Letter to the Editor

What would you do?

Friday, October 22, 2021

In addition to his 60 years as a character actor in theater, film and television, Karl Malden (in later life) was a spokesman for American Express. Born Miaden George Sekulovich in 1912, Karl was quite persuasive as he urged television audiences to "never leave home without it!" (your credit card). He asked the question: "What would you do?" if you were robbed, stranded without cash, or needed money quickly and conveniently. Though he passed in 2009, many recall his commercials and sage advice.

Fast forward to 2021 and "What would/will you do" if you had to make life and death decisions involving serial killers, mass murderers, rapists, career offenders? Lock 'em up, throw away the key? Show mercy— commute a life sentence, treat in a mental health hospital? Exact "justice?” What would you do? Our federal government, state governments, faith communities and we as individuals all have a stake in this question, and how it is answered. Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice) penned: "The quality of mercy is not strained.” By this he meant that mercy is something that has to be given freely; no one can force someone else to be merciful. A lot is riding on how we approach the issue. Our Iowa counties are seeing the need to build new/larger jails and prisons, and it doesn't come without considerable cost. Could the resources be better used in some other way? What would that look like?

To the point: Is all life precious/to be valued? Womb to tomb? Who gets to decide? To echo your sentiments, Mr. Editor, What say you, and you in Spencer and beyond? Much is at stake!

• Bill Kersting, Spencer