Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why Is This One Any More Important?

In a reprieve from the sports diatribe, and my exciting job duties ( I know you guys love that stuff ), I'm going to bring up a topic sure bring out the beast in everyone.

It's just after midnight here, and in a few hours, Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be executed in California. If you've been living under a rock, Williams is a co-founder of the Crips gang, and was convicted of killing four people. He has exhausted his appeals, and there has been intense pressure on Gov. Schwarzenegger of Kaleforneaa to give Williams clemency. Today, Schwarzenegger denied the request. More details here.

I'm not here to debate the death penalty. Not everyone is EVER going to agree on this one. I don't think the 'deterrent' argument holds up very well, but I do believe that societies have the right to defend/protect/punish in a manner of their choosing. But that's not what I'd like to talk about.

Williams stands to be the 12th person to be executed in California since they reinstated the death penalty in 1977. When the state ( any state ), follows through on the jury's wishes, it often makes national news. I say often, not always, because since January 1st, 2005, fifty eight people have been put to death in the United States. Eight of them were so-called "volunteer" executions, where the defendant has given up his right to any further appeals on his own accord.

So do you know who Brian Steckel is? I didn't. Mr. Steckel was put to death on November 4th of this year, in Delaware. Mr. Steckel was convicted of killing a woman after raping her in her home, and then setting fire to the home. He used the appeal process to the end, and was denied clemency by the Gov. of Delaware. Mr. Steckel said at his execution the following:
"I want to say I'm sorry for the cruel things I did. I'm not the same man I was when I came to jail. I changed. I'm a better man. I walked in here without a fight, and I accept my punishment. It is time to go. I love you people. I'm at peace."

Not unlike Mr. Steckel, Mr. Williams has exhausted his appeal process, and has been denied clemency by the Governor. By all public accounts, Mr. Williams seems resigned to his fate, as evidenced by his last known interview:
"Me fearing what I'm facing, what possible good is it going to do for me? How is that going to benefit me?" Williams said in a recent interview. "If it's my time to be executed, what's all the ranting and raving going to do?"

Mr. Williams has said that he is a changed man since going into prison, and has said that he regrets being a founding member of the Crips. Conflicting reports from the Corrections department saying that Williams was still an 'active' member were one of the reasons he was not granted clemency. Williams has never shown public remorse for the crimes he was convicted of.

So now we have two guys with similar situations. Can someone explain to me why one of them is on the news 24/7, and I've never heard of the other guy? Why is one more important than the other? Both said they were changed men. Both found God. Please, please explain to me why Jamie Foxx, Mike Farrell (from M.A.S.H. fame), Bianca Jagger, Ted Danson, William Baldwin, Russell Crowe, and Bob Saget didn't say a PEEP to save Mr. Steckel??? Their main argument is that Williams is a changed man, and because of that, shouldn't die. So why weren't they out in full force in November on Mr. Steckel's behalf?

I really hope that there's a better answer than they're just hungry for attention, or crave the spotlight, and are using this as a chance to make themselves feel better about themselves. If you want to make a difference, be consistent. Don't just stand up when it's convenient and it's has a chance to make you look good.

As I mentioned, 58 people have been put to death this year, with 8 'voluntary'. That's 50 people that took appeals to the max, and an it's not a stretch to guess that they didn't want to die. How come Stanley Williams is the only name I had heard of of those 50 people? If Foxx, Farrell, Danson etc. really want to make a difference, they should be yelling at the top of their lungs about once a week. But they won't. Even though Mr. Steckel was resigned to his fate on the day he died, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have minded if a few dozen famous people had put in a call to the Governor the day before on his behalf. To me, what they have to say about Mr. Williams carries no weight until they make even half as much of a plea for the next guy on death row. Which, if you're outside of California, you're pretty much screwed, because they didn't lift a finger for the previous 50 this year.

I'm not sure what I find more disgusting - the fact that some famous people use times like this to impress their views upon everyone else - or that there are alot of people out there that agree with them just because they're famous.


At 6:19 AM, Blogger AlRo said...

I see what they're saying - but at the same time - that's like catching a kid with his hand in the cookie jar and threatening - "That's it ; no more cookies for you forever" and the kid is naturally gonna say - "I will never do it again, Daddy!"

Ok - weak arguement - and not exactly apples to apples - but you get the point..

When your end is near - what else are you gonna say...

The guy may not be so sorry that he did the things he did- but probly is more sorry that he was caught.

Had he not been caught - he'd still be doing it... and chance is are - if he was granted clemency -- let's say for sake of argument even - let go - and put back into society.. do you think his love of God would prevent him from doing it again?? Being the changed man that he's become??

I would put no trust in that at all...

Respectfully, I would have to disagree with the celebs on even trying to save one of 'em.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Beth said...

As far as I understand it, opposition of the death penalty aside, "Tookie" had high profile support because he was actively involved in anti-drug and anti-gang campaigns. He wrote childrens' books, and participated in the intellectual world in a way that I would venture to guess that Brian Steckel, faith and all, failed to do. Plus, it doesn't hurt that saving the founder of one of the most famous national street gangs is a whole lot sexier-sounding than pulling for some crazy guy in the second smallest state in the country.

But if they want to use their celeb-status as a platform to further a cause that might encite debate for a major change in this country's penal system, shouldn't they? It seems a helluva lot better than simply livin' the luxe life (which i'm sure they do regardless).

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Kuflax said...

But that's kinda the point...

Maybe Brian Steckel didn't write any childrens books, but he was a changed man. Guards from the prison where Mr. Steckel was kept commented on his plesant demeanor, and that he was a generally nice person to be around in prison. Reports from San Quentin where Mr. Williams was held indicated that the Guards didn't have the same relationship, and that he was generally unpleasant to be around.

And yes, it is 'sexier' to save a gang co-founder, but that's what I have issue with. While I am for the death penalty, I have no problem with people that are against it. There are people out there that are really trying to make a change in the penal system, and I applaud them for having a belief, and doing something about it. But to some people, it's not a 'part-time' thing.

If you're famous, and want to use your 'star power' to make a difference.... then do so. Just don't do it when it's only going to benefit you as well.


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