Monday, December 12, 2005

Schwarzenegger: Life Imitating Art.

The "Terminator" stays on script.

In the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), the Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) gets the following response:
John Connor: Jesus, you were gonna kill that guy.
The Terminator. Of course; I'm a terminator.
But real life is not about science fiction movie heroes.

Sister Helen Prejean understands what it is like on death row.

The author of Dead Man Walking understands about the racial bias of this form of punishment.

She understands the macho thinking, virtually identical to gang thinking expressed by this planned execution. She stated:
“If someone has killed one of our gang members, don’t tell us you changed your life. Don’t tell us you’re helping kids now. Don’t tell us you’re working so that there will be no more games and there will be peace,” says Prejean. “Did you do the crime? Then we’ve gotta kill you.”

But Sister Prejean says that kind of gang mentality at the state level must stop and she says she's praying Governor Schwarzenegger saves Tookie Williams' life.
But Sister Prejean's prayers are not to be answered.

There is no redemption in the California Justice System.

As reported, the Governor denied Mr. Williams' request for clemency. He stated:
"Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger wrote less than 12 hours before the execution. "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."
Tookie Williams has asked the appropriate question:
"How can a person express contrition if he’s not guilty?"

"If I were culpable of these crimes, I’d be on my knees, begging everybody."
Of course, maybe former Movie Star Arnold "The Terminator" Schwarzenegger remembers that famous Book and Movie by Joseph Heller "Catch 22".

In it, the author describes the famous impossibility called "Catch 22" which was the "out" for fighter pilots who were psychiatrically unstable:
"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle."Chapter 5, pg. 55
So maybe that was the movie that Governor Arnold was thinking of when he complained that Mr. Williams had shown no remorse for a crime that he had denied committing. That Mr. Williams did not deserve to live even though he had worked hard while in prison writing anti-gang books for children and working to encourage young people to stay out of gangs.

Tookie has raised important questions about justice in America:
"I always ask the question: Can a black man in America receive justice? I can say to you or anybody else that the answer is absolutely no. There’s a myriad of things that bring me to this conclusion — prosecutorial misconduct, the biased selection of juries, the issues of informants, the exclusion of exculpatory evidence, illegal interrogation of witnesses. It’s commonplace. It’s deeply ingrained in the California criminal justice system."
But the bigger question is why have the American people elected such mediocre candidates such as Arnold and George W. to higher office?

As Joseph Heller points out in Catch 22:
Quote 19: "that's the way things go when you elevate mediocre people to positions of authority." Chapter 29, pg. 335
America deserves better! We need leaders with greater wisdom that can understand the concept of redemption. That can repeal laws that harbor racial bias. That can understand that Capital Punishment is a cruel and unusual punishment; that violence begets violence, and that this is the only punishment that cannot be undone if mistakes are made.

We shall never know if Tookie Williams really committed those crimes. But can we expect a man who has pleaded innocent to crimes allegedly committed to ask forgiveness for them as a requirement for clemency?



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