Thursday, September 03, 2009

Should Americans Witness all Executions?

Undoubtedly, Eddie Adams’ image of a South Vietnamese officer executing a captured Viet Cong guerrilla in 1968 (pictured left) stands out as one of the most disturbing photographs to emerge from the Vietnam War.

This photograph, published on the front page of the New York Times, proved to be so powerful that it provided the fuel needed to fire up the Vietnam protest movement, despite the fact that the man being executed had killed 12 people that same morning.
It didn't matter, America was still shocked and horrified by this photograph of an execution.

Obviously, when confronted with the in-your-face reality of execution, Americans found something dehumanizing or inhumane about killing human beings deliberately.

Why then, considering capital punishment does not deter crime and is far more expensive, not to mention the discriminatory component and the arbitrariness of its application, do we overwhelmingly support the death penalty?

Unfortunately, the same photograph, if shown today, would probably not have the same impact as it did 40-years ago. The excessive materialism that pervades our culture today makes it much too easy to distract ourselves from what we don't want to see.

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