Capital punishment

The Governator of California has to decide today whether to grant clemency to death row inmate Tookie Williams, who is due to die at midnight tonight.

If I had such power, I would grant blanket clemency to every death row inmate just to make sure that nobody innocent died on my watch. You can't reverse an execution. Innocent people have been convicted of crimes in the past, and will continue to be so convicted in the future.

At the same time, I don't like it when people rally to the side of a death row inmate just because he has written a cute book, or been a model prisoner, or converted to evangelical religion. Either fry 'em all, including the charming ones as well as the unrepentant, illiterate, uncompelling ones--or don't fry 'em at all.

Executing somebody who has a face, a name and a compelling story might, I hope, draw people's attention to the general barbarity of the practice. I am not advocating softness on crime--I just don't think it is decent for a government to kill people who have been rendered harmless through incarceration. Lock 'em up and throw away the key, but don't give the public the ignoble spectacle of an execution. It lowers everybody's sense of decency.