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Wandering around the net, I happened to come across this disturbing op-ed in the Denver Post, demanding that the State of Colorado impose the death penalty on a convicted killer by the name of Nathan Dunlap. The author, Rich Tosches, "supposes" he is a liberal, but is nevertheless quite zealous about wanting Nathan Dunlap to die. Let's have a look at this piece, because it's not every day that an allegedly liberal writer argues, with this kind of fervor, that his state should execute a fellow citizen.

Some background: Nathan Dunlap is scheduled to be put to death sometime in August for murdering four people in the process of robbing a Chuck E. Cheese in 1993. Governor Hickenlooper may or may not grant clemency, but if he doesn't, it will be just the second execution in Colorado since the state reinstituted the death penalty in 1975 (the other was Gary Lee Davis in 1997). The case has renewed the debate over the death penalty in Colorado.

Tosches begins his piece by establishing his liberal cred, informing us that he magnanimously "forgave" Ted Kennedy, dutifully voted for Obama, and apparently agrees with some sort of vague conception of gun control.

He then gets right into his sermon on how glorious this execution is sure to be. In fact, Tosches appears to be so excited by the thought of his state killing Dunlap, he can barely control himself:

So today we face another long go-round about the morality of the death penalty and whether Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap deserves to be given an injection of drugs and sent to the big sleep. Here now, my two cents: When Dunlap is dead and that silly smirk fades from his face, hand me the shovel and let me dig the hole.
This liberal writer, then, does not just support the death penalty - abandoned by virtually every democratic society on Earth - but is positively gleeful about it, to the point of fantasizing about personally participating in the process.

Then comes a truly remarkable passage, in which Tosches acknowledges, explicitly, that the death penalty is ethically and intellectually indefensible, but asserts that his quest for blood will not be deterred by things like "facts" or "logic":
For years, I've read and listened to the arguments from those who oppose capital punishment. Former ABC News correspondent Greg Dobbs of Evergreen summed it up nicely in the Post's editorial pages earlier this year. 

"It is inhumane," he wrote. "It is inequitably applied; it doesn't deter murderers; it is outlawed in a growing number of states; it leaves Colorado in a league with distastefully barbarous nations like Iran and North Korea; and, maybe most appalling, it has surely led innocent people to their deaths in other states, if not Colorado." 

Then he wrote: "But I'm for it anyway."

Me, too.

It's one thing to understand and acknowledge the gravity of the death penalty but nevertheless solemnly support it because of a sincere belief that society's most heinous criminals should face the ultimate punishment. It's quite another to be a professional columnist and openly discard rational thought in analyzing such a serious matter of public policy, relying instead on nothing more than straight-up bloodlust.

After recounting Dunlap's crimes, Tosche continues:
Then, because he had a really lousy childhood, Dunlap stuffed his pockets with Chuck E. Cheese giveaway key chains, game tokens and about $1,500 in cash and walked away, leaving five people in gigantic, growing pools of blood.
In one sentence, this "liberal" both mocks the very serious physical abuse Dunlap suffered as a child, and summarily dismisses decades of scientific evidence indicating that people who are abused as children are significantly more likely to commit violent crimes as adults.

This left me floored. Did Tosche follow this case at all? If so, he must know that Dunlap was thrown down a flight of stairs as a child, and that he witnessed his sister being sexually assaulted by the man he then believed was his father. How can any morally serious person mock this? And how can someone who is evidently unaware of the universally accepted link between childhood abuse and adult behavior be allowed to write about these matters for a major newspaper? The people who run the Denver Post should be embarrassed. This is the person they have chosen to write about something as serious as the death penalty?

The rest of the column is spent hurling mindless schoolyard insults at Dunlap about his lack of intelligence ("not exactly Einstein") and physical appearance ("goofy"), and fantasizing, again, about the execution itself. Seemingly determined to cement this column's place among the worst to ever appear in print, Tosche ends with a cliché that is so stupid and trite that other clichés take offense at being included in its company:
I hope the door to hell hits him in the rear end on his way in.
And I hope the Denver Post fires Rich Tosche for this amazing display of idiocy. I think we'll both be disappointed.

* * * * *

In Colorado, the governor has the sole authority to grant clemency in death penalty cases. If you're a resident of Colorado and you share with me a revulsion at the barbaric notion of the state executing one of its citizens for no reason other than to quest some primitive thirst for vengeance, please contact Governor Hickenlooper's office and say so (a letter is the most effective method). Here is the contact information:

Gov. John Hickenlooper
Office of Governor John Hickenlooper
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303 866-2471
Fax: 303-866-2003

(Originally posted at

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