This is one of the probing philosophical questions Werner Herzog poses in the opening scene of Into the Abyss, his documentary film about the State of Texas execution chamber in Huntsville. The god-fearing interviewees – prisoners and State employees alike – clearly are not used to having their moral assumptions challenged in this way. A very humbling experience thanks to Herzog at his best. Herzog leads the prison chaplain, Reverend Fred Lopez, into relating a story of how he only just avoided killing a squirrel by breaking his golf cart just in time. The Rev. Lopez had already come close to tears thinking about God’s miraculous intervention in saving the squirrel from certain death, not realising until too late the absurdity of this juxtaposition with his day job. He is interviewed among rows (over 2,000) of numbered but unnamed crosses in the Joe Byrd Cemetery; nicknamed ‘Peckerwood Hill’ in reference to the poor, uneducated whites who are the cemetary’s principal occupants.
|Joe Byrd Cemetary|
|Karla Faye Tucker|