The Glorification of Death in Our Society

Natasha Shah ’15
Staff Writer

On July 20, 2012, James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 others in a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. This past week, prosecutors revealed that they would seek the death penalty in his trial. Upon hearing this announcement, the courtroom where Holmes and many of his victims’ friends and family were seated erupted into applause, showing their support of the death penalty.

This public display of support for the death penalty raises the question of whether or not being in support of killing someone is ever appropriate. In the recent past, there have been many displays of pro death sentiment in our nation: the death of Osama bin Laden brought out cheering crowds in front of the White House, the video of Moamar Kadhafi being killed was replayed over and over again on major news networks and the nation saw a surge of support for the death penalty after the murder of the Petit family in Cheshire, Connecticut. While many argue that it’s okay to support the killing of a so called “evil” person by glorifying their deaths, we as a society ,must question the implications of celebrating someone’s death in this manner.

There is no doubt that what James Holmes did was despicable. Taking the lives of defenseless people is certainly an act that deserves to be punished in the severest of ways. It’s important to differentiate the death penalty from the act of celebrating death. Holmes’s court hearing was a solemn occasion commemorating the lives lost because of his actions and a step towards seeking justice for his victims.

While the prosecution’s announcement of seeking the death penalty for him is a step towards justice, the cheers and applause debased the seriousness of the occasion. Celebrating the demise of a murderer sends the message that our society is able not just to justify death but to praise it. We have become a society that is immune to the implications of death. Video games, movies and television shows have made violence seem like an inevitable part of our society.

When killing someone earns one points in a game, it is bound to diminish their valuing of a human life. The gravity of the act of taking someone’s life has become lost on us. When one hears stories of crowds cheering over a person’s death it sends the message that our society has no appreciation for the value of a human life.

When Osama bin Laden was killed, social media sites, news networks and newspapers were filled with pictures of Americans celebrating and posting messages of joy that justice had finally been served to America. These celebrations were a reminder of how primitive human nature is.

Although Osama bin Laden, like James Holmes, was undoubtedly a person who deserved to be punished for his heinous crimes, celebrating his death debases our credibility as citizens of this world and of this country. It shows how we as a society have lost the meaning of what a human life is.

When someone’s life is taken away either through murder or through execution, it is a reminder that violence is still a part of our society. It is something to reflect on rather than celebrate. 

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