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Utah Attorney General Tweets Execution Order 556

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-over-we-lost dept.
Kilrah_il writes "In an all-time low for Internet use, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff used Twitter to announce to the public his approval of the execution of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner. 'I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner's execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims,' the attorney general wrote. The AG's 7,000 followers retweeted the message further on and soon many replied concerning the awfulness of tweeting the execution of a human being. 'Mr. Shurtleff was doing nothing unusual; politicians and news organizations now routinely send out tweets to alert people to the latest developments. But as Twitter users digested endless breaking news flashes alerting them to the death of a man by firing squad in the United States, for some Mr. Shurtleff's remarks stood out from the rest.'"
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Utah Attorney General Tweets Execution Order

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  • So ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:01PM (#32633354)
    The Utah AG was 'tweeting' while the murder was 'twitching'? This case received a lot of publicity (as most executions do) and he was just spreading the news as it happened. He's now qualified to work for one of the big networks.
    • Re:So ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:04PM (#32633390) Homepage Journal
      I don't mind as long as he has the balls to also announce it himself in press conferences and/or interviews.

      What worries me is the notion that politicians might begin to use twitter and other internet communication as a way to avoid interacting with the public(and the risk of being heckled or having a shoe or two thrown at 'em).
      • Re:So ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:42PM (#32633634) Journal

        What worries me is the notion that politicians might begin to use twitter and other internet communication as a way to avoid interacting with the public

        They are already doing this. Notice how there aren't too many House Democrats doing town halls [cbsnews.com] this summer? Why face our Consistency and justify our agenda when it's much easier to hide behind the Congressional leadership?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pharmboy (216950)

          Not sure why that was modded troll, since the link was informative and even mainstream, but I digress. Besides, I'm sure both sides of the aisle are doing the same.

          I'm sure there are plenty of politicians that want to use the easy and cheap method of blogging and tweeting information since there is no rebuttal, except on different pages/sites. Now they can be even MORE disconnected from the rest of us. To be fair, there are plenty of bloggers that attack politicians, and often what they are blogging abou

        • Re:So ... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday June 21, 2010 @03:39AM (#32637982)

          Notice how there aren't too many House Democrats doing town halls [cbsnews.com] this summer? Why face our Consistency and justify our agenda when it's much easier to hide behind the Congressional leadership?

          They say that the townhalls were taken over by people screaming at them, not giving them a chance to respond, justify, or even interact with the protesters. The videos that I saw seemed to back them up. I expect elected officials to answer to the voters, I don't expect them to waste their time being screamed at by people who quite clearly are there just to prevent any discussion.

          That goes for both sides of the political spectrum. Whether its a republican or democrat politician talking, doing shit like that should get you tased.

      • Re:So ... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @04:28PM (#32634386) Journal
        Wow, if you are worried about politicians trying to avoid real interaction with the people, you've missed the boat. Politics haven't been like that since (at least) the 1968 democratic national convention. Republicans saw how badly it went and scripted every word of their convention a month or so later. If politicians think there is potential for a shoe being thrown, they will generally avoid the event. And wisely so. And I'm sure if you look back farther, you will find it is not a new thing.

        Seriously, get your worries in perspective.
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:01PM (#32633364)

    Follow their AG on twitter in order to stay in touch with their government, but they don't want to hear the icky stuff? Is that right?

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:37PM (#32633600) Journal

      So the residents of Utah follow their AG on twitter in order to stay in touch with their government, but they don't want to hear the icky stuff? Is that right?

      Put out a press release and everyone will hear about it on the nightly news or in a print/online paper.
      Twitter just doesn't have the gravitas (yet?) to be considered an appropriate venue to announce an execution.

      • by nschubach (922175) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:44PM (#32633656) Journal

        Who decides that? Who do we consult to find out if it's appropriate to read something on the Internet opposed to printed media?

        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:05PM (#32633814) Journal

          Who decides that? Who do we consult to find out if it's appropriate to read something on the Internet opposed to printed media?

          The large numbers of Twitter users who spoke up to say how tasteless the AG's tweet was?

          If you want to commission a formal poll, go ahead.
          But the public has already spoken up on the matter.
          You can go read their responses 140 characters at a time.

          • by nschubach (922175) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:24PM (#32633948) Journal

            Unfortunately, you can't use the number of people who "spoke up" as evidence of public outcry because there's probably just as many who didn't speak up in their agreement because it's rather "uncool" to tweet cheers to such a tweet. I'd say it's far less acceptable to tweet something like: "Good! He deserved it!" than it is to tweet: "That's terrible."

            Since you probably follow people of your same mindset, you likely saw a bias representation of the event and assume it's "public outcry." The BBC post isn't any better.

            There's a bit too much sensationalism going on here, including you.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by IICV (652597)

            If the Attorney General's tweet was tasteless, what does that say about the fact that he'd just signed an order commanding agents of the state to kill a human being? People are okay with executions as long as they don't have to hear about them.

        • by T Murphy (1054674) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:09PM (#32633854) Journal
          It is mostly a distinction of what kind of message you are trying to send, not the content. News media might appropriately tweet "murderer executed by firing squad, confirmed dead", as it is entirely informational. The AG is speaking as a professional doing his job- more formality is required than what Twitter allows.

          Although not a perfect analogy, what if he signed documents for the execution using a big red crayon instead of a pen? Equivalent functionality by no means implies equivalent meaning.
    • by T Murphy (1054674) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:53PM (#32633732) Journal
      I agree with the people offended by this AG. He should have simply used twitter when it is time for his press conference, using the press conference to announce the man's death in a professional manner. It makes sense for random people or news organizations to use twitter to spread news of the execution, but the AG should not be so informal, being the professional responsible for the execution (responsible in the sense of "in charge", not as in "to blame").

      I don't think anyone would be offended at the "icky stuff" if he would just save it for the press conference or some other formal communication instead of twitter.
  • by Bonker (243350) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:02PM (#32633366)

    This is a good thing, regardless of your stance on capital punishment.

    The most important aspect of the internet, in my opinion, is that it shoves transparency down the throat of government.

    For better or worse, this Governor's name and decision is now tied irrevocably to his decision to sign the execution order. He is accountable and his constituents and other voters around the country know what he did.

    This is as it should be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bemymonkey (1244086)

      How on Earth is this a good thing?

      Tweeting something like this puts it on the same level as the idiot twittering "I just took a huge crap LOL WTF!!111oneone!"... it's NOT appropriate.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:07PM (#32633404)

    Tweeting a legal and properly appealed capital conviction is the "all-time low for internet use", but I suppose that using the internet to distribute Jihad snuff films like Daniel Pearl or using the internet to recruit racial and religious hate is just fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kilrah_il (1692978)

      When you have a radical, religious, fascist fanatic writing blogs all over the Internet, you do not expect him to show some decency. From the AG of the great democracy, USA, I expect a bit more. That is why I wrote "all-time low". Not because it's the worst we've seen, but because I still believe that the taking of someone's life, no matter your stance on capital punishment, deserves a bit more than 140 characters in Twitter.

      • by twidarkling (1537077) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:49PM (#32633694)

        I still believe that the taking of someone's life, no matter your stance on capital punishment, deserves a bit more than 140 characters in Twitter.

        Why? I mean, I'm against capital punishment (not to argue the propriety of it, but so that you know which side I'm coming from when I say this), and I have to ask why? I mean, one, it was simply a due notification of a previously established sentence being carried out. It wasn't announcing that he was officially sentenced. It wasn't a eulogy for the man. It wasn't even announcing that he was dead. And lastly, it's not like this is the sole coverage the event will receive. Not every communique needs to be a grand pronouncement, even if it relates to a human life.

        If it had been a tweet saying "RLG now dead. RIP." You might have a case. But it wasn't. Sorry, but it was a hyperbolic statement, and not at all warranted.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I'd say it boils down to the idea that when a government institutionalizes the execution of a citizen, it has some human responsibility to behave in a sober and respectful manner. Basically, everything from the government's mouth should be beyond reproach. Individual people can say whatever they want or sell 'Bundy Fries' on the street corner, but when the big, faceless machine is strapping a guy into a chair and shooting him in the chest, we really ought to do our best to remind everybody that it isn't b

      • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @05:03PM (#32634646)
        deserves a bit more than 140 characters in Twitter

        You mean, like the years and years of exhaustive press coverage this murderer received after he killed innocent people in his failed attempt to break out of custody for other crimes he committed? You mean the thousands and thousands of pages of public records and court documents that accompanied his multiple prosecutions and appeals over the years? Do you mean like the years the murderer himself had to talk about himself and his fate to a wide audience, despite having cut short other innocent people's chances to ever do that? Do you mean the public procedings in his most recent hearings, which go on page after page?

        Maybe this topic deserves more than your own short, uninformed ramblings. You may not have limited it to 140 characters, but you sure dumbed it down plenty yourself.
  • by theodp (442580) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:14PM (#32633450)

    Any Last Words? [about.com]

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:15PM (#32633466)

    There are many lows on the internet and this doesn't come close. The prosecution in this case chose to pursue the death penalty in light of the crime committed, the jury found him guilty and found the death penalty appropriate. The AG is doing his job, and while this might seem sensationalistic, I'd rather the officials in my particular state be as open as possible using all available avenues of communication, although I personally do not use twitter.

    The primary reason this case is so sensational is that he was killed by a firing squad. Remember that he chose that particular method, not the state.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Auckerman (223266)

      the jury found him guilty and found the death penalty appropriate

      It was the only option offered, something the jururers complained about

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sootman (158191)

      Compared to lethal injection or the electric chair, I'd choose the firing squad for myself any day of the week.

  • For the record (Score:5, Informative)

    by aitikin (909209) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:16PM (#32633470)
    Firing squad is deemed inhumane in 49 out of 50 states, the exception being Oklahoma, where it is used solely as a backup, should lethal injection or electrocution fail or become unconstitutional. Utah allows firing squads only in cases where the prisoner had chose it before it became unconstitutional. Therefore, Gardner, having been on death row for 20 some odd years, had chose death by firing squad before it was deemed inhumane.

    I realize this is OT, but it really struck me as odd that Utah was still doing a death by firing squad. Interestingly enough, Washington State still allows prisoners the choice of their method of execution between death by hanging and death by lethal injection.
    • Re:For the record (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) * on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:26PM (#32633538) Journal

      Firing squad is deemed inhumane in 49 out of 50 states

      It hasn't been deemed "inhumane", it just isn't used in those states. Having seen my share of animals that were shot and a handful that were "put to sleep" I would actually argue that being shot is more humane. The ones that were put to sleep seemingly just closed their eyes -- but who knows what really happens? At least with humans, there's a school of thought that suggests the anesthetic used wears off quickly and leaves the condemned man awake but with a paralyzed diaphragm. If this is true you are suffocating to death while awake.

      Contrast that to being shot. A well placed rifle bullet will kill you before you hit the ground. No need to sit and watch as they try to find a vein. No danger of them missing a vein and setting your arm on fire with muscular injections of the drug cocktail.

      There really isn't any pretty way to end a life but of the available methods that our technology allows I would argue that being shot is the most humane. If the shooters do their job right you will be dead in seconds.

      • Re:For the record (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jimicus (737525) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:42PM (#32633636)

        There really isn't any pretty way to end a life but of the available methods that our technology allows I would argue that being shot is the most humane. If the shooters do their job right you will be dead in seconds.

        Except there's some evidence to suggest that the rifle shots are seldom that well placed. Quite often, what used to happen was the man leading the firing squad checked the victim, found him still breathing and shot him in the head.

        (It's a bit difficult to find evidence for this right now - Google's efficiency at keeping their search engine results is working against me as most searches involving the term "firing squad" bring up stories related to this particular execution - but knowing how fantastically good /.'ers are at finding evidence for a particular POV, I have no doubt that someone with more knowledge will reply....)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        The real problem with firing squads and other methods compared to injection is how hard it is on the executioners not the prisoners. A firing squad is a very humane way to kill a murderer, as you noted. However, each member of the firing squad knows he killed the man himself (or at least, he definitely contributed). They try to work around that by making one round a blank. The marksmen know one round is a blank, but they don't know which. This allows them to rationalize that it may not have been their

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Ronnie Lee Gardner didn't die "before he hit the ground" [ksl.com], and the shots were very accurate. From the linked eyewirness account:

        Some 30 seconds later, and without warning, a loud "ba-BOOM" repeats through the chamber. The target is hit in what appears to be four places: two shots hitting very near the bulls-eye in the middle; another bullet within the first circle but lower and to the right. The fourth hits the target in the lower left corner, outside both the circle and the bulls-eye.

        Gardner still mov

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shakrai (717556) *

          Most animals move [wikipedia.org] after they get shot. That doesn't mean they aren't already dead though. Rifle bullets have enough energy in them to cause [wikipedia.org] traumatic brain injury even with hits to the chest or abdominal cavity. Ever seen an animal hit with a well placed bullet from a high power rifle? Many times it looks as though they were hit by lightning -- they hit the ground, kick once or twice and expire.

          Most lay people have no appreciation for just how powerful rifles really are.

        • Re:For the record (Score:5, Informative)

          by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @05:18PM (#32634746)
          but he didn't die within seconds

          "He" was long gone. Instantly, in fact. The amount of energy delivered to his chest cavity (with very carefully chosen ammunition) produces a mammoth shock wave. Complete and irreversible instant mega brain trauma, courtesy of - among other things - the fact that major arteries connect the brain to the central plumbing. Out like a light. Don't confused some left-over autonomic nerve/muscle activity (ever seen a chicken quite literally hopping around, minus its head? I have) with him being "alive" in any way that counts.

          His victims, unfortunately, didn't die so quickly.
      • Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Snaller (147050) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @05:47PM (#32634974) Journal

        Yeah most of that is just rubbish. You have clearly never been put under by professionals (as in for operation), in a split second you are gone. And if they put too much in you don't come back.

  • by Aphoxema (1088507) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:29PM (#32633558) Homepage Journal

    Well, at least he didn't order the execution through twitter. Just imagine if that account got comprised, or any account involved in stupid shit like that.

  • by slasho81 (455509) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:37PM (#32633598)
    May God grant him mercy...because we certainly won't.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      *hypocrisy

      not the same thing, really. They ask that God grant him mercy for his soul in the afterlife, but they themselves do not grant mercy on this earth for his life. Two separate concepts.

      You can criticize religion for a lot of things, but at least recognize when they are being consistent within their own worldview.

  • by Known Nutter (988758) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:43PM (#32633646)
    Executions should be televised.

    And don't forget, the polls show the American people want capital punishment, and they want a balanced budget. And I think even in a fake democracy, people ought to get what they want once in a while. Just to feed this illusion that they're really in charge. Let's use capital punishment the same way we use sports and television in this country, to distract people and take their minds off how bad they're being fucked by the upper one percent. Now, unfortunately, unfortunately Monday Night Football doesn't last long enough. What we really need is year-round capital punishment on TV every night with sponsors. Gotta have sponsors. I'm sure as long as we're killing people Marlboro Cigarettes and Dow Chemical would be proud to participate! Proud to participate! Balance the stupid fucking budget!!

    And- and let me say this to you my interesting judaeo-christian friends. Not only- not only do I recommend crucifixions, I'd be in favor of bringing back beheadings!! Huh? Beheadings on TV, slow-motion, instant replay? And maybe you could let the heads roll down a little hill. And fall into one of five numbered holes. Let the people at home gamble on which hole the head is going to fall into. And you do it in a stadium so the mob can gamble on it too. Raise a little more money. And if you want to expand the violence a little longer to sell a few more commercials, instead of using an axe, you do the beheadings with a hand saw! Hey, don't bail out on me now, God damnit! The blood is already on our hands, all we're talking about is a matter of degree. You want something a little more delicate, we'll do the beheadings with an olive fork. That would be nice. And it would take a good God damn long time. There's a lot of good things we could be doing.

    --George Carlin

  • by yourpusher (161612) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @03:02PM (#32633794) Homepage Journal

    What a fine bunch of people you are.

  • Chiming in.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KharmaWidow (1504025) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @06:05PM (#32635078)

    My sister was brutally murdered and I knew from that point on that killing her killer would not make a difference to how I felt. How I still feel 20 years later... Still, bad deeds must be punished. I only wish her killer was killed by bashing his head in and strangling him like he did my sister. If we did that - kill the killer with the same method they used - it might become a deterrent again.

    The main reason why capital punishment is not a deterrent is because we sugar-coat it. We put padded language around it. We get offended by a tweet reporting the go-ahead was made. And then we put them to sleep gently. All because our pussy-ass pacifist socialist education system brainwashes us into discarding any sense of honor, integrity, accountability and responsibility.

    Executions should be announced with a media bullhorn and the country should stop everything else while its happening. No, we shouldn't broadcast the actual event. But we should acknowledge and witness when it occurs. We need to make our population instinctively aware that execution is a consequence - that there is a consequence for all our actions and transgressions against others.

  • by Penguinshit (591885) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:17PM (#32635574) Homepage Journal
    ...getting fired by email was harsh!

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