The Haggis is ambivalent/undecided/unsure about how to swing on the death penalty. I'm torn. A grad school classmate of mine was carjacked and murdered back in 1994, and whenever I think about the human garbage who shot her getting out and having Thanksgiving dinner with his mama, I wish to god he'd been executed. Cruel and inhuman? I don't know. If you can imagine your sister or daughter or girlfriend bleeding to death in a parking lot from gunshot wounds, you can imagine what a "cruel and inhuman" end to a human life might be. I'm not so sure being injected in the arm quite compares.
On the other hand, what does executing someone do? It's not a deterrent; I know that. It doesn't bring my classmate back. It doesn't heal her family's loss. It just ensures that his family feels a similar (though not as painful) loss. And it puts the right to kill a human in the hands of the state, which does freak me out a bit.
But, in the case of Williams specifically, I'm kind of leaning toward thinking Schwarzenegger did the right thing. This man started THE CRIPS! How many people have died as a result of this gang? Not to mention the family he killed in cold blood--and laughed about it. Whatever "good" he has done in the meantime should be an issue between him and his Maker. Crimes here on earth must be punished here on earth. The family he killed is no less dead simply because he had a Quote-Unquote Change of Heart. If that's the way out of any criminal sanction, we can all kill anyone we want to as long as we promise to be good later. We can do anything at all as long as we promise to feel bad about it.
Perhaps I'm taking the Williams case less seriously simply because he has become a Hollywood cause celebre. Whenever Jesse Jackson, Sister Helen Prejean and Snoop Dogg feel compelled to support someone, you can be pretty sure he's guilty. Kind of like Mumia. The Philadelphia cop killer who has magically been transformed from a street hood killer into a "peace activist" and leftie icon. It's tiresome.
I know I'm not articulating this very well, perhaps precisely because of my ambivalence about the death penalty. But I can't deny that the world will be a better place without Tookie Williams in it.