Friday :: Dec 9, 2005

When Everyday People Ask For Mercy


by pessimist

There is a whole lot of pleading by everyday people - people like you and me and not some well-connected Topper - going on lately, and I'm conflicted by some of the cases.

Take that of Stanley "Tookie" Williams - a founder of the evil Crips street gang which has caused so much death and destruction since it was formed. Williams himself is awaiting execution for two murders, and is pleading with Der Governator for his life.

His lawyers asked for clemency, as has the NAACP. I doubt Arnold, himself murdered at the polls recently, will commute the sentence.

Here's my conflict. The idealist in me would love to see no more executions except in the most egregious cases. Unfortunately for Williams, his case falls into that category for me. Such cold-blooded brutality cannot be forgiven - not on the streets of Southern California, nor in the White House.

But that is an issue for another post. I'm only looking at the cases of some everyday people right now -

And one who isn't.

Another everyday person pleading for mercy is a school teacher accused of having sex with minor students. As she is very attractive, one can wonder why she didn't have an adult male in her life rather than chase young boys, but it only adds weight to her claim of mental illness. I'm not sure that what Teacher did deserves prison until I swap the genders of the perpetrator and the victim. At that point, there is no question that prison is called for. Society would have it no other way.

Here's my conflict. While I don't wish prison on many people, society has drawn certain guidlines for behavior. Currently, despite all the blather from the wrong-wing, the courts are very strict on what they will allow as extenuating cricumstance. Generally, juvenile sex offenders have it the worst in prison, so they have every incentive to seek abatement of their penalty. But under the law, a sex offender is a sex offender, and with good reason they are put in prison. Until prison is more than mere punishment and can provide an environment for real change (as Williams claims he's undergone), when the sentence is completed, the opportunity for another crime presents itself. Nothing has been corrected by being in Corrections.

This would be a good place to pause for a moment and discuss prison being a place which can change people in a positive way.

I once read a piece written by a Japanese man who spent several years in a Chinese prison for being a member of the infamous Unit 731. His punishment was to write about his crimes against the Chinese people, what it meant, and why it was wrong. Everyday, all day. No TV (not that it had reached China yet!), no radio, no books, no movies, no letter from home, no recreation of any kind. Other than being cuffed by the guards for slow response to orders, he wasn't abused or GASP! tortured - at least not in the physical sense.

He was, however, tortured through the use of his own memories, made to face the horrible things he had done to fellow human beings.

It took years to break down the original conditioning that the fascists who controlled Japan had instilled in him, conditioning which professed Japanese superiority over all other nations and races along with a justification of the ill-treatment accorded all defined as inferior.

I wish I still had that post link (it was a Chinese site), because the way he tells of the moment of realization of the horrible things he had done is sheer poetry. He had to demonstrate to his jailors that his new feelings were sincere, and once so convinced, the Chinese authorities repatriated him to Japan.

Once there, he encountered a former Unit 731 compatriot, who could still relate with glee all the evil things they had done in China. That flippant attitude appaulled our former inmate, and he had to wonder how he himself could ever have felt that way. He had truly been changed.

But such things don't happen very often in our world. It takes too much time and effort to bring about such a conversion. It is so much easier to lock them up in a hellhole and let them fend for themselves, or kill them. Sometimes they deserve it and sometimes they don't - not that justice matters much in certain places - or for certain people.

This brings me to the non-everyday person I mentioned above - Saddam. I am against a quick execution after this current trial for a man who might well deserve it - and who knows a whole lot about what went on in Iraq prior to his being deposed. The chief prosecutor wants to keep him alive to try him for eleven other crimes even if the Iraqi people don't.

If it were my case to conduct, I would love to try to Chinese method on him and see what emerges.

It might be very informative.

pessimist :: 9:31 AM :: Comments (17) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!