So, I guess they are going to put Stanley “Tookie” Williams to death at midnight tonight. He got no love from the Terminator. People are protesting because they think we should let him off the hook because he's reformed. Yes, he reformed but only AFTER he was caught and sent to prison. In fact, it was some 10 years after he was in prison. Further, it was after spending six years in solitary confinement for bad behavior(violent behavior). I think it's admirable that he has put so much time and effort into anti-gang messages and children's books and whatnot. Then again, he's been in prison. He's had lots of time on his hands.
Every court/judge/etc. who has looked at this case has upheld the guilty verdict. Governer Arnie looked at the evidence as well. It would have been pretty good for him politically if he could have gone ahead and granted clemency, just to throw the lefties a bone. He couldn't find a reason to believe that Mr. Williams was anything but guilty. I have to agree with Governer Schwarzenegger on one thing (insert jokes about flying pigs being spotted in a snow bank on the west side of hell). He said, “Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption.” Some people say it doesn't matter whether he's guilty or not. We should just consider the good works he's doing now. That might be true, except there's the whole issue of honesty, another thing that needs to be present in any true redemption. As long as there's this much of a question about his honesty, his guilt or innocence has to be a factor. All signs point to guilt.
The fact that some celebrities are on his side doesn't make his plea any more valid. Especially Jesse Jackson, who would take any opportunity he could find to get his name in the papers. Celebrities aren't specialists. They are just people with opinions, like us, except more famous. And the anti-death penalty people will come out for anybody. They'll be out there in January protesting that Clarence Ray Allen is too old to be killed.
[[ Not to change the subject but, I really don't get that. “We can't kill him because he's old and sick.” ?? They're talking about killing someone, right? And they are worried about whether it's ok to do it to someone who's sick? Is that ironic or am I missing something? ]]
Think about this: Would Stanley Williams still be alive today if he hadn't been convicted and sent to jail? The gang lifestyle is pretty violent. Even if he didn't get taken out by the consequences of a crime or a gang war or a drug overdose, what are the odds that he would still be alive and healthy at (almost) 52 if he hadn't been nabbed? It's an interesting question.
I guess what it all boils down to is this: What is the purpose of the death penalty? Is it to take someone out of comission because you believe that they will remain a threat to society as long as they are alive? Is it strictly punishment/revenge/retribution for the crime(s) committed? Is it some combination of the two? Is it something else? If it's strictly about protecting society, then considering whether someone had “redeemed” themselves or not would be appropriate in determining the final outcome. At least, it would be important if it meant that the person was no longer a threat to society. But, how could that be determined and by whom? What if you were wrong? Then again, what if you were wrong in the first place and the guy was innocent? On the third hand (heh) maybe the death penalty is wrong and should be done away with. And anyway, how would you define “threat to society?”
I think that a bigger tragedy was the loss of Richard Pryor. He was a man who made people think about social issues. While making us laugh, he made us look at reality and ask painful questions. He was more valuable to society alive than dead (a claim often made about Williams), and yet his death was hastened if not caused by things he did 20 or more years ago. Even though he was “redeemed” from excessive drug use he couldn't escape the consequences later in life. That's just how life is. It's important for young people to know that the decisions they are making now will affect their lives when they are older, just like Stanley Williams. If you get involved in a gang, you end up dead one way or another. That's not a bad message. It's not too far wrong, either.