One of the most popular tweet relating to the #yeswecamp and @OccupyWallStNYC was one that originated from Ara Rubya and reads “I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one.” In a week where the discussion regarding capital punishment is refueled by a disputed case in Georgia, which questions were raised if the prisoner has actually done the deed for which he has now been killed, The Guardian has published an interactive graphic on all the Texan death row prisoners. I wonder, what are the rights of the ones society kills?
Historically, executions were a public spectacle. A feast for the whole family to enjoy. Whether it was in ancient Rome or in any old Medieval town. People would flock to the streets or a stadium to watch the gore and received it with a mixture of disgust and joy. I remember a more recent example in the hanging of Saddam Hussein, a highly successful viral that all wanted to see and denounce.
In the US prison system it is a practice to take away the rights of citizenship. Convicts lose their right to vote. Although almost all court documents are public, there is a difference between a file somewhere in a large storage facility and an easy-to-click-through file on the internet. Taking away someone’s life is a practice that shouldn’t be taken lightly and in this respect there should be transparency regarding who is about to be executed and for what. But these people – who still are people regardless of their or our actions – have rights too, haven’t they? Is a quest to discuss their situation openly the same as the right to know any other action that society takes in our name? Does their situation improve by us knowing who they are and what they did? Is open access a blessing or something that stands in a long line of voyeurism and entertainment in relation to public executions.