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Evaluate Argument In "Watch It" Article Concerning Capital Punishment

816 words - 3 pages

Cecilia Evaluate Andrew Sullivan's argument in his article "Watch It" In the article, Watch It, Andrew Sullivan argues that a society that accepts capital punishment as part of its justice system should be prepared to watch the executions it condones. Sullivan's basic message is that if people are not prepared to witness murderers being put to death, then they should question the rationale for having executions in the first place. To support his argument, Sullivan analyses several premises which underpin the current decision in the USA not to televise the execution of Timothy McVeigh. In order to evaluate Sullivan's argument, his points related to the televising of an execution, for everyone to see, will be considered.Sullivan's first point related to televising the McVeigh execution concerns the fact that, in a way, it will be televised. Attorney General, John Ashcroft, has allowed the execution to be televised for the families of the victims. From Sullivan's point of view, this is "a curious enough arrangement". However, unfortunately Sullivan does not explain why he considers this arrangement curious. As a reader, one can only surmise that the idea that the families would watch the execution at all may seem strange, but that they would watch it on television, rather than witness it personally, seems even stranger. Had Sullivan expanded on this point, his own views would have been more clear.However, Sullivan goes on to make a stronger, related point about televising the execution. Through the provision of five examples of "our transparent media culture" he argues that it is "truly bizarre" that though the families will be allowed to witness the execution on television, the rest of the country will not be allowed to watch. This point is well made as the examples provided show how the society has grown to accept morally questionable events as legitimate content for television shows. The idea that families can sit down and watch live action of sado-masochistic lovers, drug dealers, bank-robbers and wife-beaters prompts the reader to ask the question "Why not an execution?". This is exactly Sullivan's point. However, one could argue that the examples he provides are a step or two away from watching someone being put to death. In this way, Sullivan's argument could be seen to be suspect but it does raise the question of why...

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