Monday, December 12, 2005

I Was Gonna Leave Tookie Alone...

... until I read this: "Without apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."

I'm not going to get sanctimonious about the death penalty -- I've no moral high ground there, as I was a huge proponent of it for about two years, even after learning that it has absolutely no deterrant effect. Vengence is a powerful, powerful force; it makes us feel that we have triumphed over evil, that we have captured the devil itself and hanged it in the village square. It scares me now, the seduction that vengence wields.

I'm not going to analyze the history of Williams' case. Some folks hold that the conviction was shoddy; others find this claim laughable. I don't care. The choice for or against clemency is not about declaring the man not-guilty, it's about commuting his sentence to life without parole. Presuming he was rightfully convicted (N.B. this is a generous assumption. The Cali CJ system is notorious for trying the best-known gang members for the worst possible crimes committed in their general vacinity, regardless of evidence), Tookie has done what few in prison are able to do, and that is work to keep others from from following in his footsteps. No one's saying that he shouldn't be punished for the crimes he was convicted of. They're saying that there are others who have done similar crimes, done far fewer good works, and paid with far less than their lives (c.f. John Gotti, other mafia wanks).

No, what I'm really gonna harp on is Arnie's tone in this quote, and throughout his statement. He clearly relishes he role of god, judging from his attitude. He has weighed all of the evidence and found Williams wanting. He sees no atonement in the man's anti-gang crusade, and leads us to believe that a simple apology is all that stands between Tookie Williams and his Maker. For as we have all learned at bible study, you need only ask god's forgiveness to be pardoned. Forget those good deeds -- you gotta kiss up to the big guy if you don't wanna die.

I can't leave the man alone to die on the altar of a false god.


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