A reader writes:
I have long advocated that executions be televised. Networks would not do it, but public access channels should. Some people think this particularly gruesome of me. I suspect those are the same people who though the Utah attorney general’s remarks were shameless or callous. We could debate about whether the death penalty is ethical or not. But what seems clear to me is that the people should know what is being done in their name. Executions used to routinely be public several decades ago, and the people knew exactly what was being done in their name.
If the people of Utah could see the executions, and they were horrified, they would demand change, and executions would stop. If the people of Utah are not horrified by the executions, then the attorney general’s comments are a small matter. In any event, his comments take the state a step further in making sure the people know what is being done in their name, and hence should be perceived as a positive thing.
Were other witnesses allowed to text from the execution chamber?
(I suspect not; I'm sure everyone had their phones confiscated so no pictures or messages could be sent.) Is the state the only entity allowed to communicate from there? Could a condemned prisoner's family or supporters, unconvinced of his/her guilt, be allowed to tweet a counter-narrative? Now that it's been opened up to communication devices, is the Utah execution room considered a "public forum" where the government allows communications but cannot censor its content?
Perhaps one of your readers who's an expert on constitutional law could evaluate whether the AG - in what to my mind looks like a cheap ploy to look both tough and devout - has opened a Pandora's box for death penalty advocates.