Death row, live


EDITOR: ("Out of Sight", Feb. 5) It has been almost 40 years since the federal government has executed a person. In those 40 years, many things have changed with regards to communications technology, community values and expectations of viewers.

We all witnessed the horror of the act that Timothy McVeigh inflicted on the people of Oklahoma City and the nation. His actions constitute the most deadly act of terrorism ever in our country. We will never forget the images and the emotions from that day. For these crimes, Mr. McVeigh is scheduled to be put to death on May 16, 2001.

This letter is one that speaks to a point I believe needs to be addressed: television coverage of the execution. My personal belief is, watching someone die is not an event I would want to view. However, I believe the time is now for all those impacted by this deplorable event to decide for themselves.

We cover horrific crimes, atrocities of all types, accidents and other matters involving the death of citizens. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that executions are not cruel and unusual punishments. They represent the final legal step in a court-ordered process. Our citizens have access to the process along the entire path, save this one.

The media deserves the ability to make the decision on whether to carry such an event. Again, the mere thought might be repugnant to many, myself included. But the right of a free people to make a decision on whether to view an event, especially one such as this, should be one they are allowed.

-Mike Smith, director, news and production, WCTV(TV) Thomasville, Ga.