As you probably know by now, mercy was denied, and Stanley Tookie Williams was murdered by the state of California at 12:35 am this morning. In other news, none of his alleged victims came back to life and there are no reports of murders having been deterred in the state of California.
Here are some things I don’t care about today.
I don’t care whether Tookie repented, deep down in his heart, or whether he was trying to put on a good face in order to save his skin.
I don’t care whether Tookie’s trial was fair or not.
I don’t care about whether Tookie was innocent or guilty of the crimes for which he was slaughtered.
I don’t care about whether Tookie was innocent or guilty of a bunch of other crimes that he has or hasn’t copped to.
I don’t give a damn about what kind of
message mercy would have
sent. Or what kind of
message slaughtering him did send.
And if I hear one more goddamned professional blowhard cheerfully pontificating about the calculated electoral pandering that informed Governor Schwarzenegger’s deliberations over a man’s life, as if there were nothing unexpected or wrong with snuffing out a human life in order to make sure that your political
base stays behind you, I am going to scream. And cry.
Regardless of the fickle electoral preferences of California Republicans, the
messages that the State’s Harrow might inscribe into a man’s body for the edification of unnamed others, his guilt or innocence, the adequacy of his trial, or the inner state of his soul, Tookie would have posed no more credible threat to anyone alive in San Quentin without the possibility of parole than he does now that he has been poisoned to death. I wouldn’t presume to know whether he, or anyone in this vale of tears,
deserved to live or
deserved to die. What could give me the right to say? More to the point, what ever gave the hangmen and politicians of the state of California the right to say?
I do know that if he did deserve to die, we would have no right to give him what he deserves. Blood vengeance is not ours to dispense. Would you have sanctioned the premeditated murder if one of the other inmates managed to break out and slit Tookie’s throat in the middle of the night, just ’cause he deserved to die? If so, why? If not, what makes the relevant moral difference between the criminal and the State’s hangman?
The death penalty is the definitive expression of what the power of the imperium means. It means that the State claims a special right to control you, to beat you, to tie you down, and to kill you, at its own pleasure and discretion, a claim that would be universally met with indignation and horror if it came from anyone else, if it weren’t covered with the robes and the crown. The death penalty — an act of State-sanctioned murder whether the victim is good or evil, innocent or guilty, redeemed or sinful — shows the State in all of its power and all of its glory, in the mirror that flatters not.
The State is Death. That is its power. That is its justice. That is its law.
At 12:35 a.m., it claimed Tookie Williams. It must be stopped before it claims even one more life.