HASTA LA VISTA TOOKIE
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today proved that he is still the Terminator. In a decision denying the request for clemency of Tookie Williams, Governor Schwarzenegger insured that by the time many of you read this Tookie "will not be back." As Mr Schwarzenegger said: “Is Williams’s redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption. After studying the evidence, I could find no justification for granting clemency.”
This is a blessing for our society as a whole despite whatever hogwash that his celebrity supporters have fostered in their petition for clemency. That Tookie could not take Dennis Kozlowski, Ken Lay and some of the other more prolific economic criminals of the go-go 1990's with him is the only part that saddens me. Tookie was convicted of killing 4 people and his founding of the Crips fostered an era of killing and the proliferation of "Gangsta" violence and gangsta chic. Likewise, the lives of thousands of others were financially ruined by the likes of some of these economic crimimals.
As a people and a society it is questionable however whether we have any moral standing to administer the death penalty. Leftist Tom Hayden makes some compelling points in his open letter to Governor Schwarzenegger calling for clemency for Tookie Williams. But what is incredible to me is that this particular individual is whom the left has chosen to expend such extraordinary political capital in an effort to save. If anyone deserves the death penalty I find no more suitable candidate than Tookie Williams. Saving Tookie sends exactly the wrong message to the criminal or gang element in this country, even if it is questionable whether there is any deterent value with the death penalty.
What I find hypocritical is that we place such a different value on the destruction of life in economic terms vs. the destruction of life in physical terms. The lives of many are destroyed by men in suits with the almighty pen and back room deals. Maybe if guys like Enron's Ken Lay and Dennis Kozlowski who's economic crimes have destroyed he lives of countless individuals and families, faced a life in general population vs. a stint at Danbury's "Club Fed", their crimes against humanity would be far less prevalent or at least it would dilute the weight of the argument that the administration of the death penalty or severe criminal penalties is racist.
That we as a society administer the penalty in solitude behind closed doors via lethal injection does not make it any more humane. Let's be more honest about it. We are KILLING another human being who we have decided is no longer fit to remain on this planet in our company. I say do it Live on Pay Per View with the proceeds going to the victims of crime in the form of a special victims criminal relief fund. So what if it is entertainment for the masses? Is it so wrong for society to somehow regain the losses by profiting at the expense of those cretins who have caused so much destruction and harm to our way of life?
Putting aside whether the death penalty is morally right or wrong, what I have found most disengenuous is the approach taken by proponents of clemency for Tookie Willams. So much has been overlooked in their effort to save a soul who seems to have conveniently found redemption once he found an education and and some powerful hollywood friends. See, Curtis Sliwa, Debating the defense of Tookie Williams on Scarborough Country. No offense to Snoop Dog but he has no standing as a character witness in my estimation. If this was my character witness, give me the chair. The fact is that folks like Snoop are very much wrapped up in profiteering off the proliferation and glorification of "Gangsta" culture, even if they are but "Faux Gangsta's" or posers. Jamie Foxx likewise must have had his Ray Charles glasses on in joining the fight to "Save Tookie". Justice may be blind but in my humble opinion the only folks who are blind here are those who have so misguidely banded together in their fight to save Tookie. They should be asked to repeately quote the names of those who died at his hands as well as countless others who have died in gangland violence since the birth of the Crips.
The simple fact is that there is little or no evidence to the contrary that Tookie Williams is not in fact guilty of killing 4 people and inspiring the death of countless others through his founding of the Crips. His redemption rings shallow and false. What has he admitted? That he was a bad young misguided man who did not know any better? Would we as a society have been better off with a Six time Nobel Peace Prize nominee serving as a voice of reason to youth gangs in this country? Perhaps, but the symbolism of granting clemency to someone who has neither apologized or atoned for his sins and the crimes he was convicted of undermines the very essence of basis for clemency to begin with. Moreover, it is not in the power of the Governor to grant clemency and in the process overule the legislature and the judicial system without any coherent and plausible rationale for doing so. I am to say the least pleased that Governor Schwarzennegger did not cave to political pressure. He made the right decision and should be commended for doing so in a tough political climate. He could have made some more influential friends on the left by granting Tookie clemency.