In about a month the name of Stanley "Tookie" Williams will not be recognized by the vast majority of Americans. Already, less than 24 hours after his murder, the news cycle has moved on to new tabloid headlines.
And the Jesse Jacksons and Sean Penns of the country have moved on to new spotlight opportunities, new Teri Schaivos and new New Orleans.
Governor Schwarzenegger has moved on from his denial of a clemency request by Mr. Williams to his own continuing headaches in his adopted state (as well as criticism of his suprise decision).
The Governor did absolutely the right thing.
(a well written opinion and decision -with the exception of the occasional silly footnote- though I doubt the governor wrote or understood most of it)
My reader knows I am vehemently opposed to state sponsored murder: the reasons are not important for this article.
As barbaric as capital punishment is, it is also the law of the land, as much as Roe v. Wade. We are the only modern western country that still embraces state-sponsored murder (ironically the countries we condemn as human rights violators and "axis of evil" club members are the biggest executors).
However, Mr. Williams was a cold blooded killer who exhausted the potential of the criminal justice systems appeals process as much or more than anyone before him (including before the "liberal" 9th Circuit), with no glimmer of luck. Just because he is a skilled leader and salesman who managed to champion a following among well meaning high profile people (and some opportunists like the Reverend Jackson) does not mean he should be given preferential treatment over others without those skills and resources. Capital punishment is supposedly the will of the people; it should be rejected in its entirety, not selectively sidestepped in boutique cases. Maybe Tookie should have taken a page from Gary Ridgeway's book, practical leverage rather than idealism.
The ultimate irony is that the last chance of clemency for Mr. Williams was squarely in the hands of a man whose only previously claim to fame was making tens of millions by entertaining audiences with glorified mass murder and gratuitous violence.