December 12, 2005

Death in the Afternoon

Arnold Schwarzenegger has refused to spare Tookie Williams, which means come 12:01 tonight, the State of California is going to kill Tookie. I really can't say if this the wrong choice. The man murdered four people and in the end is there anything that can make up for that? Tookie did plenty later in life, but really how do you make up for murder?

The way we balance death is a strange and flighty thing. Bush today said that he estimated that 30,000 Iraqis have died in the War. Bush considers this a price worth paying to bring "freedom" to the Middle East.

Human life means everything and so it means nothing. Tookie Williams can't pay for four deaths with anything other than his own life. His "good works" don't seem to balance the scales, but "Freedom" seems to weigh more that 30,000 lives. If Tookie Williams had overthrown a dictator and had to shoot four innocent people with a shotgun to do it, we would pin a medal on him. Social work, mentoring, writing a book don't seem to be enough.

So how much good does one man have to do to overcome four murders? And how many deaths have to occur before "Freedom" is no longer worth it.


Tyler said...

The thing about Tookie is not just the fact that he committed 4 murders, but the way he did them and his subsequent attitude:

These brutal killings shocked even Williams' criminal colleagues. The store clerk did everything Williams asked, offering no resistance when the 300-pound gangster shoved the shotgun into his back and ordered: "Shut up and keep walking." Williams forced the clerk into the store's stockroom at gunpoint, told him to lie down, and then fired two shells into the helpless man's back.

One accomplice told police: "I asked Tookie, I said, 'What you do?' He say, 'I killed him,' like that. And I say, 'Why you kill him?' He say, uh, 'So it wouldn't be no evidence.'" Williams later laughed as he bragged about the gurgling noise the dying clerk made: "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him."

Less than two weeks after that robbery, Williams acted alone in robbing a motel owned by the Yang family. A muscle-bound weightlifter who liked to smoke PCP, Williams broke down the motel office door and shotgunned to death 76-year-old Tsai-Shai Yang, his 63-year-old wife, and the couple's 43-year old daughter. Williams told friends about this crime in some detail, saying that in his next robbery, he would "blow them away just like I blew them Buddaheads away."

He's trying to blame white people for "forcing" him into gang life, and he's not repentant.

I would actually favor life in prison for the guy had he shown more contrition, put other gang members in jail by informing on them, and hadn't been so, well, god damned psycho with those killings. Its not like he was taking revenge on other gang members or defending himself from other gang members! He wanted a few hundred bucks and so blew away 4 innocent hard working people!

I think it could be possible to do "enough good" to overcome 4 murders. But assuming you're in prison, how would go about that? How much could you accomplish as an inmate? I think it comes down to attitude and Tookie is on record as having a nasty one. He's just playing the victim card. How can you side with him after reading the things he said regarding his crimes? It took him about 15 years to turn around and he may be a little better but his words and actions are inconsistent. So it comes down to context, how/why a person committed those murders, his attitude, subsequent statments, and behavior in prison.

I could grant life w/o parole over death had someone made great strides in prison but it would still come down the circumstances surronding his crimes. Tookie was just too much of an asshole. It wasn't self defense, insanity, a crime of passion, an accident, a "bad day", an isolated insident. It was multiple cold blooded 1st degree murder committed by a man who dedicated his life to the code of violence.

As far as freedom goes, I guess it depends on the situation. Maybe its not worth 30,000 Iraqis for their "freedom" (or whatever we're fighting for now), but if China invaded the US? Would 30,000 American lives be worth defending our country and our freedom? Probably. So I suppose it's all just context once again.

Laura said...

The more I read about Tookie, the more I loathe him. And when I look at pictures of him, the look in his eyes, it seems like he is still that bad guy. Kind of scary.

And yet, I get sick to my stomach every time I see the death chamber, and they talk so matter of factly about what is going to happen there in a couple of hours.

The thing is, nothing is going to bring back his victims. Nothing is going to right the wrongs he did. Whether he lives or dies, the suffering he caused cannot be undone.

For me, it's no longer a question fo redemption. It is that if we say it is wrong to end the life of a human being, how can we punish that action by ending another life?

I've heard over and over, how cold he is and how he killed these people in cold blood and then laughed. This is undoubtedly the most evil thing a person can do. And yet, our justice system does the same thing.

Bad guy or not, Stanley Williams is a human being, and to end the life of another human being is wrong. That's why people who kill people go to jail.

How can we say we are a just society when we punish a crime by commiting it?