Monday, December 12, 2005


Tookie Williams will die shortly after midnight tonight. I don't know whether he committed the crime or not, and actually its not important to me. In fact, I think it is a very bad idea to be making a big deal about him or any other individual facing the death penalty except for those who are too mentally incapable of doing so (the handicapped, the very young, etc.). Focusing on Tookie demands knowledge of the case and perhaps it is now impossible to know the truth about the murders he is accused of commiting.

What is not impossible to know or understand, however, is that statistically speaking the death penalty does nothing to deter crime of any sort, and it is much more expensive than having life in prison. Moreover, killing is wrong, and the State should not do it or condone it implicity by execution.

Focusing on Tookie allows the pro-death penalty people to bring personality and fear-mongering back to the table as they exploit the very real racism that lies just beneath the surface of American life. Moving our focus to the larger questions allows a saner debate, one that we can win.

I am dismayed that anyone at all will die tonight at 12:01 am, but let us remember all of those ineloquent and poor people who don't gain the Left's attention. It is the whole group of death row inmates that we should be fighting for, as the death penalty is a waste, and it is wrong.