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While I don't necessarily hold the death penalty in the highest esteem, I'm frankly quite disappointed to see that Stanley "Tookie" Williams has inspired such fervor and, frankly, deficient discourse.  

The crux of arguments trying to keep Williams from being executed has repeatedly been focused around the notion that Williams has "changed" and "redeemed" or "reformed" himself.  He is a different man now than he was then, we are told.  He admits the error of his ways and-

-oh, holy smokes, hold on.  He won't admit to committing the murders.  He was "framed."  The murders are crimes that a jury "said" he did.  
 

Bull.  Shit.  There's nothing liberal about this.  This is idiocy.  Every liberal knows that the absolute, inarguable first step in any kind of redemption, any changing of one's ways, first involves saying "I know what I did, and I know it was wrong.

Tookie hasn't passed stage one.  The former leader of the Crips, an organization devoted to nothing other than murder and robbery among every other imaginable crime, wants us to think that he's an innocent.  Somebody who may have done some bad things, but nothing really that bad.  

But at the same time, he's changed, he's redeemed himself.  So which is it?  Is he innocent, or did he reform?  

These things cannot co-exist as defenses.  If he did not commit the murders, he shouldn't be executed or be in jail for life.  His changing of ways wouldn't be the focus of his defense, it would be an uplifting side note.  

If he is guilty, but cannot admit it, he did not reform.  His continued acceptance of the gangster version of omerta, "no snitching," reveals how corrupt his vision of the world still is.  

Argue against the death penalty itself, if you must, but the story of a reformed man who has done no such thing is not a valid one.  It is the story of innocent people wrongly convicted that serves as such an argument, and that is not Tookie Williams' story.  

I teach inner city kids, and at many schools they are debating this case, reading pro/con articles, etc.  Yet one of the worst things I see in the inner city schools on a regular basis are kids (usually tied to gangs) who, when caught red-handed, will continue to deny that they did a single thing.  It's bad enough that the Bush administration has taught Americans to behave this way, but when liberals cannot discuss the case of Tookie Williams without admitting that he has not honestly embraced rehabilitation for his crimes, we are blowing it.  All the talk of peace and non-violence rings hollow when we make exceptions for behavior like this.

Whether you are a murderer, alcoholic, domestic abuser, or any other kind of person in need of reform, the first thing you must do is admit what you did wrong.  Until that step is taken, everything else you do or say will lack credibility.

Originally posted to nitrate21 on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:59 PM PST.

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