Things change

The Nebraska legislature voted to override Gov. Rickett’s veto of the bill abolishing the death penalty by a 30/19 vote- essentially representing the same bloc of legislators who passed the measure initially, however, a couple of the original supporters of the bill broke rank and voted against the override, after a vigorous lobbying effort by the befuddled Gov. After he learned that his veto had been swept aside by the vote, the Gov. said “My words cannot express how appalled I am that we lost a critical tool to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families . . . the legislature has lost touch with the citizens of Nebraska”.

It is difficult to get a handle on the way Gov. Ricketts “thinks” about things: A “critical tool to protect law enforcement”? The governor knows, as does every other informed person, that the death penalty does not deter crime in general, let alone protect cops. He also must know that the death penalty cannot be squared away with basic Catholic values, yet he refuses to admit it. It seems that he is placing all of his eggs in the police/support basket, a practice routinely followed by conservatives- after all, since the 60’s, the pendulum of support for expanded police powers has swung dramatically to the right. But the truth, that Ricketts fails to grasp, is that the public is growing tired of the unfettered powers that police have been extended in this country. Just because the police support an issue doesn’t make it right. No longer is the public willing to accept condemnation without investigation. Serious scholars who have studied the death penalty have demonstrated clearly that it does not work. If it is a “tool”, as Ricketts claims (without examination), it is purely a tool of retribution. To quote Bob Dylan again, “The Times They Are A Changin”- it appears that Ricketts cannot handle the truth and simply refuses to change purely for political reasons. Who is out of touch?

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