a sick and perverted spectacle

a sick and perverted spectacle

A sick and perverted spectacle …

Those are the words Stanley Tookie Williams used to characterize his impending execution. Williams was executed early this morning, after appeals for a stay of execution were denied by the California Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, and after a plea for clemency was rejected by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It was a sick and perverted spectacle …

… not because an innocent man was put to death. It is entirely possible that Williams did not commit the murders for which he was convicted; he always maintained his innocence. Or, as is likely and most believe, he really did do the crimes. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

… not because a changed man, a redeemed man, a man doing society much good was put to death. He may well have become a transformed man, a good man; those nominating him for Nobel Prizes for peace and literature certainly thought so. Or maybe it was all a fraud or a too convenient way to earn pity and support. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

… not because the courts or the governor failed to step in and acknowledge his transformation and show him mercy. They were simply doing their job, interpreting and enforcing the law as it stands. It doesn’t matter.

No, what matters is the law itself, the law of the land that permits this most cruel and unusual punishment. That law is sick and perverted and must be changed. That law accomplishes no useful purpose other than retribution — society exacting its revenge and satisfying its blood lust against those who have done it injury, whether real or perceived. That law diminishes our humanity, devalues human life, and damages the integrity of our advocacy of human rights.

Our need for revenge (a need that can never be satisfied) is a sickness, a sickness that eats away at the soul of our society and only proliferates a culture of violence. Our demand for the forfeiture of a life is a perversion, a perversion of the values and principles for which we claim to stand — justice, mercy, freedom, generosity, the precedence of right over might, and inalienable human dignity.

It was a sick and perverted spectacle …

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