I’m both saddened and worried. Schwarzenegger denied clemency for Stanley Tookie Williams, the founder of the Crips, convicted murderer, multi-time nobel peace prize nominee and staunch proponant against gangs and gang violence. He’s scheduled to be killed by lethal injection at 12:01am tonight. You can read the basics here:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-12-12-williams_x.htm

And here:

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/12/1446255

There is a lot that can be said about this case, but given that I’ve also been following the continued FEMA incompetence in regards to Hurrican Katrina and the criminally incompetent treatment of economically-disadvantaged African-Americans (they’re being kicked out of emergency hotel housing this week), and the recent unemployment riots in France and their relationship to our own unemployment figures for disadvantaged minorities, I’m very worried about race and economics. I’m very worried about how poorly our society is dealing with these issues, and how we are fooling ourselves into believing that they aren’t issues when these three very high-profile happenings clearly show that they are highly problematic. And finally, I’m remembering the riots that have followed the outcomes of other major events (Watts, Rodney King, France, etc.), and I’m wondering if a 12:01am execution time is going to stop the outrage that is only partially about the killing of one man, and a lot more about the violences that our society legally perpetrates every day on economically disadvantaged minorities.

“This is action, this is spectacle, this is crisis, this is everything that you’ve been waiting for…”

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10 thoughts on “

  1. Crap. I mean I figured that Gov. Tough Guy wouldn’t go for it, but still… crap.

    You know, it’s funny. The main argument for the Death Penalty is often that we shouldn’t be expected to support these unproductive monsters their whole lives. Yet in this case, while responsible for horrible suffering, Willams actively tried to make the world a better place every day he remains alive. Seems to me we’d all be blessed to be that “productive”.

    Wheras, his fate is in the hands of a man who has reached public office through his being the very icon of violence porn; who owes everything he has to his years of propigating violence as an acceptable solution.

  2. I think that much of the ignorance about actual race issues comes from hyper-sensitivity to aspects of racial prejudice that either don’t matter or are just patently offensive rather than practically detrimental to the entirety of a race. People are much more likely to be up in arms about a KKK rally (which is an expression of freedom of speech), the use of the N word or an isolated hate crime. While some of these examples may indeed by morally wrong/evil, they are not nearly so practically damaging to lives as things like the Katrina issues.

    Racism has become so attached to so many banners that it has lost much of its potency. Many -isms (like feminism) share similar dilemmas.

  3. I too am saddened by these events. I think it would be by far better to make this man pay for his crimes by going out into the world and helping to stop gang-violence. Now that would be like JUSTICE. And I bet he would do it.

    I am also married to an economist and it has really opened my eyes to the haves and have nots, which I think is truly the essential struggle in racism and sexism. I was thinking yesterday that I don’t want economic independence and a room of one’s own for women – I want it for the whole world.

    Love to you sweet fox.

    • Campaign against gang membership and violence? Making amends that actually do work to repair the social damage? Wow! I so totally agree. Actually, this is the kind and style of amends that is now considered 9th step amends … and it was long ago the amends that Christians were supposed to make following confession.

      I have always been curious about the use of prejudices and differentiations as excuses for economic power. Is Ireland really about religion or who gets the jobs and other material and social junk?

      • and it was long ago the amends that Christians were supposed to make following confession.

        Wow, cool, didn’t know that. And that’s harder than just saying sorry.

        As for the Ireland thing, well I wouldn’t know. But hey, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true.

  4. I read about the denial on the web earlier today. I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed. I haven’t been able to find any info on the current situation, but I agree that it’s worrisome. This is one of the reasons I’m wary of capital punishment.

  5. It’s good that you’re worried. More people should be.

    Now what can YOU do?

    Make it your New Year’s resolution. Make a difference somewhere. Take the revulsion and the passion you feel and fire it up for someone else.

    ::love::

  6. If I took anything away from Criminal Law this summer, it was the philosophy of criminal punishment and criminalization. In that, Prof. Baude’s criticism of the death penalty and its underlying theory of retributive justice stand out.
    Generally, retributive justice is based on the premise that humans, as moral actors, possess the capacity to make good or evil choices. Respect for that capacity, it follows, demands that we punish people for their evil acts in proportion to their magnitude and the actor’s blameworthiness; less would attribute wrongdoing to something other than free will, and more would slide into vengeance. Ignoring for a moment the impossible difficulty of assigning appropriate punishment based on moral blameworthiness, the theory completely breaks down over the death penalty.
    When we condemn someone to death as a means of criminal punishment, we give up; essentially it is a concession that that person is not able to make a moral choice. It is, in most minds, the harshest sanction available; that being so, the question of whether it is disproportionate to the crime will always linger.
    Besides all that, it’s morally reprehensible.
    R.I.P. ‘Tookie’

    • Really? Oh ho! Thank you for this lesson. Retributive legal system (I refuse to call this justice when it isn’t) There is only 1 problem with it. Addicts are not operating as moral actors because they do not have the capacity to make good or evil choices. They have a disease of the will, per the AMA. Which may explain why there are so many addicts in the prison systems right now.

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