Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An Executive Decision

Once again, I can't help being reminded of how much more socially liberal Europe is than we are. In the wake of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision not to commute the death sentence of convicted killer and Crips founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams, there was speculation of rioting in that state. But so far, it looks as though the strongest reaction has come from - of all places - Austria, Schwarzenegger's homeland.

In Austria, leaders of the opposition Green Party actually called for Gov. Schwarzenegger's citizenship to be revoked. Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel rejected these demands as being "absurd," which is exactly what they were. Many have been talking up the fact that Williams showed a reformation by speaking out against gangs and the violence they create. He even wrote children's books on the subject. That's all fine and good, and I commend him for having turned himself around to that extent.

But what often gets ignored here is a very simple truth: Williams (I almost called him Tookie just now, but that name makes me chuckle for some reason) never apologized for the deaths of four people during armed robberies in 1979. That was the crime he was convicted of, but he professed his innocence until the unfortunate end. Commuting his sentence would have given him life without parole, but if he were so proud as to refuse to confess, then what precedent would it have set to spare him? The proof showed that he killed those people, or he never would have been convicted in the first place. And even though Jamie Foxx and other celebrities were calling for him to be given clemency, the families of his victims were calling for his execution. Call it catharsis, but if he had just admitted his wrongdoings, I doubt the victims' families would have been as eager to see him dead as they were.

Anyway, Schwarzenegger's opinion was very similar to mine: "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption." But notice when you read the article that every viewpoint except the governor's comes down on the side of clemency. What, you mean to tell me they couldn't have found at least one other counterpoint source in the name of journalism? Or was it unimportant to the AP writer, who sounds as though she's in mourning?

There's no way it should have been hard to find someone who agreed with what the "Governator" did. Heck, they could have asked me.


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