Q: Was the Utah attorney general wrong to use Twitter, or religious language, to describe an execution? With all our technology, are we losing sight of our humanity? Should matters of life and death be reduced to a tweet?
How tasteless and uncivilized of Utah authorities to announce an execution via Twitter! I find this question utterly astonishing, because it addresses not the morality of the death penalty but the manner of its announcement. Capital punishment itself defines the United States as one of the few developed nations that claims the right of the state to kill its citizens. Does the death penalty somehow become more acceptable or “dignified” if is announced on parchment rather than via Twitter, email, or text messaging?
This controversy is as irrelevant to the basic issue as all of the quibbling over whether a firing squad (in this case, the method selected by the prisoner according to Utah state law) is more barbaric than execution by lethal injection. Death is death. Killing is killing. That we don’t run a video of the execution on YouTube, which would be the modern equivalent of allowing cheerful, ale-guzzling sixteenth-century crowds to view beheadings in the spirit of a public holiday, does not change the nature of the act or its coarsening effect on society.