The clip above is easily the most disturbing from Wednesday night's GOP debate.
Rod Dreher puts it well: "The California GOP audience cheering the announcement that Texas has executed 234 condemned murderers under Rick Perry was a vile, repulsive thing. Even when I was for capital punishment, I believed this. Justice may require execution, but we should never rejoice in taking the life of another human being. At best, capital punishment is a necessary evil."
Surely part of the reason this happened is that for many in the audience, capital punishment is conceived as an abstract political, rather than the actual taking of a human being's life. No surprise that this is so. Actual executions are held in closed settings and reported in news stories most people ignore. Voters are no longer forced to confront the reality of a policy in which they're complicit.
Some argue that executions should be broadcast for this reason. I see their point. There is, however, the countervailing concern that society might revel in this ugly act as grotesque spectacle. Perhaps a better answer is to rid ourselves of professional executioners. Rather than asking the prison doctor to kill the condemned, a citizen would be selected to perform the task, in the manner of jury duty. He or she could get out of performing the execution by claiming status as a conscientious objector, which would always be granted. And then a new name would be chosen.