Many, many years ago, I somehow fell into a discussion group. The leader drew questions from The Book of Questions and then people would signify agreement or disagreement with a position. To the question, "Would you watch an execution if broadcast on TV" all but one of us said an emphatic NO. One very small but strong voice replied, "Yes, I would. I am pro-death penalty, and if I am prepared to vote that way, write to my representatives about it and support it in a group such as this, I should be prepared to witness the outcome."
I mention this because I whiled about the hours of class preparation yesterday by listening to NPR. A story discussed a new movement toward asking anethesiologists to perform lethal injections to prevent additional pain and suffering. When the authorities asked for volunteers, no one in that state proved willing to, as they saw it, violate their professional oath or office to preserve life by participation. (One doctor in another state did volunteer, but has yet to be accepted.)
Listening to this while fumbling through my notes, I saw the words "public spectacle" and became chilled to the bone. Today "spectacle" includes AP wire photos of Boy George sweeping streets on his first day of community service for lying to police. It's not all that long ago that hanging, quartering, disemboweling, castration and floggings, far from limited to twelve carefully chosen witnessed, served as entertainment for the masses.
I truly believe, from all that I have read, that post-modern snuff films are every bit as barbaric as the executions of old. I do not advocate their public consumption. At the same time, what if randomly selected groups of 2006 Americans were required to watch executions as civic duty?