Thursday, March 15, 2007

Another sign of progress

Upon occasion I am invited to appear before high school and college students to debate the death penalty. I love these opportunities because the people sitting in the audience are going to be the ones deciding whether the death penalty is part of this country's future or not. They are the ones who are going to be serving as prosecutors and defense lawyers, running for the state legislature (where the future of the death penalty primarily will be decided), helping other people get elected or -- at the very least -- voting for candidates who will then vote on the death penalty.

It's going to be their decision. They need facts.

I've been invited to participate in four debates this year. But something funny happened on the way to the forum.

In three of the four instances, the sponsor of the debate called me up, apologetically, and said they had to cancel.


Because they couldn't find anyone in the Washington, D.C. area to represent the other side.

That's right. In the entire Washington, D.C. area (an area that, broadly defined, has just over 8 million people), they could not find an organizational spokesperson to represent the pro-death penalty side.

It is not, as I suspect, that groups that previously supported the death penalty have reversed position. Rather, I suspect that the usual suspects (Federalist Society, Washington Legal Foundation, some elements of Republican Party, etc.) just don't care about the issue anymore.

And that's fine. Because we do.

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