Most readers know that Isthmus as an institution does not endorse candidates, nor do we take sides on ballot referendums. There are a number of reasons for this, but at base we adhere to this policy because we do not wish to be advocates for a point of view, but rather, the informant that helps people make their own decisions. That said, we have not banished the point of view of individuals from our pages. We just try to make them contribute to the argument.
So as we arrive, mercifully, at the last issue before the election next Tuesday, you will find no candidate endorsements in our pages. You will, however, find some strong opinions. An example may be found in our Mr. Right column this week. He has definite feelings about the marriage referendum, and in his inimitable way makes them known. But remember, it's his opinion, not necessarily ours.
And so it goes with our cover story, a presentation of attitudes toward the advisory referendum on the death penalty.
The major contributor is Brian Solomon, who tells us "What's Wrong With the Death Penalty." Solomon has a perspective on the issue most of us don't have: He was a juror in a notorious murder trial in 2001. He found it a traumatic experience, even though the trial took place in Wisconsin and the question of a death sentence was never at issue. (If you want to read his account, check out his book, Sequestered.) In his exposition on the death penalty, Solomon extrapolates from that brush with the machinery of justice and the cautions it has engendered in him.
Juxtaposed with Solomon's argument is that of Mike Mayhak. Mayhak is a pastor in Madison and has mined the Bible for his pro-death penalty rejoinder. I'll leave it to the reader to assess the merits of his argument. But if you are not a believer in Scripture, he presents no argument, since his entire presentation rests on the Bible.
I like to weigh facts when forming an opinion. There aren't many to consider in the death penalty argument other than we've had no death penalty in Wisconsin for over 150 years and our murder rate is not higher than the places that have it. So I see no reason to grant the state the ultimate power to deprive someone of life. As for Scripture, I seem to recall a quote: "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord." So I'll go with that. But remember, that's just my opinion.