I return this weekend to a topic I've written about often, the death penalty.
Its problems are myriad and it needs to be abolished throughout the United States (and the world, for that matter). Until it is, innocent people may continue to be executed in our name and taxpayers will spend exorbitant amounts of money because capital punishment is a much more expensive system to operate than the alternative of sentencing the worst criminals to life in prison, sometimes without the possibility of parole.
I raise the subject again for two reasons.
First, I want you to know about a new (or, new to me) problem with the death penalty. It turns out that in excess of 500 religious leaders from across the country have endorsed a statement insisting on a new trial for Texas death row inmate Christopher Young. The statement, signed by people who identify themselves as evangelical Christians, says that in Young's 2006 trial, "a potential juror was removed from the case based on her membership in a particular church and her association with one of its ministries."
That removal, the statement says, was just plain wrong: "Membership in a particular church or association with a particular ministry is not a fair basis for preventing someone from carrying out her civic duty as a juror. Indeed, eliminating a particular juror based solely on her religious affiliation offends the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution."
Until now, I was unaware that any defense attorneys in death penalty cases had been accused of striking potential jurors because of religion -- one more abuse of our justice system tied to capital punishment.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss the case in early March. Let's hope the justices do justice.
The other reason I raise the death penalty topic today is to tell you that this Tuesday, the American Public Square will sponsor a discussion of the death penalty. It's called "An Eye for an Eye: Re-evaluating the Death Penalty," and you can register to attend this free event at the link in this paragraph. The discussion will take place at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library.
My regular readers know I've opposed capital punishment for a long, long time for many reasons. And I intend to keep writing about this until our system is changed and the U.S. joins the rest of the civilized world on this matter.
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PREACHING AGAINST MALE DOLLS
The decision by the American Girl doll company to offer a new boy doll for sale has set off a North Carolina pastor, who says the move is "nothing more than a trick of the enemy to emasculate little boys and confuse their role to become men." Oh, my. Sounds like someone could have used a little more help getting in touch with his feminine side when he was growing up.
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P.S.: I've added a "My Flatlandkc columns" page under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page that will take you to the monthly columns I write for Flatland, KCPT-TV's digital magazine. So if you missed any of them when they posted, now you can catch up. My next Flatland column is scheduled to post next Saturday.