12 December 2005

We shall all be poorer...

Just after midnight, convicted murderer, gangster, and children's book author, Stanley Tookie Williams, will be executed by the state of California.

There is no question in my mind that the crimes he committed were heinous. There is also no question in my mind that his work in turning children away from the gang life he once embraced makes him more valuable alive than dead. I don't think he should neccessarily walk free, but if he lives, he can continue his pwerful message of being able to transcend our wrongdoings to become useful members of society. When he is murdered, I think it may send a message that there is little point to trying to change, since it may not do any good anyway.

I don't even know if I am making sense. I am pretty opposed to the death penalty in general. In this case, though, seeing how powerfully his books have affected children I have worked with, children on the brink of making bad decisions who reconsidered after hearing Tookie's story, this seems like a horrible, preventable loss.

The words of John Donne seem appropriate to me now:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

3 comments:

Tired Tunia said...

I totally disagree with the death penalty. How can we say we are a civilized society when we routinely execute people? Sounds like torture to me. And like you say, they may do some good for someone while they are behind bars.

Anonymous said...

The efficacy of Tookie (his street handle)Williams' writing in reducing gang participation is dubious, at best. After a career in corrections and law enforcement, I have seen many, MANY individuals do whatever they felt would give them an edge in beating the system. Face it, the guy founded one of the two largest, most predatory gangs in American history. His progeny are responsible for hundreds of deaths, thousands of injured and maimed, gangbangers and citizens alike...So tell me, how many childrens books make up for a drive-by shooting at a schoolyard over who wore what color do-rags?? How much of the profits from his books (YES, they made money!) did Tookie give to his victims? Where is the restitution to go with the "repentence"???

Miss Katharine said...

According to several sources (among them http://tinyurl.com/7m26k), "...all of the proceeds from the sale of Williams’ work are invested in programs to assist at-risk children. He receives none of the revenues."

I understand what he did by co-founding the Crips. I would never argue that this action was a force for good in the world. However, I still maintain that he served society better by being alive as the man he was now than by being murdered by a state that alleges to abhor murder.

Is a society based on "retribution" (instead of justice) a good idea?

And how many of Tookie Williams victims, upon his death, came back to life to be with their loved ones once more?

How has *his* murder made the world a better place?