Citizen of a country whose current regime was founded on the corpses of 16594 beheaded people, during a period known as The Terror, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on terrorist beheadings.
Not that I usually need an excuse to open my big mouth, but lets not pass on this excellent one to indulge in some punditry !
Guess why Eugen Weidmann’s guillotine execution on the 17th June 1939 was the last one the French performed in public ? Unbeknownst to Parisian prison officials, a film camera had been set up in one of the apartments overlooking the scene…
The public was scandalized by their own violence; the government embarrassed. In response France banned public executions. Weidmann went down in history as the last man in France to be guillotined for the entertainment of the awaiting crowd (a dubious distinction).
The government did not find fault in the grisly execution itself—of course it couldn’t have, that would have been an admission of justice’s guilt—rather it blamed the so-called unruly behavior of the savage crowd. The spectacle of bloodlust was, apparently, too powerful for film. Public guillotining was hidden behind the confines of the prison wall—privatized to conceal the spectacle.
Today, we still sentence to death, but we make sure the gore stays out of sight. As one HN commenter put it:
In some ways, the U.S. has done to executions and automated foreign assassinations what the supermarket has done to eating meat. We are distanced from the act so that we aren’t overly burdened thinking about about what is done in our names, both as citizens and voters. Hence, we do not oppose something that we normally would, were we only more aware of it.
Not having to wipe bloody bone shards and bits of blasted flesh from their tablet’s screen certainly is among the reasons why people outraged at the beheading of innocent on video still tolerate remote airborne executions of no less innocent people.
Michael Leuning sums it best:
So ? What do the French, the Saudi and the Queen of Hearts have in common ? They knows better than beheading people in public – it is just a basic matter of marketing communications management.