Monday, December 12, 2005

Tookie Was Killed Today

Some people never change. Not because they can't, but because they won't. That crabby ol' grandmother who's been miserable all her life and wants everyone around her to be miserable, too. That rude cashier at the grocer's who never smiles and never thanks you when you ask how he is. Your angry friend who never got over his childhood grievances. It's not easy to change who you've become, partially because it's hard to admit to yourself and partially because it takes a lot of effort to reverse years and years of being in a rut.

Deathrow inmate Tookie Williams was one of those people who really did change. From a 17-year-old gang member to a 25-year-old deathrow inmate to a 52-year-old executed by the law of Governor Arnold "My Dad's a Nazi and I'm not far behind" Schwarzenegger's land. (Maria Shriver be damned for soiling what was still an admirable Kennedy legacy.) What is the point of imprisoning a young person for 26 years, observing the positive changes in him and his contributions to society at large and then killing him at the very moment he has achieved the very reform your so-called justice system had apparently sought for him? Justice, like many significant and life-altering institutions in America, is like religion -- where blind faith is your passport and ignorance is your meal ticket as all the while you pray that your vessel, if no one else's, will safely reach the shores of victory. Trouble is, the prophets navigate according to their whims, not yours.

For anyone who marvels at the wonders of the American political system -- a system founded on truth, justice and equality -- the sad story of a lonely and troubled black boy's journey into a highly articulate and politically solvent deathrow inmate is the best example to date of how imperfect that system is. Justice is a notion defined by the pounding fist of power, its bruises sustained by the helpless many.

Labels: , ,