Friday, March 10, 2006

Procrastinating Editorial.

The Appleton Post Crescent ran an insulting editorial yesterday. Its topic was the upcoming advisory vote on bringing back the death penalty.

Let's fisk it.

Editorial: Death-penalty vote would be knee-jerk reaction

The likelihood that you will be able to let the state Legislature know how you feel about the death penalty, or lack thereof, in Wisconsin this fall is a day or two from becoming a certainty. An advisory referendum on the subject will probably go to voters in September.

As much as the topic is worthy of discussion and referenda have their merit, the timing couldn't be worse.

Steven Avery's trial probably will be starting right around then, and the public will be reintroduced to the horrific details of his case all over again after months of trying to forget about Calumet County Dist. Atty. Ken Kratz's graphic press conference last week. Voters once again will be angered, shocked and saddened as the murder trial plays out.
Source: Appleton Post Crescent Editorial - Editorial: Death-penalty vote would be knee-jerk reaction, March 9, 2006.
Well, at least they admit it is a worthy debate. However, they insult their readership by the criticism the voters will not be able to separate the Steven Avery trial from their stand on this particular issue. It is a common arrogance death penalty opponents have and I was accused of having an all to convenient stand on the death penalty last weekend.

Those are not the emotional states in which any decision should be made, let alone one as monumental as whether the death penalty should be reinstated.

Longtime capital punishment advocates such as state Sen. Alan Lasee see the Avery case as their new Exhibit A in the debate over whether some people should be killed for their crimes.

They want to strike while the iron is hot and force Wisconsin voters to the booths while Avery's alleged mutilation and murder of a young woman is fresh in their minds.

While that's a smart move for their cause, it's a poor one for the state as a whole.

Emotional thinking makes for bad decision-making. Knee-jerk reactions to public incidents have made for some bad law in the past —some provisions of the Patriot Act are the most recent example.

Making rash decisions in one's personal life is a no-no; the public sector is no different, and the death penalty is arguably the most serious issue in any state.

In a society in which human life is the ultimate value, the discussion of why, how and when to take it is a debate of the highest order. That doesn't mean it isn't a debate worth having, or that the public's opinion isn't one of the most important components of that debate. But just as taking one's temperature when feverish is not indicative of his or her overall health, asking a citizenry how it feels about punishing criminals while it watches a trial for a vicious murder is unfair and exploitative.

The death penalty in Wisconsin is a subject worth talking about. Just not now.
Source: Appleton Post Crescent Editorial - Editorial: Death-penalty vote would be knee-jerk reaction, March 9, 2006.
This is a class of argument both sides use when events force the discussion of an issue in a direction they do not like. I do not know for sure what the Appleton Post Crescent's stand on the death penalty is and have to assume they oppose the imposition of the death penalty. So, events force the discussion in a pro-death penalty direction and the Appleton Post Crescent complains.

Love that little shot at the Patriot Act. What a drive-by shooting that is!

There is a hole in the roof and it is raining, and the Appleton Post Crescent doesn't want to fix the hole until it stops raining. I would guess—despite their claims—that when it stops raining the Appleton Post Crescent will not bother attending to that leaky roof.