He really is the terminator


Gov. Arnold has denied clemency to Stanley "Tookie" Williams, who will be executed just after midnight tonight. I'll be brief on this subject. I am opposed to the death penalty and saddened by this development.

As a general rule, I don't support the death penalty. First, it's application is grossly racist and unfair. Second, too many people have been freed from death row to guarantee that only the guilty are killed. Third, I don't believe the state should be in the business of murder.

But I am especially opposed in the case of Tookie Williams. He is a founder of the notorious Crips gang and is in jail for four convicted murders. With that record, many have argued that he's just the sort for whom the death penalty was created. However, Williams has spent most of his time in prison dissuading young people from following in his footsteps. He's written a series of anti-gang children's books which are popular around the world. He has helped broker truces among L.A. gangs. He was actually nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. He has used his time in prison, not only to turn his life around, but to prevent others from getting to the point where they need to turn there's around.

Those arguing against clemency have said he needs to die in order to show young gang bangers and would-be criminals that crime doesn't pay, and that there's an ultimate price for such violations, but Tookie's turnaround is a far better example than his murder. I'm sure the famiies of those he's convicted of killing would love to see him die, but that's a form of grief and vengeance, and should not be confused with justice.

I was watching Bill O'Reilly last week (because my faith in humanity had risen to uncontrollable heights and needed tempering), and he suggested that all criminals would now start writing books and preaching against gang violence in order to escape the death penalty. What's the problem with that???

There are too many black men and boys in prison to begin with. Granting clemency to Tookie Williams doesn't let a single on of them out, but alive he has more power to prevent thousands from going in in the first place.