The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

McVeigh execution should be watched by everyone

Unless you’re a relative of a victim or a survivor of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, you won’t be able to see Timothy McVeigh die by lethal injection.

A federal judge rejected an Internet company’s request last week to broadcast live on the Web McVeigh’s May 16 execution, according to the Associated Press.

The company, Entertainment Network Inc., said people have a First Amendment right to watch McVeigh die. The execution is scheduled for 7 a.m. May 16.

At first, just the possibility of such a scene reaching millions of people disgusted me. Children could see it, it’s morbid and the public doesn’t need to see such a gruesome scene.

Story continues below advertisement

But then a friend pointed out a very good reason why the execution should be broadcast: It is happening.

The United States government kills people legally through the death penalty, but the actual execution is done behind closed doors, so only a select few can see what it is like.

People need to watch these executions and then judge whether the death penalty is wrong. People should see a person either die with just a last breath or while sobbing for mercy, and then argue there is nothing wrong with the death penalty.

Entertainment Network Inc. is on the right track. Just broadcasting the execution with no commentary would be an unbiased way of showing the country what the government allows.

The company said in its original request that it would use parental controls to prevent children from watching the broadcast and would charge viewers $1.95. The money would be donated to charities established for the people who died in the bombing.

By not taking profits from the broadcast, the company is showing it has other motives. What these motives are is a mystery, but the broadcast could serve the purpose of stirring up a public outcry against the death penalty, which has been a long time in coming.

There would be people who would watch the execution in morbid fascination, but for the people on the fence about the death penalty, witnessing an execution might make the difference.

Federal law does not allow sound- or video-recording devices to be present at an execution, but it does allow the media to be there. The judge may have made the correct legal decision, but people do have a right to witness what the government does, especially concerning the highly charged issue of the death penalty.

The chief executive of Entertainment Network Inc. told the Associate Press that the company plans to appeal. The company also sued the government this month, saying the Bureau of Prisons policies about execution coverage are unconstitutional.

Barring a legal broadcast of the execution most likely is pointless anyway, as there is always someone who can tap into a closed circuit. There would be far less people who would see the tapped-into broadcast, but it could happen nonetheless.

I can’t imagine losing a loved one in a terrorist attack such as the one on the Oklahoma City federal building six years ago last Thursday. But I also can’t imagine that watching the person responsible for this atrocity die would help me feel any better.

About 285 survivors and victims’ relatives have asked to see McVeigh’s execution. Ten of them have been selected by a lottery to go to the Terre Haute, Ind., prison facility and watch the execution. The others will watch on a closed-circuit broadcast in a Oklahoma City Bureau of Prisons holding facility.

It might help some of the survivors and relatives, but it also will add another gruesome scene to their already troubled memory bank.

Death does not make death easier to handle, but a broadcast of it could open some eyes.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
McVeigh execution should be watched by everyone