"Which is worse? The wolf who cries before eating the lamb or the wolf who does not."— Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Viral Killing - Streaming Executions - Life and Death in the Digital Age

The State of Arizona hosted another execution Tuesday when it murdered Eric John King. A third person will be murdered in Arizona next week when the State executes Daniel Wayne Cook on April 5th. With the execution of Cook, Arizona will surpass Texas and earn the opprobrium of having killed more people this year than any other government, excluding China, Iran and Saudi Arabia and a few other democracy-challenged countries.

One of the main arguments in support of the death penalty is that it serves as a deterrent to would be murderers (other than the State of Arizona) and thereby reduces the murder rate. If this is the rationale for Arizona's killing spree than why do they kill people so quietly. Why do they do it in private where only a select few get to watch the show? Any decent communications guru will tell you that you want your message to be seen by the widest possible audience within your target demographic.

That's how the Taliban approached the problem of blasphemy. They held executions in a soccer stadium before cheering crowds who understood very clearly what the punishment was for the transgression de jour.  It is not as if Arizona doesn't have experience in this area. The public execution is as American as a Six Shooter and a part of Arizona's Old West tradition. Who can forget the public hanging scenes in True Grit or Hang 'em High with the barkers selling roasted nuts to the families who would ride into town from miles around to participate in the public pronouncement of final justice.  Everyone in Ft. Smith understood that if you stole a horse you did the hangman's dance

We live in the digital age of the Internet where a viral video or live stream can communicate a message to an exponentially astronomical audience in a shorter period of time than it would take to say "do you have any last words."  If the State of Arizona is serious about promoting the death penalty as a deterrent to murder they should immediately start live streaming their executions over the internet.  

They have such a strong product they could even do it as a pay-per-view event and sponsor paramutal betting on last minute stays before every execution.  The State's lingering budget crisis would be solved in a single day.  A premium membership to the ADOC website would give members access to  a pre-execution show, hosted by Nancy Grace, featuring a recap of the crime and interviews with the victims families.  They could start a You Tube channel, a Facebook page and a Twitter profile that would develop so many followers so fast it would make Charlie Sheen's profile look like a polka music fan page. 

Finally, everyone would understand that if you murder someone in the State of Arizona you can expect to be executed (as long as your case is one of the small percentage of first degree murder cases selected for capital prosecution that doesn't end in a plea to life in prison).  Finally, everyone in the State of Arizona would know what their tax dollars have been paying for as they watch the life slip away from another human being again and again and again.  If they still don't get the message I'm sure the current Arizona State Legislature would be more than happy to try public crucifixions. 

Matando feliz!

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