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When You Can't Win With Facts, Start Lying

A few years back, I was interviewed by Atlantic magazine for an article they were doing on the death penalty.  As you can imagine for that publication, I was carrying water uphill.

Times have changed, but the Atlantic hasn't.  It now has a piece by Andrew Cohen titled, "In Aurora Shooting Case, a Public Pushback Against the Death Penalty."  The article begins thusly:

To give you a sense of how far the public debate over capital punishment has moved toward rationality over the past few decades you need only read Tuesday's house editorial in The Denver Post [opposing] a Colorado prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty in the Aurora theater shooting case.

It's telling that Cohen uses one editorial in a leftist newspaper to assess the broad "movement" of the "public debate" (he does later cite a second newspaper editorial).  One might think he'd consult a wider variety of sources.

Out of curiosity, I did.  What I found is that  Andrew Cohen is a flagrant liar.

This is what Gallup says about the "movement" in public opinion:

"U.S. Death Penalty Support Stable at 63%."

And this is what Gallup finds as public support for the death penalty a "few decades" ago: Five decades ago it was at 50%, lower than it is today. Four decades ago, it was at 52%, also lower than it is today. Three decades ago, it was at 68%, a scant five points higher than it is today.  The Gallup piece, and the graph to which I am referring, are here

As I say, Andrew Cohen is a liar.

He also must have been living in a cave.  He never manages even to mention that California voters, not exactly a bunch of fascists, voted five months ago to keep capital punishment.  The number voting for retention was six million four hundred sixty thousand two hundred sixty four.  But if two Colorado newspapers come out against it, that represents "how far the public debate over capital punishment has moved toward rationality." 

Did I mention that Mr. Cohen is a liar?

To be honest  --  just to show Cohen that such a thing is possible  --  It's true that support for the death penalty has fallen off considerably from what it was two decades ago. On the other hand, the murder rate now is half what it was then, so this is not exactly surprising, even if "two decades" could be read to mean Cohen's a "few decades," which it cannot.

I might add that, buried way, way down in his article is this lonely truth: "The point here is not to debate whether the death penalty is appropriate in the case of James Holmes. Of course it is."

Oh, OK. Well if it's appropriate, it can't very well be immoral, now can it? Which remains the main item in this debate, despite abolitionist attempts to make it primarily about cost and delay (the cost and delay they've done everything they can to increase, that is).

It's just a classic abolitionist trick to lie like crazy about the supposed, but actually non-existent, public tidal wave against capital punishment, before very quietly admitting that the killer du jour deserves it.


They are liars, but they are winning.

They're actually mostly losing, but they are superb in using their upper hand in the press to make it appear that they are winning.

I'm actually going to do a post on this, because it's an important question.

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