Carol Platt Liebau: Another Argument Against Commutation

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Another Argument Against Commutation

Obviously, if justice didn't require Tookie Williams execution in accordance with his sentence, it would be wrong simply to go ahead as a disincentive to threats of gang violence.

In a case like this one, however, an argument in favor of the execution should be the hints of "civil unrest" in the event of Williams' execution that have been emanating from the gang bangers. It's worth considering the fact that, if the sentence is commuted, some in the gangs may believe that their threats helped carry the day. That's hardly a recipe for ongoing social order.

Notice, too, that Nobel Peace Prize nominee Williams hasn't called for calm in the event that his execution goes forward.


Blogger stackja1945 said...

If all the hotheads had kept quiet maybe there would have been commutation now because of their comments there can not be commutation. Did they always want the execution to fulfil some other agenda?

12:41 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

I can understand why white racists are arguing for Tookie to be spared. As columnist Stanley Crouch points out, some 10,000 young black males in the Los Angeles area have been killed by the gang violence springing from Tookie's foundation of the Crips, and this is more than three times the number of blacks killed by the KKK in its heyday. White racists love black on black crime. I can't understand those blacks who plead for his commutation. By doing so, they are supporting black on black crime and placing no value on the lives of those thousands of victims.

11:10 AM  
Blogger beeplet said...

Whether or not you believe the life of Tookie Williams should be spared depends on your view of the purpose of capital punishment. Is it deterrence of similar crimes, revenge against an individual, or some other goal? Few educated people would seriously argue that the goal is deterrence - crime rates in the United States compared to other countries without capital punishment undermine that rationale immediately. Many, on the other hand, are calling for Mr. Williams' death on the basis of revenge - he has been found to be guilty of four murders, therefore he ought to suffer the same treatment. This strikes me as an archaic, short-sighted world view. Haven't we, as a civilized people, moved beyond eye-for-an-eye justice?

A little more thought reveals another possible justification of capital punishment. Perhaps it is acceptable when the overall good to society of removing a dangerous criminal from existence outweighs the damage done to society by taking a life. Is this true in the Williams case? Mr. Williams will be behind bars forever, even if his life is spared. By all accounts he is no longer a dangerous criminal or a disruptive influence. To the contrary, in fact, he is now acting as a cautionary voice to young people in danger of being seduced by gangs. His execution would remove a postive member of society and at the same time compound the evil of four murders with a fifth. Where is the net positive impact there?

The only people who will be served by Williams' death are those calling for his execution out of a desire for revenge. They don't seem to realize that by condoning his murder they are simply perpetuating the problems of society.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Greg said...


Your last comment is an excellent point I hadn't yet considered. Just why hasn't "Tookie" called for peace and calm even if he is executed?

That may very well be the most revealing aspect of this entire case. Afterall, those advocating his life be spared are touting his conversion from a life of violence and his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Wouldn't a leader for world peace call for peace in this very circumstance?

7:52 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

beeplet said:
"The only people who will be served by Williams' death are those calling for his execution out of a desire for revenge."

I believe you are wrong, beep. Has the word "justice" ever crossed your mind? Justice will be served when Tootie takes his last breath - revenge has nothing to do with it, period!

Tookie is responsible for 4 unrepented murders, and indirectly the 10,000 more gang related deaths since his Crips first hit the streets. Justice must be served.

And it is a very good point about the fact there are no calls from this converted "man of peace" against rampaging on the streets after he dies. Tookie, I can't hear you....

8:52 AM  

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