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Guy's Blog

Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

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Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tookie Williams Headed For Execution

Governor Arnold has finally issued his decision in the "Tookie" Williams case. The Washington Post reports:
Schwarzenegger Declines to Halt Execution of Gang Founder

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a gang leader-turned-peace advocate whose cause drew worldwide attention, was set to be executed in San Quentin's death chamber Tuesday morning after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied his last-ditch plea for clemency and the Supreme Court refused to block the execution.

Having virtually exhausted his appeals, Williams, 51, who co-founded the notorious Crips gang, was scheduled to be killed via injection at one minute past midnight Pacific time for four murders committed during two separate robberies in Southern California in 1979.

As of this posting, Tookie has only hours to live; however, absent some unexpected intervention, he will die for his convicted crimes of murder.

One interesting aspect of this case, is the Governor's Statement of Decision, denying the clemency petition in this case, which you can read here. Reading the decision, regardless of one's opinion on the content, it is clear, the Governor had little, if anything to do with writing the statement. Anyone who has heard the Governor speak, recognizes immediately someone else wrote, and likely thought through this statement for him.

I personally oppose the death penalty in all cases; however, that said, I thought the Governor's rationale for denying clemency was actually quite compelling. Quoting from a portion of the statement (written by a ghost writer) he reasoned:

But Williams’ claim of innocence remains a key factor to evaluating his claim of personal redemption. It is impossible to separate Williams’ claim of innocence from his claim of redemption . . .

Is Williams’ redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologize or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case. Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption. In this case, the one thing that would be the clearest indication of complete remorse and full redemption is the one thing Williams will not do.

It's hard to argue with this logic. Without some expression of responsibility, how can one possibly atone for anything wrong? Without and admission of guilt, there was nothing for which he could, or would need to atone.

One complaint I have with these death penalty vigils is the circus atmosphere they generate. Here, we have Snoop Dog, Jessie Jackson (neither of whom have any moral authority whatsoever), and countless other "celebrities" using that celebrity to advocate a political opinion (one with which I may agree--though probably for differing reasons). I think the First Amendment protects evencelebrity opinion; however, I am troubled by them using their fame to forward their politics. The State of California is going to willfully take a human life early Tuesday morning. That is a very somber act, that deserves more dignity than the circus atmosphere will allow.

Finally, I want to make it perfectly clear, I think Tookie is likely guilty of the crimes of which he has been convicted. I do not believe he is a very nice person, at all. In fact, he is likely the lowest form of human life on the planet; however, I do not believe he should die for his crimes.

I believe he should spend his entire life behind bars, in prison, at hard labor to help pay in a very small way for the lives he so senselessly took. I would take away his color TV, and most other privileges he is afforded, and require him to perform hard labor for his remaining days on earth. I would never allow him the possibility of any parole, or freedom of any kind. Life without parole, is a significant penalty, equal in my view to capital punishment.

My major political complaint with capital punishment is the inconsistent way in which it is applied. Wealth and privilege rarely see the cells on death row. Tookie Williams will ingest a lethal cocktail in a matter of hours, while O.J. Simpson continues to look for the "real killers" on America's golf courses. I am deeply troubled by the application of capital punishment in our country. It doesn't appear things are about to change anytime soon.


Anonymous mr b said...

My concern about capitol punishment is- when we execute a criminal, we are infected by his or her sickness. The one whose actions we hate becomes a model whose violence we imitate. We become like them and the cycle goes on

2:37 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

mr b,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree there is a violence cycle in capital punishment, or any other violence, whether state sponsored or not. Yet, I remain very troubled by Tookie's defiance to the very end, which likely cost him his own life.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Keryn said...

Thanks so much for pointing me to your blog, Guy. You have an excellent point, although I don't entirely agree with your stand against capital punishment. I'm always up for reasonable arguments to help me think through my own opinions! The rich vs. poor facet of our courts system is not one I had considered, and is indeed troubling. Thanks for pointing it out.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Hi Keryn,

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my rantings on the death penalty. Like you, I too like to read others' opinions and learn from them.

8:41 PM  

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