« Economic incentives made me do it! | Main | Protectionism and national security »

Prime-time executions

An LA Times editorial calls for bringing executions out into the open:

Like the crimes for which it is a punishment, the death penalty is an affront to civilized society. It should not be reformed — it should be abolished. But if California is going to keep at it, let's try a reform that will remind us what we are doing while at the same time making sure, without help from a doctor, that the condemned prisoner is really dead. The state should convene a firing squad — and be certain to schedule the execution for prime time.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose the death penalty, I think this is a good idea. Watching executions won't change the minds of many diehard supporters or opponents of the death penalty. But it would challenge those of us who've ignored the issue to make a decision. It would force all of us to confront the reality of what the state is doing in our name.

The point is to encourage us to take responsibility for what we do. We can't do that until we know just what it is we're doing.


Exactly. I agree that executions should be shown on television, and also in high school classrooms. I also think abortions, especially late-term should be televised. I think REAL crime scenes, as opposed to "made for T.V." ones should be televised, as well as interviews with survivors of crime and the family members of victims who did not survive. There are many aspects of everyday reality which are hidden from us by those in the media who would protect us from the truth, and in so doing mold our perspective of the truth.

Historically, executions have been public, and it has never bothered people much. In fact, they were once a hugely popular form of entertainment. I would fear that rather than challenging the way people think about penal execution, it would simply turn into the latest reality TV trend.

While there is a risk that prime-time executions will turn into public entertainment, I wonder how much depends on the presentation. A somber, bare-bones presentation might be a lot less risky than a heavily-produced extravaganza a la "The Running Man."

Does anyone else remember the 60 Minutes episode where they showed Jack Kevorkian assisting with a suicide? I seem to remember that tape affecting people pretty strongly, both pro- and anti-Kevorkian. Would public executions have a similar effect? I don't know...

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)