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November 29, 2005

I Wish You Ill

Then again, some of you are the same people who idolize Suge Knight, so I suppose you already believe that Death Row is supposed to be a place to chill. I wish you ill.

This was something I was about to post to Bomani Jones' website, but I know he doesn't deserve it. It's just that I'm having a hard time reconciling the ignorant influence of the Coaltion of the Damned with intelligent blackfolks.

Now for those of you who don't know, the Coalition of the Damned are those various misfits, commies, sympathizers, idiot conspiracy theorists, paranoids, devils advocates, ne'er do wells and otherwise trifling individuals who have nothing better to do with their political rights in America, than to badmouth police and the justice system. Whenever there's an opportunity to trump up charges of police brutality of systematic injustice, they show up like cockroaches in a bag of grits.

  • You may recall their outrage at the arrest of Stanley Miller, the car thief who got popped upside the head with an LAPD flashlight. They were out for cops' blood, except that Stanley Miller shed none.

  • They also attached themselves like flies over the body of Devin Brown, the 14 year old car theif who was fatally shot by the LAPD after a car chase at 3am in the morning.

  • They pretend to be lamenting the fate of black men who die violent deaths, but were nowhere to be found around Tommy Edward Scott's funeral.

  • When an ex-drug soldier for a South American cartel held his daughter hostage and shot at police in LA this year, the Coalition made sure that the story was spun against the cops.
  • The Coalition of the Damned is entirely predictable. The problem is that they stand in the way of common sense and justice. It's not that citizens don't have gripes, its that these citizens have nothing but ill will for the very people and system that is put in place to protect them. But we already know where they're coming from, they're ignorant, apolitical and an embarrassment because they're the idiots who get on the tube as 'representing the community'. Yeah right. The real problem here is how the most egregious of this reactionary nonsense, with a whiff of ideology perverts the judgement of otherwise reputable and solid citizens. And I'm not talking about Snoop Dogg.

    I can't say that there is anyone with a reputation worth much, outside of Larry Fishburne, who has shown up on the Crip side of this equation. We're never going to get his side of the story in the blogosphere so there's no use barking up that tree. But we may come to recognize a few notables who deserve a bit more of our righteous wrath. And we should reserve special nuggets of it for those who claim to be protecting all that is black.

    What is making me fell ill and feisty are those who partake of the fruits of jackleg literature. I am thinking specifically of those fans of Jawanza Kunjufu, who made a small pile of chips bilking college students out of their hard earned dollars with his lectures on 'The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys'. So I challenge anyone today who portrays themselves as a defender of black communities, as I challenge any who would heed such individuals to take note of which side of this battle they line up on.

    Let us recall Chesterton's wisdom:

    "In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

    So anyone who defends Tookie on the principle of opposition to the death penalty, I would hope you merely recuse yourself from discussion. If your principle is indeed sound, you would defend the life of the man who tortured your mother. That kind of sheepishness really has no place in the discussion of hard-core gangbangers. Go watch Teletubbies or something, but really - STFU. You don't have a dog in this fight. Understand that we will elbow you aside in our pursuit of rough justice. This kitchen is too hot for you.

    There is a persistent thread underlying the Coalition's allies in this fight which is that the Prison Industrial Complex is a place for black men to become model citizens. They make no distinction from the tale of Tookie and the tale of Rubin Carter or Malcolm X or Geronimo Pratt. It's just innocent black man, evil system. No distinctions made. Search for the keywords 'Amerikkka' and 'just us'. For those who believe there is a permanent focus of African American life on jailtime Tookie must indeed be a hero. He's at the top of the pyramid, Death Row. They'll believe that his children's books are the only thing that can spare innocent black boys from a life of... well what is it a life of? Not exactly crime, because all black people are 'criminals' seeing that we all get into that system. We're not really criminals but we end up there anyway because that's what the system does - scours the country for black boys and men to incarcerate, right?. The best we can do is grow up in jail, right?

    Ack. Sounds like something out of a bizzarro version of The Green Mile. Tookie Williams, magic Negro. Heal us oh benighted one!

    I'm sick of this trope in the lowbrow culture of black America. Stakes is high, and nobody over here is convinced by this baggy-pants logic. So once again I'm taking The Hard Case and letting the devil take the hindmost. Who writes black history? Black history professors, not convicts, nor even bloggers. But let it be known that in two thousand and five, there were some of us who stood up and said that the great Tookie, Grand Wizard of the Crip Clux Clan should be destroyed. On the other side was the Coalition of the Damned, may they rot in the dustbin of black history. The Old School Hard Case goes a little something like this:

    Are the people at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean black? If they survived the Middle Passage, would they consider us black? I raise this provocative question in the context of the perennial topic of The Survival of the Black Race. Presuming that this is a difficult and worthwhile outcome, who gets to decide? It sounds like an ignorant question but I think not. The answer, inevitably, is that the successful get to decide.

    Every man's death diminishes me, but for Tookie, not much at all. God forgive me but some days I wish he could take his supporters with him.

    Posted by mbowen at November 29, 2005 10:48 PM

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    Not Shutting Up Till He's Dead from Tributaries
    I think Baldilocks has the best summation of the whole "Tookie" Williams hysteria.

    I suppose that such people as Mr. Foxx and Mr. Dogg would a...
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    Tracked on December 2, 2005 02:44 PM


    Firstly, I am not a fan of the death penalty for anyone. At the same time, I am ambivalent about Tookie's fate. He's done lots of bad but, apparently, has done lots of good as well.

    I know nothing of the kind of environment he grew up in but heard him on Pacifica radio this morning and, according to him, he started the "gang" to protect their area from dangerous interlopers and ended up becoming just as bad. While I can condemn his criminal behavior, I cannot judge the validity of his alleged redemption.

    I definitely will not join the crowd of those trying to save him, I also won't join the crowd of those continuing to condemn him for crimes that, at the very least, he will spend the rest of his life in prison for.

    Many of those supporting him aren't those who glamorize thuggery and gangsta mentalities. There are many who honestly, and compassionately, believe that souls can be healed and people can and do turn their lives around.

    Posted by: Qusan at November 30, 2005 08:51 AM

    11 30 05

    Cobb: How harsh! Well in a way I agree with Qusan here. I am against executing him because the government having the ability to take life is giving it too much power. I say leave it to the families to resolve amongst themselves, but even that could lead to more murder in the Balkans of LA and elsewhere in CA. The only time I feel governmental complicity in killing is ever remotely justified is during wartime. YOu might say that Mr. Tookie caused urban warfare and you would be right. But my pro life and libertarian leanings cause me to question the death penalty as a means of doling out justice. And Cobb, I ain't a communazi and you know that:) And I have been victimized by two violent crimes; yet I often think that I would never want even my worst enemy to suffer as they have made me suffer. They must be punished, but I think death is too easy a punishment. Something else should be done, I just haven't figured it out yet.

    Posted by: Mahndisa at November 30, 2005 09:13 AM

    I understand and respect your hesitation to deliver too much power into the hands of bureacracies. But this is where I would hope that blogs might make a difference. I've seen the man up close and personal, I've walked the streets of Crip neighborhoods. Remember the movie 'Training Day'? I'm right there. I've been at house parties where Crips show up and start doing a dance and say nobody else who's not a Crip can dance to that record. I know this stuff firsthand and secondhand. It's my town where I grew up. My brother's best friend Ernest was killed by a gangbanger. I know what the gang truce was like and I know what gang wars were like - I understand the impact of gang activity on life in South LA and on the culture of the city.

    So what I'm saying is that people close to this stuff should have some privileged say in this matter, and I'm trying to make it as plain as possible that people who are trying to make a positive example out of Tookie have no idea what they are talking about. Crips (and Bloods) are killers, and he was the king of the Crips, not only outside but inside of jail.

    Clemency is a huge mistake. The 'apparently a lot of good' is just PR hype.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2005 10:38 AM

    11 30 05

    Cobb: I do agree with you about the 'lot of good' tripe. YOu see my issue is a philosophical one. And I grew up in Oakland before moving to Modesto; I saw a dude get shot and killed in front of my house. I suppose we have all seen pain and suffering, but you have a very, very good grasp of the EVIL that is endemic in our neighborhoods. It would be nice if the neighborhood elders took care of him;) But that isn't realistic. I have a hard time believing in his rehabilitation and KNOW he is guilty of the crimes he was charged with. Like I said, I don't want the government taking lives; the slippery slopes are boundless. On the other hand, I am not so much opposed to grassroots justice...It would be nice if he worked in servitude to the families of his victims until the day he died. I believe that to be more justice than killing him; the families havta get something out of this imho. All these Leftist commies trying to convince us of the BIG LIE of his innocence can jump in a lake as far as I am concerned; they have no credibility and are KNOWN liars. I used to rock some Snoop Dogg songs that I heard on the radio, until the CD just about made me heave due to the pervasive vulgarity and disrepect ANd glorification of pimping. So I don't think he and his ilk are convincing anyone. Cobb, thx for engaging you do have a major point rooted in pragmatism. My issues are rooted in the philosphical. :)

    Posted by: mahndisa at November 30, 2005 10:53 AM

    I don't know. If they execute him, he will become a martyr and a bigger cult figure than he is already becoming. Tookie may have started the Crips but he didn't start gangs. I grew up in Chicago when the Diciples and the Blackstone Rangers were the kingpins (didn't live near/witness any action but they were notorius). Pardon my naivete but I really wish more energy would be put into efforts like Father Greg who started Homeboy Industries. He many not help everybody turn around but he does help some.

    I just don't see where the death penalty will deter, teach a lesson (kids running around with guns taking bullets for fun aren't afraid of dying and don't expect really long lives), or do anything but perpetuate the same violence it is supposed to cure.

    Tookie seems resigned to his fate - whatever it may be.

    Posted by: Qusan at November 30, 2005 11:24 AM

    I think it is instructive to note the difference. As a Republican, I start with basic libertarian ideals and then consider a proper role for government in the context of nationalism. There are certain things that the government *must* do and there are interests beyond marketplace or religious forces that must be applied to discipline the government. I think it is impossible to sustain a libertarian society of more than 1 million people. I simply don't believe that Libertarianism scales. In fact, it might not scale up to a million, but I leave that exercise to a tangential discussion to be named later. So the fundamental question is, given a justice system which must be maintained by the government, are there cases in the course of human events which merit capital punishment? The answer is most certainly yes. But the reasonable qualification on the ethics of capital punishment, like everything else, is subject to matters of efficacy. (I can't think of a better all around term). Basically does capital punishment work? Is it properly applied, etc. Standard questions which must be monitored.

    So again, as a defender of the Republic, there is no question in my mind that a justice system should have the capacity for capital punishment, and that certain individuals deserve it. But I am keeping in mind the scale of the society. If we were living on Libertarian Island, I would be a great deal more hesitant of killing an individual who may have reformed. Incrementally, the value of that individual is greater in a smaller society. The converse is true as well and I think it very relevant to this case. Individuals are capable of greater destruction in larger societies. Take Tookie and put him on an atoll in the Pacific, there's only so much havoc he can create. In Los Angeles County, with 17 million people, he can create a gang of 200 thugs (or 100 gangs which is closer to the truth), and become a menace to a much broader section of society. It matters that he is internationally famous. It matters that he was convicted of multiple homicides. All things considered I think he falls well inside the aegis of capital punishment, but furthermore he falls outside of the ability of a smaller society to contain and punish. The eye for an eye libertarian standard of justice would basically mean that the leaders of the Bloods should call a fatwa against him. It would probably be a very effective way of offing him - in fact it's been tried in prison. But to have that gang warfare in LA County is too costly to society.

    Therefore it is best that Tookie be executed by the State of California.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2005 11:38 AM

    Your trackbacks are still not working Bro. I posted on this post. Not sure where I stand on the issue. I tend to agree with Q on Tookie. Nevertheless it is a great piece of writing.

    Posted by: David Anderson at November 30, 2005 11:44 AM

    Well if Tookie becomes a martyr I'm going to have a hard time not spitting in the faces of people wearing his T-Shirt. As far as I'm concerned it's just like wearing KKK hoods.

    I am really not concerned at all with the death penalty as a deterrent. I think it is a proper punishment. I'll give you a new reason to have a death penalty, which is basically the Jack Ruby defense.

    If I were the cop who arrested Tookie and I knew him to be a killer, I would have less incentive to shoot him extra-legally if I knew he could be executed by the State.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2005 11:45 AM

    14 days and counting.

    Anybody who would make Tookie a martyr is nobody inportant.

    "I’m going to get each and every one of you mother fuckers."

    -Stanley "Tookie" Williams to the Jury after his verdict was announced.

    Posted by: brotherbrown [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 30, 2005 01:43 PM

    I'm thinking those who would wear Tookie t-shirts might have a weapon or two so I'd be careful with the spit :-) I have a hard time believing that Ah-nold will commute his sentence so his day is drawing near. I only hope that this doesn't unleash some kind of gang warfare or riot. I hope law enforcement has their finger on the pulse of what might be brewing as far as retaliation.

    Posted by: Qusan at November 30, 2005 02:17 PM

    Cobb, I agree that the death penalty is a proper punishment. As for all these people who argue that killing him will make him a martyr, even if that is true, it's not a reason not to kill him. I abhor the thought of Tookie in jail, living, breathing, reading, seeing his family, perhaps even having conjugal visits, becoming the darling of the media and liberals, while his victims are cold in the grave. The only reason this is exciting people is because Tookie is in the eyes of blacks and liberal whites, some kind of archetypal black man. A vicious criminal who kills people goes to jail and then tells people not to do what he did, which was not his fault anyway becaue it was the white man's fault and he just got "caught up" and he didn't really do anything wrong anyway. this is part of the reason for crime in our communities. We don't condemn it enough. We have mixed feelings about it, even when we ourselves are the victims.

    Posted by: Anita at December 2, 2005 06:59 AM

    But diminished you would be. You know it, and apparently you like it and are proud of it. Your standing to lecture anyone about anything is, to put it mildly, diminished.

    Posted by: Ken D. at December 2, 2005 08:28 PM

    I'm a blogger. Lecturing is what I do. You're a commenter, Making snarky remarks is what you do. Everybody's happy. What's standing got to do with it?

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 2, 2005 10:32 PM

    I'm a blogger. Lecturing is what I do. You're a commenter. Making snarky remarks is what you do. Everybody's happy. What's standing got to do with it?

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 2, 2005 10:33 PM

    I support the death penalty. If Tookie committed the murders (I haven't heard him claim he did not), then I believe it is only just that he be put to death. Period. And I believe a TRULY HONORABLE and CONTRITE person (male or female) who murders (by definition is not self-defense), should want to sacrifice his or her life in exchange for the life taken. For demographic purposes, I am a Black Catholic Middle-Aged Lesbian.

    Posted by: cleojones at December 2, 2005 10:33 PM

    You do yourself far too much service, not to mention unearned praise, by describing this thin-witted rant as a 'lecture.' Posting it twice didn't help.

    Posted by: Harley at December 3, 2005 05:36 PM

    I think that if I visited someone's blog and thought it consisted of thin-witted rants, rather than to make a comment about that I would quit wasting my time there and move on to something more worthwhile. Methinks a nerve was struck.

    I also think that if I were black I would be enraged by the fact that violent thugs' getting their comeuppance is thought to be racist. Because that equates black with violent thuggery and I would take it very, very personal.

    Posted by: Laura(southernxyl) at December 4, 2005 01:38 PM

    A dead cop is a good cop.

    Posted by: mark at December 5, 2005 10:23 PM

    Though I didn't deserve it, you coulda put it on my site. I do happen to be one of those people that wouldn't want the death penalty for someone that tortured my mother. Just don't think it's man's place to make such decisions, particularly through flawed institutional means. We agree on one thing--Tookie is not nearly the sympathetic figure folks are trying to make him out to be.

    He does raise a question, though--is everyone beyond redemption? The death penalty is defended by the belief that someone sentenced to such a crime is beyond redemption, and Tookie does force us to question that notion. Or perhaps that only God can determine redeeming value.

    Much the same way that God--should He or She exist--is the only person qualified to determine when it's someone's time to go.

    Posted by: Bomani at December 19, 2005 08:48 AM

    God will do what God does whether or not humans do right. If you believe that God is in the justice business, then ultimately justice will be done. So I think if that's your position - that you believe that God is in the justice business, then you should leave worldly affairs to us worldly people and step off. Not you personally.

    So far as I know, there is no legal definition of redemption and he wasn't sentenced to death with the possibility of redemption. So whether he was redeemed (in whoever's eyes) is irrelevant. This is a basic letter of the law question.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2005 08:55 AM