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Tomorrow Tookie is going to die
December 12, 2005 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Tomorrow Stan "Tookie" Williams founder of the Crips gang is scheduled to die. Many feel that Tookie has turned has life around, he's written books about his life, and has had his story made into a movie and even been nominated for the Nobel Prize Some say he deserves clemency others do not this morning Tookie was denied an appeal to the California Supreme Court and is waiting on a federal appeal. Which begs the question Should Tookie Die?
posted by bitdamaged (474 comments total)

 
Jon Caroll's opinion. (SF Chronicle)
posted by kozad at 9:12 AM on December 12, 2005


No. The death penalty is racist.
posted by j-urb at 9:13 AM on December 12, 2005


They had a poll on FOX today that only 15% of californians (versus 85%) favored clemency. I don't know much about California, other than that it's a nice place to visit. But that's a surprising figure.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2005


The death panalty should be abolished. But if it isn't, he shouldn't get special treatment, regardless of what he did after conviction.

(Also, anyone can get nominated for a Nobel Prize, so that shouldn't be touted as an honor).
posted by Falconetti at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2005


Lol... "Begs the Question" (And before people jump on me about being frivolous with regards to a man's life and death; No, he should not die. The death penalty is not only racist, but also barbaric and hypocritical. Unfortunately, our governor is, quite literally, a Barbarian.)
posted by idontlikewords at 9:20 AM on December 12, 2005


I don't believe in the death penalty, and not just because it's racist. But if there's going to be a death penalty, I think it should be applied even-handedly; people shouldn't get a break just because they've written books about their lives and (for pete's sake) had their story made into a movie. (Anybody remember Jack Abbott?)
posted by languagehat at 9:20 AM on December 12, 2005


we all die sometime, so yeah, stanley williams should at some time die, but i really see no justice served in putting him to death. put me in the camp of saying that the price he would pay under the alternative--life in prison, no parole--is a steep one indeed.

one thing that troubles me, though i must say i haven't read exhaustively on this, is that williams apparently still does not admit his guilt in the killings. i guess that doesn't go to the questionof whether he should be executed. in general, i'm against capital punishment but in some cases--a dahmer, say--i find it hard to argue against termination.

on preview--statistics support j-urb, but that would seem to have little bearing on the case at hand, unless one argues that the conditions leading to the burglary and murders were the product of a racist society, but even then, that cannot excuse the wanton taking of another's life.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:20 AM on December 12, 2005


Should Tookie Die?
Nope. But I say that every time.

He's being executed to send a message to other criminals. Yet he's already been sending this same message far more effectively (in my mind) while alive and well in prison. It just feels like the American government is doing itself a disservice. Had the execution taken place in 1980, the point would have been made. But to drag the process out this long and kill Williams after he has effectively been rehabilitated is absurd.

Say what you like about the ethics of capital punishment in general but the timing is truly off on this one. Also, my money's on him not being granted clemency. I'm a cynic.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2005


As for "begs the question," as I said here:
This is one of those issues that is catnip to the adolescent language-lover but which a sensible person grows out of. I too used to enjoy tormenting people with the "truth" about the phrase, but I eventually realized that, whatever its origins in philosophy and petitio principii, I had never seen or heard the phrase used "correctly" except by people making a point of doing so (cf. "hoi polloi"); in current English usage, "beg the question" means 'raise the question,' and that's that.
posted by languagehat at 9:23 AM on December 12, 2005


I like this quote from Kozad's link, " A society should be slightly more civilized than its sociopaths." It seems like a patheticaly low bar to set for ourselves but we have to start somewhere.
posted by octothorpe at 9:24 AM on December 12, 2005


Ahhh, is the question 1) "Should Tookie die?" or is the better question 2) "Should the State be in the business of killing citizens?"

I allow that the answer for question #2 might be yes.

The salient "capability" problems of our system however do cast a pal over the death penalty in the U.S.
specifically:
- We have a proven track record of condemning innocent men. It is one thing to accept as a society that we could rarely apply the penalty in error. However when the issue is widespread there is no grounds for that discussion.

- We can show by observation an analysis that the death penalty is disproportionately applied to minorities.

I do not think the state can be justified in employing the death penalty while these problems persist.
posted by BeerGrin at 9:24 AM on December 12, 2005


They had a poll on FOX today that only 15% of californians (versus 85%) favored clemency. I don't know much about California, other than that it's a nice place to visit.

Well, they gang he founded and led caused a lot of misery, most of it in California. I'm kind of split on Tookie, death penalty debate aside. He did a lot of damage and took innocent life, but maybe he's sincerely changed and can do some good. I don't think he should ever get out of prison, though. Just my opinion.
posted by jonmc at 9:25 AM on December 12, 2005


FWIW, as falconetti points out, it's not that hard to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Separating Williams' situation from the death penalty as a whole (it's bad because the govt's not infallible, and it's unevenly applied), I don't see why Williams deserves clemency. How much of an impact have his books had? Maybe it's only my ignorance here, but was he a widely known anti-violence activist up until the past month or so?
posted by ibmcginty at 9:25 AM on December 12, 2005


(Anybody remember Jack Abbott?)

That asshole Abbott (and Norman Mailer's myopic gushing about him), along with some other cases did an awful lot to create a lot of compassion fatigue when it came to crime in the US.
posted by jonmc at 9:28 AM on December 12, 2005


Maybe it's only my ignorance here, but was he a widely known anti-violence activist up until the past month or so?

Yeah actually. When I worked in a (major chain) bookstore 8 or so years ago, we had his books in stock, FWIW.
posted by jonmc at 9:29 AM on December 12, 2005


I'm glad this is posted in the blue.
posted by Peter H at 9:29 AM on December 12, 2005


I'm against the death penalty in general, but I don't think he's made a particularly strong case for clemency.

It seems to me that if we're going to have a death penalty, we have to enforce it in cases like this. Jailhouse redemptions aren't particularly moving to me.
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on December 12, 2005


The first link from the Previous Mefi thread NYTimes article is now archived so Here's an alternate
posted by bitdamaged at 9:32 AM on December 12, 2005


Free Mumia
posted by matteo at 9:32 AM on December 12, 2005


"I don't see why Williams deserves clemency. How much of an impact have his books had? Maybe it's only my ignorance here, but was he a widely known anti-violence activist up until the past month or so?"

This discussion indicated another important question; Is it Just for a society to change its mind about how it punishes an individual after it has already condemned them?

Or perhaps better put

Is is Just if, where many men are condemned to death, for society to decide to spare one on the basis of his perceived utility to society?

If the answer is yes, then can we apply the converse of the principal and assign "punishments" that force a convict to benefit society?
posted by BeerGrin at 9:33 AM on December 12, 2005


Send him to Iraq.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:34 AM on December 12, 2005


"A society should be slightly more civilized than its sociopaths."

I initially agreed with this sentiment, but I don't think it's really correct. We don't consider the murderer sociopathic simply because he kills, but because of why he kills. I'm sure we can all think of example where the simple act of killing can be justified and morally acceptable. I don't agree that capital punishment meets this criteria but I don't think it's at the same moral level (i.e. of the same sorts of motivations) of the actions of a gang murderer.
posted by xmutex at 9:36 AM on December 12, 2005


If the answer is yes, then can we apply the converse of the principal and assign "punishments" that force a convict to benefit society?

I'm particularly averse to granting people clemency for 'finding god', because that seems to me to be essentially forcing convicts to convert to Christianity on pain of death.
posted by empath at 9:36 AM on December 12, 2005


"Send him to Iraq.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:34 PM EST on December 12 [!]"


Convicts as conscripts make lousy modern solders.
Besides, we'd be mailing volunteers to Bin Laden: "You can have him. Please don't send him back in a jet liner."
posted by BeerGrin at 9:37 AM on December 12, 2005


If he has been rehabilitated, then why don't they just let him go?
posted by Lockjaw at 9:37 AM on December 12, 2005


"I'm particularly averse to granting people clemency for 'finding god', because that seems to me to be essentially forcing convicts to convert to Christianity on pain of death.
posted by empath at 12:36 PM EST on December 12 [!]"

Understood; but what if there is a measurable benefit, or even a perceived benefit to society as a whole? Not that the convict converted, but that the convicts continued life is a direct benefit.

Conceptually, should we kill him and deny ourselves the benefit? After conviction, are we worried as much about his interests or ours?
posted by BeerGrin at 9:39 AM on December 12, 2005


Who gets his organs when California's done with him?
posted by Captaintripps at 9:39 AM on December 12, 2005


If he has been rehabilitated, then why don't they just let him go?

What does 'rehabilitated' really mean? He won't kill more people? His legacy has a life of its own. How do you measure rehabilitation? Saying you're sorry? Writing books saying you're sorry? Learning your lesson?
posted by NationalKato at 9:41 AM on December 12, 2005


I brought it up already, but more explicitly stated: what purpose does killing Williams serve?
Is it something that letting him live the rest of his natural life in prison won't? Especially with him talking out against gang crime?
posted by slimepuppy at 9:42 AM on December 12, 2005


"If he has been rehabilitated, then why don't they just let him go?
posted by Lockjaw at 12:37 PM EST on December 12 [!]"

A decent point.

Is our system predicated on rehabilitation or punishment? Both sides of that argument are active and the debate is by no means over.

On preview is is also my answer to slimepuppy:

The honest answer is probably to recognize that as a society we want convicts to be punished. We place the state in the role of punisher so that we can maintain the "rule of law" and avoid self help (vigilantism).
posted by BeerGrin at 9:43 AM on December 12, 2005


What Falconetti and languagehat said.

Asking whether he should die is just asking whether you think the death penalty is ethically justified in the first place.

I can't see cause for exceptionalism in his case. He committed heinous crimes, and any "legacy" he tries to craft by working with kids or whatever will never overcome the horrible gang legacy he left behind. Hundreds, probably thousands, of people are dead because of what he started.

Also, I don't see why this has to be a racial issue at all. Why are people bringing it up in this thread? Just because he's black there has to be some attention-worthy race angle to discuss? There isn't. He killed four people (that we know about).
posted by TunnelArmr at 9:44 AM on December 12, 2005


I oppose the death penalty but when all is said and done I'm just glad I'll never have to hear the word, "Tookie" again.

And fuck Mumia Abu-Jamal. He can continue to rot in prison like the feculent sack of shit that he is.


posted by fandango_matt at 9:45 AM on December 12, 2005


Whilst snowed-in on Saturday morning (I think) I got to see a CNN California court nomination press conference with Gov. Schwarzenegger being peppered with questions about Tookie Williams...someone asked how he felt with the fate of another human being in his hands...

...and he grinned stupidly, stumbled over his words, mentioned something about how "it's a very complicated matter" and referred to the execution as "all this stuff," and changed the subject back to how happy he was to be here today swearing in some judge. In short, he sounded idiotic.

Good tv, that was.

(I hope they spare him...BreakdownFM had a fairly well-done show about this issue, interviewing Williams and others)
posted by tpl1212 at 9:45 AM on December 12, 2005


Also, I don't see why this has to be a racial issue at all. Why are people bringing it up in this thread? Just because he's black there has to be some attention-worthy race angle to discuss?

C'mon, this is America. There's always some way to bring race into the discussion. Folks 'round here can't discuss nothing without bringing it up.
posted by xmutex at 9:46 AM on December 12, 2005


Whether or not he actually had a lot to do with founding the Crips, he certainly perpetuated it (and concomitantly the gangs they fought with, sometimes right in front of us). Being a kid in Los Angeles then meant you couldn't wear red or blue, and even if you were careful about your colors, you might get called to claim.

I hope it's changed, but that shit was the fascitic crap I had to grow up with, and I won't shed a tear for Williams.
posted by goofyfoot at 9:47 AM on December 12, 2005


Capitantripps makes a great point above as well.

If we start looking at how a convict can benefit society in terms of "We are killing him anyway" we get lead to places we are uncomfortable with.

Who is willing to say "Kill that convict and give me his liver?" Where does that line get drawn?

It leads to another question:

Putting concern for the convict aside; what does it do to us as a society when we kill a convict? What are the costs to our morality and our morale? Can we kill and not feel it because we have surrounded it with the trappings of law?
posted by BeerGrin at 9:49 AM on December 12, 2005



Understood; but what if there is a measurable benefit, or even a perceived benefit to society as a whole? Not that the convict converted, but that the convicts continued life is a direct benefit.


I'm don't actually have a strong opinion on the merits of capitol punishment as a deterrent, but if you believe in that sort of thing, the counter-argument would be that executing him would have a greater benefit by discouraging anyone else from following his path.
posted by empath at 9:50 AM on December 12, 2005


If Arnold had any guts he'd make an example out of Tookie by sparing his life and, while he's got the worlds attention for 5 minutes, say we're better than these folks in Iraq because America values human life (that of non-combatants in these cases) more highly.
posted by scheptech at 9:50 AM on December 12, 2005


say we're better than these folks in Iraq because America values human life (that of non-combatants in these cases) more highly.

Let's not bring Iraq into this, since there's killing a' plenty.
posted by NationalKato at 9:54 AM on December 12, 2005


Personally I'm against the death penalty. Not because necessarily I don't think the state shouldn't kill people, but more pragmatically because theres too much room for error and not enough absolutes regarding guilt. Not to mention it's not a deterrent nor economically sound.

The situation here is interesting to me however. Some may question his motives however it seems to me if his books and speaking keep some kid from making the wrong decision isn't that worth keeping him alive? If so are his motives important compared to his results?

Also if we can't reform someone on death row can we reform anyone?
posted by bitdamaged at 9:54 AM on December 12, 2005


TunnelArmr and xmutex

Unfortunately there are statistical studies showing that the death penalty is applied disproportionately against convicts who are minorities. It is a big concern for those of us who like to apply scientific observation to questions of Jurisprudence. Any statistical anomaly like that is a concern in a system predicated on fairness and equal protection.

I wish it were a joke issue, or that people were trying to hard and applying race to everything.
posted by BeerGrin at 9:56 AM on December 12, 2005


"I'm don't actually have a strong opinion on the merits of capitol punishment as a deterrent, but if you believe in that sort of thing, the counter-argument would be that executing him would have a greater benefit by discouraging anyone else from following his path.
posted by empath at 12:50 PM EST on December 12 [!]"

deterrence is one proposed benefit for sure, but benefit to society might also spring from him being spared.

Either way, is the measurement of benefit after a a capitol judgement is handed down "Just"?
I do not know one way or another but it is an interesting question. Some people in the thread hold the opinion that once a person is condemned to death that there should be no further discussion. This may be valid, depending on the interests you are defending.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:00 AM on December 12, 2005


BeerGrin, you don't recognize Williams as a special case?
posted by goofyfoot at 10:01 AM on December 12, 2005


Just because he's black there has to be some attention-worthy race angle to discuss?

His victims (and the overwhelming majority of the victims of the gang he founded) were non-whites as well. Worth remembering.
posted by jonmc at 10:03 AM on December 12, 2005


Whatever reason you give as to why he is special and deserves clemency can easily be turned on its head and made to look horrible.

"He wrote books for children, so we should grant clemency," also means that the illiterate are more deserving to be executed.

"He used his position of power as a co-founder of the Crips to dissuade others from joining gangs" also means that less prominent criminals with no fame are more likely to be executed.

As was already pointed out, rewarding someone for finding god means conversion at the point of a sword for all death row inmates.

I also don't really give a shit what Snoop Doggy Dog and some other played out celebrities think about Tookie.
posted by Falconetti at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2005


'If so are his motives important compared to his results?"
posted by bitdamaged at 12:54 PM EST on December 12 [!]

Exactly. If we are allowing ourselves to consider benefit to society do the convicts motives matter? Clearly survival motive is going to be very compelling.

By looking at the situation in terms of societal benefit, are we at risk of shifting from using death as a deterrent to using death as a motivator?
Does that not matter after conviction?
Does it matter because we would be more likely to hand down death penalties in order to gain these benefits we are discussing?
posted by BeerGrin at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2005


BeerGrin: I understand what you're saying. But whether or not those studies are accurate is a debate for another thread. Tookie's seems like a very clear-cut case for the application of the death penalty (assuming you accept the current system), and therefore shouldn't be a part of that debate. I don't see quadruple-murder as a grey area and have little doubt that his sentence is a result of his crime, not his race.
posted by TunnelArmr at 10:07 AM on December 12, 2005


"BeerGrin, you don't recognize Williams as a special case?
posted by goofyfoot at 1:01 PM EST on December 12 [!]"

goofyfoot, I honestly do not understand your question. I was approaching the question very generally, so I was not really looking at the Williams case in specific.

Do you mean special case as in he should or should not be spared? Or are you referring to a different element that would render Williams a special case?
posted by BeerGrin at 10:09 AM on December 12, 2005


Is he rehabilitated, or innocent? It seems he's claiming both.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:10 AM on December 12, 2005


As far as his writing is concerned, I believe condemned prisoners are given a list of things they can do to curry favor with appellate judges, and writing books is one of the things on that list. He didn't write those books to steer kids away from gangs, he wrote them to steer himself away from the death chamber.

Let's also remember this is a man who shotgunned four people to death on two separate occasions, so it's not like he had a momentary lapse of judgement--not to mention the fact he bragged about the murders afterwards.

If Williams was truly repentant, and he truly wanted to undo the legacy of misery he created with his gang, he'd apologize to the families of his victims and he'd help destroy what he created by disclosing the names of the current Crips leaders and lieutenants. He hasn't.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:11 AM on December 12, 2005


TunnelArmr : I appreciate what you are saying. My gut tells me that is the system is broken in general, that we should halt any specific application of the punishment. Race happens to be the monkeywrench in the works, and Williams happens to be black, but honestly I would not be killing any convicts of any stripe until the issue was resolved or at least addressed.

Short version is I personally could not separate the two issues.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:12 AM on December 12, 2005


fandango_matt, how can you know his personal motivations for writing those books?

Also, can you or someone expand on his ongoing connection to the Crips? I have read that he has never renounced his membership and is still active in the goings-on of Crips in prison. Is that true? And in what respect?
posted by Falconetti at 10:14 AM on December 12, 2005


Let him rot in prison.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2005


I mean he's an evil motherfucker. It's not like someone mistook him for another and the DNA will exonerate him. Do you think he'll be a benefit to society?
posted by goofyfoot at 10:16 AM on December 12, 2005


"If Williams was truly repentant, and he truly wanted to undo the legacy of misery he created with his gang, he'd apologize to the families of his victims and he'd help destroy what he created by disclosing the names of the current Crips leaders and lieutenants. He hasn't.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:11 PM EST on December 12 [!]"

If Williams did those things, would that then justify clemency? I am wondering if you see any case for clemency in any situation.

If so, we still run into the same issue. Whatever conditions we establish for clemency a convict will be motivated to meet. Will be have tarnished the process by setting the conditions in the first place? If so, does that mean that we cannot consider a convicts benefit to society when deciding on clemency?

I am not attacking you, this is a valid position for any reasons. I am just not sure if it is actually what you are saying.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2005


I don't believe in the death penalty, and not just because it's racist. But if there's going to be a death penalty, I think it should be applied even-handedly;

I don't believe in it either, but I don't think that my beliefs should be overridden by my appreciation for consistency.

If your gonna not kill someone, its just as well to not kill them for a stupid reason as for a good reason.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2005


matteo: Free Mumia? How about Fry Mumia?
posted by Fat Guy at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2005


Is he rehabilitated, or innocent? It seems he's claiming both.

Well, the fliers in my neighborhood claim he was framed, but whatever. I think arguing for clemency would have more of a leg to stand on if they pushed the "rehabilitated" angle, rather then the "tin-foil hat."
posted by iamck at 10:19 AM on December 12, 2005


He is long overdue, bye, bye tookie.
posted by hardshoes at 10:19 AM on December 12, 2005


"I mean he's an evil motherfucker. It's not like someone mistook him for another and the DNA will exonerate him. Do you think he'll be a benefit to society?
posted by goofyfoot at 1:16 PM EST on December 12 [!]"

I honestly do not have an opinion on Williams potential benefit. If I were to form one, I'd want to see clear and convincing evidence that by keeping him alive that some measurable benefit existed.

When I use the work "benefit" it does not only have to apply to his continued existence. Society can decide that there is a benefit to Williams dying. Society can and does find some criminals worthy of punishment not for rehabilitation but for vengeance. vengeance is valid. Some people may not like it, but if it satisfies Society then that is who we are.

I hope my detached attitude is not rubbing you the wrong way. I did not have to live in L.A. and suffer the effects of what Williams started. I do not judge those who wish him dead.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:23 AM on December 12, 2005


Well, the fliers in my neighborhood claim he was framed, but whatever. I think arguing for clemency would have more of a leg to stand on if they pushed the "rehabilitated" angle, rather then the "tin-foil hat."

Yeah but pushing the rehabilitation angle makes him look like a complete liar and therefore far more guilty than the dead-horse innocent! effort.

You can't be rehabilitated from a crime you never committed.
posted by xmutex at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2005


Arnold has a chance to do the most significant thing in his short political career by drawing a comparison between America and terrorism regarding the innate value of human life. Thereby: trancending the whole Tookie situation for the betterment of all, discrediting the death penalty which has become a barbarism unique to the US in the western world, taking the moral high ground in Iraq for the first time in that whole sorry affair, and showing himself to be an actual leader.

That fantasy aside, unfortunately, Tookie's biggest problem is his lack of confession. Could prove fatal.

As far as establishing criteria for clemency is concerned, there aren't and won't be any. This is something that's left entirely to the opinion of the govenor, considering all aspects including the extra-legal, and to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Judging Tookie's onoing benefit to society is nonsense leading to all sorts of logical problems as already indicated upthread. Considering what's fair to Tookie is also nonsense at this point, his case has long since worked it way through the entire legal process. This should be about everyone but Tookie, the overall impact on society of either allowing or denying his continued existence.
posted by scheptech at 10:30 AM on December 12, 2005


Now, on the otherhand, the freaks who support Mumia....death penalty-tempting!
posted by ParisParamus at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2005


I hope Williams is the last one. At least in my state (Manson notwithstanding). After him, who deserves death this much?
posted by goofyfoot at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2005


posted by Falconetti fandango_matt, how can you know his personal motivations for writing those books?

Also, can you or someone expand on his ongoing connection to the Crips? I have read that he has never renounced his membership and is still active in the goings-on of Crips in prison. Is that true? And in what respect?


Like I said, I believe writing books is one of the things on a list of ways in which condemned prisoners can present themselves in a more favorable light to appellate judges. I could be wrong, though--perhaps a MeFite with experience in appellate law or the California prison system can tell us.

posted by BeerGrin If Williams did those things, would that then justify clemency? I am wondering if you see any case for clemency in any situation.

If so, we still run into the same issue. Whatever conditions we establish for clemency a convict will be motivated to meet. Will be have tarnished the process by setting the conditions in the first place? If so, does that mean that we cannot consider a convicts benefit to society when deciding on clemency?

I am not attacking you, this is a valid position for any reasons. I am just not sure if it is actually what you are saying.


I've already said I oppose the death penalty, so my support for clemency is a given. But let's be clear: I don't oppose Williams' execution because I think he's reformed himself; I oppose his execution because I oppose the death penalty. Williams is scum--his contribution to society was an organization of terror, brutality, pain, and murder, and the fact this sociopathic misanthrope has never renounced his membership in that organization or worked to dismantle it speaks volumes about his motives for wanting to continue writing his Little Golden Books About Prison And Gangs while he rots in his cell for the rest of his ugly life. Fuck him.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2005


There is no rehabilitation for murderers, because there is no restitution that can be made. Some murdering pig writes some children's books and that makes it ok that he gunned down my parents? He's learned his lesson at the expense of your kid's life?
That's not compassion, it's weakness, and it's pathetic, and it's less than human. It's about not facing up to our obligation to create a just society.
The justice system is broken and it does disproportionately punish non-whites and it should be fixed. But that's a lousy reason to even consider special treatment for an especially evil piece of shit like "Tookie".
posted by 2sheets at 10:40 AM on December 12, 2005


Balancing what he's done in prison since being convicted of murdering four people and untold numbers of others indirectly in the founding an organization with violence at its core, he definitely doesn't deserve special treatment because he's been trying to undo the damage he's helped do.

I don't have a problem with the death penalty and don't have any real problem with him paying the ultimate price for his crimes. He's been given ALOT more time than his victims got.
posted by fenriq at 10:40 AM on December 12, 2005



“If Williams was truly repentant...he'd help destroy what he created by disclosing the names of the current Crips leaders and lieutenants. He hasn't.” -posted by fandango_matt

Good point. Apologies are good. If he named names he’d be signing his own death warrent anyway. Of course, if he truly wanted to undo the damage he’s done that might be one path and death shouldn’t deter him.
But for me it’s a moot point. I’m opposed to the death penalty in all cases.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:41 AM on December 12, 2005


And fuck Mumia Abu-Jamal. He can continue to rot in prison like the feculent sack of shit that he is.

Amen to that. Whenever I hear someone say "Free Mumia!" I know there's no point trying to engage them in debate. (And I have no idea what he's even doing in this thread.)
posted by languagehat at 10:42 AM on December 12, 2005


Although I will concede the death penalty certainly is a penalty. There's no mistaking that. (Hmm...JC's execution on the cross was capital punishment. Makes me wonder at christians who are pro-death penalty, but to each his own).
posted by Smedleyman at 10:43 AM on December 12, 2005


Hundreds, probably thousands, of people are dead because of what he started.

I take exception to this.

I love how people think of "Crips vs. Bloods," as sort of like rival political parties. Are Crips in favor of strong tarriffs or globalization? Do Bloods support drilling in the arctic? I wonder which brands of soda they choose...

The fact is that, if you grow up in a ghetto, your gang affiliation depends more on what block you live on then anything else. This is the way that gangs have always been.

Crips and Bloods rose to prominence as a result of the crack epidemic. Crack made gangs - which have always been a part of urban life - into a big business. Had Tookie not started the Crips, someone else would have - possibly someone who lived on his block.

That said, I don't support the death penalty in any way, shape or form.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2005


scheptech, you have some interesting comments, if I may follow up?

"As far as establishing criteria for clemency is concerned, there aren't and won't be any."

I would imagine that even as spurious as the governator is at time he will have had some process by which he made a decision. If he does not make any decision and just lets the issue pass then he has in my mind failed as the state executive. (entirely possible

"This is something that's left entirely to the opinion of the govenor, considering all aspects including the extra-legal, and to be determined on a case-by-case basis."

This is of course correct. However the term "extra-legal" is interesting. Any decision maker in the American system, including Judges consider policy issues when making decisions. These policy decisions are universally influenced by concepts that fall outside of "law" as it exists on the books. I'd argue that while it will never be legislated, and will infrequently be admitted or discussed, that criteria must exist or the decision cannot be made.

"Judging Tookie's onoing benefit to society is nonsense leading to all sorts of logical problems as already indicated upthread."

While the issue is indeed a slippery slope, the slope itself is not an answer to the question. Our society can and does come to decisions where we draw a line to avoid descending a slippery slope. It is valuable to know where the line is and why we drew that line.

"Considering what's fair to Tookie is also nonsense at this point, his case has long since worked it way through the entire legal process."

Possibly. But as discussed uptopic, if the fairness of the system that lead Williams to this point is suspect then his current status is also suspect.

I am not commenting as a "pro-Tookie" position. I am undecided on the situation. I am wondering however how anyone, including the governator, makes a decision regarding clemency.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:49 AM on December 12, 2005


"Tookie" (a word that I'm not sick of because I don't get TV reception at home, sadly) is not going to die. Here's my prediction.

The governator wants the most attention as possible. So he's going to wait until the 11th hour, at which time he'll grant clemency. He will do so on a religious basis, saying that his faith as a Catholic has led him to conclude that he must answer to a higher power in this matter. The left and the right will both love him for it.

And this Tookie fellow will spend life in prison.
posted by waldo at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2005


"There is no rehabilitation for murderers, because there is no restitution that can be made." posted by 2sheets

This is probably the strongest and clearest statement against clemency I've seen on the board. It presents Restitution as means of measuring the balance.

I am wondering:
Is Restitution here measured by:
"Williams can not possibly do enough good to balance the evil he has done?"

Or is the perspective:

"We as a society refuse too assign a value to the lives you took. Therefore there is no measure for you to live up too."

Or, and this is hard to say but must be considered:

"We value punishing you more than we value whatever benefit you may provide."

Whatever value we are choosing, I think it is key that we honestly identify it. Self deception in a decision making process is corrosive.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:58 AM on December 12, 2005


I am wondering however how anyone, including the governator, makes a decision regarding clemency.

I'd imagine it depends on the person making the decision. The most cynical would simply consider it's effect on their job security, the next election. The more high-minded might decide to just do 'what's right' however they see that, could be what's right for Tookie, or his victims, or for the state / country. This is what I mean by no criteria. It's all dependent on the individual who happens to be governor at the time. If we're lucky, Arnold will explain his thinking. The one thing I really hope does not happen is his letting the issue pass without saying or doing anything.
posted by scheptech at 10:58 AM on December 12, 2005


And this Tookie fellow will spend life in prison.

As he should. I think that one factor that worries a lot of pro-death penalty people is that without some kind of nationwide life-without-parole statute, there's always a chance, however slim, that one of these guys will get paroled. And I think that even the most liberal among us will admit that there are those too dangerous to ever live freely among us. Just a thought.
posted by jonmc at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2005


waldo:

While it cannot be discounted that the governator will act solely in terms of self benefit: the political gain is probably not anywhere as clear cut as all that.

If the religious right was against the death penalty and the left were all against the death penalty we would not be having a debate in this country on the issue.
posted by BeerGrin at 11:01 AM on December 12, 2005


Afroblanco, Crips and Bloods were fighting in my neighborhood in the early seventies. They were powerful way before crack.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:04 AM on December 12, 2005



Nigga Please!

posted by hendrixson at 11:07 AM on December 12, 2005


"And I think that even the most liberal among us will admit that there are those too dangerous to ever live freely among us." posted by jonmc

AGREED.

Also, even the most liberal must recognize that PUNISHMENT is a valid consideration when society makes decisions about how to treat those persons who break the law.
posted by BeerGrin at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2005


This is why we can't have nice things.

To throw this out there: didn't Kant say something like if a truly just society were to agree to disband itself, the last thing they should do is execute all the murderers?
posted by Falconetti at 11:12 AM on December 12, 2005


Neal Boortz predicted this morning that there would be riots if clemency isn't granted.

I'm glad to see this posted here, because, outside of the conservative talk radio shows I sometimes tune in during my commute, I haven't seen much discussion on the issue. All of conservative radio, of course, are in favor of the execution.

I'm also glad to see that most of those in favor of clemency, it seems, are so inclined because of an opposition to the death penalty and not that Williams is innocent or has reformed. Put me in that camp also. Let the fucker spend the rest of his life in jail, but I don't believe the state should be in the business of execution.
posted by ijoshua at 11:12 AM on December 12, 2005


This is a very interesting discussion and all sorts of excellent points have been made within the context of deciding this particular murderer's fate. But as someone who believes the death penalty should be abolished for a million and one reasons...I think weighing the merits of life or death for Tookie per se is answering the wrong question.

To my mind, the right question is: which should be the greater priority of the law -- to protect the innocent, or to punish the guilty? It's my belief that the greater calling of the law is to protect the innocent, and as such, imposing death by legal mandate is anathema to that.

To impose death on Tookie Williams or anyone is a symptom of misplaced priorities, and from flawed premises only contradictions and moral sandtraps can follow.

Innocents have been and will continue to be executed by mistake. Disparate and racist sentencing has been and will continue to be an intractable flaw of this system. Murder rates will continue to rise or fall independent of a state's laws on capital punishment. These quandries will continue to swirl around Tookie Williams, and the 1000th executed convict, and the 10,000th as long as capital punishment exists. They will never be answered satisfactorily -- they cannot be. The premise itself is flawed.

And of course, none of this will ever bring back the innocent. It will never reform or rehabilitate the guilty to anyone's satisfaction.

It is also my belief (and feel free to disagree) that only God may judge matters of life and death. To cause any human being to die an unnatural death (based on our often-flawed judgement, even the carefully considered judgement of law) is a fine example of our reach exceeding our grasp. To use our abilities to sustain life is our God-given gift, but to apply the same gifts and efforts to ending life is to replace God.

Without the state's unnatural intervention, Tookie Williams would, in all likelihood, live to see the sunrise Wednesday. I say let's not be guilty of the sin for which we condemn people like Williams. If you believe that God will judge us all, Tookie Williams will face his judgement before long, and so will we all. To have killed in error, or out of revenge, or rationalized as "justice" is hardly better than deliberately killing an innocent, for which we rightfully imprison people like Tookie Williams. As far as I can see, that's all capital punishment does. It doesn't deter, it doesn't cost less, it doesn't solve anything that lifetime imprisonment wouldn't also solve. All it accomplishes is staining our own hands with blood, like the wretches we condemn.

(And all things aside -- the ultimate decision on clemency comes down to a political, not a moral calculation. 85% of Californians want him dead? Expect the politician in charge to do what is politically expedient and not necessarily what is right. I'd be pleasantly surprised if I turned out wrong on that.)
posted by edverb at 11:13 AM on December 12, 2005


I'm morally opposed to the death penalty in general, but I especially fear Williams' execution for the same reason I oppose Saddam Hussein's execution- it will, if anything, lead only to martyrdom, which in the long run will glorify Williams in a way letting him die a remorseful, fangless old man never will. If Williams dies tonight, there will be a short spurt of criminal violence followed by decades of murals, songs, slogans, and nightmarish acts all done in his name.

I think nothing has been better for killing the stupid idolitry of Charles Manson than the occasional MSNBC check-in showing him as a shrivelled, babbling, cowardly man. If we truly cared about the benefit of society in the long run, Williams should have the same fate, not a death that will lead to thug culture sainthood.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2005


Should Tookie die? No. We need to get out of the business of capital punishment. It's immoral.
posted by caddis at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2005


While I avoided religion, and I am not a theist, I am glad someone brought religion up.

It is totally appropriate to bring up and discuss moral propositions, be they religious or ethical, if those propositions are part of how we make our decisions.
posted by BeerGrin at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2005


Your FPP mentions all of these things that Tookie has done over the years but fails to mention that:

(Taken from CNN)

"On February 28, 1979, about 4 a.m., Williams and three friends got high on their psychedelic smokes, took two cars, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber handgun to Pomona in search of a place to rob, according to court documents. They ended up at a 7-Eleven where Albert Owens, 26, was working the overnight shift, sweeping the parking lot.

The military veteran was a "redheaded, freckle-faced kid who had the biggest smile you wanted to see," according to his older brother, Wayne Owens, 55, of Olathe, Kansas.

Albert Owens said, "Take everything you want," says the now-retired prosecutor, Robert Martin, who remembers the case in detail.

Williams ordered Owens into a back room at gunpoint, shot out a security monitor, then ordered, "Get down on your knees, (expletive)," and shot him twice in the back, according to testimony. Williams "later laughed about it as he was eating his hamburger," Martin says.

There were no witnesses other than accomplices.

Less than two weeks later, on March 11, Williams broke down the door at the Brookhaven Motel, ripping through four locks and shattering the molding, according to a prosecutor.

Killed were Yen-I Yang, 76; his wife, Tsai-Shai Yang, 63, and their visiting daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, 43. The Taiwanese immigrants were about to sell the business because the neighborhood had become too rough, Martin said."

It's interesting how everyone has forgetten the original victims.

Did they deserve to die? No. Do they have a second chance? No.
posted by punkrockrat at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2005


I agree with edverb. I cant say I'm going to lose any sleep over Tookie Williams. But for those of us who are against the death penalty any instance of it is abhorrent. I dont understand viewpoints like languagehat's:

But if there's going to be a death penalty, I think it should be applied even-handedly; people shouldn't get a break just because...


That is, I think everyone should "get a break". The more people that do so, the more likely we are to move toward hopefully abolishing this practice.
posted by vacapinta at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2005


It is totally appropriate to bring up and discuss moral propositions, be they religious or ethical, if those propositions are part of how we make our decisions.

How do you discuss putting someone to death without bringing up moral propositions? The conversation doesn't exist without them. Though I think we can ground our moral beliefs and discussions in things more substantial and universal then religious dogma.
posted by xmutex at 11:26 AM on December 12, 2005


“It's interesting how everyone has forgetten the original victims.

“Did they deserve to die? No. Do they have a second chance? No.”

punkrockrat

Will Williams’ execution change the answers to these questions?
posted by ijoshua at 11:26 AM on December 12, 2005


I say fry 'em. Or whatever they do over there. (probably lethal injection) I'm opposed to the death penalty in general, but fuck this douchbag
posted by delmoi at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2005



posted by fandango_matt at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2005


The problem with calling the death penalty a 'punishment' is it's a word describing something meant to cause one to improve one's behavior. Cynically I suppose you could say Tookies behavior will be greatly improved by ceasing to have any behavior, however that's not the spirit behind the thing. It's called a death 'penalty' because that has no connotation of anything but simply extracting a price.

live to see the sunrise Wednesday.

Well actually Tuesday? Don't they do this in the first hour of the day, so something like 12:05 Tuesday morning?

edverb - to expand the religious point a little: many religions, or at least some variations on them, are against the death penalty for the same reason, that a person must be allowed to continue living, even if in jail, so they may complete their spritual path and it's wrong for humans to interrupt that. Christianity: find God. Buddhism: find enlightenment. Hinduism: reincarnate as far up the chain as possible.

XQUZYPHYR - excellent point and exactly the sort of extra-legal thing the Gov should be considering.
posted by scheptech at 11:28 AM on December 12, 2005


"It's interesting how everyone has forgotten the original victims. "
posted by punkrockrat

It's interesting that you assume we have.

Do you believe that people who oppose the death penalty on religious, moral or practical grounds have all just forgotten the victims?

Is "You've forgotten the victims" shorthand for "You fail to value vengeance enough?"
posted by BeerGrin at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2005


to all the Mumia-haters here (and the alleged anarchists or ex-anarchists or post-anarchists who should know better): Mumia's case is pretty relevant.

he was on death row, just like Williams. his death sentence has been overturned, and remains in custody indefinitely. among civilized people -- unlike, say, what happens between bloodhtirsty savage mobs of sadistic, racist fucks -- it is pretty clear that whenever a judge says "I'm gonna help you fry the nigger", sustains every objection by the prosecutors while overruling every objection by the defense, and has a track record of 31 death sentences (2 of them whites, you do the math) which is much much higher than average, well, judges like that belong to kangaroo courts, and kangaroo courts verdicts belong to the trash.

what I personally think of Mumia's innocence or guilt is besides the point. it was a shit trial, a racist trial, that should be shameful for every civilized American.

want all the furriner liberals to like the death penalty as much as you do? start handing it out in a less racist manner. if you can.

and yeah, I think Mumia probably killed Faulkner. next time around, try him in a court not run by the KKK. Mumia's judge would have fried MLK's ass, too, if he could.
posted by matteo at 11:34 AM on December 12, 2005


posted by BeerGrin Do you believe that people who oppose the death penalty on religious, moral or practical grounds have all just forgotten the victims? Is "You've forgotten the victims" shorthand for "You fail to value vengeance enough?"

No, it's because some people who oppose the death penalty do so under the guise of claiming the condemned man is innocent or that his work in prison somehow mitigates his crimes.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2005


BeerGrin, do you realize that at this point you've contributed over 20% of the comments in a thread that is quickly approaching 100? And that most of your comments have been, "well waht should we think 'bout that?" Ratchet it back, abit, pal.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:36 AM on December 12, 2005


it is pretty clear that whenever a judge says "I'm gonna help you fry the nigger"

Is there any evidence of this? The Mumia case has always seemed interesting in that most people are so convinced of one side of the story or the other and think people in the opposite camp are just completely deluded and insane. To me it always seemed as though there was a lot of gray area and confusion and lack of evidence and in general a sad story.

But I don't know too much about it.
posted by xmutex at 11:36 AM on December 12, 2005


edverb - to expand the religious point a little: many religions, or at least some variations on them, are against the death penalty for the same reason, that a person must be allowed to continue living, even if in jail, so they may complete their spritual path and it's wrong for humans to interrupt that. Christianity: find God. Buddhism: find enlightenment. Hinduism: reincarnate as far up the chain as possible.

I respect them all. I also agree that with xmutex that we can ground our ethical and moral judgements without religion at all. I just expressed my own beliefs is all.

Even taking a purely pragmatic, principled approach -- morals and ethics completely aside -- the logical conclusion is to abolish the death penalty. It doesn't serve any goal other than revenge. It costs more, it doesn't deter, it divides society....on and on.
posted by edverb at 11:39 AM on December 12, 2005


(And all things aside -- the ultimate decision on clemency comes down to a political, not a moral calculation. 85% of Californians want him dead? Expect the politician in charge to do what is politically expedient and not necessarily what is right. I'd be pleasantly surprised if I turned out wrong on that.)

Yeah, abolishing the death penalty is one of those issues that I'm extremely pessimistic about. Even in the normally progressive San Francisco Chronicle poll, the number who wanted him dead was about the same - 75% or so.

We are a vengeful species. I'd bet that most people want him dead even if he didn't commit those specific murders (as he claims he didn't). I've read Letter-to-the-Editor arguments saying that he deserves to be killed for starting the Crips.

For me, the death penalty (and prisons in general) is one of those issues like "illegal" immigration. I'm so far from the views of "mainstream" America that I feel like I can't even participate in the debate.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 AM on December 12, 2005


Is he rehabilitated, or innocent? It seems he's claiming both.

This is what gets to me most about this case - I tend to agree with that piece from the SF Chronicle linked at the top, and some of the other commenters here, that the only reason to oppose his execution is a general opposition to the death penalty. His activities after the fact seem entirely self-serving, to me. He was in jail already and condemned to die. What would the most sensible behavior? It's not like it cost him any extra effort or hardship to make generic statements about killing not being nice and so on. This way he gets to maintain a public image, maintain a certain level of power, which is clearly what he was after as a gang member, and possibly influence politicians to spare his life. Where's the down side? He doesn't have to actually believe it; he doesn't have to feel the guilt and pain of recognizing the inhumanity of his actions - in fact, he can even flatly deny them without being asked by supporters to explain what's what. He ends up both getting to be the tough guy muthafucka and the ethical reformed pacificist.

Anyway, I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, but at this point, he's getting a lot more positive attention than a murderer deserves, IMO.

re: mumia, I got swept up in that in college - and then I actually read his book. Man, was he full of shit.
posted by mdn at 11:41 AM on December 12, 2005


Is "You've forgotten the victims" shorthand for "You fail to value vengeance enough?"

Absolutely.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:41 AM on December 12, 2005


I dont understand viewpoints like languagehat's:
But if there's going to be a death penalty, I think it should be applied even-handedly; people shouldn't get a break just because...
That is, I think everyone should "get a break". The more people that do so, the more likely we are to move toward hopefully abolishing this practice.


Obviously, as an opponent of the death penalty I don't want to see this asshole or anybody else killed by the state. But a random pardon for one asshole who happened to impress the "right people" (as Jack Abbott impressed Norman Mailer) is not a "move toward hopefully abolishing this practice," it's just one more bit of unfairness in its application. If anything, I think executing people who have aroused sympathy, however misguided, is more likely to speed abolishing the practise than making an exception for the cute ones and just executing the ones who haven't written books &c &c.
posted by languagehat at 11:42 AM on December 12, 2005


Matteo, no offense, but please shut the fuck up about Mumia. His case is entirely irrelevant to the subject at hand. The guy stood on top of a downed cop and shot him in the face at point-blank range. I mean come on.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:42 AM on December 12, 2005


Even in the normally progressive San Francisco Chronicle poll, the number who wanted him dead was about the same - 75% or so.

Well, it's an emotional issue as much as political or moral one, as you kind of said, and Californians have to live with the legacy of what this guy help start, so they may be more inclined to say "screw this prick," than they would in other circumstances.
posted by jonmc at 11:45 AM on December 12, 2005


um, pacifist. I guess he was a pacific-ist in his former life as a west coaster...
posted by mdn at 11:47 AM on December 12, 2005


Tookie's seems like a very clear-cut case for the application of the death penalty (assuming you accept the current system), and therefore shouldn't be a part of that debate. I don't see quadruple-murder as a grey area and have little doubt that his sentence is a result of his crime, not his race.

His gang ethics included killings a person for wearing a red rag...or worse, a person walking on the wrong side of the street in their neighborhood. These ethics go beyong race. Especially when his own race was killed by his gang.

Had Tookie not started the Crips, someone else would have - possibly someone who lived on his block.
Ever heard of the gangs; rollin 100's, 101's, ects., Not his block, though crips & bloods are not the only gangs.

If you want a race card on the subject. The big deal about the Crips is the orgainizaton for its size. It spreads itself out heavily through the west coast. Unlike the Latino gangs, its members have no blood ties to the size. Just killiing & making money.
Ps, race is used for seperation (divinding & conquering) imho. Only way for me to look at in the USA since the US's census asks for the information. Which is the only census I know of to do so.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:48 AM on December 12, 2005


Don't they do this in the first hour of the day, so something like 12:05 Tuesday morning?

12:01 am. SFGate has a report on today's schedule.

Mumia is not guilty, but yeah, there's not much relevance to this case (other than the obvious and important fact that the death-penalty system is much more likely to kill black men than any other group).
posted by mrgrimm at 11:48 AM on December 12, 2005


Jon Caroll {sic} should stick to writing heartwarming stories about his cats.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:50 AM on December 12, 2005


Tookie. Tookie. Toooooookie. Tookie.
posted by ColdChef at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2005


When I say "It's interesting that everyone has forgetten the victims" I mean it in a sense of no one seems to be discussing these folks at all. Not y'all specifically discussing this on Mefi. But just the media in general. So don't take it personally, kids.

My post simply was injecting what Tookie has done into the conversation, as in my opinion, it seems to fall to the side. Everyone discusses all these "good things" that Tookie has done. Well, I was just offering a friendly reminder that he has also murdered a few people.

And to answer another questions:

Will Williams’ execution change the answers to these questions?

I believe it won't answer this question for the people he has killed, but possibly for some other people in the future. The death penalty can be nothing more than a deterrant. If Tookie is put to death, it will send a very loud message about the penalty for your actions. I would hope it would be interpreted that way by someone, somewhere who may think twice before pulling the trigger.
posted by punkrockrat at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2005


posted by mrgrimm Mumia is not guilty

Oh, lord.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2005



It's interesting how everyone has forgetten the original victims.

Did they deserve to die? No. Do they have a second chance? No.


Point taken. However when looking at this case I personally don't find his guilt or innocence as interesting a philosophical argument as whether what he has done since being incarcertated should allow him to live his life in prison. Personally I think he commited the crimes and as others have mentioned I think the argument that he's innocent to be a much weaker argument for clemency than the actions he's taken since being convicted.

I haven't personally been able to find a position I can firmly commit to, from my perspective it's not the black and whites in this case that I find interesting so much as the shades of gray.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2005


Matteo, no offense, but please shut the fuck up about Mumia.

Oh yeah, no offense at all. Classy!
posted by xmutex at 11:52 AM on December 12, 2005


I'm against the death penalty in general, and in this particular case I think executing him does more harm than good. Regardless of his motivation for writing the books, I've heard several accounts of people who cited his post-incarceration conduct and his books as helping them avoid going into gangs. I believe executing him will make it less likely for people to learn that lesson.

if there's going to be a death penalty, i think it should be applied even-handedly

As of March 2002, California had executed 10 people out of 655 people with death sentences since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. That's 1.5%. During that time more death row inmates killed themselves (11) or died of other causes (22) than were executed. Since 98.5% of inmates aren't executed, and since they're more likely to die of old age, get killed by other inmates, or kill themselves than they are to be executed, actually executing a specific person is cruel and unusual punishment. Everyone on death row was convicted of a terrible crime, so what makes Tookie Williams, or anyone else, deserve to die more than the 98.5% of people who won't be executed? Being "sentenced to death" does not mean actually being sentenced to death for the overwhelming majority of death row inmates, so it's unfair to the people who are actually executed.

Having the death penalty lets people talk about being tough on crime, and lets people who support it have the illusion that bad people get what's coming to them for doing bad things.

California would have had to kill 23 death row inmates every year between 1977 and 2002 to execute them all. there were There were 645 people on Death Row in California as of June 2005. 85% of Californians may want Tookie dead, but are they up for two executions every month.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2005


So if anyone deserves to die, this man does.

Here's to using him as the as the last/worst in this state. If a criminal's not as bad as Williams, he doesn't deserve the same punishment. Hope that works, and that said, I still won't cry a tear at midnight tonight.
posted by goofyfoot at 12:00 PM on December 12, 2005


The death penalty can be nothing more than a deterrent.

I am not sure sure it works any better than life in prison without parole as a deterrent. However, it works splendidly on another of the big penal policies, retribution. Retribution is just a nicer way of saying revenge. So if you believe in revenge (hope you aren't Christian - ever say the Lord's Prayer?) and you believe in killing then go ahead and continue this policy of capital punishment.
posted by caddis at 12:00 PM on December 12, 2005


Well, to sum up some of the arguments against execution:

1: The death penality is universally wrong in any case.

2: We should acknowledge honest attempts at rehabilitation.

3: We should grant clemency based on contributions to society.

4: Until we can deal with the systematic problems of the death penality, all executions should be postponed or commuted to life in prison.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:01 PM on December 12, 2005


12:01 am. SFGate has a report on today's schedule.

Well, it's down to 12 hours. Any bets Arnold just let's it slide?
posted by scheptech at 12:02 PM on December 12, 2005


It's interesting how everyone has forgetten the original victims.

And those me not BE all of his victims. He was implicated in several more murders. Likely there are many more bodies littered through out this guys past.


The death penalty is barbaric.
This guy is a very bad man and ideally, if the death penalty was repealed, he should stay in jail and live out the rest of his life attempting to "prove" he is reformed. At least some good could come of that. However, I don't believe any special clemency should be given Williams.

Somebody above blamed gangs on crack. Not true. The gangs of New York? In the 1800's? Hello? America is MADE from criminals. We are the repository of hundreds of years of the worlds nuts, religious freaks, pirates, thieves and adrenaline junkies.

Gangs are more a result of ghettos, economic exclusions, dysfunctional families/communities, — social pressures and prohibitions of all sorts. From the Irish mobs to Jewish gangs.

Young men who perceive they are with out futures are a terrible violent force.
posted by tkchrist at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2005


I think if he gets granted clemency, that in his honor Cookie Monster should sing the following:

"T is for Tookie, that's good enough for me! T is for Tookie, that's good enough for me! T is for Tookie, that's good enough for me! Oh Tookie Tookie Tookie starts with T!"

I mean, really. If his basis for clemency is that he's "cute" for a murderer...

If you want to know my opinion on the death penalty: completely against it. For anyone. Ever. I'm just generally anti -murder, even when state sanctioned.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:08 PM on December 12, 2005


The death penalty can be nothing more than a deterrent.

I am not sure sure it works any better than life in prison without parole as a deterrent.

The death penalty can deterrent more killings. Prison walls can't stop more killings when you have generals on the outside doing your work. Don't be conneed be a convict.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:12 PM on December 12, 2005


If Tookie is put to death, it will send a very loud message about the penalty for your actions. I would hope it would be interpreted that way by someone, somewhere who may think twice before pulling the trigger.

That sounds great and all, but the actual data suggests nothing of the sort.

What it does suggest is that murder rates rise and fall completely independently of a state's capital punishment status. There is no observable correlation between having the death penalty and lower murder rates.

I'm kind of amazed that this myth persists in spite of every objective indication that it's simply false.
posted by edverb at 12:12 PM on December 12, 2005


Don't be conned be a convict.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2005


I mean, really. If his basis for clemency is that he's "cute" for a murderer...

Not cute... photogenic and trendy. Like Mumia. Who is old news and the celebrity crowd can't get PR jumping on that tired old busted bandwagon.
posted by tkchrist at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2005


give up, second "be" should be by.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2005


Sanctioned murder as revenge,
aimless revenge as justice,
delayed justice as worthwhile.

Home on the range.
posted by NinjaPirate at 12:25 PM on December 12, 2005


Matteo, no offense, but please shut the fuck up about Mumia. His case is entirely irrelevant to the subject at hand. The guy stood on top of a downed cop and shot him in the face at point-blank range. I mean come on.

I read an article in TIME about the case, and the evidence presented there was hardly that graphic. It certanly made him seem guilty, but I don't see how you could say he "stood on top of a downed cop and shot him in the face point-blank".

Yes, I read TIME. It was a moment of weakness!
posted by delmoi at 12:25 PM on December 12, 2005


The Straight Dope on Mumia.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:28 PM on December 12, 2005


Don't be conned be a convict.

Those words aren't even related, con comes from "confidence man" and convict comes from "convicted". Convicted means someone whose guilt you have been convinced of, while a confidence man gains your trust and fucks you over.

So in reality, it is the jury who has been 'coned'
posted by delmoi at 12:28 PM on December 12, 2005


So in reality, it is the jury who has been 'coned'

coned? Let's leave Baskin Robbins out of this.
posted by jonmc at 12:32 PM on December 12, 2005


NPR just announced that the governor denied clemency.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2005


Arnold denies clemency
posted by fandango_matt at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2005


CNN reports the Federal Court denied a stay, nothing yet about clemency.
posted by moonbird at 12:34 PM on December 12, 2005


shit, nevermind.
posted by moonbird at 12:34 PM on December 12, 2005


Heh. Link.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:35 PM on December 12, 2005


Ciao, murderer.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2005


Maybe they ought to start televising these things? Y'know, so the death-penalty supporters can gloat?
posted by alumshubby at 12:38 PM on December 12, 2005


Sweet dreams, you murdering fuck.
posted by keswick at 12:38 PM on December 12, 2005


Fuck yeah. Killing people who kill people to prove that killing people is wrong.

Bleah.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2005


Ciao, murderer.

Sweet dreams, you murdering fuck.

Is this cheaper than Viagra for you guys or something?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2005


My understanding is his role in the deaths is proven, yet he professes his innocence because not to do so would ensure his fate. I'm against capital punishment but there's no doubt he's an unrepenting murderer. I will agree that the only reason to stop this would be general opposition to the death penalty.
posted by abcde at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2005


If it was like viagra I would come off a lot more excited than quietly noting something that's appropriate. Have a nice day.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:48 PM on December 12, 2005


Well, I guess since the intelligent conversation is over, the juvenile handbag fight can begin. Enjoy, fuckos.
posted by jonmc at 12:49 PM on December 12, 2005


The question isn't whether or not Tookie should die, but whether any government has the right to execute any of its citizens. The answer to that is a resounding "no" for me.

Now, I'm hardly a pacifist. In fact, I carry a concealed firearm with me every day of my life. However, there is a rather large difference between killing someone because that is the only way to stop an attack on your own life, and killing someone because you're seeking revenge justice.

Humans have a very strange view of moral math. For some reason, in this circumstance we believe that 1 + 1 = 0. In reality, one murder plus one murder equals two murders.
posted by Netzapper at 12:51 PM on December 12, 2005


posted by abcde My understanding is his role in the deaths is proven, yet he professes his innocence because not to do so would ensure his fate. I'm against capital punishment but there's no doubt he's an unrepenting murderer. I will agree that the only reason to stop this would be general opposition to the death penalty.

For anyone who thinks Mr. Williams is rehabilitated or innocent, let's see if he apologizes to the families of the victims and releases the names and organizational structure of the Crips, now that he has nothing to lose.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:52 PM on December 12, 2005


What boggles my mind is that there are going to be hundreds -- maybe even thousands -- of people at San Quentin protesting the execution of the founder of the Crips. If I were a travel agent I'd be out there in the crowd selling package trips to Iraq so they can protest Saddam Hussein's execution, which will doubtless be their next big cause....
posted by MattD at 12:53 PM on December 12, 2005


Fuck yeah. Killing people who kill people to prove that killing people is wrong.

One of the primary functions of the state must be to maintain its monopoly on violence. It's not about morality, it's about security. It's one of the reasons that government exists.
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on December 12, 2005


you could also follow them to Iraq, enlist in the US army and help out your fellow Americans who are dying there every day. maybe you can look for some wmd's in your spare time, too
posted by matteo at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2005


an unrepenting murderer

Yes, the unrepentant part's a problem in this case.
posted by scheptech at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2005


tomcatspike, you speak of incapacitation, not really deterrence. Death should not be needed to achieve this policy. If Tookie is shown to be directing a criminal enterprise from inside of prison this can be addressed by limiting his communication with others, especially others outside of prison and others in the organization. Capital punishment is all about revenge.
posted by caddis at 12:59 PM on December 12, 2005


Netzapper: The question isn't whether or not Tookie should die, but whether any government has the right to execute any of its citizens. The answer to that is a resounding "no" for me.

Bingo. I'm (slowly) working my way through Executed on a Technicality that makes a very similar case. Arguments about the guilt or innocence of death row convicts avoid discussion about whether we should have a death row to begin with. Or about the death penalty as it actually exists.

Fewer than 1% of all homocide convictions end up on death row, and the factors that put a person on death row have more to do with incompetence, bias, malice, race and class than the violence or infamy of the crime.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:02 PM on December 12, 2005


"Fuck yeah. Killing people who kill people to prove that killing people is wrong.

One of the primary functions of the state must be to maintain its monopoly on violence. It's not about morality, it's about security. It's one of the reasons that government exists.
posted by empath at 3:56 PM EST on December 12 [!]"

Hmmm, Read much Nozick? Have you accepted whole cloth his reply to Rawls?
posted by BeerGrin at 1:03 PM on December 12, 2005


No- Tookie should not die. Save Tookie!
posted by soyabeanodoom at 1:04 PM on December 12, 2005


My understanding is his role in the deaths is proven, yet he professes his innocence because not to do so would ensure his fate.

Actually, I've heard the opposite: that he would have had a better chance of clemency if he'd admitted he committed the crimes and apologized.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:08 PM on December 12, 2005


When you advocate the death of another, you become as bloodthirsty as the killer.

When a political decision is made regarding whether a human life should be saved or not, then that in itself proves the invalidity of this practice.

The Gov. has spoken. He will have to live eith this decision for the rest of his life.

Being "anti-death penalty" does not automatically mean you are not empathetic to the victim's loved ones.
posted by wfc123 at 1:10 PM on December 12, 2005


CNN: no clemency.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2005


Hey, I'm only 45 minutes late.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2005


What boggles my mind is that there are going to be hundreds -- maybe even thousands -- of people at San Quentin protesting the execution of the founder of the Crips.

Do all expressions of a principle boggle your mind, or just this one? Are you equally confused when people stand up for free speech, even when they disagree with the content?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:12 PM on December 12, 2005


[Mumia] stood on top of a downed cop and shot him in the face at point-blank range.

So, you were there?
posted by muckster at 1:13 PM on December 12, 2005


Yes, I personally witnessed the entire incident.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:16 PM on December 12, 2005


BeerGrin: Don't know who Nozick is. I'm thinking more of Hobbes' Leviathan.
posted by empath at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2005


Oh good. Because if you didn't, you'd have to consider your sources, and then perhaps you wouldn't be so cocksure anymore. You might even look a little stupid for telling people to shut the fuck up and all.
posted by muckster at 1:25 PM on December 12, 2005


When you advocate the death of another, you become as bloodthirsty as the killer.

Humanity is not that black and white. You can oppose capital punishment and still maintain that a gang murderer who'd shoot some convenience store clerk in the back and laugh about it later is far more bloodthirsty and vicious than a society that feels compelled, however misguidedly, to exact the ultimate punishment by executing that murderer.
posted by xmutex at 1:27 PM on December 12, 2005


When you advocate the death of another, you become as bloodthirsty as the killer.

Really? I do not think there is a moral equivalency between calling for bin Laden dead or alive (or substitute anyone you believe is super-evil) and raping a baby to death (or substitute any viscerally shocking and morally reprehensible killing). I am opposed to the death penalty, but I think it is facile logic to claim that all killing is the same, even in the more limited case of comparing the state's right to kill versus the individual right to kill.
posted by Falconetti at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2005


On preview: xmutex beat me to it.
posted by Falconetti at 1:30 PM on December 12, 2005


The military veteran was a "redheaded, freckle-faced kid who had the biggest smile you wanted to see,"

Oh well shit, then execute him!
posted by iamck at 1:31 PM on December 12, 2005


You are putting conditions on my statement. The only condition is death or life.

Death and life are black and white.

You become a killer when you take a life, in any case.
posted by wfc123 at 1:31 PM on December 12, 2005


The state is impersonal and should not make the ultimate personal decision of ending life. If you all want to advocate the right-to-revenge killings, have at it. And have fun defending your position.
posted by iamck at 1:33 PM on December 12, 2005


Oh, okay. Mumia's innocent, just like O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson. Mmmkay.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:34 PM on December 12, 2005


You become a killer when you take a life, in any case.

Pehaps, but "killer," covers a lot of ground. First-degree, second degree, manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, even justifiable homicide. Let's not create false equivalencies.
posted by jonmc at 1:34 PM on December 12, 2005


wfc123: Now you're asserting a tautology. What you originally claimed was you become as bloodthirsty as the killer which is a far more loaded statement.
posted by xmutex at 1:35 PM on December 12, 2005


fandango_matt: Out of curiosity, are you involved, professionally, with law enforcement, or do you have close family/friends who are?
posted by xmutex at 1:36 PM on December 12, 2005


Revenge is ugly. Killing for revenge = bloodthirsty.
posted by iamck at 1:36 PM on December 12, 2005


You become a killer when you take a life, in any case.

That is simply a truism and has no meaning and is not the same as your earlier statement.

Preview: Jesus, xmutex takes the square again.
posted by Falconetti at 1:39 PM on December 12, 2005


Clemency DENIED. It would appear that Tookie will be terminated.

Clemency cases are always difficult and this one is no exception," Schwarzenegger said.

"After studying the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting clemency."

Baring last-minute court intervention, officials will administer a lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday (3:01 EDT/0801 GMT) in the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

posted by a3matrix at 1:40 PM on December 12, 2005


But killing because you're an angry teenager with a chip on your shoulder and narcotics in your blood is totally cool, iamck?

You call it revenge, I call it retribution.
posted by fenriq at 1:41 PM on December 12, 2005


Yes, I personally witnessed the entire incident

which is appropriate, since we know that the only witnesses were either hookers, pimps, arsonists or Mumia's brohter. and you certainly aren't Mumia's brother
posted by matteo at 1:41 PM on December 12, 2005


Sorry, angry 20-something.
posted by fenriq at 1:42 PM on December 12, 2005


Falconetti: jinx!
posted by xmutex at 1:43 PM on December 12, 2005


I'm against capital punishment for two reasons. One is that death is 100% final, while determining guilt and innocence is not something the government has proven itself 100% competant at. The other reason is that it has been disproportionality applied to the poor, the ignorant and the oppressed.

I'm not against it because "All killing is wrong." Government engages in state-sanctioned violence all the time. That's one of the reasons government exists. I just happen to think, that as a practical matter, government should avoid making irreversable decisions about human lives, when possible; and that ever case I can think of, life imprisonment is an acceptible substitute for capital punishment.
posted by empath at 1:47 PM on December 12, 2005


Retribution? Do you think that's an admirable quality/activity to indulge in?
posted by iamck at 1:48 PM on December 12, 2005


Retribution? Do you think that's an admirable quality/activity to indulge in?

Retribution is oftentimes an activity that happens on it's own, regardless of government interference. What goes around comes around, as they say.
posted by jonmc at 1:51 PM on December 12, 2005


Just wanted to say/point out, this thread is nearing 200 and has predominantly been civil on such an emotional issue.
kudos to those that have kept it so.
posted by edgeways at 1:52 PM on December 12, 2005


Retribution is oftentimes an activity that happens on it's own, regardless of government interference.

Right then, so why the need to intefere by executing people?
posted by iamck at 2:01 PM on December 12, 2005


I'm curious to see if there are any supporters of the death penalty who also support clemency for Mr. Williams. Are we debating whether turning one's life around and being a force for good is enough to justify clemency or just using Mr. Williams as a proxy for debate about the death penalty?
posted by gyc at 2:04 PM on December 12, 2005


On February 28, 1979, Stanley "Tookie" Williams and three other men drove in two cars to a 7-Eleven store in the city of Whittier, California, a suburb southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The lone clerk on duty at the time was 26-year-old Albert Owens, who was sweeping the store's parking lot when the men arrived. Owens apparently believed the men to be legitimate customers, for he put down his broom and dust pan and followed them into the store. Williams, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, forced Owens into a back storeroom. After ordering Owens to lie on the floor, Williams fired a shotgun blast into the store's security monitor. Then, though Owens had offered no resistance at all, Williams fired two blasts into the prostrate man's back, killing him. When an accomplice asked Williams why he had shot Owens, Williams explained that he didn't want to leave any witnesses. The accomplice would also later testify that Williams told him he killed Owens "because he was white and he was killing all white people."

http://www.nationalreview.com/dunphy/dunphy200511280809.asp

The father lay on the couch. The mother and daughter were on the floor. "They were crumpled together, as if cowering," Longshore recalled. There was gore. Twelve-gauge shotgun blasts, fired at close range, had ripped large holes in the victims' bodies. Yu-Chin Lin had been shot in the face. Yen-I and Tsai-Shai Yang were shot twice in their torsos. Mother and daughter were still alive. They died shortly after at hospitals.

Longshore remembers noticing the parents' age — too elderly, he thought, to pose a threat. "I couldn't understand it," he said.

Hetzel, the sheriff's homicide detective who arrived shortly after, remembered noting that the victims were strikingly small. The room smelled of their cooking, a garlicky scent grotesquely at odds with the scene, he recalled. For some reason, the furniture was in disorder. Hetzel began looking for shell casings and realized that the killers had pushed the chairs aside to collect them so they wouldn't be used as evidence. "To execute them, then have the calmness to collect the empty shell casings," said Hetzel, now retired and living out of state. "It just chills me."

(http://www.streetgangs.com/topics/2005/102905redem.html)

Rot in hell, Tookie. This is long overdue. I would do it myself if I could. He broke the social contract that most of us follow, and society has no obligation to protect his life. He has forfeited his right to live.
posted by banishedimmortal at 2:07 PM on December 12, 2005


"I'm morally opposed to the death penalty in general..."

Morally, or at least, in theory, I'm in FAVOR of executions for people for whom guilt is not ambiguous, but that's a tall order for a judicial system, so rotting in prison is usually a better alternative.

Except, perhaps, for mass murders and deployers of WMDs such as Hussein.

Which doesn't mean I won't sleep well tonight.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:09 PM on December 12, 2005


Statement of denial of clemency by Arnie [pdf]
posted by moonbird at 2:15 PM on December 12, 2005


lI do not believe in the deathpenalty.But that said, I had years ago visited San Quentin prison and toured the gas chamber. Now they use injection...we have clearly become much more civil and compassionate in some things.
posted by Postroad at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2005


How does one get a tour?
posted by fandango_matt at 2:22 PM on December 12, 2005


I would do it myself if I could.

Then do it, so we can execute you.
posted by iamck at 2:42 PM on December 12, 2005


Apologies for the above, everything worth saying here as already been said.
posted by iamck at 2:46 PM on December 12, 2005


That's the way the Tookie crumbles.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2005


I think this is too easy of an out for tookie. I would like to see him spend the rest of his misarable life rotting away alone in a dark cell until one day, weak, senile, and defeated, he shits himself and dies. Then he can burn in hell.
posted by puke & cry at 2:58 PM on December 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


During the early morning hours of February 28, 1979, Williams and three others went on a robbery spree. Around 4 a.m., they entered a 7-Eleven store where Albert Owens was working by himself. Here, Williams, armed with his pump-action shotgun, ordered Owens to a back room and shot him twice in the back while he lay face down on the floor. Williams and his accomplices made off with about $120 from the store's cash register. After leaving the 7-Eleven store, Williams told the others that he killed Albert Owens because he did not want any witnesses. Later that morning, Williams recounted shooting Albert Owens, saying "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him." Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes.

On March 11, 1979, less than two weeks later, Williams, again armed with his shotgun, robbed a family operated motel and shot and killed three members of the family: the father, Yen-I Yang, who was shot once in the torso and once in the arm while he was laying on a sofa; the mother, Tsai-Shai Lin, who was shot once in the abdomen and once in the back; and the daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, who was shot once in her face. For these murders, Williams made away with approximately $100 in cash. Williams also told others about the details of these murders and referred to the victims as "Buddha-heads."
posted by The Jesse Helms at 3:03 PM on December 12, 2005


Can someone tell us the story about the early morning hours of February 28, 1979?
posted by xmutex at 3:05 PM on December 12, 2005


I would do it myself if I could.

Then do it, so we can execute you.
posted by iamck at 5:42 PM EST on December 12 [!]

Really? So the penalty for carrying out a death sentence, which was appealed and upheld at every state and federal level in this country, is now death? I must have been absent the day they taught us that in law school.

Or did you miss the (I thought rather obvious) meaning behind my words - I'd pull the fucking switch myself and feel completely justified in doing so.

Iamck, despite your intimations of violence towards me, I hope that no one you care about is ever brutally murdered for a couple hundred bucks. And when they catch the guy who, shortly after the murder, laughed about how your father or brother gurgled after he was shot in the back, I hope you can muster up just a more few words of that self-righteous upper-middle class suburbanite brimming with undergrad fight-the-man palaver that you've been spewing...you know, so you can keep it real.

I'm sure that Tookie would thank you in his next Nobel-nominated children's book, along with George Jackson, Mumia, Assata Shakur and all those other wronged and oppressed killers that you're crying for.

Myself, I just don't think they belong among us. But maybe I'm just not as enlightened as you...
posted by banishedimmortal at 3:14 PM on December 12, 2005


You're right, banishedimmortal, His actions were horrible and unforgivable. And unless you knew one of those victims, I bet you like most of the other "ha ha ha rot in hell Tookie!" folks had no idea about it until recently when they started reading the news about his execution. For 99% of the people in this thread the long road to Williams' execution began, oh, let's say last week, not when he actually killed those people. And you dare to call someone else self-righteous? Spare me the tired "have you forgotten" posturing, thanks. I'll buy the country album if I feel like being told I'm not a good citizen.

I remember when Andrea Yates was getting sentenced. Go ahead, I'll wait while some of you Google her so you remember who she was. Yet I bet when her story was actually going on there were just as many of you screaming that she be put down immediately. Have you really sat awake at night for 26 years furious Stanley Williams wasn't dead yet? Will you really say to yourself, 26 years from now, "man, it would have been a lot better if they had killed Tookie instead of granting him clemency?" Are you festering with hate every day for the next fifteen years as you demand to know why Scott Peterson doesn't have a needle in his arm yet? Then why, every time this happens, do you feel you have to "remind" us all why there's an inarguable need for this to happen when it appears the only one who needs reminding is yourself?

I'm sorry if that's incredibly indignant, but I will never cease to be disturbed when people like you have to hit a search engine to find out why they should feel good that someone's about to die. I have no idea if you're more enlightened than any of us here, but I'm pretty confident you're not as happy.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:21 PM on December 12, 2005


Probably for much the same reason people who share your opinion feel the need to remind us all why there's an inarguable need for this not to happen.

Then why, every time this happens, do you feel you have to "remind" us all why there's an inarguable need for this to happen when it appears the only one who needs reminding is yourself?
posted by Captaintripps at 3:28 PM on December 12, 2005


I'm really surprised that usually moderate and temperate voices here are brandishing pitchforks and coiling the death rope. Wait, actually, they're not- they're sitting at their computers, pushing death off their fingertips with the click of a button. Death, for the murdered and the murderers, isn't all that easy. It's not as simple as a "rot in hell" comment or raising ire in a Metafilter thread. It's a complicated and mysterious proposition. It's a little disturbing that many here can jump and shout for death when they aren't connected in any way to the crimes, don't know the offender, and don't know the least bit about what it's like to live behind prison walls, let alone pull a trigger, or inject a man with poison until he dies. Saying "fuck him" is far too convenient... truly understanding the consequences of murder, the death penalty and incarceration takes far more thought and discourse than a simple website thread can provide.
posted by moonbird at 3:37 PM on December 12, 2005


I've been paying taxes and enjoying public benefits in california since 1992. I'm gonna kill Tookie in a few hours, and I don't know why that bugs me since I don't even know how many people I've killed since 1992 (I suppose I could look it up, but I can't be bothered.) I think the last one was Fred something, but besides that I don't know any of their names or what any of them did or under what circumstances any of them were convicted. Maybe it bugs me because I don't have a choice, the old "don't blame me I voted for Kodos" canard ringing hollow for me right now. I am forced to kill them (or move to Enlightistan), but I'm allowed to pretend that it's not happening, or that it's some one else doing it.

Shame on me. And for the allegorically impaired, by me I mean us.

I know that sorry doesn't cut it, but I'm sorry, Tookie. You may deserve it for all I know, but no one should be mortally responsible for what I or anyone believes that they deserve.

On preview: you go, moonbird.
posted by Eothele at 3:43 PM on December 12, 2005


Well, I wasn't alive when tookie murdered those people, but I'm been following it for a lot longer than a few weeks. If you watch enough history channel, they'll show something about tookie every couple years it seems. And yes I was following Andrea Yates, but she's from texas so it was big news down here. Also recently, there was a woman that killed her kid by cutting her arms off.

But things like these are a hobby of sorts for me.
posted by puke & cry at 3:45 PM on December 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


Nice, Matteo. You've really shown us all how, because of our country's shameful history of lynching, convicted murderers, (particularly racial minorities) should be allowed to take -- well, an unlimited number of lives really...we'll just give them more life sentences -- and then live out the rest of their days working out, writing Tookie peace protocols, and complaining about society's treatment of George Jackson "the countless other [African-American] men, women, and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars. There's a real common sense, fundamental fairness to that idea...you've really made your point. I mean, this Tookie case is nothing more than a modern-day lynching, that's what it is...

And XQUZYPHYR, I'm all for Yates and Peterson being executed as well, if a jury finds them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and they are so sentenced. The present case particularly galls me because of all the cynical race-baiting smokescreens Tookie and his supporters have thrown up, which are an insufferable insult to the legitimate serious issues of racial inequity in our criminal justice system. Why is it always people like Tookie and Mumia that you guys have to support?...What a bloody waste...
posted by banishedimmortal at 3:47 PM on December 12, 2005


Probably for much the same reason people who share your opinion feel the need to remind us all why there's an inarguable need for this not to happen.

Huh? What exactly do you mean by that, or is your intent to just go "I know you are but what am I?" until you think of a new self-satisfying tough-guy line?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:47 PM on December 12, 2005


self-righteous upper-middle class suburbanite brimming with undergrad fight-the-man palaver that you've been spewing...

Is this a generalization about the mefi demograpihic, and if it is, doesn't it apply to yourself?

I realize I was a little harsh there, and I apologize for me knee jerk to your knee jerk. But I fail to see an argument here that doesn't call on examination of grotesque nature of the murder or murderer to fuel the fires of revenge. I don't think revenge/retribution is something that one should give into, and I don't think that hatred is a quality that should be nurtured (and if this value is institutionalized by a society, then it is being nurtured/heralded by that society).

If I was personally involved in this and someone I loved was murdered, then yes, I would probably be calling for the man's head. But that doesn't mean that it's morally justified.

Lastly, since I don't support the death penalty, I would hope we could discuss the difference between rehabilitation and punishment. But unless you let go of your anger and desires of retribution, that discussion is impossible.
posted by iamck at 3:49 PM on December 12, 2005


Well:

Honestly I never knew who Tookie was till this news story popped up.

From what I understand several local gangs here are offshoots of his little Boy Scout troop. And they take his lessons of shooting people in the back, and kids in the face with shotguns very literally.

I say good bye to bad rubbish.

Only problem is, LA will have to deal with whatever fallout, and my city will have to deal with the remnants of morons who consider a monster like this a role model.

If your role models are based on a guy who shoots kids in the face with a shotgun, and parents in the back, for a hundred bucks??? The we need a great big filter on your end of the gene pool

This guy was a stone cold coward, was unable to support himself without doing violence against the weakest members of society.

He should be looked at as a disgrace to the human race, put down like a rabid dog, and buried in an unmarked grave.

my .02

tim
posted by timsteil at 3:52 PM on December 12, 2005


It means exactly what it says XQUZYPHYR.
posted by Captaintripps at 3:53 PM on December 12, 2005


And one more thing, Moonbird...I'm no prison guard or death row appeals lawyer, but I'm not just talking out my ass from in front of a computer screen. I've been to law school and learned about the system, and I have a lot of faith in it.
And I've also spent time working as an investigator at a Public Defender's Service, on behalf of accused murders and rapists. I've had a person -- who later confessed to and was convicted for murder of a 15-year old girl -- look me straight in the eyes and tell me that he didn't do it. I worked on his behalf for months, even going to the house of the murdered girl and asking her brother just to give me a chance to talk to one of the witnesses so we could get things straight. And then, after all that, the cops confronted him with ironclad evidence of his guilt, and he confessed.
Yes, I talked to her family, and saw the autopsy photos of her body, and I've thought long and hard about my role in trying to defend him.
So I don't know Tookie or his victims, any better than any of you, but I know something about our justice system and the people caught up in it. And based on that knowledge and experience, I say, with all my heart, Tookie can rot and he has it coming. That is all.
posted by banishedimmortal at 4:00 PM on December 12, 2005


Of course here in New York, we've got an even weirder (and equally senseless) murder making headlines.
posted by jonmc at 4:00 PM on December 12, 2005


Rot in hell, Tookie.

Born-again Christian and by any measure completely forgiven by his god. So if his religion is valid, he won't be rotting in Hell. He'll be kickin' it old school with a halo and a harp, downin' 40s with his homies.

He has forfeited his right to live.

The right to life is described as inalienable in the Declaration of Independence, which means that no act by Tookie could abrogate himself of that right. Sure, it's not a legal document, but it's an interesting point.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:02 PM on December 12, 2005


moonbird-

What Tookie (or any killer) did was both a particular violent action against individuals but it was also an intentional rending of the moral and societal fabric which binds us. It is not only acceptable for individuals not directly assocaited with the participants to get upset, it is the moral duty of citizens to be upset. The whole justice system is founded on this collective sense of duty. It is why we have a jury of our peers. So your attempt to chill "uninterested" parties' speech falls on deaf ears here.

That being said, I reiterate am 100% opposed to the death penalty. Not because the state as a representation of society has the right to murder in retribution/vengence/deterrence/etc, but because the penalty is so severe and the ability to administrate the penalty fairly is impossible.
posted by Falconetti at 4:04 PM on December 12, 2005


Wow, jon. I hadn't read about that yet.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2005


Tookie can rot and he has it coming. That is all.
posted by banishedimmortal


spoken well, with experience, and authority

touche banished
posted by timsteil at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2005


[removed matteo's graphic lynching photo which this comment refers to]
posted by jessamyn at 4:10 PM on December 12, 2005


Why is it always people like Tookie and Mumia that you guys have to support?

Most people opposed to the death penalty disagree with it on principle, not because they personally "support" guys like this. If anything, it's the pro-death-penalty crowd that likes to develop a personal relationship with their bogeymen so they can work themselves up into a lather of righteous Old Testament vengeance, this thread providing an abundance of examples.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 4:11 PM on December 12, 2005


For years, I was very pro-death penalty, and I'm still very anti-crime and pro-law enforcement. And I certainly understand the disgust at what Tookie Williams has done, both directly and indirectly. But I've come around to being anti-capital punishment. There's just too much room for (and this is crucial) uncorrectable error and punishment. I still fully believe that this man should spend the rest of his life in prison. If he can do some good from there, so much the better, but by his actions, he has forfieted his right to live amongst society at large.
posted by jonmc at 4:13 PM on December 12, 2005


Falconetti

the ability to administrate the penalty fairly is impossible

To further reinforce your position, consider that even if one "fair" method to administrate the penality was found ...there still wouldn't be any way to repair any accidental damage because everybody knows it's impossible to resurrect dead people.

One could argue that no one can give back time spent in prison to innocent people, but at least the system can make the remaining time at least more pleasurable and less stressing for the victim , in a bid to at least repay some of the damage.

How can one do that with a dead innocent ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:13 PM on December 12, 2005


elpapacito:

Your comment only makes sense if you believe the point of punishment is to provide recompense to the victims of a crime. But that has never been the case in America. Crime was always viewed as an offense against the state. That is why a prosecutor is entirely free to disregard, say, a victim's family's plea for mercy towards a convicted killer or a plea for the death penalty (of course, the victim is important pratically, as he or she is often a source of evidence as well as an emotional appeal to the jurors).

This may seem like a distinction without a difference, but I think it is crucially important in understanding where the power to punish derives from. If an entirely fair method were somehow found (precogs?), then the state, as a representative of the people, would retain the right to execute murderers (as long as there was a consensus that such activity by the state was appropriate).
posted by Falconetti at 4:22 PM on December 12, 2005


I say fry 'em. Or whatever they do over there. (probably lethal injection) I'm opposed to the death penalty in general, but fuck this douchbag -posted by Delmoi

Interesting the way the language sinks to the level of the action. I guess sometimes the only way to commit a heinous act, or even to support one, is to work oneself into a state of heinousness. It ain't pretty. Reminds me vaguely of the Nazi [thread over?] soldiers who used to get drunk before executing Jews.
posted by It ain't over yet at 4:24 PM on December 12, 2005


[removed matteo's graphic lynching photo which this comment refers to]

it wasn't that graphic, really. leafing through "Without Sanctuary" you see much worse.
and after all, since most of the posters here seem to have a hardon for capital punishment, I don't see why we should get squeamish re: showing the reality of capital punishment. I mean, Williams will soon be as dead as the guy in that picture. and, apparently, around here there will still be a nice group of white men smiling around William's corpse, too. just like in that photo.

so I still think it made sense to post that (not particularly graphic, given the topic of this thread) picture. but, again, this is not my sandbox.


posted by matteo at 4:27 PM on December 12, 2005


Actually matteo, I think the majority of posters here are against the death penalty, so your picture may have been needless overkill.

That being said, I don't think it should have been deleted. It was obviously a comment on the topic.
posted by Falconetti at 4:32 PM on December 12, 2005


falconetti:
This may seem like a distinction without a difference

Oh it is a very interesting and informative distinction , thanks for pointing that out in a clear understandeable way for non-lawyers.
posted by elpapacito at 4:32 PM on December 12, 2005


Uh...if he’s innocent...why would he apologize?

“I'd pull the fucking switch myself and feel completely justified in doing so.” -
posted by banishedimmortal
You should. Good way to explore your humanity. Taught me oceans of truth about myself, society, and humans in general.
+ what moonbird said

If it did come up, I probably would kill someone who took a loved one from me. But as iamck pointed out, it doesn’t make it right. And I wouldn’t want it done by any proxy: government or goon. I can’t justify my desire for revenge to be codified as law. I think Plato had his head up his ass thinking about relieving displaced aggression. Death and loss is part of life. Learning to disassociate that fact with the carriers of it is a tough trick to learn. But forgiveness takes those kinds of balls. I sure don’t have them. But I see how society should. It’s a system, inhuman. It’s morals should be defined by the superior.


Also, I find reveling in someone’s (anyone’s) death disgusting.
Of course most of the people I’ve served with who feel the need to hate tend to be a bit less trustworthy than the professionals.
Perhaps I’m a bit callous, but I certainly don’t cheer on killing in any form.
It is a means not an end.
Certainly debatable as to efficacy, but the killing itself is done to achieve an objective. Revel in it and it becomes and end in itself.
And holding killing to be as end rather than as a tool, something you can and should stop doing once the objective is achieved (or the means is found to be flawed), simply, makes you the enemy of mankind.

“One of the primary functions of the state must be to maintain its monopoly on violence. It's not about morality, it's about security. It's one of the reasons that government exists.”- posted by empath

All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state -
Benito Mussolini
posted by Smedleyman at 4:36 PM on December 12, 2005


ParisParamus: "Now, on the otherhand, the freaks who support Mumia....death penalty-tempting!"

One year earlier, and he would have been my commencement speaker.

Mine was Bobby Seale, who now has a cookbook out.
posted by 31d1 at 4:49 PM on December 12, 2005


Banishedimmortal & Falconetti - I've not actually said whether I'm in favor of the dealth penalty, but yes, I am trying to chill the vitriol and thrist for blood here, because in this context it's impossible to know the truth of the matter for any of those directly involved. Banished, your experience in criminal justice is certainly worth it's weight, and I applaud you for your work, and by golly your experience matters. I suppose the heart of the matter for me is that we as humans have to make the best crack at justice as we can, and making that decision is a serious and somber affair. I don't think the whole 'rot in hell' theme is really, truly respectful to anyone in the process... we certainly can't speak for the vicitim's families, nor Tookie's, because we cannot possibly understand the full weight of their respective deaths. We simply can't understand what it's like for any of these people, and there's no judicial Wayback Machine to assure that the crime happened exactly as described. With the death penalty, there's no fail-safe, and I just don't see how we can be so casual about dishing out mortal finality. Yet again, we're animals and bloodthirst is instinctual, but I'm choosing not to foam at the mouth for vengeance because there's no way that any of this can be settled on the internet.
posted by moonbird at 4:50 PM on December 12, 2005


I mean, Williams will soon be as dead as the guy in that picture. and, apparently, around here there will still be a nice group of white men smiling around William's corpse, too. just like in that photo

posted by matteo at 7:27 PM EST on December 12 [!]

Speaks volumes about you, Matteo...
For you, and for Tookie for that matter, Tookie's punishment all comes down to making white men smile. It's a total racist farce, isn't it?
Because any means necessary are justified when you're a "hellishly oppressed" fella like Tookie. And any punishment you get is nothing more than a "legal lynching" (did I get those magic words right?)

Shame on you and your ilk for exploiting legitimate racial problems for your own agenda.
posted by banishedimmortal at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2005


banishedimmortal: matteo and you differ on the issue of the death penalty, and I'll even concede that the lynching photo was a bit of unneccessary theatrics, but I don't recall him defending the things Williams' has done at all, and I don't think he would, since they are, in fact, indefensible.

So, dial it down a notch, ok?
posted by jonmc at 4:55 PM on December 12, 2005


Mimicry: “Opposition to the death penalty: it’s not just for liberals anymore."

for clarity I’ll add that I see no case where the state’s rights supercede mine. Society - yes (it’s that conservative thing) which is why I support the concept of killing in self-defense (by extension the right to bear arms).
So, a shooting on the scene - solid. I don’t armchair quarterback the cop who thinks he has to pull a trigger (obvious givens of course, and all police shootings should have oversight). But once the state has a person in custody, I see no situation where it’s justified to take a life. Consensus or no.
(Anyone remember that story “The Lottery”?)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:55 PM on December 12, 2005


[removed matteo's graphic lynching photo which this comment refers to]

Now that is deeply ironic. Hey, Die Hard's on the teevee!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:57 PM on December 12, 2005


Moonbird, there's a time for calm cool intellectualization of a bloody murder. That's what the justice system is for. There's also a time for us to make measured rational arguments about the death penalty, which I believe are very important, and I have endeavored to do. Finally, there's a time to speak emotionally, and with your deepest convictions, hence, my pronouncements on Tookie.

I think that's enough for the day...thanks all.
posted by banishedimmortal at 4:59 PM on December 12, 2005


XQUZYPHYR: I'll give you the same advice I gave banishedimmortal. Your wisecracks are neither funny nor insightful.
posted by jonmc at 5:01 PM on December 12, 2005


dial it down a notch, ok?

You wanna tell dear matteo to dial it down a notch, too?

since most of the posters here seem to have a hardon for capital punishment

What an asshole thing to say. But for some reason matteo has a hardon for playing an asshole on MeFi.
posted by languagehat at 5:02 PM on December 12, 2005


I was being cynical, not wisecracking. I honestly find it ironic in the thread about how happy everyone is about killing someone the mods decided a picture of a lynching was too graphic. How do you not?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:03 PM on December 12, 2005


Killing a man in the passion of revenge is one thing. Some wealthy oligarch, who will never see the blood, taking months pushing and stamping a man's death warrant is another.

Both wrong. But the first is, at least, understadibly human. The latter chills me to the bone - I see visions of Gilliam's Brazil.

I won't shed any tears over Williams, but I'm sad for America that we as a country can so easily throw men away and talk tough over it like it's no big deal. It IS a big deal.

This guy went wrong somewhere. At a certain point he may have been salvagable. He was smart, articulate, charismatic, and a good organizer. He was of use. Then he became a thoughtless killer and that's that. He must be exiled from us where he can do little harm.

The death penalty is barbarism. We should throw it away and never look back. Throw it away like we have pillories, human sacrifice, and death lotteries.
posted by tkchrist at 5:07 PM on December 12, 2005


We had a few hard-ons saying "rot in hell." Most people were fairly strong in their anti-death penalty stance while condemning Williams' actions. Afew, like myself, tried to express ambivalence and attempts at understanding the motivations of both sides. Quit acting like you're under seige so you can play brave crusader.

You wanna tell dear matteo to dial it down a notch, too?

I said that the pic was unneccesary hyperbole, and it was already deleted and he did show some class in not pulling a tantrum about it, so I figured a screed was unneccessary.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on December 12, 2005


Apparently when I was but a wee lad my father befriended Eldridge Cleaver and brought him 'round the house on a few occasions. My mother states she was very uncomfortable around him because of what he'd done and finally convinced my dad from having him come around the house.

Which illustrates that whether it's death, life imprisonment or "simple" incarceration, justice doesn't stop once time has been served. That's something I've struggled with in my adult life (believing that time served is time served) as well as mostly-passive approval of the death penalty.

The accepted belief that Office Space-style "pound me in the ass prison" is okay by a spectrum of people across all political leanings is also bothersome. Sure, even I have joked about it from time to time, but nothing in the penal codes I've ever read says anything about imprisonment as well as rape, abuse and murder.

Those all just seem to be accepted parts of the system. Isn't the inability to piss when and where you want to, to eat when you're hungry, to not see friends and family when you want to and do what you want when you want punishment enough for most crimes? Apparently not.

I've been through so many capital punishment arguments on the internet it makes me want to spit at the screen. Obviously, I'm not going to bat an eyelash at Tookie Williams being put to death. That doesn't mean it doesn't make stop and think a long while about why I'm okay with it.

And to elaborate on my comment earlier, August, it's simply that when such a thread pops up, people post their damn opinions. No tough guy stuff and my (admittedly shaky) belief in the death penalty notwithstanding, it's got nothing to do with tough-guy grandstanding. You want to post your opinion when something you care about pops up, so do they. It's good there are few fence-sitters on it. It gives some space to think.
posted by Captaintripps at 5:12 PM on December 12, 2005


All you assholes on the soapboxes screaming that anyone who doesn't demand clemency is complacent in murder really need to shut the fuck up. It's really goddamned offensive.

Seriously, it's articulated in the very first comment on this thread real clearly, and a bunch of you seem to inexplicably missed it:

I AM OPPOSED TO THE DEATH PENALTY. BUT I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF GRANTING EXCEPTIONS BASED ON CELEBRITY.

Now, you maybe disagree reasonably about my method of advocacy (resist every instance of evil versus incremental progress, perfect is the enemy of the good, whatever), and that's fine, but going around baselessly impugning the motives of those who disagree with you is just goddamned ignorant.
posted by spiderwire at 5:15 PM on December 12, 2005


In the spirit of agreeableness I will dial my hard-on down a notch. Wish I could stick around. Some very good reading.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:20 PM on December 12, 2005


The death penalty is not justice, it is an expression of the communal desire for revenge of a mob of primitives whose attitude is based on a kind of superstitious notion that the world will be a better place if the Magical Deserve Points are all evened up.

The same system that creates criminals murders them.

Crime is sickness, not sin. We don't give lethal injections to hospital patients whose illness has hurt others.
posted by Wataki at 5:29 PM on December 12, 2005


I AM OPPOSED TO THE DEATH PENALTY. BUT I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF GRANTING EXCEPTIONS BASED ON CELEBRITY.

Celebrity is the very reason clemency should be granted. Twenty years ago, Ice Cube was the thug life. He was the cop killer, the badass street tough, the gangsta. Now he's making shitty movies and taking his kids to softball practice. Meanwhile, Tupac gets killed and he's an etarnal idol. I understand this wasn't a crime/punishment situation but it's the same premise. The death penalty turns celebrity convicts into Elvis.

The people saying "rot in hell" and saying how "justice is served" anger me to such a degree because of how blatant their selfishness is. They've purposefully decided that they need to see this man die to be happy with themselves, regardless of the long-term impact. There will be murals painted on walls in South Central a decade from now bearing Tookie's face, movies glorifying him and songs praising him, because four hours from now, he'll become a god. And everyone knows this is going to happen, and don't care. Because we view the death penalty like a fucking movie: bad guy dies, you win the game! Happy ending!

We- and it is we because as others noted our taxes paid for the extended appeals and procedures that give us this little show- are not going to be killing Williams tonight. We're going to be giving birth to him. And the idea that for saying this I'm to be told I'm not thinking of the victims would make me laugh it it weren't so depressing. No one cares about every victim that we'll make years from now because we've continued the culture while we delude ourselves that this is a "deterrent." Fucking bullshit. It's not a deterrent; it's a plot device. Glad you all bought tickets; it means they'll make a sequel.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:34 PM on December 12, 2005


Well, we're into the bold caps. Time to close the thread.
posted by xmutex at 5:35 PM on December 12, 2005


We don't give lethal injections to hospital patients whose illness has hurt others.

No, but we do isolate them from the rest of us to minimize the harm they can do.

The same system that creates criminals murders them.

Hyperbole again. Get off your soapbox. I know people who've been through horrible circumstances and yet manged not to become murderers and rapists. At a certain point personal responsiblity for your actions and the facing of consequences thereof has to come into play.
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on December 12, 2005


I wanna add one more rage-filled comment before I take off.

Before I start, to reiterate: I oppose the death penalty. Period. This case included.

But. The reason I get pissed about this sort of ultra-leftie grandstanding is people who are saying things like "apathy is complacency" and that failing to shout "foul play" from every rooftop are the biggest possible liability to an otherwise noble cause that I can imagine. Y'all are like prefab strawmen. If I was given the choice between flipping one person on the fence and convincing one of y'all to stay out of the public discourse forever, I'm honestly not sure which one I'd choose, 'cause I don't know who's doing more damage more of the time.

I mean, my God, can't you pick your battles at all? There's no exonerating DNA evidence. There's no racist judge or mistrial. He's the founder of the fucking Crips, and the only argument I've heard for granting clemency is that he wrote a couple of fucking books. Do you even begin understand how dumb that argument sounds, on face, to fence-sitters, let alone people who actually support the death penalty? Do you honestly think that this is a productive way to overturn the practice of state-sanctioned killing?

This shit just baffles me.
posted by spiderwire at 5:36 PM on December 12, 2005


Twenty years ago, Ice Cube was the thug life. He was the cop killer, the badass street tough, the gangsta.

Twenty years ago, Ice Cube played characters who were thug life. BIG DIFFERENCE. We're arguing facts not fiction. And Tookie Williams' crimes were not movies where everybody gets up and walks again after the director yells 'cut!'

I'm against the execution more or less, but weak argument.
posted by jonmc at 5:38 PM on December 12, 2005


and I'll even concede that the lynching photo was a bit of unneccessary theatrics

yeah, I suppose the lynched guy thought it "a bit unnecessary", too.
;)

What an asshole thing to say

maybe some of your friends here -- if you still have any -- should warn you that nobody buys the "professor" act anymore. you're just one poster in several thousands, like the rest of us. and not even a particularly nice one.
posted by matteo at 5:38 PM on December 12, 2005


XQUZYPHYR: Agreed 100%. The Manson comment was the best one in this thread so far. I think it's a really good pragmatic argument in favor of clemency, in this case especially. The inherent racism and fundamental shoddiness of the justice system are other good ones.

What I do take issue with is people who draw a moral equivalence between those who call for blood (of which there were way too many on this thread) and those who reluctantly wish to choose their battles because they think it's a better call in the long run. I also think that it's a pretty ignorant position to take in this case ("death penalty is wrong, period") given the case we're discussing, here.

I mean, your own logic would probably dictate that we argue against the Manson execution on a utilitarian rather than a moral basis, right? (Not that we can't harbor a moral opinion about it.) I'm not sure of a better way to describe it, but it's obvious that I'm unable to be clear about this, I guess.
posted by spiderwire at 5:41 PM on December 12, 2005


Or so you assume.

The people saying "rot in hell" and saying how "justice is served" anger me to such a degree because of how blatant their selfishness is. They've purposefully decided that they need to see this man die to be happy with themselves...
posted by Captaintripps at 5:41 PM on December 12, 2005


I mean, my God, can't you pick your battles at all? There's no exonerating DNA evidence. There's no racist judge or mistrial. He's the founder of the fucking Crips, and the only argument I've heard for granting clemency is that he wrote a couple of fucking books. Do you even begin understand how dumb that argument sounds, on face, to fence-sitters, let alone people who actually support the death penalty? Do you honestly think that this is a productive way to overturn the practice of state-sanctioned killing?

Seriously, dude, stop it. I myself have written two comments explaining why he shouldn't be executed and I didn't mention the fucking books at all. Other did too. If "the only argument you've heard" in this thread has been that one straw man you're desperate to burn then you're either lying or blind.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:42 PM on December 12, 2005


Or so you assume.

"Rot in hell" and "ciao, murder" sort of makes it easy.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:45 PM on December 12, 2005


OK, matteo, now I am going to tell you to dial it down a notch. This thread is not about you and languagehat's personality conflicts, so chill with the grade-school taunts. And I am proud to call the 'hat a friend.

yeah, I suppose the lynched guy thought it "a bit unnecessary", too.

Well, it's more of a Godwin effect type of thing. After bringing the legacy of slavery and lynching into the conversation all reasoned debate ceases.

And even speaking somewhat cynically, the principal problem with lynching (since legal executions of criminals of all races were common as dirt in that era) was that they were done without the benefit of law. And nobody here as argued that Williams is innocent or didn't recieve his day in court.

You want to argue the death penalty on general principle be my guest, but the comparison to lynching is a flawed analogy. Would you even have introduced it if Williams was white (and there are plenty of white guys on Death Row)?
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on December 12, 2005


I mean, your own logic would probably dictate that we argue against the Manson execution on a utilitarian rather than a moral basis, right? (Not that we can't harbor a moral opinion about it.) I'm not sure of a better way to describe it, but it's obvious that I'm unable to be clear about this, I guess.

It's both. You can find both moral and utilitarian reasons to oppose capital punishment; I do. And you can still do so even when you think someone deserves death, as I also do.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:47 PM on December 12, 2005



posted by fandango_matt at 5:48 PM on December 12, 2005


Do you honestly think that this is a productive way to overturn the practice of state-sanctioned killing?

it won't be overturned, not in the USA (read: in all 50 States). just like real gun control, it won't happen (go ask Bill Clinton and the then-Democratic Congress, the assault weapons ban did them a lot of good, yes sir, a lot of good in November 1994).

see, it's a defining national trait, like the Grand Canyon, or baseball. or trade unions and welfare for euroweenies. Americans think death penalty works. or they simply like it. anyway, it's popular -- what is, 75% in favor? or more? numbers are numbers. you don't like the death penalty? move to Boston. or to France.

it's perfectly fair to admit that people (read: voters) like certain things. American voters like pro-death penalty candidates (consider Clinton taking time off the campaign trail in '92 to go back to Little Rock and kill a braindamaged black man -- and Clinton was the Democrat in the race, the other guy in the race was the "Willie Horton will rape your wife and eat your corpse" gentleman)

see, it's not about choosing Tookie Williams as some sort of perfect example of why the death penalty kills the innocent -- it's not about choosing the perfect Rosa Parks to build a lawsuit and go to the SCOTUS. it's about admitting that as of now in the USA the death penalty -- even if you're in favor of it -- in its current form is horribly slanted against non-whites.

so, the rational choice would be a moratorium on executions until the system is fixed and ceases to be the minority-killing machine it demonstrably is now.
then, you'd be able to resume your execution schedule, if US voters like it so, if it makes them feel so safe.

but of course, then one would have to mention race in the political debate. and we all know that racism doesn't exist, so it's a moot point.
posted by matteo at 5:50 PM on December 12, 2005


FYI, Manson is serving a life-sentence.
posted by moonbird at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2005


Seriously, dude, stop it. I myself have written two comments explaining why he shouldn't be executed and I didn't mention the fucking books at all. Other did too. If "the only argument you've heard" in this thread has been that one straw man you're desperate to burn then you're either lying or blind.

I said I agree with you. But, I'm always lazy about previewing on long threads like this, and I was vague. "Only argument I've heard" was a misstatement. Should have been "most." Specifically, comments like moonbird and Eothele's above:

"I'm really surprised that usually moderate and temperate voices here are brandishing pitchforks and coiling the death rope. Wait, actually, they're not- they're sitting at their computers, pushing death off their fingertips with the click of a button.

"I've been paying taxes and enjoying public benefits in california since 1992. I'm gonna kill Tookie in a few hours"

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
posted by spiderwire at 5:52 PM on December 12, 2005


And you can still do so even when you think someone deserves death, as I also do.

This is an important thing to communicate, I think. Too often many people equate those who are vocally anti-death penalty with supporting or excusing their actions. This because of clever political framing nad natural human disgust at heinous criminal acts. I think that we should make clear that even if we oppose capital punishment that we share that disgust, if only to bring the debate into more reasoned territory.
posted by jonmc at 5:52 PM on December 12, 2005


Because it is so easy to tell exactly what making those statements mean beyond vehement approval or approval of the action...

You have no clue what it means to the people making those statements beyond their agreement. Clearly it makes you feel better to assume what you assume.

Says volumes about reasoning you make, spouting off all level of nonsense and depravity in the face of what you consider the same really does a lot for your case.
posted by Captaintripps at 5:54 PM on December 12, 2005


see, it's not about choosing Tookie Williams as some sort of perfect example of why the death penalty kills the innocent -- it's not about choosing the perfect Rosa Parks to build a lawsuit and go to the SCOTUS. it's about admitting that as of now in the USA the death penalty -- even if you're in favor of it -- in its current form is horribly slanted against non-whites.

Congratulations on your promotion, Commander Obvious. Fortunately for me, I'm not asking for a "perfect" case, just a halfway-decent one that exposes the problems with the death penalty, and even if it was just in California, that'd be a good start. But when 85% of the state is in favor of executing a multiple-murderer that founded one of the most notorious, violent gangs in the nation's history, and there's little if any exonerating evidence, then I'm gonna go out on a limb and say yeah, that's a long shot from fucking Rosa Parks, you hyperbolic wacko.
posted by spiderwire at 5:56 PM on December 12, 2005


The biggest obstacle those of us who oppose the death penalty face are the matteos who make our side look stupid.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:00 PM on December 12, 2005


Americans think death penalty works. or they simply like it.

Well, there are reasons for that beyond simply bloodlust and racism. I remember a conversation a while back where you acknowledged (about pedophiles rather than murderers, but the point remains, "the idea of torturing these fuckers ... appeals every decent person on a gut level" tells me that you understand this. So keep that in mind before making sweeping condemnations and remember that we Americans live in a nation where our media bombards us to the point of numbness with tales of heinous barbarity on a daily basis.
posted by jonmc at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2005


Wait, let me clarify that, I may have misread: regardless of whther or not a moratorium is a realistic immediate political goal (it's not), this case is possibly the worst imaginable choice if the goal is to highlight the inherent failures of the U.S. justice system given that none of the major complaints we're making against it were factors in this specific instance.
posted by spiderwire at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2005


no. torture bad. quick death, good.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:04 PM on December 12, 2005


wow... Schwarzenegger's statement reads, in part, "It is hard to assess the effect of such efforts in concrete terms, but the continued pervasiveness of gang violence leads one to question the efficacy of Williams’ message." So, his case for clemency is hurt by the fact that he was unable to rid this country of gang violence?
posted by willns at 6:10 PM on December 12, 2005


"It is hard to assess the effect of such efforts in concrete terms, but the continued pervasiveness of gang violence terrorism leads one to question the efficacy of Williams’ message."

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
posted by spiderwire at 6:13 PM on December 12, 2005


In other words, willns, Mr. Williams refused to do the one thing that would help dismantle what he created--that is, give up the names of the leaders and the organizational structure of the Crips.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:15 PM on December 12, 2005


empath scribbled "I'm particularly averse to granting people clemency for 'finding god', because that seems to me to be essentially forcing convicts to convert to Christianity on pain of death."

I always find it interesting that the death rowees never find Budda or join a Coven, It's always the Christian God that sets them on the straight and narrow. Are Christian missionaries granted special access to prisoners?
posted by Mitheral at 6:15 PM on December 12, 2005


No, its just that only Christianity is silly enough to contain the premise that if you find Jesus, "you're saved; you're in!" Jews don't know for sure who is blessed in the afterlife, and who isn't; Judaism it's too "iffy" for deathrow.... the other options? not really sure if they would help you...
posted by ParisParamus at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2005


During the early morning hours of February 28, 1979, Williams and three others went on a robbery spree.

It wasn't much of a spree if they only robbed one place.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:30 PM on December 12, 2005


spiderwire:

He's the founder of the fucking Crips, and the only argument I've heard for granting clemency is that he wrote a couple of fucking books. Do you even begin understand how dumb that argument sounds, on face, to fence-sitters, let alone people who actually support the death penalty?

Oh yeah it would sound dumb to some people and it sounds dumb to me too..probably to an hell of a lot of people. Expecially to those who "feel" that he shouldn't be pardoned at all because they are so deeply used to years of "feeling" that the right punishment for a murderer is death.

You're correct, but don't blame the right or the left for that (or blame both for either using or not refusing to use ..)

We should be blaming the fearmongering strategies used to dissuade people from commiting some crime. These strategies backfire easily because people don't like fear, at some point in time people become sick of being in fear and start reacting by -ignoring- fear and far worse they start to automatically desensitize.

A constant stream of fear keeps fear at work..look at China with all the excutions, look at Saudi Arabia. Why public excutions ? Because they help keeping fear high.

But do the fearmongering work ? It does to certain extent, but abuse it and you'll have people revolting in a snap expecially when they sympathize with the next scheduled victim.

There will be murals painted on walls in South Central a decade from now bearing Tookie's face, movies glorifying him and songs praising him, because four hours from now, he'll become a god. And everyone knows this is going to happen, and don't care. Because we view the death penalty like a fucking movie: bad guy dies, you win the game! Happy ending!

Yep it's possible. The sheriff come to town with his white hat, he shoot all the black hat evil away ! Horray for the good sheriff !

Substitute State with Sheriff, black hat evil with in this occasion Tookie , except the black hat turns out to become a potential reference point not only for related "minorities" but also for opposers of death penalty , anti-racists who are "racist" because they hate all of them racists ...and other problem.

Horray for the death penalty...yeah right.
posted by elpapacito at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2005


Why shouldn't he die? WHY????? Is someone claiming he didn't "do it"?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:37 PM on December 12, 2005


Dicks who make martyrs out of murderer...ignor'm.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:39 PM on December 12, 2005


And parisparamus more or less exemplifies how some people should "perceive" the whole event...dicks, murder, death..baabb baaaahh librul terrist !

What's on Fox ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:43 PM on December 12, 2005


well, this conversation has disintegrated to the point of being utterly pointless. I did my best.
posted by jonmc at 6:45 PM on December 12, 2005


People who call others dicks for difference of opinion... ignorant.
posted by moonbird at 6:46 PM on December 12, 2005


No. People who spend time putting vermon on a pedestal are probably vermon themselves. If only because there are lots of better causes in the world to spend time on.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:46 PM on December 12, 2005


vermin
posted by ParisParamus at 6:47 PM on December 12, 2005


"vermon," sounds vaguely like either a Nordic Metal band or a French delicacy. Either way, I'll pass.
posted by jonmc at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2005


Why shouldn't he die? WHY????? Is someone claiming he didn't "do it"?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:37 PM EST on December 12 [!]


He shouldn't be spared because he didn't do it; he probably did do it. He shouldn't be spared because he reformed, or helped or did whatever after being incarcerated. He should be spared because capital punishment is wrong. Why it is wrong has been debated endlessly above.
posted by caddis at 6:52 PM on December 12, 2005


We don't give lethal injections to hospital patients whose illness has hurt others.

No, but we do isolate them from the rest of us to minimize the harm they can do.


I agree. Life-long quarantine for incurable cases makes perfect sense. The death penalty does not.


The same system that creates criminals murders them.

Hyperbole again. Get off your soapbox. I know people who've been through horrible circumstances and yet manged not to become murderers and rapists. At a certain point personal responsiblity for your actions and the facing of consequences thereof has to come into play.


At a certain point, such superstitious nonsense does come into play, but only because the majority of people are quite silly. There are exceptions, but the overwhelming tendency for poverty to give rise to crime and violent crime is undeniable. If we take your "personal responsibility" myth and apply it to the facts, what do we have? An inexplicable phenonemon where poor communities in American, often predominantly non-white communities, just happen to personal-responsibility themselves into violent crime, while wealthy communities en masse just happen to personal-responsibility themselves into overwhelmingly abiding by the law.

It is not even remotely hyperbole to state that the same system that creates criminals also murders them. Nothing could be more prosaic.
posted by Wataki at 6:56 PM on December 12, 2005


Too often many people equate those who are vocally anti-death penalty with supporting or excusing their actions. This because of clever political framing

Indeed framing or view from one point of view considering all the others as not relevant, not correct..just because they're different (therefore wicked, according to some)
posted by elpapacito at 6:56 PM on December 12, 2005


The Supremes have denied his appeal. I guess that is it.
posted by caddis at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2005


The same system that creates criminals murders them.

Murder. Definition:

The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.

Since the death penalty is not illegal, it is by definition not murder.
posted by unreason at 7:00 PM on December 12, 2005


Nobel prize nominations are kept secret for 50 years. ABC news, defend that gratuitious assertion!
posted by jewzilla at 7:01 PM on December 12, 2005


Can his legal team appeal to the President?
posted by Captaintripps at 7:04 PM on December 12, 2005


wataki, you're obviously some kind of blinkered zealot, so I probably shouldn't be wasting my time responding to you, but to assert that violent crime is merely some kind of response to enviornment is first of all an insult to every person who came out of a bad enviornment who dosen't become a criminal (meaning most of them), secondly ignores those who come from normal enviornments who become criminals, and third infantilizes those in poor enviornments by reducing them to simple stimulus-response organism without thought processes or consciences. Call me when you leave the Sooper Sekrit Junior Anarchists Club, baby Che.
posted by jonmc at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2005


Since the death penalty is not illegal, it is by definition not murder.

Hm, good point. So what word would you use for... um... immoral state-sanctioned killing?

Damn you, Godwin! Damn youuuuu!
posted by Wataki at 7:10 PM on December 12, 2005


moonbird: People who call others dicks for difference of opinion... ignorant.

But it's OK to draw a moral equivalence between "moderates" on the fence on this issue and actively participating in a lynching, like you did upthread?

jonmc: well, this conversation has disintegrated to the point of being utterly pointless. I did my best.

Notice how that tends to happen when ParisParamus shows up?

I'm sure I didn't help by flying off the handle, but on the other hand there was a whole lot of ignorant shit said upthread, too. You don't have to go too far down the page to see matteo's "Free Mumia" link or TJH saying we should "send him to Iraq."
posted by spiderwire at 7:14 PM on December 12, 2005


wataki, you're obviously some kind of blinkered zealot, so I probably shouldn't be wasting my time responding to you, but to assert that violent crime is merely some kind of response to enviornment is first of all an insult to every person who came out of a bad enviornment who dosen't become a criminal (meaning most of them), secondly ignores those who come from normal enviornments who become criminals, and third infantilizes those in poor enviornments by reducing them to simple stimulus-response organism without thought processes or consciences. Call me when you leave the Sooper Sekrit Junior Anarchists Club, baby Che.

People keep bringing up exceptions as if doing so dismisses the tendency. Do you similarly argue that smoking doesn't cause cancer, because of the statistically inevitable people who smoke three packs a day and get hit by a car at 99?

The factors that go into determining whether or not a person will become a violent criminal are, of course, chaotic and thus not predictable in any exact manner. But ask yourself this: do you really think that it is possible that, given the environment of growing up in poor, violent communities in America, every single person will decide to abide by the law?
posted by Wataki at 7:15 PM on December 12, 2005


Hey languagehat! Did a user called unreason just beg the question?
posted by spiderwire at 7:19 PM on December 12, 2005


People keep bringing up exceptions as if doing so dismisses the tendency

Except that the criminals are the exception. There are a lot more honest poor people than there are criminals. I'd also like to point out that if your theory was correct, then the only crimes we should see being committed are ones where there is financial gain, or crimes that act as revenge against the upper classes. Tookie Williams often killed when it wasn't necessary to make ends meet, and he killed mostly poor people. Which puts a few holes in your poor Robin Hood trying to survive against The Man outlook.
posted by unreason at 7:20 PM on December 12, 2005


do you really think that it is possible that, given the environment of growing up in poor, violent communities in America, every single person will decide to abide by the law?

I don't think that there's any place in the world where everybody decides to abide by the law absolutely. I've broken my share of laws, some of which were stupid laws (smoking marijuana), some of which were very reasonable laws (drunk driving, theivery). This is not a sermon from the mount merely an opinion born of observation of experience.

I'm perfectly willing to admit that poverty, abuse etc. are factors in future criminality, but they are not moral diapers. People still make choices, and as I said before, the vast majority of people raised in poor American enviornments (and I've known plenty of them) do not become violent criminals. In fact they are most often the victims of violent criminals. Perhaps, if Tookie Williams had grown up ina wealthy enviornment, he would have become Ken Lay, less violent but still a miserable miscreant,
posted by jonmc at 7:22 PM on December 12, 2005


and explain to me again how a vast majority (meaning poor people who do not become criminals) constitutes an "exception," as you put it.
posted by jonmc at 7:24 PM on December 12, 2005


Except that the criminals are the exception. There are a lot more honest poor people than there are criminals. I'd also like to point out that if your theory was correct, then the only crimes we should see being committed are ones where there is financial gain, or crimes that act as revenge against the upper classes. Tookie Williams often killed when it wasn't necessary to make ends meet, and he killed mostly poor people. Which puts a few holes in your poor Robin Hood trying to survive against The Man outlook.

Apologies if I gave the impression that I was saying that all crimes are motivated out of a desire for financial gain. Since I'm simply pointing at the tendencies, and since there's an overwhelming correlation between poverty and violent unprofitable crime, I wasn't suggesting Robin Hood. I was suggesting Tookie Williams. Impoverished communities give rise to all kinds of social phenomena that are not directly linked to wanting more money. Alcoholism, child abuse, violent crime, lack of education, etc. - the statistics are clear.
posted by Wataki at 7:26 PM on December 12, 2005


Bill Bennett sez: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."

jonmc, I'm afraid that it's just a statistical fact, so you're just gonna have to live with it.
posted by spiderwire at 7:27 PM on December 12, 2005


I was suggesting Tookie Williams.

And Tookie Williams decided that a couple of hundred bucks was worth more than 4 (struggling immigrant shopkeepers and their employees) lives. You can call that a rose if you want, but it still stinks. And I think most of us can be forgiven for feeling more sympathy for them than for Williams himself.
posted by jonmc at 7:29 PM on December 12, 2005


spiderwire: STFU, please.
posted by jonmc at 7:29 PM on December 12, 2005


.....somebody needs their sarcasm meter adjusted.
posted by spiderwire at 7:30 PM on December 12, 2005


I'm perfectly willing to admit that poverty, abuse etc. are factors in future criminality, but they are not moral diapers. People still make choices, and as I said before, the vast majority of people raised in poor American enviornments (and I've known plenty of them) do not become violent criminals. In fact they are most often the victims of violent criminals. Perhaps, if Tookie Williams had grown up ina wealthy enviornment, he would have become Ken Lay, less violent but still a miserable miscreant,

I honestly don't think notions like "if Tookie Williams had grown up in a wealthy environment" have any meaning, but that's a slightly different matter.

People make choices, and they have reasons for making choices. Your point seems to be premised on the the idea that while there are factors influencing decisions that are outside of the person's control (what we're calling a bad environment), there are enough factors influencing decisions that are within the person's control that they are still morally responsible for their actions. Is that what you're saying?

Also, regarding my point about the plausibility not one person in Harlem or whatever breaking the law, to me it seems impossible that these kinds of environments don't give rise to violent criminals. And if it is impossible for the world to be such that a small number of people in that condition do not murder, can we justly blame them if they do? Obviously, we must act for the safety of the community, but when acting for the safety of the community gets mixed up in these ideas about bringing pain on someone who's caused it, bringing death on someone's cause caused it, out of a kind of obligation to communal revenge, that's when things have moved from rationality to sentimentality, in my opinion.
posted by Wataki at 7:32 PM on December 12, 2005


sorry, but there's been so much hyperbole thrown around here that it's hard to tell who's being sarcastic or what.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 PM on December 12, 2005


Nah, it's OK -- people are often confused by my creative mixture of moderate liberalism and eugenics.
posted by spiderwire at 7:36 PM on December 12, 2005


And Tookie Williams decided that a couple of hundred bucks was worth more than 4 (struggling immigrant shopkeepers and their employees) lives. You can call that a rose if you want, but it still stinks. And I think most of us can be forgiven for feeling more sympathy for them than for Williams himself.

Again, you fall back on appeals to emotion, rhetorical tools. And it works. You can describe horrible things he's done and rouse fear and anger in the hearts of your audience, but the death penalty is still based on flawed premises and superstitious notions of responsibility inherited from a Christian or Platonic worldview in which "free will" makes sense and there is a vague idea that somewhere out there, God knows what someone "deserves", and we are right and good in our actions if our treatment of someone approximates that manner of which God would approve.

The current attitude towards violent crime is open-ended. There is no hope of it ever ending the phenomenon. Only an attitude of treating violent crime as a disease - a disease that can harm others than the carrier, yes - has any hope of actually making progress in ending it, by examining the conditions that give rise to it and the methods that best remove it. The death penalty is a salute to outdated superstitions and an admission of society's failure.
posted by Wataki at 7:37 PM on December 12, 2005


Can his legal team appeal to the President?
posted by Captaintripps at 10:04 PM EST on December 12 [!]


Sarcasm, right?
posted by caddis at 7:38 PM on December 12, 2005


Your point seems to be premised on the the idea that while there are factors influencing decisions that are outside of the person's control (what we're calling a bad environment), there are enough factors influencing decisions that are within the person's control that they are still morally responsible for their actions. Is that what you're saying?

Um, obviously.

Also, regarding my point about the plausibility not one person in Harlem or whatever breaking the law, to me it seems impossible that these kinds of environments don't give rise to violent criminals.

The fact that you chose Harlem as an example tells me that your getting most of your ideas out of a book or an artcle rather than actual experience. My grandad and several uncles grew up in Harlem. My best friend in college grew up in Harlem. My boss grew up in Harlem as have several of my co-workers and friends. It's a large community with all kinds of people live in it. And (revelation) most of them aren't criminals. You seem to have everything boiled down to simple stimulus-response. Are you the ghost of BF Skinner?

Quite frankly, I find your arguments unconciously racist and classist.
posted by jonmc at 7:39 PM on December 12, 2005


Nope. Actually curious. I'm not very versed in his pardoning powers, other than knowing he can.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:39 PM on December 12, 2005


There is no hope of it ever ending the phenomenon.

No, there isn't. Only minimizining and reducing it. Violence has always been with us. The motivations behind most violent crime, greed, rage, lust, have always been with us. They're part of the human condition. We just have to deal with that.
posted by jonmc at 7:42 PM on December 12, 2005


"Offences against the United States..."

Not sure about that one.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:42 PM on December 12, 2005


Spiderwire: Honestly, I see the "rot in hell"s and "fuck him"s as the closest we can get in this type of forum to mob-style, vigilante behavior, but as I also said upthread, it's human nature and there's little that can change it besides choosing to exercise restraint. I never called, and would never call, anyone a dick for wanting to personally flip the switch themselves or for any other vitriol- our opinions are one thing that make us human. I know what it's like to want judicial revenge; I was damn-near disfigured permanently as a kid in a violent attack, and it took years before I could even consider forgiving the guy. His justice was swift but far short of expectation. Over time, I saw a bigger picture, I let go of my rage and hoped that the guy could somehow find himself. I'd like to think that as time goes by, perspective grows and we can examine violence on deeper and deeper levels, and try to understand it for what it is. As far as this thread, I haven't made any moral stand other than to call for closer examination of what it means to end someone's life in exchange for their crime, and further haven't expressed an opinion over whether this execution is justified. We're a bunch of guys in front of computers, entering our opinions sometimes haphazardly and with great conviction. But we're not the victim's family, we're not the executioner, and we're not Stanley Tookie Williams. So I'm just pushing for a more restrained, serious and respectful dialogue without all the I'M RIGHT YOU'RE WRONG bullshit. Like the criminals on death rows across the country, we all make choices, and hopefully ones that won't conflict with others trying to live their lives conscientiously. Sometimes, we will fuck up, and some will fuck up hard, and there are consequences for that. And we can choose to examine life in big pictures or little pictures. We've all got a right to make anything out of our perspective we want to, but there's no reason to stoop to a moronic level of name calling and troll-baiting.

Oh wait, it's the Internet. Nevermind.
posted by moonbird at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2005


Your point seems to be premised on the the idea that while there are factors influencing decisions that are outside of the person's control (what we're calling a bad environment), there are enough factors influencing decisions that are within the person's control that they are still morally responsible for their actions. Is that what you're saying?

Um, obviously.


And could you perhaps list those factors that influence a decision that are within the person's control?


The fact that you chose Harlem as an example tells me that your getting most of your ideas out of a book or an artcle rather than actual experience. My grandad and several uncles grew up in Harlem. My best friend in college grew up in Harlem. My boss grew up in Harlem as have several of my co-workers and friends. It's a large community with all kinds of people live in it. And (revelation) most of them aren't criminals. You seem to have everything boiled down to simple stimulus-response. Are you the ghost of BF Skinner?

Quite frankly, I find your arguments unconciously racist and classist.


Apologies for pulling an area out of a hat. I've never been to your country, but I expect that if I listed poor areas in my own country, you wouldn't recognise them. Please feel free to seize on this tangent and thus avoid my point.

The unintelligibility of free will, and thus any notions of responsibility that rest on it, is a simple matter of logic, and doesn't require any psychology, Skinner's or otherwise.
posted by Wataki at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2005


No, there isn't. Only minimizining and reducing it. Violence has always been with us. The motivations behind most violent crime, greed, rage, lust, have always been with us. They're part of the human condition. We just have to deal with that.

The fact that there are environments that give rise to practically no violent crime and other environments that give rise to far more suggests that (a) appealing to "free will" and "personal responsibility" is unhelpful in attempting to actually deal with the problem, and (b) we could - if we treated crime as a sickness made more likely by certain conditions rather than the decision of an individual soul to do evil just cos, hey, evil - reduce the conditions that give rise to crime and thus reduce crime.

I think that's a far better way of dealing with it than killing people who have done things that make us fearful and angry and disgusted.
posted by Wataki at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2005


And could you perhaps list those factors that influence a decision that are within the person's control?

Just one. Empathy. The simple human ability to put yourself in another human beings place, which is what prevents most people, whatever their circumstances from becoming violent criminals. And I suspect the same is true regardless of what country you're in. But quite frankly, I think you're too devoted to your own beliefs to actually listen to what anyone eslse says except to score rhetorical points.

And FWIW, I could care less about my "audience," as you put it. My ideas and opinions ae expressed for my own benefit, as I suspect yours are. I find yours very callow and dangerously naive. YMMV.
posted by jonmc at 7:52 PM on December 12, 2005


There are really no limits on presidential pardons, except under threat of impeachment: "Ultimately, the only limit on the clemency power admitted by the framers was that it could not be used in cases of impeachment." There is a small but unlikely possibility of narrow judicial review.
posted by spiderwire at 7:53 PM on December 12, 2005


moonbird: Where's the defense of comparing moderates to a lynch mob? Saying "ooh, teh intarweb = mob mentality" is a long way from that sort of moral equivalence. The latter is obvious. The former is offensive.
posted by spiderwire at 7:55 PM on December 12, 2005


also, your last comment misses the point entirely. The psychological community pretty much universally accepts the notion of sociopathy, also known as the lack of a conscience, but not all sociopaths are violent. One could argue that the smarter or more educated ones are less likely to be violent, since they're more able to calculate consequences. And I stated earlier in the thread that I'm against the death penalty even though I understand those who are in favor of it, since i once was.

I'd also venture that your need to see criminality as a disease stems from a need to see people as "victims" that you can "save."

people who have done things that make us fearful and angry and disgusted.


and much of that anger, fear and disgust is entirely justified.
posted by jonmc at 7:57 PM on December 12, 2005


Just one. Empathy. The simple human ability to put yourself in another human beings place, which is what prevents most people, whatever their circumstances from becoming violent criminals. And I suspect the same is true regardless of what country you're in. But quite frankly, I think you're too devoted to your own beliefs to actually listen to what anyone eslse says except to score rhetorical points.

And does a person choose how empathetic they are going to be?


And FWIW, I could care less about my "audience," as you put it. My ideas and opinions ae expressed for my own benefit, as I suspect yours are. I find yours very callow and dangerously naive. YMMV.

Here's an idea. You stop telling me all the ideas you have about what kind of person I am, and I won't even start telling you any ideas I have about what kind of person you are.
posted by Wataki at 7:58 PM on December 12, 2005


I'd also venture that your need to see criminality as a disease stems from a need to see people as "victims" that you can "save."

God forbid.


people who have done things that make us fearful and angry and disgusted.

and much of that anger, fear and disgust is entirely justified.


The feelings are understandable, but that doesn't make the actions they compel justified. People may understandably be fearful and disgusted by someone with some disfiguring or infectious disease, but the compulsion to, say, lock them all up on an island is not necessarily justified. We can't, as a society, let our collective primal impulses decide how we are going to treat individuals.
posted by Wataki at 8:01 PM on December 12, 2005


That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm supporting the moderates who aren't acting like total assholes and are trying to have a reasonable discussion. I think that's pretty clear. And teh intarweb does not equal a lynch mob. 'K?
posted by moonbird at 8:03 PM on December 12, 2005


And does a person choose how empathetic they are going to be?

you assume it's a choice. I thought you were the one who said free will was a "superstition>' Your arguments are contradicting themselves.

Also, the other thing that prevents people from becoming violent criminals is consequences. If those consequences are not severe, just how effective can they be.

I won't even start telling you any ideas I have about what kind of person you are.

Well your bad opinion of me would just break my fat old heart.
posted by jonmc at 8:04 PM on December 12, 2005


Also, we're aguing about fundamental notions of human nature, here. We both have our opinions, but it's foolish of either of us to think that we remotely have it figured out. So this dicussion has moved into extremely unproductive territory.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 PM on December 12, 2005


you assume it's a choice. I thought you were the one who said free will was a "superstition>' Your arguments are contradicting themselves.

I'm asking you to put it into your words. I certainly don't think that a person chooses how empathetic to be. It seems very obvious to me that people's decisions are determined by factors outside of their control, including the empathy factor.

From your perspective, though, you suggested that empathy was a factor within the person's control. So my question is... would you say that they choose how empathetic to be?


Also, the other thing that prevents people from becoming violent criminals is consequences. If those consequences are not severe, just how effective can they be.

True, but the fact that people still commit crimes they know warrant the death penalty suggests that it's not that effective, and the fact that there are often lower violent crime rates in countries that do not have the death penalty suggests that there are more effective alternatives. And finally, the same justification could be used for, say, publically torturing people. But yes, I certainly agree that disincentive is a rational function served by the justice system.
posted by Wataki at 8:08 PM on December 12, 2005


wataki, to repeat myself, I said earlier in the thread that I'm against the death penalty, so your battling a phantom enemy on that front. It was your simplistic "disease," model of thinking about crime that offended me.
posted by jonmc at 8:11 PM on December 12, 2005


would you say that they choose how empathetic to be?

Beside the point. A person who demostrates no empathy is a danger to the rest of society and needs to be treated as such, with the safety of society (the greater good) coming first.
posted by jonmc at 8:12 PM on December 12, 2005


Also, we're aguing about fundamental notions of human nature, here. We both have our opinions, but it's foolish of either of us to think that we remotely have it figured out. So this dicussion has moved into extremely unproductive territory.

I'm interested to hear you explain which factors are within a person's control.

It's relevant to the topic if we think that people should not be punished for doing things for reasons that are not within their control (ie., mentally ill people).
posted by Wataki at 8:12 PM on December 12, 2005


wataki, to repeat myself, I said earlier in the thread that I'm against the death penalty, so your battling a phantom enemy on that front. It was your simplistic "disease," model of thinking about crime that offended me.

As opposed to the incredibly complex "person just chooses to be evil and so now he deserve to suffer to even up the Magic Deserve Points" model? I think the disease model is pretty complex. It just runs contrary to certain inherited emotional tendencies.

I don't think you'd find my point so offensive if I could explain it well enough.


would you say that they choose how empathetic to be?

Beside the point. A person who demostrates no empathy is a danger to the rest of society and needs to be treated as such, with the safety of society (the greater good) coming first.


The point was, you said that empathy was an example of a factor within a person's control - contrasted against environment as a factor outside of a person's control. My question is kind of not besides the point at all.

I don't disagree that dangerous people should be treated as dangerous for the safety of society. I am in favour of quarantine. I'm not arguing that people who prove themselves to be violent and dangerous should be roaming the streets simply because we can point to environmental factors that caused their violence. But I am saying that their removal from society should be seen purely for the good of society and not at all for inflicting some kind of appropriate amount of pain on the perpetrator.
posted by Wataki at 8:18 PM on December 12, 2005


jonmc, I think you're being unfair to Wataki ... you seem to be reading what he says as "crime is caused by poverty, and therefore no one bears any responsibility for committing a crime - they are simply reacting to inevitable stimulus."

However, that's not what I read him(?) as saying at all; what I've been getting is "conditions such as poverty are, according to all statistics and common sense. contributing factors which influence people to lead a life of crime; if we really wanted to reduce crime, we would attempt to address those factors, and the death penalty, rather than being a real means of addressing crime, is little more than evidence of society's failure to do so."

Which just strikes me as ... common sense, really.
posted by kyrademon at 8:18 PM on December 12, 2005


I'm interested to hear you explain which factors are within a person's control.

Their actions. There were plenty of times when I was struggling to get by and workinga s a cashier in a store counting large quantities of money, and I'd think "I could take this and and pay off all my debts..." but what stopped me was both the realization that I'd be caught and spend time in prison, and also that to do so I'd probably have to cause suffering and fear to other humans, which is something I don't like to do, because I have a conscience.

It's relevant to the topic if we think that people should not be punished for doing things for reasons that are not within their control (ie., mentally ill people).

To assume that all those who commit violent acts are mentally ill is a bit of a leap, don't you think? Some may merely think that whatever they gain from their acts is worth more than the suffering of their victims, which is not illness, merely callousness. And even the mentally ill who committ violent acts are removed from society at large, because the safety of innocents is more important than their freedom.
posted by jonmc at 8:19 PM on December 12, 2005


if we really wanted to reduce crime, we would attempt to address those factors,

I agree that those factors should be addressed, regardless of crime, simply because it's the right thing to do, but that dosen't mean I forgive or excuse heinous actions.
posted by jonmc at 8:21 PM on December 12, 2005


conditions such as poverty are, according to all statistics and common sense. contributing factors which influence people to lead a life of crime;

and I'll repeat myself: most poor people do not become criminals, which throws a bit of a monkeywrench into such simplistic equations. And wataki has yet to come up with a response to that fact.
posted by jonmc at 8:23 PM on December 12, 2005


Forgive? Excuse? Hmm. I didn't get that from what Wataki was saying at all. I thought he was simply discussing whether methods purported to be for crime reduction were practical or ultimately pointless for that purpose.
posted by kyrademon at 8:24 PM on December 12, 2005



Forgive? Excuse? Hmm. I didn't get that from what Wataki was saying at all.

He said that crime is nothing but a disease, and since we don't fault people for getting a cold, then I can only conclude that he holds criminals blameless for their actions.
posted by jonmc at 8:26 PM on December 12, 2005


And even the mentally ill who committ violent acts are removed from society at large, because the safety of innocents is more important than their freedom.

Yes, I probably should have said three or four times earlier that I have no problem with quarantine for the safety of the society. Guess I'd better say it right now for the first time. I have no problem with quarantine for the safety of the society.


Their actions. There were plenty of times when I was struggling to get by and workinga s a cashier in a store counting large quantities of money, and I'd think "I could take this and and pay off all my debts..." but what stopped me was both the realization that I'd be caught and spend time in prison, and also that to do so I'd probably have to cause suffering and fear to other humans, which is something I don't like to do, because I have a conscience.

Right. There were a number of factors influencing your decision - desire for money, fear of the consequences, displeasure for causing suffering and fear in others. My point is twofold:

1. These factors, along with any other unlisted conscious or subconcious factors that also influenced the decision, are the only factors influencing the decision - which is to say, they determine it.

2. These factors themselves are not the product of choices - they are outside of your control. (And if they are the product of choices, we can return again to your reasons for THAT choice, and so on, until it becomes either infinite regression or a point where the reason for a choice was not itself the result of a choice.)

Given these two points, it seems to me that free will - the idea that some part of decision is not determined by factors outside of our control - and any notions of responsibility and deserving punishment that are based on it are irrational.

For this reason, I think the justice system should limit its functions to quarantine, treatment and, to some extent, disincentive, but should not include punishment as its purpose.

And because the death penalty only really makes sense in terms of punishment (and arguably in terms of disincentive), I think it's based on irrational, outdated notions. I know you agree that the death penalty's a bad thing. But I hope now that I've given some kind of substance to what you consider a simplistic attitude towards crime.
posted by Wataki at 8:28 PM on December 12, 2005


Well ... no it doesn't throw a monkeywrench into that equation at all. No one said poor person = criminal. All that was said was that people who live in conditions of poverty = more likely to become criminals than people who don't.

For, well, fairly obvious reasons. If the equation you're looking at is "become a convenience store clerk for $240 a week and risk getting shot" versus "become a drug dealer for $2000 a week and risk getting shot", a hell of a lot more people are going to look at that equation and take option two than those who are looking at "become a computer programmer for $2000 a week" versus "become a drug dealer for $2000 a week and risk getting shot."

Does that mean they all will? Of course not. And the fact that some will have moral objections to killing other people is a big factor in why some do and some don't. Sure.

But, a hell of a lot fewer people choose to kill their fellows when their options are better.
posted by kyrademon at 8:29 PM on December 12, 2005


Actually, reading Wataki's latest post, I find his reasoning about free will to be questionable.

But my own opinion on the subject is ... who cares? Whether or not free will only matters if you are proposing a punitive, rather than rehabilitative, system. Since I think a punitive system is morally wrong, Wataki and I find common ground on where we end up, even if we disagree as to why we are there.
posted by kyrademon at 8:33 PM on December 12, 2005


well, obviously it's a complicted equation, but wouldn't it be fair to say that telling people that they lack human moral choices because of their circumstances is robbing them (and those like them) of their humanity/ (as in, what do you expect ofthem, they're poor/black etc). Just saying.
posted by jonmc at 8:35 PM on December 12, 2005


and I'll repeat myself: most poor people do not become criminals, which throws a bit of a monkeywrench into such simplistic equations. And wataki has yet to come up with a response to that fact.

I'll respond to it here. I was not saying that all people from impoverished communities become violent criminals. I was saying that the correlation between poverty and violent crime is undeniable.

For the sake of example, let's say that there's a community, Community A, that is impoverished, and Community B, that is quite well off. Let's say that 1 in 20 young males in Community A have committed some kind of violent crime, and 1 in 500 in Community B have committed some kind of violent crime. And let's say we find these trends across enough communities that differ only in wealth to suggest that poverty is the factor that makes the difference.

We can basically come up with a model for a community that gives rise to one violent criminal out of every 20 young males. Individually, we can say to 19 law-abiding young males, "Hey, well done, you chose to be good." And individually, we can say to a violent criminal young male, "Hey, bad job. You chose to be evil." And that all kind of feels like it makes sense.

But when we have the conditions that repeatedly and predictably result in one in 20 young males committing violent crime, can we look at a community of 5000 young males as a whole and say, "Hey, bad job, 250 of you turned out evil."? Especially when, by altering those conditions, we create create a community that repeatedly and predictably results in only one in 500 committing violent crimes?

These conditions are entirely outside of the control of the individuals, and yet we can predictably, repeatedly, in essence scientifically, create crime. Do we still hold those individuals - a minority of individuals, yes - responsible for being criminals?

This is what I'm saying. This kind of thought experiment poses no problem when you adopt the perspective I'm talking about. The problem is dissolved, rather than solved, so to speak. And yet people continue to talk in terms of individual responsibility, just deserts, etc., which leaves them more or less unable to respond to simple thought experiments like this.

This is what I'm saying. I do apologise for doing a shit job of it.
posted by Wataki at 8:39 PM on December 12, 2005


(The disease analogy may be more interesting and complicated than it seems at first glance, too, given how upset people are these days at the rising costs of medicating those with arguably self-imposed diseases such as obesity ... I know a lot of people who blame the individuals in question, and others who think that is a blame-the-victim mentality and the way to alter it is to attack the social roots of the problem.)
posted by kyrademon at 8:40 PM on December 12, 2005


well, when you put it that way, ...I still disagree, but you seem less simplistic and naive. so fair enough. And FWIW, I hope you don't regard me as some kind of barbarian for disageeing, my previous comment notwithstanding.
posted by jonmc at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2005


kyrademon, where that breaks down is that (for the most part) the obese are only harming themselves. the same can't be said of criminals.
posted by jonmc at 8:44 PM on December 12, 2005


well, obviously it's a complicted equation, but wouldn't it be fair to say that telling people that they lack human moral choices because of their circumstances is robbing them (and those like them) of their humanity/ (as in, what do you expect ofthem, they're poor/black etc). Just saying.

I don't think my perspective undermines moral choices. It just calls for a kind of re-evaluation of them. After all, morality is, for me at least, an unavoidable factor in making decisions. I just recognise that this, too, is out of my control.

It's one of those things that has only indirect applications. I think it's relevant to the justice system, for example. But when you try to apply it in your own life, you end up where you started. You still have to make choices, and you still have reasons for making them. Nothing's really changed.
posted by Wataki at 8:44 PM on December 12, 2005


OK, so maybe a productive (if only for us understanding eachothers perspective) conversation did come out of this clusterfuck of a thread. If you're ver in Queens, I'll buy you a cheesestaek and a beer.
posted by jonmc at 8:47 PM on December 12, 2005


well, when you put it that way, ...I still disagree, but you seem less simplistic and naive. so fair enough. And FWIW, I hope you don't regard me as some kind of barbarian for disageeing, my previous comment notwithstanding.

Well, I'm sure you had your reasons. (kazing! wokka wokka wokka!)

I still have to work out how to reorient the notion of responsibility within the framework I'm suggesting. I can define "choice" in a way that's consistent, but I'm still working on responsibility. Also, something you've sorted hinted at - even if notions of free will and responsibility are irrational, is the irrational idea still kind of useful for the purposes of keeping people in line?
posted by Wataki at 8:48 PM on December 12, 2005


OK, so maybe a productive (if only for us understanding eachothers perspective) conversation did come out of this clusterfuck of a thread. If you're ver in Queens, I'll buy you a cheesestaek and a beer.

It's the magic of the internet. If you're ever in New Zealand, I'll buy you a pot of mussels and a beer.
posted by Wataki at 8:50 PM on December 12, 2005


when it comes to the most egregious actions (rape, murder, violent assault), I'd say yes, since it's safety first, to use a cliche.
posted by jonmc at 8:50 PM on December 12, 2005


Heh. My favorite bar is staffed completely by Aussies and Kiwis. me and my bar buddy Divine Wino have a blast getting the barmaids to say "vagina," in their accents (puerile American humor).
posted by jonmc at 8:51 PM on December 12, 2005


Yeah, I've been asked to say "penis" before. I was told I sounded like Kano from the Mortal Kombat movie. (I don't.)

I often think about crime like this: I wouldn't rape, and that guy would. What's the difference between us?

Even without the death penalty, I think my country's attitude towards crime is still very much along the lines that I've here called "primitive". The argument for punishment still becomes, "Imagine if it was YOUR daughter this happened to. Wouldn't you want to KILL the guy? Wouldn't you want to HURT him?" Or, if they're Christian or Muslim, they'll describe justice to me in ways I am unable to distinguish from revenge.

It's frustrating to me, because it's so easy for people to understand that kind of punish-the-evildoer mentality, and it's so emotionally appealing, that I wonder if any positive change is possible (assuming I'm right about the conditions for positive change).
posted by Wataki at 9:00 PM on December 12, 2005


jonmc, wataki, kyrademon: you've brought reasoned discussion back into the thread. a round of beer and mussels!
posted by moonbird at 9:04 PM on December 12, 2005


And cheesesteaks! I'm very curious.
posted by Wataki at 9:12 PM on December 12, 2005


Live by the sword, die by the sword. If somebody murders someone they should have no rights including writing children's books, making movies, and certaining not being allowed to live knowing they took another life. This guy is getting the easy way out anyway. Lethal injection is like having your pet put to sleep; They shouldn't allow a murderer to die peacefully - criminals have it way to good in my opinion.
posted by Guerilla at 9:17 PM on December 12, 2005


You're engaging in a fallacy there, Guerilla. You are identifying the person with the crime. Plenty of people would murder in the right (wrong, technically) situation. Some people can be reformed. Some cannot, either because they have a mental illness or because they don't believe they can be.

The death penalty does not work as a deterrent. What it does do is appease bloodthirsty voters who want revenge. There is no other reason to keep it.
posted by Eideteker at 10:20 PM on December 12, 2005


How do you know it doesn't work as a deterent. Actually, it would have merit provided its effect was not neutral. But how can one tell it's not a deterent. That seems impossible to gauge.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:22 PM on December 12, 2005


Well, shoot. I have a final on it this Thursday; might as well bone up. There's Sellin's studies in the 60s. States did not differ in homicide rates based on having a death penalty, even in similar areas. Chicago (DP) had a higher homicide rate than Detroit (no-DP). There's Phillips' study in 1986. After an announcement of an execution, the homicide rate went up, not down (specifically in California, but the announcements were made on Fridays, and weekends are historically the time for homicide. No significant effect either way). Sellin also looked at the reinstatement of the death penalty in Kansas in 1935, and found a drop. However, there was a corresponding drop in all the neighboring states, due to the Depression. In the 90s, there was a big to-do made about the homicide rate dropping in DP states, but not much mention was made that it was falling even more in non-DP states. There has been no clearly demonstrated deterrent effect. If it's there, we haven't found it yet. But the evidence seems to indicate that states with the DP have higher homicide rates. The causative vector is not known; whether the homicides cause the DP or the DP causes the homicides (or a third factor). We've all seen the Pirates vs. Global Warming data.

It certainly doesn't rehabilitate. Can't fix a dead man.
posted by Eideteker at 10:51 PM on December 12, 2005


** attaches 'test' elecrtodes to Paris**

Don't worry, this is just a test of the equiptment...
posted by Balisong at 10:51 PM on December 12, 2005


I hope that doesn't sound snotty. I am taking your question at face value, Paris. I know a lot of people have some kind of grudge against you, but I don't. I'm presenting you the data as it was presented to me.
posted by Eideteker at 10:52 PM on December 12, 2005


I would say it isn't a deterrent, because the other day when some guy insulted my girlfriend I wanted to murder him, and if I had a gun I may have. Would it have been justified? No. Did I care at the moment? Absolutely not. Violence comes from a deeper place then that the foresight to consider the arrest, the trial, and the conviction.
posted by iamck at 10:56 PM on December 12, 2005


It is impossible to gauge (while I'm thinking). The only way to do a pure experiment on it would be to have a random number generator at each birth determine if the child would be subject to the death penalty, implant them with a "DP" chip (that can't be removed or replaced with a non-DP chip; I dunno, maybe it explodes?), and see if those with the DP chip murder less than those without it. I'm a little wary about applying the DP to people without knowing how or if it works. As Gandalf said: "Don't be so cavalier about taking life if you lack the power to give it." Or something. I don't remember the exact quote.
posted by Eideteker at 11:00 PM on December 12, 2005


How do you know it doesn't work as a deterent. Actually, it would have merit provided its effect was not neutral. But how can one tell it's not a deterent. That seems impossible to gauge.

ParisParamus, to answer your question, one would show that there is no statistical correlation between the rate of use of capital punishment and the rate of first degree murder, in order to begin to quantify deterrence.

For example, here is one study performed in Texas; here is another from South Carolina.

In both sociological studies, the link between deterrence and capital punishment is "tenuous" or "non-existent".

Those are just two of many studies Google returned; unless Google has a particular ideological bent, the body of studies would indicate that the deterrent effect of capital punishment does not exist.

The science suggests that we need to look elsewhere for reasons why we continue to perform executions. As a deterrent, executions fail. Personally, I suspect Eideteker is on the right track.
posted by Rothko at 11:01 PM on December 12, 2005


Just so everyone knows, they're holding a vigil for the guy outside my apartment, and I'm seriously about to execute somebody. For fuck's sake.
posted by iamck at 11:04 PM on December 12, 2005


Did I mention they're chanting?
posted by iamck at 11:04 PM on December 12, 2005


"They say lynch him, we say no
Stanley Williams off death row!"


/seriously
posted by iamck at 11:07 PM on December 12, 2005


Ditty #2:

They say death row, we say hell no.
Death Row?

Hell No!

Death Row?

Hell No!

Death Row?

Hell No!

(scream, shout, repeat)
posted by iamck at 11:09 PM on December 12, 2005


You could always put on a pair of headphones for the next 52 minutes. Or have a very long shower. Or throw inflated balloons filled with mayonnaise at them.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:12 PM on December 12, 2005


It's a bit surreal - a mob of white people in a predominantly black neighborhood walking around with flames at night chanting the word "lynch."
posted by iamck at 11:22 PM on December 12, 2005


.
posted by SassHat at 12:06 AM on December 13, 2005


paris :But how can one tell it's not a deterent. That seems impossible to gauge.

Then one should prove it really is a deterrent ; because if one can't prove that it's useless, that doesn't prove it is useful.

It's the same as saying..given that you can't prove alien don't exist then they exist , or similarly...given that you can't prove that God doesn't exist, therefore it must exist

Basic formal logic ParisWatson, basic formal logic.
posted by elpapacito at 12:09 AM on December 13, 2005


Well, he should be dead by now.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:13 AM on December 13, 2005


My take on the death penalty, from what I've heard:

From a pragmatic standpoint:
-It's not an effective deterrant
-It's more expensive than locking somebody up for life

From an ethical standpoint:
-Legalized revenge murders are really fucked up

This is sad. Here's to hoping that the positive messages he adopted live strong and long.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:35 AM on December 13, 2005


LA Times reports he has been executed.
posted by Rothko at 12:42 AM on December 13, 2005


.
posted by rockabilly_pete at 12:44 AM on December 13, 2005



posted by kirkaracha at 12:47 AM on December 13, 2005


TOOKIE EXECUTED
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:47 AM on December 13, 2005



posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:48 AM on December 13, 2005


Steve, did executing Mr. Williams return this police officer to his family? Just curious.
posted by Rothko at 12:54 AM on December 13, 2005


Well, first off he was a former solider in the U.S. Army, who was working the night shift at a the 7-11 to support his two kids when "Tookie" shot him in the back twice. Not a police officer.

To answer your question, no it will not return him to his family after the violent way Mr. Williams took him away. But it will give them justice.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:01 AM on December 13, 2005


This sap Tookie went out wasted on barbiturates. What an ass.
posted by shoos at 1:05 AM on December 13, 2005


I'm not sure how your celebration gives anyone the illusion of justice, but good luck with that.
posted by Rothko at 1:06 AM on December 13, 2005


I'm not sure how you being naive gives anyone the illusion that you care, but good luck with that.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:08 AM on December 13, 2005


S@L: But it will give them justice revenge.

Fixed that for ya.
posted by jsonic at 1:09 AM on December 13, 2005


"Naïve" would be thinking anything has changed from this, but good luck with that.
posted by Rothko at 1:10 AM on December 13, 2005


Sure some thing has changed. A murderous thug has been punished and sent to his marker for judgement.

Actions have consequences.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:12 AM on December 13, 2005


maker, rather
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:12 AM on December 13, 2005


A murderous thug has been punished and sent to his marker for judgement.

That's nice for God, I'm sure. Nothing's changed as far as stopping future misery here on this plane of existence, sadly.
posted by Rothko at 1:16 AM on December 13, 2005


Steve at Linnwood: To answer your question, no it will not return him to his family after the violent way Mr. Williams took him away. But it will give them justice.

No it will give him nothing, he's very dead how can you give something to dead ones ?

Now some people think justice was obtained... and if one thinks justice is doing to others what others did to you, well that's correct justice was -maybe- done. The point I guess is that you just don't bother understanding what caused the violence to begin with..it can't be but a person fault, so once the person is removed the fault is corrected..there's no further need to understand. Let's forget it , life is good eh ?

That so much reeks of fear and denial
posted by elpapacito at 1:25 AM on December 13, 2005


No, elpapacito, that's not fear and denial, it's a practical necessity for some people to live in their well-constructed fantasies. One should not begrudge or admonish people who think like this. They're just human beings trying to get a handle on life, and value judgments that avoid abstractions are important for them -- hey, that's important for everyone!

Plus, everyone needs their pound of flesh, in one form or another.
posted by gsb at 1:43 AM on December 13, 2005


Actions have consequences.

In the divine sense? Can't somebody snuff it around here without us getting into a debate about religion?

Look, I'm not much of one for divine retribution. I don't think that Mr. Williams violated any god-given principle by killing those four people, and I don't think that the State of California violated any god-given principle by killing him back.

We're talking about one man's actions and the law's response to them. Personally, I have no stake in the matter, and therefore do not care what happened to Mr. Williams either way. My question is simply whether it is the proper role of government to seek blood on behalf of the offended parties.

Since I don't know the answer to that question, and since somebody just died, I choose silence.

So, again: .
posted by rockabilly_pete at 1:45 AM on December 13, 2005


So killing is wrong, no?

But seriously, the principle works. If i see a kind beating up some other kid I simply give them a swift kick in the nuts and a punch round the ear and tell them that no... Violence is wrong... Now go play nice before i break your arm.
posted by Meccabilly at 3:04 AM on December 13, 2005


Image hosted by Photobucket.com
posted by tweak at 3:23 AM on December 13, 2005


.
posted by ScottMorris at 3:34 AM on December 13, 2005


Strange people,
The more they speak of god the more they kill.
posted by luis huiton at 4:08 AM on December 13, 2005


Dude, I don't think Tookie talked that much about god.
posted by shoos at 4:16 AM on December 13, 2005


tweak: no girls in the picture ? You must be one of them damn sexist librl terrst !
posted by elpapacito at 4:18 AM on December 13, 2005


Steve_at_Linnwood and ParisParamus on the same thread! Hallelujah! --hold on, I need my drunk glasses-- ah yes!

I hereby declare the eternal rule of the pithy wingnut one-liner and their Reign of Retarded Snark! So say we all! Bless you, And hopefully y'all will manage to fix your "return" keys sometime soon such that the Gods might grant you with paragaphs. All hail the lords of Kobol!

< spent all day watching battlestar galactica, sorry. --they still fuckin' crazy, though>
posted by spiderwire at 4:23 AM on December 13, 2005


And on a tangent: pictures posters you'd be much more appreciated on Fark ..we boring axe grinders just "don't get it" ..let's meet at Fark were I'll laugh with you about the booty, the funbags and the ridicule size of your penis, eh ?

That'd be fun...on Fark.
posted by elpapacito at 4:24 AM on December 13, 2005


Seriously -- can we have an informal ban on replying to S@L until he bothers to use the word wrap function? I'm worried that his obviously crippled browser (Lotus123? ZX80?) is impeding his ability to argue in these threads -- and it's just not fair!
posted by spiderwire at 4:26 AM on December 13, 2005


don't worry elpapacito, i'm working on a right wing one too, the hardest part is always the pictures...
posted by tweak at 4:32 AM on December 13, 2005


Steve_at_Linnwood and ParisParamus on the same thread!

Is there anybody here on MeFi who did not participate? I guess this issue touched a nerve.
posted by caddis at 4:36 AM on December 13, 2005


elpapacito trascends all the confusing crap to make a salient points: this thread has disintegrated into Fark. i respectfully submit that matteo and The Jesse Helms started the stupidity, and that ParisParamus and Steve_at_Wherever (predctably) escalated it into wingnut escape velocity.

It's too bad this guy is getting killed by an unjust system. Its a good thing the system is working. That said, we should try to change it. The state doesn't have the epistomelogical authority necessary to mete out the death penality, and life without parole is much worse. Let's stand beside our pledge for "deterrence."

I pay my taxes, agree or no. I think my bracket is getting a cheater of a deal. I oppose the death penality. But I'm not about to refuse to pay my taxes or interrupt the ability of the state to execute its laws.

Republicam Democracy means you fight the laws, not their application.
posted by spiderwire at 4:36 AM on December 13, 2005


Is there anybody here on MeFi who did not participate? I guess this issue touched a nerve.

amberglow, surprisingly enough. And quonsar and mathowie, off the top of my head, but don't quote me on that,
posted by spiderwire at 4:40 AM on December 13, 2005


spiderwire: s@l using a computer ? I tought his bright ideas excited the phospors of my monitor directly from his brain !
posted by elpapacito at 4:41 AM on December 13, 2005


spiderwire: spent all day watching battlestar galactica, sorry.

Sorry man, let me put you out of your misery... they never find Earth and the "bad religious nuts" start fucking humans until every one is surrounded by Cylon/Human hybrids.

There's a lesson here for us all. Literally, all Liberals should make babies with S@L and ParisParamus.

token .
posted by gsb at 4:50 AM on December 13, 2005


Basic formal logic ParisWatson, basic formal logic.


Sorry, but its morally, ethically appropriate. So, unless it encourages murder, capital punishment is fine.

But I do have issues with the justice system's ability to mete out the penalty.

Hey gsb! I'm working on it!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:12 AM on December 13, 2005


I'm curious who's celebrating.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:21 AM on December 13, 2005


Wow. I was following the jonmc/wataki debate with bated breath, waiting to see who would return triumphant with the other's head on a platter... and they actually came to an agreement! I was all choked up, I tell you. A magic MeFi moment.

And then everybody else showed up and it was right back to the battlefield.
posted by languagehat at 5:21 AM on December 13, 2005


Sorry, but its morally, ethically appropriate.

Well...I was curious.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:22 AM on December 13, 2005


As I expected, Williams neither apologized for the murders, nor did he renounce his Crips membership and give up the names of its leaders. I guess the "changed man" Tookie claimed he'd become wasn't changed enough to express remorse and help destroy the evil he created.

And I hope the pro-death-penalty taxpayers of California and the families of the victims are happy with what they think is justice, even though they're mistaken about what it is they really wanted.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:51 AM on December 13, 2005


I posted a period on the other, quickly closed thread, because deliberate killing is always wrong, whether it's a Crips gang member or the State of California or the Peoples' Republic of China. A man was killed this morning in cold blood. That's sad and brutal.

I'm opposed to the death penalty because of many reasons:
1. certainty of error
2. arbitrariness of application
3. failure to deter
4. brutalization of society
5. possibility of redemption
6. cost of application

Mainly though because it sends a message that killing someone is sometimes right. Which is wrong.
posted by magpie68 at 6:17 AM on December 13, 2005


Steve@linwood: I'm probably more anti-crime and pro-law enforcement than you are, and even I have turned against the death penalty, although I'm not going to go on a crusade about it.

Nobody here has any love for Tookie Williams or the acts he committed. I have no love for murderers. But look at it this way: what if we get the wrong guy (and we've had enough close calls that this is not some "what if aliens stole my lunch" situation. Then we've got an innocent's blood on our hands. And a guilty man got of scot-free. Double whammy. Think about that.

also:

*hands languagehat a hankie*
posted by jonmc at 6:41 AM on December 13, 2005


"Well...I was curious."

You're such a clever Metafilter poster.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:45 AM on December 13, 2005


I see there are lots of riots in the street.

Maybe we can put Mumia to sleep next? Seeing all the idiots protest that would be truly enjoyable. Why can't Pennsylvania get some balls?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:56 AM on December 13, 2005


Cheesesteak.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 AM on December 13, 2005


.

(it's completely barbaric for the state to kill)
posted by amberglow at 7:17 AM on December 13, 2005


now i'm hungry.
posted by NationalKato at 7:19 AM on December 13, 2005


The world is a better place today.
posted by dios at 7:25 AM on December 13, 2005


Sorry, but its morally, ethically appropriate. So, unless it encourages murder, capital punishment is fine.

Define appropriate ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:27 AM on December 13, 2005


Funny, it feels the same to me.
posted by iamck at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2005


Approriate - you kill someone intentionally, and you should forfeit your right to live.

Or, perhaps one should incorporate a new clause into "living wills":

"If I am murdered by someone, I elect that they be subject to capital punishment."

or:

"If I am murdered by someone, they should not be subject to capital punishment."
posted by ParisParamus at 7:31 AM on December 13, 2005


You don't have to individually feel it to know that it is. See, there exists this entire world outside your immediate personage, iamck.
posted by dios at 7:31 AM on December 13, 2005


dios (this is me you're talking to, so you can save the "liberal crusader," bait), can you back up your assertion that "the world is a better place" for Williams having been executed with anything other than your good looks?

Speaking purely pragmatically, pre-execution we had a violent criminal safely isolated from the rest of the world who seemed to be attemting to do some good by reaching out to at-risk kids (I fully accept that that may have been a cynical gambit to save himself, but even so it might've still done some kid some good), so how exactly have we come out ahead, beyond catharsis for the victims families (which I certainly understand the need for)?
posted by jonmc at 7:41 AM on December 13, 2005


Or, perhaps one should incorporate a new clause into "living wills":

...

"If I am murdered by someone, they should not be subject to capital punishment."


That is a brilliant idea Paris and makes this entire thread worthwhile.
posted by caddis at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2005


dios, can you back up your assertion that "the world is a better place" for Williams having been executed with anything other than your good looks?
posted by jonmc at 9:41 AM CST on December 13


Well, I don't see why my good looks aren't sufficient to carry the argument. Clearly they should be.

But to answer your question directly, it is really a simple calculus for me. There was an obviously bad person; a net negative for humanity. He is not here. Ergo, the world is a better place.

(FWIW, my moral views on capital punishment tend towards Kantian, so they aren't likely to be met with open arms here, and I am really not concerned with the inefficiency or fallibility of the enterprise--that exists in every human endeavor and must be accepted unless we want to susped all judgment. Nor do I suscribe to the weak and flaccid argument that the state is reduced to the level of the scum it is executing; that is a weak attempt at equivalence which ignores motivation and assumes that all actus reus is the same regardless of the mens rea. Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea).
posted by dios at 7:58 AM on December 13, 2005


But to answer your question directly, it is really a simple calculus for me. There was an obviously bad person; a net negative for humanity.

But as my initial comment says, by your own calculus, it dosen't add up. I can certainly understand in my reptilian brain how executing someone who's done the type of shit Williams did, but I think you'll agree that we shouldn't let our reptilian brains dictate how we live as a society. That what Williams and his Crip cohorts did, and look where that's led.
posted by jonmc at 8:12 AM on December 13, 2005


Dios, but I think you're a bad person. See that relativity in action?
posted by iamck at 8:14 AM on December 13, 2005


But as my initial comment says, by your own calculus, it dosen't add up.
posted by jonmc at 10:12 AM CST on December 13


Actually, by own calculus, it does. Your initial question seems to suggest that the only factor here is safety. I don't see it that way. Assume, ad arguendo, that there is a baseline of 0 for society on the moral worth level. Assume that Tookie is a -5 on the moral worth level. By getting rid of him, we get rid of a net negative, and therefore the world is a better place (here, by +5). Also, I disagree with your characterization that we are acting with the same reptillian brain that Tookie did. Again, that ignores the extremely important issues of motivation and justice and reduces the inquiry to an overly simplistic level of equivalence at the point of "both acts ended with the cessation of biological life in a homo sapien."

Dios, but I think you're a bad person. See that relativity in action?
posted by iamck at 10:14 AM CST on December 13


Well, if you are going to be such a petty prick to suggest that there is any sort of equivalance between myself and Tookie Williams or if you have any basis to deem me a "bad person", then kiss my ass because you are obviously too much of an insulting, disingenuous hack to even have a conversation with, and I will ignore your comments here on out.
posted by dios at 8:40 AM on December 13, 2005


Dios: May I call bullshit on you? If your views on Capital Punishment are Kantian, surely you must be against it. According to the Categorical Imperative, killing is unethical. In fact, it's usually the first example fed into the CI for first year philosophy students.

I disagree that the world is a better or worse place. Earth doesn't much care about the actions of individuals on its surface. "Good" is inherently subjective and so it's pointless to debate. But from a Utilitarian perspective, was he contributing more than he was consuming at the time of his death? It's obvious that you feel he wasn't.

Still, I would like to see what you'd do growing up in the same circumstances. Beware the fundamental attribution error. For good measure, here's the Stanford Prison Experiment yet again. If you're raised in an environment with two conflicting messages, and one comes from inside your racial group and one outside, which are you going to side with? It's easy to say for you, where you are now, but as a youth growing up in that place and time, it's not so easy. He did some bad things. He did some good things. None of the good he did can ever give back a life that was taken. It's water already under the bridge, milk, or blood, already spilt. At least he chose to atone.

One of the reasons I oppose the DP is that it seems to actually encourage violence (see above). If your society and government espouse an-eye-for-an-eye, what model are you supposed to follow in a bar fight. What your nobility dictates is not necessarily how the average human brain works.

ON PREVIEW: There's a potential flaw in your calculus, Dios. Do you account for the family of the dead? If the son of the murderer put to death loses faith in the system, isn't he himself more likely to become an outlaw? You seem to think that it's a discrete quantity you're dealing with here, when reality is always more complex. Don't be so quick to kill when you can't reverse the process or even measure its effect.
posted by Eideteker at 8:45 AM on December 13, 2005


There was an obviously bad person;

you are, too. but I sincerely hope you don't get killed for that, and if you do, I'll be sincerely sorry for that, just like I'm sorry that Williams has been killed last night.
posted by matteo at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2005


Assume that Tookie is a -5 on the moral worth level. By getting rid of him, we get rid of a net negative, and therefore the world is a better place (here, by +5)

Wow. A calculus of who should be put to death and who shouldnt? Thats so outlandish.

Anyways, the calculus ignores that 'away for life' also keeps him out of society. I guess you need to include the bloodlust factor.
posted by vacapinta at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2005


Whoops!
posted by Rothko at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2005


Well, if you are going to be such a petty prick to suggest that there is any sort of equivalance between myself and Tookie Williams or if you have any basis to deem me a "bad person", then kiss my ass because you are obviously too much of an insulting, disingenuous hack to even have a conversation with, and I will ignore your comments here on out.

priceless.
posted by matteo at 8:52 AM on December 13, 2005


easy, rothko and matteo, he's already lost the argument via Eideteker's analysis. No need to pile on.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 AM on December 13, 2005


Dios: May I call bullshit on you? If your views on Capital Punishment are Kantian, surely you must be against it. According to the Categorical Imperative, killing is unethical. In fact, it's usually the first example fed into the CI for first year philosophy students.

You can call bullshit on it, but Kant supported capital punishment and actually called it the proper and necessary. That would require moving beyond Elementary 101 categorical imperative discussion, though.

And, as I have already said, I am not going to get into the argument about how racist it is or unfair. I am just not going to do it. I do not accept the excuse. There are too many people that are raised in the same situation as Tookie who didn't do what he did. (And to make matters worse regarding your "socialization" argument: Tookie created an enormously large gang to put social pressure on other people.) All of the justifications in the world aren't going to change the fact that he was a bad person. All of the justifications in the world aren't going to change the fact that he killed other people. Are there real socio-economic problems? Absolutely, and they should be addressed. But they do no excuse Tookie.
posted by dios at 8:57 AM on December 13, 2005


A calculus of who should be put to death and who shouldnt?

You are equating two separate comments. I said the world is a better place because Tookie isn't here. That is where the calculus came from.

I never suggested that the death penalty should be advanced or used on all bad people. Don't confuse the two points.
posted by dios at 9:00 AM on December 13, 2005


I'd still buy dios a drink of his choice, jonmc, because I'm that kind of guy. I'm that idiot who doesn't keep a tally of what people have done and said. Like the Fool card in the Tarot, I'm that trusting idiot who gets taken advantage of repeatedly but also who if everyone was like him, the world would be a nicer place.

Kids might get the hugs they need so that they don't grow up murderers. Because hugs are cheaper than either life in prison or putting someone to death. I don't have time (off to a meeting) to cite statistics, but it seems the only way to effectively deter murders is in childhood, with proper attention, care, and love.
posted by Eideteker at 9:00 AM on December 13, 2005


Eyewitness account of the execution. So we really know what we are asking for in putting someone to death.
posted by olbiadle at 9:24 AM on December 13, 2005


Approriate - you kill someone intentionally, and you should forfeit your right to live

Your belief is that one should forfeit his right to live when he kills somebody intentionally. That's pretty much similar to forfeiting one own self conservation right when joining the army.

According to this.. the judge, the jurors and those who physically kill forfeited their right to live as they did kill the condemned intentionally. There definitely was intention to kill, reasons becoming instantly irrelevant because they automatically forfeited they right to live when they decided to kill.

So would you expect any judge or jury to take the risk of killing someone under the rule of your appropriatedness ?
I certainly would not and that wouldn't solve a thing, people would still continue to kill as usual,probably more
boldened by the fact their friends would have the right to kill any juror or judge.Which in turn would legitimate
others to kill them and so on in a spiraling absurdity of violence.

Nope dude your "system" sucks.
posted by elpapacito at 9:53 AM on December 13, 2005


Steve@linwood: I'm probably more anti-crime and pro-law enforcement than you are

Really? Well Jon, I'm not going to get in to a pissing contest to see who is more pro-law enforcement but I I'd just like to say that is a really asinine statement to make considering you don't know me personally.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2005


I wait for Paris, Steve and Dios to get a talk radio show together, to air out their numerous grievances on the world.
posted by Rothko at 10:12 AM on December 13, 2005


Rothko. How about a podcast?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:22 AM on December 13, 2005


Awesome. Call it Fire and Brimstone, or something equally kickass. Let everyone know you guys mean business!
posted by Rothko at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2005


Fox stuck to the script, man, of Tookie the monster, as if to grant clemency meant that Williams would be set free to rape white children, not simply live out his life in prison without parole.

And the most disheartening thing of all was how little was mentioned, in the cruel march to the death chamber, of how the ex-wife of one of Williams' alleged victims, Albert Owens (whose family is entirely fucked-up in conflict over the execution), called for support of Williams' efforts to redeem himself for his gang-building past: "I, Linda Owens want to build upon Mr. Williams' peace initiative. I invite Mr. Williams to join me in sending a message to all communities that we should all unite in peace. This position of peace would honor my husband's memory and Mr. Williams work."

A call for peace to honor the dead? What fuckin' country does Linda Owens think she's living in? Not in George Bush's America, where more must die in Iraq to make sure the dead are honored. And certainly not in Arnold Schwarzenegger's California.
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on December 13, 2005


rothko: what ? you must be on crack there are wwwaayy to many liberals on radio already !
posted by elpapacito at 10:31 AM on December 13, 2005


ParisParamus writes "Rothko. How about a podcast?"

MetaCast: The Best of Web, Louder.
posted by nkyad at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2005


"Well...I was curious."
You're such a clever Metafilter poster. - posted by ParisParamus


Indeed. It must be because other people don't generally believe the thread disintegrates to the point of being utterly pointless when I show up.
...Oh, you were being sarcastic. Ah, in that case go fuck your mother.
I have no grudge incidentally. I don't follow you into threads. I was just pointing out that some people revel in other's deaths. I oppose the death penalty but even if I supported it I wouldn't call killing a person "good" in any way. Necessary perhaps. But it isn't something I would take pleasure in. And doing so, even in an abstract intellectual manner disgusts me.

Kant supported capital punishment - dios

I'm going to have to take that personally dios. Kant focused on ideally rational killers. For the most part, that's me.

But most killers aren't rational. Particularly civilians from poor areas (as belabored above, albeit needfully).
I agree Kant has a seductive argument. It almost fits in with the "do unto others" wisdom. However if we begin to treat people the way they declare people are to be treated we engage in moral relativism. We allow the subject to dictate the response and to dictate our own identity. If we take this right of retaliation schtick seriously and if the guy is a torturer, we torture him.
That cuts no ice with me. When we kill killers we sink to their level. We embody morally the very evil we're responding to. Even Kant recognized this:

"His death must be kept free from all maltreatment that would make the humanity suffering in his person loathsome or abominable."

Humans are ends in and of themselves. The law and the government aren't. They are systems designed to support, defend and (hopefully) achieve human ends.

If we don't recognize that principle, why don't we rape rapists? Why don't we lobotomize the murders into catatonia?
The fact that the criminal did not respect the humanity of his victims does not entitle us to rob him of his humanity. Period.

My perspective comes from experiance. We have a duty to do justice. I am very much a man of honor. However I recognize that honor is not an end in and of itself. It serves the foundational moral goods (Human dignity, humanity, etc.) and is subject to those, not vice versa. I do not kill a man because he is an enemy. I kill because it is not within my power to neutralize him. This is the difference between a state of war and the death penalty. Once the state has eliminated the threat, life should not be taken.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2005


Fox stuck to the, man, of Tookie the monster

You are saying "Tookie" wasn't a monster?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:51 AM on December 13, 2005


Some Austrians in the governator's home town want to change the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium to "Stanley Tookie Williams Stadium."

Nice answer, Smedleyman.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:51 AM on December 13, 2005


You are saying "Tookie" wasn't a monster?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:51 PM CST on December 13


Some here don't believe that Steve. I have heard many people in the last few days talk about how he wrote a book telling others not to be like him, as if being a cautionary tale were somehow an act of redemption. He never apologized; he never admitted his guilt. And here are some otherwise intelligent people, who probably fancy themselves having a skeptical and free-thinking mind, who accept whole-heartedly that this horrible person became a good guy when he told others to not follow his path. And from whence does this PR-image derive? From the people who have been promoting him all these years. The same people who stood up at his execution last night and said that the state has "executed an innocent man." These are the people who have led the "Tookie is a redeemed soul" theory. And too many people rush to accept it. The guy was scum, and his reformed boy scout shtick is disgustingly puffed up and unapologetic and an affront to all of the lives this man ruined. A horrible person is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A monster is painted as a martyr.

Isn't it enough to make you want to throw up everything you even thought about eating?
posted by dios at 12:00 PM on December 13, 2005


This "apologize" thing has been getting to me. I think it's a good point. I'm no lawyer, but something was just rubbing me wrong about it.
Here it is:

"Stanley Tookie Williams maintained his innocence right up until his death, even when an admission of guilt may have spared him execution"

So, while I agree that he certainly wasn't a nice guy, and probably was a murderer on other occasions the argument about him admitting his guilt = repentance is moot.

That said, for me that works both ways. I don't care how much he repents or doesn't since I'm opposed to state execution on principle. And I'd agree with the fairness and no exceptions because you're a celeb crowd if I had a dog in the fight.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2005


This thread moves too quickly to keep up, but I just posted about the Kantian position on my home page, so although I don't actually subscribe to Kant's ethics (I think universals are a little arbitrary and absolutism is dangerous), his argument is for the death penalty, largely because he is so focused on a full reverence for the autonomy of every individual. A person who commits murder is actively destroying his own humanity, and by Kant's lights, if he is truly repentant, he will want to die anyway.

One of Kant's better arguments (on a utilitarian level, though) for the death penalty is that life imprisonment will be the worse punishment for any murderers who develop a conscience, and the preferable punishment for murderers who have not. Thence we reward unrepentance by supporting life imprisonment over death.
posted by mdn at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2005


dios: I find it interesting that the people in favor of the death penalty are more focused on Williams than the people opposed. This seems like a big fat appeal to emotion.

So let's take it as a given that there is no doubt that Williams commited the crimes for which he was convicted. His crimes were disgusting and extreme. His appeals for non violence were a cynical ploy to gain clemency. He may have commited other acts of violence for which he was not convicted. His role in starting one of the more violent criminal organizations in U.S. history is worthy of infamy.

From my point of view, these things don't matter. I object to the death penalty across the board, even for those people who are guilty as sin. IMO the moral arguments for or against the death penalty don't stand or fall on the monstrosity or sainthood of any one person on death row.

If the death penalty is just punishment, fairly applied and morally sound, Williams is a good candidate. Opponents to the death penalty argue that if the death penalty fails either of these three tests, that it should be stricken from our practice of criminal law until it is.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:35 PM on December 13, 2005


From my point of view, these things don't matter. I object to the death penalty across the board, even for those people who are guilty as sin. IMO the moral arguments for or against the death penalty don't stand or fall on the monstrosity or sainthood of any one person on death row.

If the death penalty is just punishment, fairly applied and morally sound, Williams is a good candidate. Opponents to the death penalty argue that if the death penalty fails either of these three tests, that it should be stricken from our practice of criminal law until it is.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:35 PM CST on December 13


KirkJobSluder: I respect that position, and don't really take issue with it (nor would I). I think there is a difference of opinion there that can not be crossed, but it is a principled difference. If you took anything that I have said in this thread to be an insult to your view, my apologies. I merely stated my personal view vis-a-vis Williams. On the general question of whether it is absolutely wrong, as I said, I take a Kantian perspective and that is just something you and I can respectively disagree on.
posted by dios at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2005


I know from talking to many others who have shared that chamber with me before that when months or even years have gone by, there will be no real closure or peace after what we saw Tuesday morning. Williams will not be alive for the supporters who wanted to save him, and the people he was convicted of killing will still leave huge empty spaces in the hearts of their loved ones.
posted by iamck at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2005



Isn't it enough to make you want to throw up everything you even thought about eating?


I don't know, maybe it was your comments, and Stevie's, that did the trick. I just don't know.

anyway, if that helps your penile erectile activity, just think that the executioners took about 12 minutes to find a vein in Williams’ arm -- that's one hell of a protracted orgasm, for our law-and-order types, I guess. maybe executioners in other countires where the death penalty is still in use -- say, Algeria, Belarus, Iran, Saudi Arabia among others -- are marginally more competent than mr. Schwarzenegger's. who knows.
posted by matteo at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2005


Damn, looks like KJS and Smedley got this thread on lock-down. I don't normally like to be the person who says "Me too!" but I like your reasoning, both of you, and I find myself agreeing.

So what do you say we form a Blue gang and go blast on some fools in the MeFi Projects?
posted by Eideteker at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2005


Damn, looks like KJS and Smedley got this thread on lock-down.
posted by Eideteker at 3:21 PM CST on December 13


So you are agreeing with Smedleyman who confirmed that Kant supported capital punishment. You remember, the same comment I made in which you stated the following?

Dios: May I call bullshit on you? If your views on Capital Punishment are Kantian, surely you must be against it. According to the Categorical Imperative, killing is unethical. In fact, it's usually the first example fed into the CI for first year philosophy students.
posted by Eideteker at 10:45 AM CST on December 13


Sheesh. Some people are just too locked into the "team" mentality of dialogue. And then they mock George Bush's formulation "you are either with us or against us."
posted by dios at 1:35 PM on December 13, 2005


Dios, he refuted that quite nicely, I thought, and that is what I was agreeing with. I assure you that any mention I may have made to teamwork was in jest. I don't oppose George Bush's formulation "you are either with us or against us." I oppose anyone's formulation of that statement. Do not try to pull me into partisan politics when I am devoting my breath elsewhere instead to agree with you. I think it was very commendable of you to say, "I respect that position, and don't really take issue with it (nor would I). I think there is a difference of opinion there that can not be crossed, but it is a principled difference," because I see that at the very fundament of this argument. We're both old enough to know that it's virtually hopeless to win someone over with your rationale online, but we are both here (I presume) with the intent to have our own rationale understood as at least subjectively valid. Honestly, I think your particular brand of idealism is nice, but I don't see it as consistent with the real world. I would have agreed with you in high school, and I can certainly see where you're coming from, but I no longer see the world as that black and white.
posted by Eideteker at 1:48 PM on December 13, 2005


Eideteker, he didn't refute it. He added a contingency regarding logical killers. But he knows that Kant supported capital punishment. Which is my point about teams. You think he was on your team (the "Kant opposed capital punishment team") because he didn't agree with you. But you are so focused on teams that you didn't realize that Smedleyman wasn't agreeing with you by disagreeing with me. And, in effect, you "me too"-d a position that you just had called bullshit on.

Do you realize that you were wrong when you tried to "call bullshit" on me and argue that Kant opposed the death penalty? Because, I mean, that is what you said, and it is clearly and categorically (*wink*) wrong.
posted by dios at 2:01 PM on December 13, 2005


Eideteker, I apologize if I seem that I am being hard on you. But I am trying to make a point.

A topic like this is so complex. There are numerous permutations of positions one can take regarding this issue. And on a multifarious issue like this, think there are "sides" is silly. I really don't understand the desire for people to think there are teams in discussing issues like this; it ultimately leads to an Us v. Them dichotomy that lowers it across the board. The result is that you get people reprehensibly making judgments that I am a "bad person" all because there is a difference in principle.

It really lowers the overall discourse.
posted by dios at 2:07 PM on December 13, 2005


"Kant focused on ideally rational killers... But most killers aren't rational."

"If we take this right of retaliation schtick seriously and if the guy is a torturer, we torture him.
That cuts no ice with me. When we kill killers we sink to their level. We embody morally the very evil we're responding to."

"If we don't recognize that principle, why don't we rape rapists? Why don't we lobotomize the murders into catatonia?
The fact that the criminal did not respect the humanity of his victims does not entitle us to rob him of his humanity. Period."

Are we reading two different comments here? Kant supported capital punishment... ideally. I agree with Kant... ideally. As I said, I've embraced an idealism similar to yours in the past. I'm not trying to belittle you or say you're trapped in a teenage mode of thinking. I'm saying we've diverged. What you see is that Kant supported capital punishment. What I see is an internal inconsistency in his philosophy. We're neither of us wrong, I suppose. I love Kant, but I don't follow him any more than I follow any religion. I take everything with a grain of salt and move on. You use you interpretation of Kant, I'll use mine. I do apologize for using the term "bullshit" because I can see where you're coming from; I just disagree.

Do not think that my agreement with you in another thread indicates I want to be on your "team." Do not think I want to win you over to my "team" by showing you how gracious I am. The only reason I linked you to that comment was to show that I believe that disagreement on one subject does not equate to disagreement on another. I form my opinions independently on all things. As I said, I hate to "me too" but I really don't feel I had anything to add over what Smedleyman said that wouldn't be noise. I have no interest in siding with anyone against you; I'd apologize you didn't find any amusement in my joke, but then, it wasn't written for you. I think there are enough members of the MeFi Ad Hominem Attack Squad at present. At this point, however, KJS and SM have both put down what I feel to be very good arguments against the death penalty.

My fundamental feeling on the death penalty is that it should not be applied unless there is a distinct and measurable effect. I do understand that part of the function of the criminal justice system is to maintain a sense that justice has been done just as much as it is to seek the truth or what's right. However, I see revenge as the only perceived benefit of the death penalty, and I think it's a benefit that can be subtracted by a more compassionate society. I think that proportional punishment is possible without encouraging blood for blood.
posted by Eideteker at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2005


Dios: thanks for your complement.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:26 PM on December 13, 2005


Eideteker, how do you call bullshit on my statement that Kant supported capital punishment? He explicitly did. I understand the point you are trying to parse out. But if you admitted that your initial "I call bullshit" reaction was incorrect, then I would respect you. As it is, it reads as if you were more interested in jumping on someone instead of discussing the issue.
posted by dios at 2:34 PM on December 13, 2005


Ahh, I should read closer than I wouldn't miss sentences at the end of paragraphs.
posted by dios at 2:36 PM on December 13, 2005


Consider my offer to buy you a drink standing. I'll take impassioned reasoned discussion any day over "xtians suk lol" or whatever the day's effigy is. I'll also let it be a lesson to me not to try to study and MeFi at the same time; it tends to encourage lazy thinking on two fronts, rather than focused cognition on one.
posted by Eideteker at 2:53 PM on December 13, 2005


it ultimately leads to an Us v. Them dichotomy

because a dichotomy is indeed there, becase as a nation, you either kill prison inmates or you don't. us vs them.

interestingly, the list of the top twelve death penalty countries (for year 2004):
1 Kuwait
2 China
3 Iran
4 Singapore
5 Saudi Arabia
6 Vietnam
7 Belarus
8 Yemen
9 United States
10 Pakistan
11 Egypt
12 Bangladesh
some US States, shamefully, lower the national average -- they're not as efficient, because if they all followed, say, Texas' example, the US would probably jump up to 7th place or even sixth, right behind Saudi Arabia.

but American death rows already beat Pakistanis executioners -- go USA, I guess
posted by matteo at 3:00 PM on December 13, 2005


Err...I was disagreeing with you, and Kant as well dios. But Kant’s "right of retaliation" is so watered down and idealized he winds up contradicting himself.
Which might be part of the problem here. What one focuses on in what Kant has said dictates how you might take his view on capital punishment. Even philosophers have a hard time figuring out exactly what he meant. But who really cares whether Kant is in favor of it or not if he doesn’t have a robust argument to support it? He’s not the ultimate authority by any means.

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
- Edmund Burke

(And btw didn’t Kant argue in favor of liberal internationalism as well? *gag* which “TEAM” are you guys on?)


“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Burke


And here’s Haas for good measure:
http://www.udel.edu/CRJU/dgulick/haas.htm

---

By the way, is the thread title in reference to the Concrete Blonde song?
Just curious.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:11 PM on December 13, 2005


Just want to reiterate that Haas link:
http://www.udel.edu/CRJU/dgulick/haas.htm
It’s well worth a read. I’m certainly no bleeding heart. And it pretty much does it for me on the subject.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:18 PM on December 13, 2005


So what do you say we form a Blue gang and go blast on some fools in the MeFi Projects?

I'm really not sure whether this is offensive, or funny, or weird, or all of the above.
posted by spiderwire at 3:49 PM on December 13, 2005


Eideteker , I'm betting a drink dios was just trying to corner you by using

* an appeal to authority ( Kant being a recognized authority in the field of Kantian philosophy) in a bid to reinforce his arguments (which should stand alone without appeals to authority)

* casting you as "team dialoguer" (an horrid league indeed among which Hitler, Gobbels and Jennifer Aniston belong) with an inplicit suggestion of you being a liberal

and by generally being a wiseass.

But hey, Metafilter: intellectual honesty is for sissies.
posted by elpapacito at 3:53 PM on December 13, 2005


MetaFilter: I was disagreeing with Kant

and: Smedleyman, I really appreciate your contributions, but why do you hate HTML so much? the anchor tag is easy to use and it's totally your friend. really
posted by matteo at 4:25 PM on December 13, 2005


“But hey, Metafilter: intellectual honesty is for sissies.”

Then call ME a sissy!

...no, waitaminute....
posted by Smedleyman at 4:26 PM on December 13, 2005


Matteo - here’s the thing - what anchor tag? HTML?
I’m using Mac OS 9 (the ugly, unsupported stepchild) on a very old computer. I see only bold, italics, link and spellcheck in my comment box - and they don’t work anyway. Honestly. I can’t even do the small lettering or reverse it. Don’t even know how that happened. I’m in no way computer illiterate. But with this machine, I’m fortunate that some folks here knew how to keep the view from being one long thin column. I’ve got two tools here that work, Jack and shit. And Jack got fired.
If I could fix it I would. I’m open to suggestions.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:34 PM on December 13, 2005


"You are saying "Tookie" wasn't a monster?"

Tookie Monster. Y'know, for kids.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:45 PM on December 13, 2005


papi: See my initial comment re: buying dios a drink. If someone derives their self-worth from on-line one-upmanship, then they deserve the hollow world they've built for themselves. I'd rather give someone the benefit of the doubt and be taken for a fool than have a cynical assumption proved right. That's the particular brand of idealism I choose to embrace. I think dios and I were able to emerge from this discussion with an understanding of each other, which is, as I said, all I really hoped to get out of it.

I fail to see where dios was being a wiseass. If I had thought he was simply trolling me, I wouldn't have replied. But thanks for your help.
posted by Eideteker at 4:46 PM on December 13, 2005


Smedleyman:

instead of simple copy-and-paste, use tags, with your keyboard. it's easy, just google " html + href" or something.
anyway, an example.

you open a tag by typing

< then a href="http://etc">

then

the text to be highlighted

you'll get this result:

the text to be highlighted

see?

just remember to close the tags.

posted by matteo at 5:46 PM on December 13, 2005



http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/linking/_A_HREF.html

;)

posted by matteo at 5:48 PM on December 13, 2005


Or, here's the other way to explain it--in the following replace the square brackets with corner brackets pointed in the appropriate directions:

[a href=""][/a]

If you want to do titles, do it this way: [a href="" title=""][/a}.

Example: [a href="http://www.weeklyworldnews.com/imgs/wwn/wallpapers/dorag_1.jpg" title=""Hi, Smedleyman, you big loveable goofball!"]Hooah![/a} with corner brackets inserted appropriately comes out

Hooah!

Or do you have a View button on your OS 9 browser?

Click on that, scroll down and compare and contrast--sooner or later you'll see a link which you can copy to Notepad or the equivalent. Then you can cut and paste the URL you want between the double apostrophes after a href=.

Nver forget, View Source is your friend.
posted by y2karl at 7:24 PM on December 13, 2005


Cool. Thanks matteo, y2karl. I'll start doing it. Not sure about the view button. Lotta restrictions on the machine here.

Ironic. I do look similar to batboy shortly after my morning coffee.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:14 PM on December 13, 2005


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