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The Absurdity of a Live Broadcast Execution

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 6:51
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(Before It's News)

Today around noon I saw Twitter light up over href=
target="_blank">a report
that CCTV would live broadcast the
execution of a Burmese drug smuggler and three members of his gang
"" target=
of killing 13 Chinese on the Mekong

At first glance I assumed the uproar was because CCTV would
devote so much attention to the execution of foreign criminals;
attention like Timothy McVeigh and Ted Bundy received when crowds
gathered outside their prisons and cameras were rolling to capture
the signal that they were dead.

That angle made sense. China devoted no such attention to the
executions of its own serial killers like "" target="_blank">Yang
and ""
target="_blank">Zhang Yongmin
. It seemed to be yet another
Opium War allusion to give the impression: “Vigilant CCP shows no
mercy to foreign aggressors who attack China’s sovereignty and
humiliate its people (especially through the drug trade).”

I soon realized though that that wasn’t what the uproar was
about. People thought that “live broadcasting the execution” meant
CCTV would literally bring cameras into the chamber and air the
lethal injections.

For those familiar with the version of China gossiped about by
grannies in Florida getting their hair done, that might seem
conceivable. But for those familiar with the actual China, that
proposition should sound completely absurd.

Contrary to popular belief, The People’s Republic of China has
rarely put their executions out on display (vigilante Cultural
Revolution killings aside). Sure, it frequently paraded condemned
criminals around town and had execution rallies in stadiums right
up through the 1990s. There was even "" target=
"_blank">a TV show
until last year that interviewed death row
inmates, sometimes just minutes before execution. But when it’s
time to do the deed itself, criminals have almost always been taken
to a secluded location away from public eyes.

In 2004, Boxun did "" target="_blank">a
on the death penalty in China featuring interviews with
law enforcement who’d been involved with executions (Boxun is by no
means reliable, but in this case there were very gruesome photos
that seem to back up the interviews).

One man who’d been involved in “half a dozen” executions up
until 1995 using the traditional bullet to the head method said,
“There are no spectators at the scene of the execution.  We
maintain three rings of security.  Outsiders are kept far
away, such that they cannot even hear the gunshot sounds.  On
our way back, nobody says anything because we are overwhelmed by
the feeling that life can be so cheap.”

As satisfying as it may be for some to see a foreign aggressor
get what’s coming to him, why would authorities regress below
something considered too socially risky even by 1995 standards?
Chinese censors routinely cut fictional violence from movies and TV
– even to the point of disallowing the use of a knife to threaten
someone – lest any fragile minds be influenced and disrupt social
harmony. So why on Earth would the most viewed channel on the most
viewed medium in China show a real person being killed live for
millions of children to see?

It wouldn’t. Period.

All this uproar began with a piece in South China Morning Post
titled ""
target="_blank">“CCTV ‘to broadcast live execution of Mekong River
massacre drug smugglers.’”
John Kennedy, who wrote the piece,
later said on Twitter: “CCTV said, unambiguously and in plain
Chinese, it’s going to live broadcast the execution. I’m not going
to put words in its mouth. If it turns out CCTV is deliberately
misleading the public to boost viewership (and in a way or two I
hope it is), that’s a story in itself.”


In the end, just about everything ""
target="_blank">leading up
to the executions was shown – from
prepping the prisoners to transporting them – but cameras stopped
short of entering the chamber. Doing so would have been socially
risky, and therefore impossible; not to mention gratuitously vile
on a level that even the Ministry of Public
Security wouldn’t stoop to.

Were the bits that were shown morbid, exploitative and inhumane?
Sure. Was it all shamelessly done as a political statement with
unsettling xenophobic undertones? Absolutely. Was it warranted in
order to deter such brutal criminal acts in the future? I’m sure a
lot of people will make that argument. And I’m sure you’ll be
reading elsewhere about all these things in the coming days, but
all I can say is nobody took the enormous leap of showing the
execution – something a lot of people who should have known better
seemed to think was a real possibility.

[Correction: This previously referred to the Boxun
report as being from 1994. It was actually from

target="_blank"> "" />
width="1" height="1" />


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