April 8, 2001 9:14 AM   Subscribe The Florida ISP responsible for those high-quality entertainment sites and (note that both of those links resolve to "adult content") sues the Feds for the right to put a webcam in the viewing room when Timothy McVeigh is executed on May 16th. As noted here previously, McVeigh wanted the execution televised, so it's hard to imagine he would be opposed...
posted by m.polo (17 comments total)
Here is a link to the press release from Entertainment Network, Inc.
posted by the_ill_gino at 11:46 AM on April 8, 2001

Whether or not McVeigh wants the webcam doesn't seem terribly relevant in this case. For the sake of argument only, let's assume that it's constitutionally permitted/mandated to have the webcam there. In that case, if McVeigh wanted to stop it, he'd probably have to make an argument either to a right to privacy or that the webcam constitutes cruel and inhuman punishment. If you're allowing capital punishment, I don't see how broadcasting the execution makes it any more cruel and inhuman. And what's the point of a privacy right (which is only an implied right to begin with) for someone who's being put to death?

Going the other way, if it's otherwise constitutional for the government to block broadcasting, what argument could you make that would give a condemned man a right to have his execution broadcast?

Leaving McVeigh out of it, in terms of first amendment rights and the people's supposed right to see this kind of thing, there are both constitutional and moral issues. The constitutional issues don't interest me nearly as much as the moral issues. It seems wrong to me to broadcast an execution. I don't see any value to it. Is it supposed to be a deterrent? Is there some group of potential terrorists out there who will stop because they see someone die for his crimes?

From what I've read of public hangings, they were more public entertainment than public edification. If there are people out there who would get off on watching someone die (and I'm sure there are), I don't want to gratify them. They can always watch Celebrity DeathMatch. And if friends and relatives of the victims want to watch, I really think they should be discouraged. It may help them in some way to know that he's been executed, but seeing it would just heap more trauma on them. If seeing someone die makes them feel better, they have big problems.
posted by anapestic at 4:30 PM on April 8, 2001

McVeigh would want the cameras there because he's setting himself up as a militia martyr. I hope the federal government is on alert execution day, these guys are big on symbolism (as was McVeigh).

Also, if I was one of those family members I would probably want to see that worthless piece of crap roast. It wouldn't make the pain of loss any worse, but the world is better off to have eliminated him.
posted by owillis at 4:36 PM on April 8, 2001

barbarism dressed up as civilization.
posted by lagado at 5:30 PM on April 8, 2001

All the proponents of the death penalty ought to be able to watch what they are supporting.
posted by Witold at 6:16 PM on April 8, 2001

I'd be first in line for that one! Expunging something like McVeigh is one of the good things our government has done (or will do) recently.
posted by owillis at 6:46 PM on April 8, 2001

Executions should definately be televised. Like Witold said, we should all watch our government kill people. Sure, some people will love it (such as owillis considering it one of the good things our government has done recently) but maybe it will give perspective to some people on the fence, and show them that contrary to what people may say, these aren't monsters that are being killed, but human beings.
posted by Doug at 10:47 PM on April 8, 2001

If you're being executed can't you invite whoever you want to watch it? He could just say the webcam is his guest.

I understand how the prisoner would have something to say about who can see his execution, constitutionally-speaking, I mean if we did televise it without the condemned's permission wouldn't that be cruel and unusual punishment? But where is it written in the constitution you can't be recorded being executed? Hell, they didn't even have cameras in the 18th century.
posted by redleaf at 11:33 PM on April 8, 2001

The company will charge $1.95 to view the execution if it wins permission to Web cast it, according to spokesman Brian August.

Recording it might be legal, but is treating it like a sideshow?
posted by redleaf at 11:35 PM on April 8, 2001

Also, if I was one of those family members I would probably want to see that worthless piece of crap roast. It wouldn't make the pain of loss any worse, but the world is better off to have eliminated him.

With all respect, owillis, that's a bit of a non-sequitor. If you were a family member, and you wanted to see McVeigh die, it wouldn't be because "the world is better off to have eliminated him". It would be because, presumably, it would make you feel good to watch.

Regardless of whether you agree with the death penalty, it should be established and accepted that it's not about justice, but about vengeance.

Oh dear, I don't mean to open up this can of worms again.
posted by jpoulos at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2001

Why is vengeance bad?
posted by owillis at 9:26 AM on April 10, 2001

[owillis]: Why is vengeance bad?

Oh, only on the net could someone pose this question while maintaining any semblance of a straight face--since said face is, of course, not available for scanning.

Vengeance isn't bad if you really don't care about other people at all--if you become so jaded and hate-filled that you think other humans are just big sacks of crap, then it's a pretty sweet deal. On the other hand, if you retain any kind of mercy, or any faith in the idea of redemption or rehabilitation, then vengeance seems a lot like mere pettiness taken to its extreme.

"An eye for an eye," philosophically, certainly removes the problem of troubling yourself to think before you react. It merely prescribes a "solution" without any regard at all to circumstance.
posted by Skot at 9:47 AM on April 10, 2001

Well my problem is that you consider someone like McVeigh still human. Society has some universal rules, and mass murder is in clear violation of several of the important ones. My thought is that once you commit a crime of such severity - you are no longer human, and are lower than the lowest possible life form. Bang, you're dead. Life goes on, the universe is a better place to be rid of you.
posted by owillis at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2001

(and I would probably ask the same question about vengeance in real life, not just online)
posted by owillis at 9:55 AM on April 10, 2001

owillis, the online/offline shot was probably unwarranted (and was certainly snotty). My bad.

Anyway, we're off-topic. I share the idea that if as a society we endorse capital punishment, we should be subject to watching the fruits of our endeavors. Seems just. But I hate, hate, hate the idea of making a martyr of this guy. This human. Because he is human, and no rationalizing will make him anything else. He's not a flatworm. He's us. I believe Hannah Arendt had something to say about the banality of evil.
posted by Skot at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2001

I agree. Once you start withdrawing "human" status from anyone, for any reason at all, you're on dangerous ground.
posted by rodii at 10:39 AM on April 10, 2001

So... who gets the profits?

I mean, it's an exhibition of Timothy McVeigh, right, so should he get some say in where the proceeds go. Even licensing the broadcasting rights means that some kind of fee would be paid out.

Does the prison system get the money? Does it all go to this *Dorm company? Should relatives of the victims (or some official charity they support perhaps?) get their cut?

If it goes to McVeigh's estate, how much do you want to bet that the militia he's a member of gets some of that? If I were him I'd want to see my faction see some of the cash so not only do I A) blow up an enemy facility, B) become a martyr by being put to death for my beliefs, but also C) help fund the organization forwarding those beliefs through the excercise of my martyrdom.

It's a pretty hairy situation. If there's any reason to forbid the web broadcast, not having to deal with all that shit is it in my books.
posted by cCranium at 10:42 AM on April 10, 2001

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