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Auchter's Art: 172 years without death penalty in Mich. proves the state can be reasonable

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

We can get so caught up with ongoing problems here in Michigan (roads, water, schools, etc.) that it's easy to forget some of the reasons we have for taking pride in our state. 

Recently, we marked the 172nd anniversary of Michigan becoming the first English-speaking government to abolish the death penalty. Even more impressive, we have not changed our minds.

Sure, there have been periodic efforts to legalize capital punishment in some shape or form. But to our credit, Michigan has resisted the emotional appeal and stayed the course. As the cartoon illustrates, there are many practical and moral reasons to be against capital punishment. Reasons to be for it are largely emotional.

That said, I can totally understand — even empathize with — how weighty those feelings can be. The Larry Nassar case provides a perfect example. After reading about and listening to the testimony of his victims, and considering their ages and sheer numbers, I have to admit the death penalty crossed my mind. (That's a caricature of me, by the way, jumping up and down on the FOR side.)

But it comes down to this: How can we write death penalty laws so they are air-tight? How can we apply them evenly? How exactly would the convicted be executed? How much would it all cost?

It says something positive about our state and ourselves that we have decided to go with reason over emotions. Because at any given moment we all can feel very pro-capital punishment for, say, slow drivers in the passing lane.

John Auchter is a freelance editorial cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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