Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Death Penalty

I would never have expected the Stanley "Tooky" Williams death penalty case to become such a huge issue, but it did. For those who don't know much about the case, they should read the article I linked. Suffice it to say, he was a former gang leader who was convicted of killing four people decades ago. He became the 12th person to die of the death penalty in California since the state reinstated it in 1977 and the second person this year.

Out of all of the most important progressive issues, the death penalty is probably the only one where the country doesn't clearly agree with progressives. On environmental policies, health care, corporate responsibility and defense progressive positions are supported by the majority of voters. The death penalty, like I said, is one of the few areas it isn't.

The fact is America should be against the death penalty. While Tooky Williams died, serial killers and Robert F. Kennedy's assassin remains alive in California. The system is injust. Black men die in far more frequent numbers than the rate they actually kill people. Women die far less frequently than the rate they actually kill people. Poor people die the most frequently, though, as they can't afford proper legal council which could likely keep them out of the chair.

There have been so many legal mistakes for prisoners on Death Row that several states have placed moratoriums on the process. Innocent people have been killed undergoing so-called justice. In fact, almost half the people on Death Row have either been wrongly convicted or didn't have a fair trial.

There are dozens of reasons why people should reject the death penalty before they even consider morality. However, morality could be the most important reason to reject it. In discussing morality when it comes to the death penalty, I'm not even talking about the convicted murderers. Maybe they deserve what they get, maybe they don't, but as someone who has had someone close to them murdered I still don't feel a burning desire for revenge.

The real reason society should be afraid of using a death penalty is that it's a very animalistic quality. It's a pathetic attempt at justice that shows humanity hasn't changed since the days of the arenas during the height of the Roman Empire. People would still go to watch criminals battle against lions and tigers. People would love to watch humans convicted of various crimes playing a tragic role in theatre and really die at the end. How can I know people would still go and watch these horrid state-sponsired murders?

They lined up to watch Tooky die. It was sick listening to the so-called witnesses describe the process. There was about a dozen of them all lined up reporting on how he died. It was as if they were giving a post-game play-by-play. In fact, that's exactly what they were doing. They were summarizing the several hour long procedure - game - in an ESPN-like post-game press conference. It could have been well-paid former NFL players describing just how gutsy Tom Brady is as he prepared for the Super Bowl, 'Tom Brady decided not to eat his last meal before the big game and attempted to keep his head up the whole time before he just could no longer do so. He left it all out on the field."

The worst part is that while Governor Arnold over in California was considering clemency over the past few days, he cited as a reason for his rejection the fact that Tooky Williams never admitted to the crimes he was convicted. Yes, that's right, the governor had Tooky killed because Tooky didn't admit to his convicted crimes. That is exactly like the Roman Catholic Church and the Government of Spain killing prisoners of the inquisition because they didn't admit to being heritics. That's like the puritans in Salem, Mass hanging over a dozen innocent men and women because they would rather have died than say they were guilty of witch craft. Tooky said he would rather die than admit to his guilt. Killing someone for not admitting their guilt is worse than feeding a guilty man to the lions. No one should ever be killed because they refuse to admit their guilt. It may just be that they aren't guilty of the crime and at the very least it is a right all Americans are supposed to have, the ability to proclaim their innocence even after a conviction.

1 comment:

joe schlieff said...

I don't agree with the death penalty either, but that's for purely religious reasons...


I think the point Arnold was making was that this guy was telling everyone that he had redeemed himself, that he had changed himself to amend for the sins of his past..but wait...he didn't do those sins. Or at least that's what he'll tell you. Me and you are Catholics, Ryan, we know how the deal goes; If you don't admit the sin, you won't get the reconciliation. I think that was the big factor in his quest for clemency.

Buttt in the ideal world I guess he should just rot in a cell watching nothing but liftime and oxygen for the rest of his days.

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