Peak - time Executions as a Television Spectacular
Peak-time Executions As a Television Spectacular by Ellen Goodman. Written for The Washington Post in America in 1954 and later published in the British newspaper The Guardian Weekly on April 1, 1984. The article is about how the murderer James David Autry wants his execution to be on the television and Goodman asks questions to whether or not it is okay to show the spectators that kind of violent spectacular and how it will affect them. Obviously this article was meant to create a debate when it was published those many years after in Britain. If we take a look at the different executions that occur in the article, then we get a pretty good view of how the articles main interest and opinion is negative and wants to show that it has done nothing but bring out the bad in people. Watt Espy who is an historian of capital punishment at the University of Alabama Law Center believes and has heard that violence only brings more violence – “[…] has collected tales of the violence begat by violence” (p.2 ll. 1-2). He gives an example of how the execution of two men in Attling, Georgia. leads to a fight between the spectators and ends with a man being killed. He states – “This was not unique” (p.2 l.3). By that he tells us that it was not uncommon at that time to have consequences like that happen during an execution. The people at that time didn’t handle the rush of the spectacle and of the “show” very well. It got to them and the influence of the bad situation would spread and affect the spectators. Another example of an execution giving by Goodman is when she talks about one of the last time that the public could watch an execution in America. It was August 26, 1936 that Raine Bethea was hung in front of a crowd of 10,000 people in Owensboro, Kentucky. Goodman describe the execution before and after, like it was some kind of concert or entertainment show that the spectators were about to watch. “Through the early...
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