Monday, December 12, 2005


Sorry about the paucity of posts today. I had my Evidence final this morning followed by roughly six hours of studying tax. The tax exam is tentatively scheduled for Thursday morning, though realistically I'll take it Friday morning.

In current events, Tookie Williams is scheduled to be killed by the government in about two hours. I've watched some cable news commentary on the issue over the past couple of days and I have to admit, I just don't see the point of the death penalty. Many commentators used the rationalization that when Tookie took the life of another(s), he forfeited the right to his own. I guess I just don't follow the logic of that. If the loss of the victims' lives was a bad thing, how does taking another life have any effect on that. The cable news channels also had numerous clips from family of Tookie's alleged victims saying something to the effect of: "Tookie didn't show any mercy to my family member, so why should we show any mercy to him." This point, it seems to me, is that we should show mercy because we (as a country (or state)) are not twenty year old impovershed black men constantly shunned by mainstream society.

Many commentators also belittled the fact that Tookie wrote childrens' books and worked toward meliorating the gang-culture that he helped start. The commentators suggested that these acts in no way make up for the taking of a number of human lives. Well, personally, I don't know how you measure stuff like that. But I do know that the past can't be changed. As much as I'd like to go back and right some wrongs I've carried out, I can't. No one can. But I do know that if someone is making positive contributions to society, no matter how small, those contributions are enough to justify keeping him alive. Especially if the only ends served by killing him are to appease the instincts of revenge in his victims' families.

From the perspective of the infallible cost-benefit analysis, the costs of executing Tookie are losing his contributions to the fight to keep kids out of gangs, and his ability to negotiate the end to gang wars. The benefit of his execution is to satisfy his victims' families' need for revenge. The benefit of keeping him alive is that society gets the continued benefit of his work to end gang violence. The cost of keeping him alive is that a dozen people feel betrayed by a system that promised them "justice." To me, and to any reasonable-thinking person (I hope), this is a no-brainer. From a disinterested economic standpoint, we should not only keep Tookie alive, but eliminate the death penalty altogether.

But maybe it's just me. Anyway, sorry about the paucity of posts.


Blogger warm fuzzy said...

This seemed a no-brainer to me too. Admittedly, I am against the dealth penalty, but even if I was for it, this seems like a case where reprieve shoudl have been granted. Not only has he genuinly repented for his crimes, but he has done so much outreach to keep others from making the same mistakes he did. I heard an interview with him a couple of weeks ago, and he is clearly not the same man he was when he committed those crimes.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Xeno said...

I also don't agree with the death penality. If killing is wrong then it must be wrong when the state dows it. Secondly, it has been shown that it is not a deterant to crime.Third from a ulititarian point of view it's a waste of resources that could be used for the greater benefit of society.

8:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home