Is it moral to be on Twitter when you’re about to send a man to his death?
Many people use Twitter to tell their friends that they just ate a sandwich. Others use it for humorous discourse that usually ends up with at least one “LOL!” Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff uses Twitter to announce that a criminal is about to be executed by firing squad. LOL…?
Here’s the scene, if I’m understanding things correctly. On the day of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner’s execution, Shurtleff first tweeted: “A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice.”
Shortly after, he tweets: “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.”
I don’t want to get into the morality of execution and whatnot, but I have no problem with someone that feels like he’s brought justice to the world. However, it does seem a little strange to be hanging out at an execution and tweeting its progress through your Blackberry just like you would at a Kanye West concert. Gardner was sentenced for shooting and killing an attorney during an attempted courthouse escape, and also seriously wounding a bailiff. He was the first man to be executed by firing squad in Utah in the past 14 years.
After an apparent controversy over Shurtleff’s use of Twitter in this manner, he tweeted: “I believe in an informed public. As elected official I use social media to communicate directly with people,” and “WARNING! This page informs on real world of crime and punishment. ‘If u can’t stand the TWEET, get out of the TWITCHEN.'” If that second line didn’t sadly make me giggle a little bit, I’m sure I’d be groaning.
While you might be proud enough to tweet that you just sent the final boss of Uncharted to his doom, Shurtleff is apparently just as happy about sending a real-life criminal to his. His actions could be somewhat morally ambiguous, but he was tweeting about his life like anyone else. He just might have seemed just a little too excited about it to be honest.