the execution of tookie williams and moral equivalency

Its interesting to me to observe the similarity in moral justification for torturing enemy combatants and the execution of accused murderers.

“If we can save one american life its worth it” is pretty much the equivalent argument for both. I think this is more an emotional reaction we all have driven by our feelings of helplessness around horrible incidents.

We want revenge. We’re angry. But we need a more rational justification. So mike talks about how capital punishment is a deterent even though arguments have been made that criminals might be more likely to kill with laws like three strikes.

We say ‘its worth it to save americans’ when there’s little to no evidence that torture has or ever will save anyone.

When we take vengence on others we are only sacrificing our own morals. And I don’t get how the conservative, christian right led republicans can preach christian values like mercy and forgiveness and then demand blood as restitution.

Mike states that tookie’s books have sold only a couple hundred copies. I’m not sure where he is getting his facts. I know that tookie has worked tirelessly to reach out and connect with hundreds of gang kids from his jail cell for 27 yrs.

Mike also talks about using threat of execution to get valuable info from felons. And in fact san quentin has believed for decades that he still holds valuable information. This seems about as idiotic as the belief that some taliban fighter from the mountains of pakistan can identify a hidden cell in the us.

The unfortunate reality is that our country is being dragged into a horrible dangerous place by a bunch of corrupt leaders backed by a lot of ignorant people.

We are only creating more enemies where few existed, turning moderates into extremists, allies into critics. And this all in the name of ‘saving american lives’.

I don’t blame our leaders for suporting the iraqi invasion (though bush/cheney likely did mislead the people). I mainly blame them for their dogmatic refusal to admit they were wrong, no WMD found. Why can’t we have a real dialog that says we fucked up and how are we going to fix it? Why can’t we ask our allies for help fixing it?

Free countries are built on free thinking. Fascist regines live on blind support. Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

27 thoughts on “the execution of tookie williams and moral equivalency

  1. Mark, your post meanders from one topic to another with no facts to back up your assertions and conclusions. It appears that, as evidenced by your photo on this blog that you tie one on before sitting down to blog.
    More specifically: comparing the justification for torturing terrorists (they are not “enemy combatants” because enemy combatants wear a uniform) and murderers (not accused tried and convicted and appealed and confirmed. Tookie, if you want to use his gang name, which is appropriate, shot his first known victim in the back while he lay prostrate on the floor, then killed other innocent unarmed victims with the same shotgun.) Please try to be more coherent and precise in your use of language.
    What’s this if we save one American life crap? Savages who kill and are convicted with special circumstances (Tookie the founder of the Crips gang collected a whole $220 in robbing those 5 people he killed) should be killed. What does this have to do with unlawful combatants (to use the proper the legal lexicon)? Or revenge? It is simply prudent.
    With regard to unlawful combatants:
    “A terrorist is by profession, indeed by definition, an unlawful combatant: He lives outside the laws of war because he does not wear a uniform, he hides among civilians, and he deliberately targets innocents. He is entitled to no protections whatsoever. People seem to think that the postwar Geneva Conventions were written only to protect detainees. In fact, their deeper purpose was to provide a deterrent to the kind of barbaric treatment of civilians that had become so horribly apparent during the first half of the 20th century, and in particular, during the Second World War. The idea was to deter the abuse of civilians by promising combatants who treated noncombatants well that they themselves would be treated according to a code of dignity if captured–and, crucially, that they would be denied the protections of that code if they broke the laws of war and abused civilians themselves.”
    Then you confuse the three strikes bill and capital punishment. They are very different. Three strikes doesn’t result in a death penalty.
    Regarding torture, how do you define it. Do you include truth drugs like sodium pentathol? How about waterboarding? According to CIA sources cited by ABC News waterboarding was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for between 2 and 2.5 minutes after which he was begging to confess, and did so. Your assertion that torture doesn’t work is completely without basis. The facts demonstrate that it does work.
    So Mark, let’s assume that a terrorist planted a nuclear bomb in San Francisco that was set to go off in 8 hours killing millions. We catch one of the terrorists, but he isn’t talking. Do we use the waterboard or read him his rights and place him in a cell?
    The monstrous thing about torture is that sometimes it does work. In 1994, 19-year-old Israeli corporal Nachshon Waxman was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. The Israelis captured the driver of the car used in the kidnapping and tortured him in order to find where Waxman was being held. Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister and peacemaker, admitted that they tortured him in a way that went even beyond the ’87 guidelines for “coercive interrogation” later struck down by the Israeli Supreme Court as too harsh. The driver talked. His information was accurate. The Israelis found Waxman. “If we’d been so careful to follow the [’87] Landau Commission [which allowed coercive interrogation],” explained Rabin, “we would never have found out where Waxman was being held.”
    I can continue to shoot holes is every single argument you posit Mark because you throw out ideas and feelings with wanton disregard for facts and history. I read your blog in the past for insights in Internet business. But your half-baked, completely unsupported political and moral blather is too much to take. I bid you adieu. My final request is that you post this on your blog in full view and let the readers decide…but I’m guessing you aren’t one for granting final requests 🙂

  2. Perhaps Mike can share w/us why the Israeli Supreme Court, a court in a country that surely could benefit and see the value of torture, has decided against it…especially if it worked as well as he describes.
    As a counter point to why not have torture, I found the following excerpt from John Derbyshire, a contributing editor to the National Review, to provide some useful information on this matter:
    The first thing to be said about torture, as a means of discovering facts, was said by Aristotle in Book 1, Chapter 15 of Rhetorica: torture doesn’t work very well. Under physical torture, some people will lie; some will say anything to make the pain stop, even just for a while; and a surprising number will refuse to yield. Robert Conquest, in The Great Terror, gives a figure of “one in a hundred” for those who failed to confess under the methods used by Stalin’s secret police. However, most of those pulled in by the NKVD were ordinary people guilty of nothing at all. Dedicated resistance workers, fanatical terrorists, or revolutionaries would show better stats. In his memoir Nothing to Declare, Taki Theodoracopulos tells the story of a young WWII Greek resistance fighter named Perrikos, who blew up the German HQ building in Athens on orders from Taki’s father. Arrested and tortured to death by the Nazis, Perrikos revealed nothing, claiming to the end that he had acted alone, under no one’s orders. There were many such cases.
    These perspectives surely call much of the certainty outlined by Mike on this issue into question.

  3. In response to the Israeli Supreme Court comment, they are back at it again, here is what Charles Krauthammer has to say:
    In a summary of Israel’s policies, Glenn Frankel of the Washington Post noted that the 1999 Supreme Court ruling struck down secret guidelines established 12 years earlier that allowed interrogators to use the kind of physical and psychological pressure I described in imagining how KSM might be treated in America’s “black sites.”
    “But after the second Palestinian uprising broke out a year later, and especially after a devastating series of suicide bombings of passenger buses, cafes and other civilian targets,” writes Frankel, citing human rights lawyers and detainees, “Israel’s internal security service, known as the Shin Bet or the Shabak, returned to physical coercion as a standard practice.” Not only do the techniques used “command widespread support from the Israeli public,” but “Israeli prime ministers and justice ministers with a variety of political views,” including the most conciliatory and liberal, have defended these techniques “as a last resort in preventing terrorist attacks.”

  4. liberalism is a mental disorder! where were all of the liberal’s tears and efforts when tookie’s victims were murdered in cold blood! whether it’s tookie, NAMBLA, saddam, or any other scumbucket, lowlife oxygen thief who has destroyed innocent people’s lives for thier own selfish and irresponsible (see liberal) reasons, the insane left only seems to be concerned with protecting the so-called rights of these murderous criminals. we never hear the left complain about the actions of terrorists, pedophiles, or any other criminals…they only defend them and blame other’s for their actions. The people of Ca. have invoked the death penalty ( see democracy ) on this piece of garbage so if people don’t like it, move or vote to change the law. I myself will be sharing a nice cold beer with my law abiding friends, celebrating the fact that one more terrorist (domestic) has been exterminated in roughly the same fashion he chose to exterminate the INNOCENT people he killed! My concern lies with the good, loving, society respecting, law-abiding people of this world regardless of their race or gender and that is where my concern ends!!!!

  5. a question for mark….no WMD’s found does not mean they don’t exist..does it? Randi Rhodes ( air america ) contradicts herself when she says ” we now know there were no WMD’s ” one day, and the next day she says” Rumsfeld knew Saddam had WMD’s because he holds the reciept because we sold them to him”. What do you think?

  6. Re: “Mike states that tookie’s books have sold only a couple hundred copies. I’m not sure where he is getting his facts.”
    1 of Tookie’s books sold TWO copies! Another 330! Most are out of print.
    Re: “I know that tookie has worked tirelessly to reach out and connect with hundreds of gang kids from his jail cell for 27 yrs.”
    Tookie attacked guards and inmates from the time of his conviction and was placed in solitary confinement. It was not until he went to the hole from 1988-1994, that he ‘changed’, so this “27 years” worth of good deeds is a fallacy. The reality of his ‘transformation’ is that it is self-serving and meaningless as it does not change the fact that he murdered four people. Justice demands that his life be taken in retaliation for the four lives he took. If Tookie want redemption, he can ask his god for it on Monday morning at 12:02 a.m.

  7. I think it is important to note that no ACCUSED murderer is ever executed. Execution is only carried out on CONVICTED murderers. Agree or disagree with it, it is the law. Any nation that does not enforce it’s laws will without question slide into complete anarchy.

  8. Actions have consequences, one cannot hit oneself in the head with a hammer and not expect to experience pain, action-hammer, consequence-pain, action-multiple murders, consequence-execution.
    And the vast majority of inmates on death row come to Jesus so should we let them all out after they repent??? Or should their family be comforted that once they are executed they will be with their savior???

  9. Can you hear me now?Die Crip bitch,hope you cry and squirm and kick all the way to HELL!

  10. This evil man who murdered and helped foist drugs upon our young people and whose legacy will continue to harm people well after he is gone is certainly not be shown any clemency. If he has seen the light let him meet his savior and let him judge him. Williams should have been put to death years ago. I could certainly be his executioner without a qualm.

  11. he should live he has made mistakes but thats why you should give him another chance also fuck Arnold he could suck my dick and go to hell u son of a bitch

  12. Tookie’s dead. Did it fix anything? Are those four people suddenly risen from the dead because the state of California took retribution on Williams? What did we gain from allowing the legally sanctioned killing of Tookie Williams? Who is more in need of redemption, Williams, or a society that presumes to exact its version of vengeance? Who knows if the death penalty is really a deterrent? People know that if they kill someone, they’re going to be sentenced to die–yet the killing continues. In fact, maybe it’s America’s infatuation–no, obsession–with violence, with killing, with resolution through violence that fuels itself. This thing will burn and burn and we’ll kepp on killing each other until we’re all fucking dead. In that case then, the death penalty will certainly be the ultimate deterrent, won’t it? I don’t know if I believe in the death penalty or not, the whole issue is so terribly convoluted and rife with questions of judgement, morality and justice. Here’s what I do know: African Americans, like myself, are five times more likely to receive a death sentance than a white convicted of the same crime. Here’s how I translate that data: Innocent African Americans, then, are five times more likely to be executed. And since any ressonable person would surely agree that people of color are more likely to be targeted under the current provisions of the criminal injustice system’s dictates, and that they usually receive very shitty counsel (since public defenders are paid by the same people who are trying to convict you, and most defendants of color who can’t afford decent representation end up with a p.d.) the whole death penalty question becomes a lot more ominous. Now if there’s anything that makes me err on the side of caution, it is those facts. Until we can be assured that so-called justice is going to be equitably dispensed, until we can make sure that all Americans have sufficient leagl representation, until we can get criminal legislation that does not have any racial connotations, then maybe we shouldn’t fuck with the death penalty at all

  13. Zen X,
    You sure know how to twist things around! How many Black men have been executed in the state of Calif. up until Tookie, since the death penalty was brought back? ONE(1). Now, how many White men have been executed in the same time? Try about Nine(9). We all know, all you do is stick up for your race no matter how many innocent people they kill (does the name O.J.) ring a bell with you??? Get a life, Tookie got what he deserved only he should have got it long ago!! And oh!, We execute people so they in turn can’t kill anymore INNOCENT people!

  14. And Ill bet half the people supporting “poor Tookie” outside have had innocent lives masticated out of their wombs…When’s their turn at the needle?…Discusting…Williams and his supporters can rot in Hell.

  15. IT WAS WRONG FOR WHAT HE DID WE ARE ALL SINERS IN THIS WORLD AND WE ARE NO ONE TO JUDGE…IT’S ALL UP TO THE MAN UPSTAIRS AND SHOULD BE LEFT IN HIS HANDS…I THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE GIVEN THE DEATH SENT W/OUT THE POSIBILTY OF PAROLE.BUT TO TAKE HIS LIFE AWAY IT WAS WRONG….WHAT DID THEY GET OUT OF IT?? NOTHING…..

  16. IT WAS WRONG FOR WHAT HE DID WE ARE ALL SINERS IN THIS WORLD AND WE ARE NO ONE TO JUDGE…IT’S ALL UP TO THE MAN UPSTAIRS AND SHOULD BE LEFT IN HIS HANDS…I THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE GIVEN THE DEATH SENT W/OUT THE POSIBILTY OF PAROLE.BUT TO TAKE HIS LIFE AWAY IT WAS WRONG….WHAT DID THEY GET OUT OF IT?? NOTHING…..

  17. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
    I would not do alot of things I did as a young person.
    This is a very sad thing.

  18. It’s rather interesting that not being able to see that the death penalty is in of itself simply barbaric, and not worthy of more advanced civilizations, Americans, the great proponents of ‘best demonstrated practices’ don’t understand that the death penalty is a worst demonstrated practice.
    Tell me which nations having no death penalty have a worse murder rate than does the great old USA.
    But then folks I’m just a simple Canadian living where we have no death penalty and murder rates are low. The lowest now in 30 years or so. Internationally, Canada has a lower homicide rate than the United States (5.69) and England and Wales (1.93). The rate is slightly higher than France (1.65) and Australia (1.63).
    And no none of the latter have death penalties either.

  19. I believe that a man that has done so much evil in his life will get bit in the end.
    I also believe that because of the life he led… He was our strongest weapon against gangs that we had. Young black kids will NOT listen to a white man in a business suit. But maybe some would have listened to him.
    My heart goes out to those four victims and their families. If sparing Tookie the death penalty would have saved (1) young person a life of crime… I wholeheartedly believe we have made a grave mistake.
    Thank you.

  20. We have short tedious lives and we all have deep down lust for blood and are all bad anyway. I think hiding his execution from the public is wrong. It should be publicly televised so that it can help pay for for it. Even better maybe there should be ring where he can fight other death row inmates. I bet it would rate better then any show.

  21. Actually, the number of blacks executed by civil authority outnumbers by a slight margin the number of whites executed. Check out this credible source for proof: http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/death/graphics/ch1race.gif
    The whole thing is really ugly. Four people dying over a measly $220. A life wasted languishing in a prison cell for the purpose of an IV that takes a person out. What makes our government any better than the Crips when we apply a life for a life?? What does this really solve? It just means one more dead person, however, dead by “legal” means.
    How about putting all these murderers on some uninhabited island without provisions and letting them go for it on their own? Maybe they would kill each other off and maybe they would stick together for the sake of a cooperative effort in order to live.
    The alledged crimes were committed when my youngest daughter was less than 1 year of age. Now she is 27 and he is put to death. 20 years is a generation. That kind of means that when they decided to put Tookie to death, they left it on the next generation to carry out the order. How fair is that?
    All in all, the whole thing is a very ugly mar on “civilized” society and it causes a pain deep within my soul. For Tookie I am deeply saddened. For those who believe the death sentence to be a deterrent to murder, I submit to you: If it works, why are there more and more people on Death Row?

  22. To Mickey:
    Yeah, I stick up for my race. White people have been murdering and injuring Black people without retribution for more than 300 years in this country(see lynchings, slave rapes, beatings,and disposition of “property” by white slave masters police brutality, et al), so yeah, I’m a little sensitive. And I’m constantly having to educate people like you who do not have an understanding of the social dynamic that comes into play everyday between the racist because of unaddressed and underlying animosities that honest discourse might clear up (let’s add the fact that most white Americans won’t cop to the clearly obvious fact that they have benefitted from white privledge–affirmative action, I call it–since the country’s inception and that by not protesting the evils of discrimination and slavery, even if they weren’t directly involved, they were a party to it, that they gave it tacit approval, by refusing to agitate against a claer evil). But you miss the point. Is our society better served by continuing to resort to viiolence to resolve issues?Are we going to move beyond the culture of violence that created the atmosphere in which a Tookie Williams could have been nurtured long before he was even born? “We haven’t learned to disagree without being violently disagreeable” _Dr. Martin Luther King

  23. To Mickey:
    Yeah, I stick up for my race. White people have been murdering and injuring Black people without retribution for more than 300 years in this country(see lynchings, slave rapes, beatings,and disposition of “property” by white slave masters, police brutality, et al), so yeah, I’m a little sensitive. And I’m constantly having to educate people like you who do not have an understanding of the social dynamic that comes into play everyday between the races because of unaddressed and underlying animosities that honest discourse might help clear up (let’s add the fact that most white Americans won’t cop to the clearly obvious fact that they have benefitted from white privledge–affirmative action, I call it–since the country’s inception and that by not protesting the evils of discrimination and slavery, even if they weren’t directly involved, that they were a party to it and that they gave it tacit approval, by refusing to agitate against a claer evil. Yeah I’m sensitive. But I’m still cool with most of ya’ll). But you miss the point. My question remains: Is our society better served by our proclivity for resorting to violence to resolve issues? Is an “eye-for-an-eye” the best solution so-called lucid beings can come up with. Are we going to move beyond the culture of violence, poverty, bigotry and desperation that created the atmosphere in which a Tookie Williams could have been nurtured long before he was even born?
    “We haven’t learned to disagree without being violently disagreeable” _Dr. Martin Luther King
    “An eye-for-an-eye will eventually make everyone blind”–unknown

  24. What do you mean, “Don’t make this a racial issue?” It was a racial issue from Day One. Interestingly enough, I read where Arnold met Tookie on Venice Beach when he first came to America and admired Tookie’s arms, saying they were the size of legs. This was before Arnold became tainted by America’s brand of racism. Of course, now that Arnold has become Governor of the State of California which has a 90% approval rate for Capital Punishment, it is not politically expedient to have compassion. Especially when your polls are low and you want to be Governor again. Come now, let us reason together, White America was all too willing to consider the execution of a large, black, self-assured black man an urgent matter and to do away with Tookie Williams post haste. The media witnesses to the execution spoke of how threatening Tookie Williams appeared in the Death Chamber. Come on, give it a rest, just how damn threatening can a man who is tethered to his death bed be? Get real. Get rid of your old, tired, racially biased thinking. It will be healing for all of us.

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