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Author Topic: Children's Books do not make up for Murder
Daruma28
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quote:
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refuses to spare life of gang leader

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 12, 2005 (The Canadian Press delivered by Newstex) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday refused to spare the life of Stanley (Tookie) Williams, the founder of the murderous Crips gang who awaited execution after midnight in a case that stirred debate over capital punishment and the possibility of redemption on death row.

Schwarzenegger was unswayed by pleas from Hollywood stars and petitions from more than 50,000 people who said that Williams had made amends during more than two decades in prison by writing a memoir and children's books about the dangers of gangs.

"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," Schwarzenegger said, less than 12 hours before the execution. "The facts do not justify overturning the jury's verdict or the decisions of the courts in this case."

Though I am opposed to the death penalty, it was the law of the land when Tookie committed his 4 murders, of which the appropriate legal penalty is capital punishment.

Who's crying for Tookie now?

You can oppose capital punishment without glorifying a 4 time, cold-blooded and unrepentant murderer.......

[ December 12, 2005, 07:05 PM: Message edited by: Daruma28 ]

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Haggis
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You mean you can't be sentenced to write a children's book if you're convicted of murder?

I'd better rethink my pl...I've said too much.

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KidA
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Not quite sure what you're saying here, Daruma.
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Daruma28
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Just that the anti-Capital punishment movement seems to take egregious cases like Tookie Williams and Mumia and present them as some born again saints that are deserving of sympathy and clemency.

I am opposed to Capital Punishment as the law of the land, but you won't find me arguing that Tookie deserves clemency AND sympathy for writing a few "anti-gang" children's books. The anti-Death Penalty movement is making the case that Tookie deserves clemency for his "work" in helping children with said books.

People need to feel sympathy for Tookie's victims and their families. As far as HE goes, though I'm against the Death Penalty, I won't have the slightest twinge in my conscience when he gets his eternal dirtnap tonight.

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RickyB
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Look, assuming Williams really has turned his life around like most accounts say, if that kind of redemption doesn't earn you any clemency, what does?

For a gang founder to turn around and start talking kids out of the gang life - isn't this guy worth more to society alive than dead?

BTW, it's not just the books, it's also 1 on 1 counseling.

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Lewkowski
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"Look, assuming Williams really has turned his life around like most accounts say, if that kind of redemption doesn't earn you any clemency, what does? "

Nothing. The death penalty should be used as a detterent. Its not much of a detterent if you can get off it by doing some community service.

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RickyB
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"Nothing. The death penalty should be used as a detterent."

Oh yeah, and it's working really well as such. Spare me. The only use of the death penalty is for revenge.

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Lewkowski
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"Oh yeah, and it's working really well as such"

I don't know... maybe it is. I listened to a presentation as my college about the death penalty it was mock debate pro and con of it. And they had a nice little graph that showed a spike in murders per capita when the death penalty was struck down, and then a downward shift in murder per capita when it was reinstituted.

That being said, I doubt its a very effective detterent because its been neutered by liberals to only effect a handful of people.

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RickyB
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Oh yeah, sinister ole us again, ruining all that's good about America...
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drewmie
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quote:
RickyB wrote: Look, assuming Williams really has turned his life around like most accounts say, if that kind of redemption doesn't earn you any clemency, what does?
Evidence that might change the verdict, or an executive who believes the verdict was ORIGINALLY too harsh. Governments should not be in the business of forgiving. Even parole boards are not for that purpose. They are to determine whether a person's liberty is likely to lead to even less liberty for others.
quote:
For a gang founder to turn around and start talking kids out of the gang life - isn't this guy worth more to society alive than dead?
Probably, which is one of many reasons I oppose the death penalty. It's more about retribution than actually protecting society in the most effective and efficient ways. However, that's not the point here. A government must show consistency in its application of laws. To the extent it does not, ALL of its citizens are cheated. And since there is no "avoid the needle with good deeds" law, Arnold made the right decision. In the end, citizens would be just as cheated as when Marc Rich was pardoned by Clinton. It would merely be one law for the criminal, and another for everyone else.

[ December 12, 2005, 08:22 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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RickyB
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"Governments should not be in the business of forgiving."

Then why does the governor have the power to commute or grant clemency? You can say he shouldn't, but the fact is, he does, which means there are concievable circumstances to use said power.

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sfallmann
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
"Nothing. The death penalty should be used as a detterent."

Oh yeah, and it's working really well as such. Spare me. The only use of the death penalty is for revenge.

Not revenge - punishment. Although you may disagree, I think there is a difference.
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Daruma28
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quote:
For a gang founder to turn around and start talking kids out of the gang life - isn't this guy worth more to society alive than dead?
No.

His effective utilitarian purpose is served either alive or dead.

He has some books that essentially say "If you choose the life of a gangster, you will end up like me..."

When he is dead, other people can just mention his name and say ""If you choose the life of a gangster, you will end up like Tookie."

Sorry Ricky, but from his Jail cell, I don't care what books you write, or who you talk to on your visitation hours, there is no redemption for the crimes he was convicted of.

I oppose the death penalty, and would prefer the bastard get solitary confinement for life, but it sickens me to see the attempts to rehabilitate the image of this scum.

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kelcimer
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"The death penalty should be used as a detterent."

And it works real well. They never commit a crime again. [Big Grin]

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flydye45
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There are much better candidates as fodder for the anti Death Penalty lobby (though to be fair, they try to use ALL of them).

As far as repentence goes, the word on the Right Wing meme is that the guy's never apologized for making the Crips or killing the people. I don't know if that's true. This isn't repentence if that's the case.

I don't see a few kids books as being anywhere near enough to warrent such an act of mercy. Nor did I feel so for that woman killed in Texas a few years back.

Quite frankly, how did the person live their life before they were incarcerated. An eye surgeon who had saved the sight of a thousand kids, but had an "accident" with his wife is more along the lines then a man whose life was death and destruction until caught.

My three year old daughter is sorry when she's caught too. The soul of remorse.

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DonaldD
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Hmmm.. "cold blooded" OK, but I think that "unrepentant" pretty much misses the mark.

Hasn't he pretty much spent the last 10 or so years doing nothing but repenting?

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Tezcatlipoca
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quote:
Hasn't he pretty much spent the last 10 or so years doing nothing but repenting?
Apparently repenting for everything except the 4 murders he commited, which are the crimes that earned him his death sentence.
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TCB
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Tookie claims he's innocent, and I'm not inclined to dismiss the possibility. Granted, the case against him seems strong despite the scrutiny brought on by his infamy, but our rate of wrongful convictions is astounding. If the number of innocent people executed is even a fraction of the innocent people exonerated by innocence projects, then "We, The People" by way of our representatives have wrongfully executed at least dozens of men ( Yeshiva University's Innocence Project ). The innocent have been killed and the guilty have gone free.

The sad thing is that innocence projects only have the resources to look at capital cases. If a person is, say, wrongly sentenced to 10 years in prison, he's out of luck -- no journalist or law student will have the time to investigate mistaken identities or police misconduct in his case. So abolishing the death penalty would probably increase the rate of wrongful convictions.

Here's an interesting article from The Independent Review on the causes of wrongful convictions. It presents reasons such as prosecutorial misconduct and plea bargaining, but mainly places the blame on a shift from a Blackstonian view of law ("better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted") to a Benthamite view ("greatest good for the greatest number").

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The Drake
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I'm sure a co-founder of one of the bloodiest gangs is innocent. Now that truly is a tale.

To truly repent you have to admit your wrongdoing. Do you think old Took has really laid out for the DA every law he's ever broken? Given up other gangsters for punishment?

"Look, assuming Williams really has turned his life around like most accounts say, if that kind of redemption doesn't earn you any clemency, what does? "

Resurrecting your victims would be nice. No amount of "good works" are going to make up for murder.

A disgusting irony:

quote:
"I don't want anyone present for the sick and perverted spectacle," Williams told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The thought of that is appalling and inhumane. It is disgusting for a human to sit and watch another human die."
I wonder how many human beings he watched as they died.
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canadian
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Well, at least everyone can have a feel good as he dies.

Ah...punishment, how sweet thou art (especially when you're not revenge!)

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Adam Masterman
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@Drake:

That irony cuts both ways. Everyone who enjoyed knowing that Williams was being poisoned to death last night just entered his mindset a little bit: they took pleasure in having another human being killed on their behalf. Does anyone here feel remorse?

Adam

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Redskullvw
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Personally I am against death penalties on both ethical and religious grounds. While it is permisable under my religion for a state to exact a death penalty, it also holds that if there is a viable alternative, it should be used instead for punishment. Tookie could have spent the rest of his life in jail. I do not deny the state's right to execute him, but when a man shows no remorse, nor acknowledgement that he even killed four people in cold blood, it makes it very hard for the state to justify the expense to society to keep him alive and healthy.

As an idividual outcome to a life, I find his end tragic and regretable. But since he showed no regret over the endings of life commited by his own hand, clemency seemed to me to be a far stretch.

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drewmie
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quote:
drewmie wrote: Governments should not be in the business of forgiving.

RickyB responded: Then why does the governor have the power to commute or grant clemency? You can say he shouldn't, but the fact is, he does, which means there are conceivable circumstances to use said power.

I told you two reasons why that power exists, and they aren't for forgiveness: (1) "Evidence that might change the verdict," (2) "or an executive who believes the verdict was ORIGINALLY too harsh," regardless of later circumstances.
quote:
TCB wrote: If a person is, say, wrongly sentenced to 10 years in prison, he's out of luck -- no journalist or law student will have the time to investigate mistaken identities or police misconduct in his case. So abolishing the death penalty would probably increase the rate of wrongful convictions.
I wish this were true, but the reality is that juries are more likely to convict the innocent in capital cases. The higher emotional and retributive atmosphere that pervades these cases makes for far less objective cops, prosecutors, and jurors. I found this scary fact while writing an essay on capital punishment:
quote:
From my essay:...an alarming number of those sentenced to death have eventually been released due to later evidence of their innocence, while the percentage is not nearly as high among lifers, even when adjusting for the amount of money and scrutiny spent on defenses and appeals. In short, juries are more likely to convict an innocent person when the likely sentence is death.
Why would juries/prosecutors do such a thing? You answered it. When the death penalty is involved, a philosophical change often takes place:
quote:
TCB wrote: ...a shift from a Blackstonian view of law ("better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted") to a Benthamite view ("greatest good for the greatest number").
The height of irony is that those who talk about how he "made up for" his crimes are inherently speaking the punitive language of retribution, as if the validity of his sentence is based on whether or not he "deserves" it. As such, they make the same mistake as those calling for his blood.

Sentences (and paroles) should have nothing to do with punitive retribution, i.e. the idea that criminals need to "pay" for something, but rather with protecting liberty. Judgement in the sense of "passing judgement" on someone should be reserved for God. It does no good for society. Our judgement should be limited to making a "judgement call."
quote:
Redskullvw wrote: As an individual outcome to a life, I find his end tragic and regretable. But since he showed no regret over the endings of life commited by his own hand, clemency seemed to me to be a far stretch.
Very reasonable, because those who admit their crimes are far less likely to commit them again. Those who attempt to put on the sheep's clothing of the reformed, but do not acknowledge their sins, are likely to revert to the wolf. Such a "judgement call" does not necessarily have anything to do with base retribution.

[ December 13, 2005, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
Everyone who enjoyed knowing that Williams was being poisoned to death last night just entered his mindset a little bit: they took pleasure in having another human being killed on their behalf. Does anyone here feel remorse?

I enjoy knowing that the law was followed properly, and I feel that the sentence was just. Had he got life in prison, I would not have set about having him murdered.
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canadian
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Ah good old laws.

Good thing we've never had questionable or barbaric laws.

I rest easy knowing that every law that is ever passed will be carried out to the full...

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Redskullvw:
Personally I am against death penalties on both ethical and religious grounds. While it is permisable under my religion for a state to exact a death penalty, it also holds that if there is a viable alternative, it should be used instead for punishment. Tookie could have spent the rest of his life in jail. I do not deny the state's right to execute him, but when a man shows no remorse, nor acknowledgement that he even killed four people in cold blood, it makes it very hard for the state to justify the expense to society to keep him alive and healthy.

As an idividual outcome to a life, I find his end tragic and regretable. But since he showed no regret over the endings of life commited by his own hand, clemency seemed to me to be a far stretch.

I haven't followed the case. Does no one here have any argument with that analysis?
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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
@Drake:

That irony cuts both ways. Everyone who enjoyed knowing that Williams was being poisoned to death last night just entered his mindset a little bit: they took pleasure in having another human being killed on their behalf. Does anyone here feel remorse?

Adam

Who "enjoyed" it?

There is a world of difference between taking joy in a State execution and mere indifference that a gangster thug murderer was taken out. For his crimes, it is my opinion that there is no redemption possible. I don't support Capital Punishment, and I would vote against it if I had that chance...but I'm not really bothered when it is applied to people that have committed the horrendous crimes that incur it.

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LinuxFreakus
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Eh, whats the point of the death penalty anyway? I'd say its worse to spend the rest of your life in prison than to get the death penalty where you don't have to live with what you did for the rest of your life, instead you get off easy and just die.

Worse, in cases where mistakes were made, there is no way to undo the death penalty. At least if they were in prison if the person was later found to be innocent, they could be released.

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roper66
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quote:
it makes it very hard for the state to justify the expense to society to keep him alive and healthy
I'll only add that expense to society shouldn't be used as an argument against lifetime incarceration. It's almost always more expensive to go the capital punishment route: State appointed defense teams for multiple appeals, court costs, decades on death row anyway.
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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by LinuxFreakus:
Eh, whats the point of the death penalty anyway? I'd say its worse to spend the rest of your life in prison than to get the death penalty where you don't have to live with what you did for the rest of your life, instead you get off easy and just die.

Based on the number and length of appeals, most people on death row would disagree with you.
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Jesse
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When a heinous murderer in Texas claimed that she had been Saved and therefore should be saved, many of my fellow death penalty opponents called the Christian Right leaders who asked for clemancy hypocrites, saying that if they believed in the death penalty they shouldn't be asking for religious exceptions.

To ask for an exception in the case of Tookie Williams is to ask for a seccular humanist exception, to argue that someone who appears to have fully and wholeheartedly embraced OUR values be made an exception to the rule. It's the rule it's self we should be fighting.

For those who believe in Mr. Williams innocence of the crime for which he was sentenced, I respectfully disagree but I can understand why they thought it was so important to fight for clemancy. It's true that he was mostly convicted on the testimony of jail-house snitches who recieved benefit for their testimony.

Perhaps he would have written more, perhaps he would have had a bigger impact, perhaps more lives would have been saved if he had been allowed to live. However, perhaps ANY death row inmate might reform themselves, might contribute in a meaningful way to our society. The only thing that permenantly removes that possibility from anyone is death.

Did Mr. Williams have any greater right to live up to his potential than any other death row inmate?

I do know this: Now he will never apologize. Now the families of his victims will never have the satisfaction of hearing him confess, of hearing him express remorse. The possibility of that event disapeared at 12:35 last night.

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flydye45
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The folks pushing redemption have a small point. What exactly would be considered "redemptive" for a capital case.

If George killed a man, and then went on with life doing good works before he is later caught and sentenced, I would be sympathetic. A doctor who saved thousands but had a small serial killing problem has a shot of good vs evil on the DP stage. Unfortunately being guilty after being caught taints the whole redemption well.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
There is a world of difference between taking joy in a State execution and mere indifference that a gangster thug murderer was taken out.
True, but indifference is most likely what Williams felt when he comitted his murders. He probably also objectified his victims in a way very similar to labeling one a "gangster thug murderer". To each his own, but personally I find the indifference perhaps even more disturbing.

Adam

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Mariner
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Why is the indifference disturbing? Like plenty of others here, I don't like the death penalty, and would be happy to see it never used. But if it is going to be used, why not on this guy? I don't live in California; I would have had absolutely no power to change this. And how many people are executed each year? How many innocent people are killed on the streets per year? How many children starve to death in other countries? How many are aborted every year? Why should I care more about someone who's done more harm to inner cities than any of these others when he dies? It's unfortunate, but I see no reason to single him out.

So let me ask you a question Adam. Why are we focusing on Mr Williams here? Why was his execution, above all others, so big? Is everyone so indifferent about everyone else on death row? Is that even more disturbing than being indifferent to all of them? Why choose Williams as a protest centerpiece, when people like Cory Maye are on death row? (For those who don't want to read it, the gist of it is that police illegally raided his home in the middle of the night, where he - with no criminal record and no charges against him - tried to defend himself and his family against unknown intruders. And so he shot and killed a policeman. Is it just me, or is that completely unworthy of a death penalty?) What's so special about a guy who kills people, starts a horrid gang, never admits his wrongdoing, never aids police in stopping his gang, but writes a few children's books when he has nothing better to do?

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Praetorian
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You know the thing that keeps coming to my mind is that for him to be forgiven, what we're really saying is that the price of 4 lives is a few children's books.

Actually to my mind, the debt to society for the creation of the Crips-which has plenty of blood on its hands-added to the blood on his own more than negates his benefit to society as a lighthouse for youth.

So in my mind, his redemption real or not, only gives him a marker to show his maker when the time comes. Perhaps he'll meet the new testament turn the other cheek god...or maybe he'll meet the old testament eye for an eye god. Who knows and who cares. [Roll Eyes]

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Why is the indifference disturbing?
Well, in general it isn't, because usually we are unaware of these kinds of things. We don't constantly think about others who are suffering (as nice as that would be [Smile] ). What's disturbing (to me) is when we look at a specific person directly and still manage to shut off our empathy. It may be a very common human ability, but that doesn't make it a good one. In its extreme form, it enables the worst of human atrocities. In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt talks about this very fact, and how in a way it is worse that Eichmann didn't hate his victims, but was merely indifferent to thier suffering. It is,in my opinion, one of the most pernicious aspects of the debased practice of capital punishment: it forces all of us to engage in killing by proxy, with all of the requisite detatchment. Every time we successfully manage to avoid feeling empathy for another human being, the next time will be easier.

quote:
Why are we focusing on Mr Williams here?
For no reason other than the obvious timeliness of the subect. You will notice that I haven't said a single word about the "redemption" of Williams or his right to life. This issue is about ourselves, collectively, as a society that kills, and about the act of killing itself. I don't know whether the man had truly reformed, though it is ALWAYS possible, in this life or the next, as they say. I just don't believe that once a person has crossed some arbitrary line of how many rules they broke, they become undeserving of our empathy and compassion. I am well aware that there are many whose crimes were far less than Williams', not to mention those wrongfully convicted, but to me, thats beside the point. Even the worst criminal, guilty of the most heinous crimes, it is wrong for the state to kill that person. If we value life, we should walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.

Adam

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Mariner
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Well, ok, that makes sense. Personally, my issue is with this redemption thing people talk about. Am I happy that Williams was executed? No. Like I said, I don't agree with the death penalty, and I would prefer to see it not used. So I would have preferred if he was simply given life in prison rather than executed. But the fact that he wrote a few books or "redeemed" himself does not factor into that at all, which is why this hooplah surrounding the execution was annoying to me.

Let's put it another way - assuming he was guilty of everything, Williams deserved the highest punishment that a just society can give. I happen to think that's life in prison, and I'm sure you would agree that that's reasonable. California says it's execution, as is their prerogative. Now, if he doesn't deserve execution because of his writing ability, should I reconsider my own personal judgement on him? If he was given life in prison instead, should that sentence have been mediated because of his good works in prison? I'm forced to say no. Not because of revenge or punishment, but because of justice. What he did still happened, and regardless of what he says he may still be a threat to society. Life in prison is what he earned by committing his crime, and anything he does afterwords should not play a role. Redemption is for God to decide, not Gov. Schwarzenneger. By the same token, it should not factor into decisions about the death penalty IMO.

But if you're not talking about this redemption thing, then I really don't disagree with you in general. Although enjoying murder is still more scary than being indifferent to it IMO, but that's another subject altogether.

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fizz
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Just a question: I've seen a lot of people saying how he didn't deserved clemency because he didn't admitted his crime, and that showed that he didn't truly repented.
Let's say for a moment that, while a criminal for other things he truly was innocent of that crime for wich he've been condemned(I don't know the details of this case, but even in the most apparently obvious cases mistakes *does* happen from time to time... ), what do you think he should have done?

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Adam Masterman
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Tell the truth. From our own point of view, we can not control when or how we die, only how we act while alive. I have no idea whether he killed those people or not, but if he didn't, I would never advise him to say he did in order to get clemency. In my tradition we say "keep your vows, even at the cost of your life", and the practice of honesty is one of those vows.

Of course, the fact that someone could even be faced with this choice shows the barbarity of the practice itself. Capital punishment is, IMO, the worst thing about this country.

Adam

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flydye45
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Adam, I can empathize. Someone loved Williams, a mother, a brother. In his last moments, he probably felt fear and helplessness. He is a human being.

And I can still order him executed. Empathy is not forgiveness. Mercy is that we did it fast and painless. One should do this with the full knowledge and humility that a mother loved this guy, that we could be wrong.

Capital punishment is bad. That doesn't mean there aren't things that are worse. The Crips come to mind, in the business of defiling people's souls with drugs and terror. This is a bad guy. Justice isn't about empathy. It isn't about mercy.

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