Are death penalty foes modern abolitionists? Some mainstream media are reaching for that innocence by association, seeking the reflected glory of the 19th century anti-slavery movement. In so doing, however, they ignore its religious nature.
Those media include the Los Angeles Times, which uses that word three times -- once in the headline -- in its follow-up on two ballot items that fought for Californians' attention along with whom they wanted for president.
Capital punishment was the focus of two ballot items in California this week. Proposition 62 would have repealed the death penalty; voters defeated it by 53.9 percent. Proposition 66 would "expedite" the penalty, with measures like referring such cases to lower courts instead of the state Supreme Court. That one was narrowly approved, by 50.9 percent.
The issue resounds beyond the borders of the nation's most populous state, as the Los Angeles Times explains:
California had been one of the most significant states to watch regarding its decision on the death penalty, legal experts said. With nearly 750 inmates awaiting execution, almost double the number in Florida, the state has the second-highest death row population in the country.
The ballot race results showed a large divide over capital punishment in keeping with national trends and followed voter decisions in favor of the death penalty in Oklahoma, which became the first to approve state constitutional protections for it, and in Nebraska, where voters overturned bipartisan legislation repealing it.
For crossfire, we hear from District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, Sacramento County, in favor of the death penalty. Following her is former star Mike Farrell of the M*A*S*H TV series, opposing capital punishment.