After last minute appeals were denied, and after a Governor took extraordinary measures to review the case and the arguments by both sides, Tookie Williams, murderer and co-founder of the Crips gang in LA was silenced last night by lethal injection. There has already been a lot written on the execution, and there are many worth reading.
Governor Schwarzeneggar, after giving the matter of a life his full attention and consideration, wrote this:
"Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger wrote. "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."
I'm not a death penalty absolutist. What I do believe, however, is that heinous and inhuman crime deserves severe punishment. It is possible to forfeit your right to be a civilized member of society on a permanent basis, either death or life without parole. If you want to argue that life in prison without parole is preferable to the taking of a human life, I'll listen, but only if you'll stop proclaiming the innocence of the convicted and petitioning for release. If you want to lock 'em up and ignore 'em, other than the requisite (in this case 24 years) of reviews and appeals, fine. But when even the NY Times is finding life without parole excessive, and arguing for reductions, then I do have a problem, and the death penalty would now be preferable to releasing the criminal.
In response to that NY Times article from October of this year I wrote:
There are principled arguments against the death penalty. Those who make these arguments are in favor of life sentences, generally without parole. Now we have the NY Times explaining that the preferred life sentences are a problem, in that the inmates really are being kept in jail for the rest of their lives. The Times solution is to convert those not-death-but-life-without-parole sentences into much shorter paroled sentences. I'm sorry, folks. There are two options here in the anti-death argument, not three.
A - Death Penalty.
B - Life Without Parole
If you now don't like life without parole as a penalty what you're arguing is that instead of the death penalty for heinous, inhuman and thoroughly repugnant violent crime you favor ... a few years and then back into society? If death penalty opponents openly make that argument they lose.
But I didn't make a decision in the case of Tookie Williams. Californians did, with their support for the death penalty, and in their courts. Repeatedly. Ed Morrissey has the last word:
So why am I not up in arms about Tookie? As I wrote earlier, the people of California decided that they do want the death penalty. It has withstood challenges from political opponents because it has a bipartisan appeal to Californians, with some estimates as high as 70%. One day, perhaps, they will change their mind and commute the sentences of people like Williams to LWOP. Until then, the people deserve to get the justice they've chosen.
More than that, however, I'm disgusted by the actions of the celebro-activists that continually degrade the anti-execution cause by attempting to transform murderous thugs like Tookie Williams into misunderstood geniuses who deserve special consideration after murdering people in cold blood. Tookie executed his victims brutally and without a hint of compassion. To this day, he has not shown any remorse for the crimes which got him on Death Row. Instead of remembering the victims, the Hollywood moral midgetry has once again decided that the criminal is their hero -- and it appalls me even though I disagree with his execution.
12/13/05 1115: Okay, last word to Stephen Johnson, who makes my point much more plainly:
Once William's crimes are forgotten, some future governor of California could conceiveably pardon him to gain brownie points with the radical interest groups who are slowing strangling the Golden State. The possibility of Williams one day walking free makes a mockery of the legal system.
Call it the "we're not really serious about it life without parole" option.