We react viscerally to the death of children. So we are seeing in the wake of Newtown, and so we are seeing in the wake of another recent tragedy, the discovery of the bodies Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins.
Iowa Senate's leading right wing noisemaker, Kent Sorenson, is pushing
for the death penalty, and he's sensationalized the issue again today by
enlisting the help of the murdered girls' families and relatives of
other child murder victims.
This surfaces every few years in
Iowa. The last serious push was in 1995, after the death penalty became
an issue in the 1994 governor's race following the murder of Anna Marie Emry
in Brighton. The Legislature was overwhelmingly Republican at the time.
But there were still enough suburban moderates and seamless-garment
Catholics in the Republican caucus to join with Democrats and block the bill.
Probably not so today, but Democrats still hold that one Senator edge so this likely goes nowhere. And that's what Sorenson is really about here.
to capital punishment opponents is the false equivalence of their
opposition with a defense of indefensible crime. "Does this killer
deserve to die" is a different question than "should we as a society
kill them." Ironic that the conservatives who hate big intrusive
government largely support the ultimate intrusion.
Humans can be
wrong, individually, as a jury of 12, or even as a majority in an
opinion poll. And the death penalty is irreversible. As long as it is an
option, even for the confessed killer with incontrivertible physical
evidence, there is a risk of it being used against an innocent person.
my thoughts here will be linked to the post-Newtown push for gun
control. The difference I see is that the gun control effort is about
saving lives, about preventing incidents like this from happening again
and again and again.It's also done in the face of serious opposition, at
a political cost at least for now. (But this really is starting to feel like a real shift in opinion.)
In contrasty, Sorenson's post-Lyric and Elizabeth death penalty push is the politics of vengeance and cynical exploitation, a base appeal to the least common denominator.
the grieving families agree. But that doesn't mean they aren't being
cynically exploited by Sorenson just the same. "This is going to end up
at the feet of (majority leader) Gronstal," says Sorenson, revealing his agenda. "That's where we'll take our fight."
But justice, if there can be such a thing for murdered children, is more than just a campaign brochure issue.