11 April 2001
If the execution of 'Oklahoma bomber' Timothy McVeigh is allowed to be shown on the Internet it will appal and disturb. And that, says Alan Docherty, is why it should be allowed.
London, England -- Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building, is due to die by lethal injection on 16 May. McVeigh, whose bomb killed 168 people, committed an act of terrorism unparalleled in US history.
For those who want a close up viewing of McVeigh's final moments there are only a few seats available at the morbid State execution. 1,100 letters have been sent to relatives of the deceased even though there are only eight seats open for them and ten seats available for the media. For any one else they will have to rely on second hand reports of McVeigh's final moments.
Unless, that is, Entertainment Network Inc. (ENI) succeed in Webcasting the execution. The company is taking legal action in its challenge to allow it to show the spectacle. Income generated from the credit card charge of $1.95 so as to prevent minors logging on, will go to charities established for victims of the McVeigh's bombing .
There's no good reason ENI shouldn't broadcast this final chapter of McVeigh's punishment. Except, before ENI filed the suit, prison authorities had refused permission saying it was inconsistent with Department of Justice regulations. Relatives of those killed are also upset. Marsha Kight, whose 23-year-old daughter was among the 168 killed in the blast, was outraged at ENI's proposal. She told Wired News: "I find it repulsive...Executing someone is not sport and I find it disgusting that someone would pay per view like a boxing match." 
Already there have been murmurings in the press about how the broadcast of McVeigh's last moments will create an unhealthy atmosphere of contempt. But these are surely inadequate reasons to prevent the event being broadcast on the Net.
It might just be easier for people to accept US State laws that allow for the disposal of violent criminals by murdering, so long as they are not confronted by them. Since the US resumed judicial killing in 1977 more than 700 have been executed. It is an unpalatable fact that a democratic country like the US continues its hypocritical policy of condemning violence but using it on its own citizens. The more people who are allowed to see the barbarism of State executions the better they will be able to decide for themselves whether it has a place in a justice system.
And then again, maybe no-one's mind will be changed. Nevertheless, the prospect of watching another human being executed, however twisted their criminal mind, should not be stopped simply because it might offend.
 Entertainment Network, Inc. Media Release (2001) 'Entertainment Network, Inc. Sues Government over Right to Broadcast McVeigh Execution Live on the Internet,' April 5, http://www.entertainmentnetwork.com/mcveigh.html
 Scheeres, J. (2001) 'Bomber's Death May Be Online,' Wired News, 30 March, http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,42752,00.html
This article originally appeared at http://www.netfreedom.org/news.asp?item=153