Monday, December 12, 2005

The Quality of Mercy

"The Governor of the State of California has been asked to grant last-minute clemency to the former LA gang leader Stanley Williams, convicted of three murders in 1979, and due to die tonight. He has decided not to do so.
Commuting the sentence would have meant that 51-year-old Williams, the author of a number of children's books and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, would spend the rest of his life behind bars. Instead he will die by lethal injection in the next few hours."
Before I carry on with this, I'll make my position clear. Clearish. I oppose the death penalty without qualification. There is no sense in which it can be wrong for an individual to take life - for personal, selfish, greedy or even altruistic motives - but yet it can be right for a state, with all the alternatives available, to cold-bloodedly take life. The difference here is that the individual may or may not act in cold blood, but if the state puts someone to death it is by definition - and by the long process of law in the US - cold-blooded. When the state decides execution is appropriate it does so after many, many years. Many, many years in which there was enough time to think 'Why the fuck are we doing this then? In our name?'
This decision has been made tonight by Arnold Schwarzenegger. An Austrian who entered the US as an illegal immigrant, which is fine, then made his name beyond his wildest dreams as an actor. I didn't make this up did I? You really elected this bloke?
I refer you to Girl:

"The main rule I abide by though, is this: never fuck actors. Simple.

[...]

To get up on a stage or film set and be able to switch off the world, whilst also project realistic emotion and thought, requires skill and deftness in being artificial; an ability to convince others of sincerity is, after all, what makes an actor’s performance believable. But it is all superficial and every actor I have met carries this falsity in the interactions they have off-screen as well as on."

So, don't fuck them. And don't elect them to public office either.

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