Because of my never-ending work schedule lately (which had me up rubbing my eyes and firing off emails at 1am this morning), I hadn’t realized all the hubbub around the Stanley “Tookie” Williams thing. I had seen it in the paper, how he’s been on death row now for 24 years after committing four atrocious murders in the late 1970s and how his time was almost up. In fact, it is up. He was put to death this morning, despite his attempt to prolong his appeal by……writing children’s books. As one early-90s rapper sang: don’t believe the hype.
Hell, that’s 24 years those dead people will never get, right? But that’s beside the point. What really matters is that ‘Ol Tookie had the support of many celebrities, including Snoop Dogg and some guy from the old ’70s sitcom MASH. I was waiting for Coolio, the entire cast of Barney Miller and the Captain & Tenielle to speak out, too. Never happened, because Governor Arnold effectively flipped the switch this morning.
This is a tough subject. I honestly don’t know how I feel about the death penalty. My gut feeling has always been that I am against it. There certainly have been times in my life where I’ve read a certain story about a particular murderer and said to myself, “well, he should probably not be kept around,” but for the most part I’ve always maintained opposition. I’d never be elected president, would I? How fast would the “flip-flopper” thing come out? Anyway, I don’t want to be president – it pays badly and probably isn’t as fun as being, say, Lindsey Lohan. Ok, bad example. She was good in “Mean Girls,” though. What happened to her? I still think she’s got some good movies in her, believe it or not, despite the pixy-sticks she’s been delivering lately on the big screen – all sugar, no substance.
Anyway, back on point. The death penalty. Here’s where I sit: the numbers seem to strongly support that the death penalty doesn’t deter criminals. While many people will hold those numbers up as their only act of defiance in opposition to the death penalty, to me it’s not nearly enough. It’s the same as Wade Boggs hitting .350 every year. Science and numbers dictated he was a great hitter – one of the best. Life indicated he was a horse’s ass and lacked leadership qualities to get his team where they needed to go. Get the point? Numbers only take you so far.
I think in the end, I view my opposition to the death penalty from the eyes of the criminal. While I’ll never know what the mindset of a convicted murderer is, I think it may be safe to say that they’re not valuing life the same way us non-murderers are. To take that one step further, I’m comfortable saying that they don’t care if they live and many probably want to die if it means avoiding hearing the doors on cell block 12A slam every day at 7am and 7pm for the rest of their life – without parole. Why give them what they want? Let them sit in jail – to me that’s more punishment than a needle prick or sticking their finger in a light socket.
There are probably a few of you worried now about your tax dollars at work, paying for these guys to be born again and writing children’s books. That’s a weak argument. If you’re worried about that, take a drive down to Washington DC sometime and check out what your government is spending your money on. Useless bridges in Alaska, that’s where. It doesn’t matter what party is in office, either, if you’re going to stand behind the tax dollar argument, you’d better be ready to stand behind the idea that for every $1 spent on death row, there’s probably $500 going to something totally unbelieveable.
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