Memo to Anti-Death Penalty activists
Now that the dust in the aftermath of the execution of Tookie Williams has somewhat settled, it is time to follow my personal tradition to comment on a current event when it is not so current any more.
This is my unsolicited advice to the anti-death movement.
For a long time, I used to be a capital punishment advocate. But along with a myriad of other issues which I used to have bedrock solid positions on, this is now back on the table for reconsideration as I now find myself sitting on the fence.
So if you are an anti-death penalty advocate, you may as well listen to my take since I am now more sympathetic and openminded to what you have to say than ever before.
Nothing is more counter-productive for the anti-death penalty cause than focusing on individual death penalty cases and defending individuals about to be put to death. As noble as it may be on the humane level, the public's attention will inevitably turn to the unspeakable savagery of the crime which will weigh heavily against and dwarf the death row inmate's rehabilitation and remorse.
In Stanley Williams' case, various groups called for clemency inspired by his work to discourage youth from the gang life. But ultimately it was weighed against his murderous crime which the public's attention turned to in the end and the groundswell of support which his friends claimed never materialized.
As long as the spotlight is on individual cases, the pro-death penalty side will always enjoy the upper hand. The anti-death penalty side should shift focus from individual cases to the "big picture" of whether it is morally defensible for us as a society to condemn a person to death.