Here, the punishment suited the criminal 24 years ago. The question is not about what symbol that creates or what message it sends. When the issue is taking a man's life, it's not a question of symbols or messages, but justice for the individual, at the time his life is to be taken. A truly changed man should be able to tip the balance in his favor.Here, Ms. Susan Estrich makes an argument to stay Mr. Williams punishment for a viscious crime many years ago. Her argument is that his life should be judged on today's merits--not for the man he was in 1977.
The only problem with this argument, well the main one anyway: No one can know Mr. Williams mindset today, not Governor Schwarzenagger, not Susan Estrich, not Ed Asner, not me.
Do you find it unthinkable that a man who can write children's books decrying violence could still be a cold-blooded murderer? While it is uncomfortable to think, let me give you Exhibit A:
Dennis Radar AKA the BTK Killer. He was the church-going family man, "guy next door."
Since we can't know poor little Tookie's mindset, we have to do what my high school basketball coach called "watch the numbers don't watch the eyes". What he meant was that a person's actions won't lie, but you can be burned by a head-fake or look-off.
Remember the victims, people. Mr. Williams is not the victim. When he chose his actions, he chose his consequences. What he is today is a supreme manipulator--now it's the media and soft-headed Hollywood types. In a better life he could be a legitimate leader. Instead, he wielded his personality, hi prowess, his intellect and his physical strength as a weapon. He created a gang of blood soaked followers leaving fear and dread in his stead.
We know this. Perhaps his current actions will change his legacy for some. But we can never know his mind and heart today. For that reason, his punishment must stand.