Executions and Audiences

September 10, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

When you are executing people, as with any performance, you have to know your audience.
When the Sirjan [Iran] town authorities tried to hang two men convicted of robbery on the morning of Dec. 22, protestors threw stones at the police and members of the court carrying out the execution. . .  the protestors also shot at officers with handguns.
Amidst the chaos, the protestors managed to cut down the convicts, who were still alive a minute after the attempted hanging  (Story here, but do not go there if you are troubled by pictures and videos of this sort of thing.)
The hangmen misjudged their audience.  They could have played to a much more receptive crowd – the Republicans who showed up for the candidates’ debate Wednesday. 

Brian Williams began a question to Gov. Rick Perry, “Your state has executed 234 death row inmates more than any other governor in modern times . . .”  But before Williams could finish, the Republican faithful, on hearing that number, broke into applause.  Listen to the enthusiasm.


We don’t know how long the applause would have continued if Brian Williams hadn’t interrupted to continue his question.

Oh my, those Republicans.  They sure do love them some executions.*  The applause wasn’t thunderous – the deaths under Perry work out to a measly two a month, barely one-tenth of what Iran generates.  But Texas currently has more than 300 people on death row.  Imagine the Republican audience reaction if Gov. Perry can manage to get most of those 300 executed before the next debate.  An O for sure.  With 500 executions under his belt next time, not 234, there’s gonna be a lot of love in that room.  


* They also have a curious fondness for torture.  See my earlier post here.


Anonymous said...

I liked your argument until I got to the math, and geography and population sizes. Iran is a country and has a large population, much higher than Texas has,which is only ONE state among 50. Texas, I would say, has a third of the population that Iran has, Add up all the other states with capital punishment and their execution rates, and I bet you'd get a much higher number of government approved and supported executions than any other country, excluding N. Korea.

Jay Livingston said...

The 234 executions in Texas took place over the 11 years of Perry's tenure as governor. Iran executes far more.

In 2012 in the US, there were 39 executions. Even if all of these had been in Texas (pop. about 26 million), that would be ratio of 1.5 executions per million population.

Iran executed 522 people that year (a low year as these things go in Iran). With a population of 80 million, that gives a ratio of 6.5 executions per million, more than four times as high.

Anonymous said...

You're correct. I was reading a document that had old info. Here's another I found that say about the same you have. Thanks. https://news.vice.com/articles/2013-was-a-big-year-for-executions-worldwide