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It Will Just Keep Getting Easier to Oppose the Death Penalty


Last night, the state of Oklahoma tried to murder someone. They eventually succeeded (phew?), but only after torturing him for a while. To the more bloodlusty among us, this was an apt way to send a particularly nasty fellow packing. For those who don’t think the state should be torturing and murdering people, this was disgust atop disgust.

Where do you land, reader? Because I happen to find this situation a touch vile:


Oklahoma’s governor has launched a full investigation into what went wrong with the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. But don’t worry, it probably won’t take long, and then we’ll all get back to the killin’ right quick.

Capital punishment for prisoners convicted of murder still enjoys majority support in the country. But that support, according to Gallup’s late 2013 poll, is down to its lowest level in forty years. Sixty percent support it—down from its peak support at 80 percent in 1994, but still well above its nadir of 42 percent in 1966. The trend for support is either stable or slightly downward, depending on how you look at it.

Gallup notes that “a growing number of states have taken action to abolish the death penalty,” and adds that “the recent change in death penalty attitudes could be specific to that issue, or it could be part of a broader shift to more politically liberal positions on social issues, including legal gay marriage and legal marijuana use.”

I’m going to go with “broader shift to more politically liberal positions on social issues” here. As with those other issues, young people are a major factor in driving support down. Once again, we’re talking about America’s despised “It” demographic, The Millennials, coming in all cocky-like, thinking they know everything, looking down their young noses at time-honored American traditions like state-ordered murder.

Certain things just plain don’t sound right to me and many of my fellow motherfucking Millennials. It’s just bizarre that gay couples aren’t allowed to get married if they want to. And sending people to jail for smoking a marijuana cigarette is cartoonishly absurd. And as for the government strapping people down and killing them—what is that? Who came up with that shit?

Support for gay marriage is now a universally held position among Democratic politicians, but the decriminalization of marijuana and elimination of the death penalty are not quite there—yet. It’s going to be interesting to see if politicians do get there, though, in time for the 2016 presidential election. On both issues, racial minorities and young people—perhaps the two most critical demographics of the new Democratic party coalition—are among the most vocal advocates for change in these areas. On the other hand, Democratic presidential candidates still have lingering fears leftover from the 1980s and ’90s of looking like they’re “soft on crime.”

It’s well past time to get over that.