December 14, 2005

Incoherent Sarcasm

Steven M. Gorelick sure beats the hell out of somebody or something in a Chicago Tribune editorial today (reg req'd) about the execution of multiple murderer and vicious street gang founder Stanley Williams:

Whew! I have waited for 24 years to feel this safe.


I will finally have peace, or at least a few moments of it, knowing that my family and I are safe.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams is dead.

I am safe. We are all safe. Unbolt the doors and turn off the alarms. Society got off its duff.

Just when I thought the world was spiraling out of control, Just when I thought we were condemned to live with an almost limitless supply of evil, hope for the future has presented itself in the execution of Stanley Williams.


After all, Stanley is dead.

We are safe at last, safe at last, safe at last.

Don't you all feel safe at last?

Withering sarcasm is only effective if your audience can decipher what the hell you're getting at. The one thing I'm sure Professor Gorelick and I would agree on is that Williams's execution did not make us any safer from a global avian flu pandemic, terrorist attack, obesity, malaise, boredom, or another idiotic remake of a bad 70's TV show into a movie.

But is he suggesting that anybody thinks his execution would make anybody safer from those things? Is he saying that safety is the reason for capital punishment, as opposed to justice? Is he saying that capital punishment is an effort by our government to get us to depend on them for relief of our real and imagined fears? Is he saying that in a world where we are beseiged by all sorts of real terrors, the execution of one convicted murderer is inconsequential? I have no idea what point he is trying to make.

But I'm afraid (literally) I might agree with him on the execution. I generally don't believe in the death penalty, but not because I think someone who did what Williams was convicted of doesn't deserve to die. On the contrary, lethal injection is far too kind a fate for such a person. However, I don't trust the government to successfully distinguish the guilty from the innocent 100% of the time. If letting Tookie live out his days in prison at taxpayer expense is the cost of making sure the state never executes an innocent person, then that's fine with me.

Posted by Mr Green at December 14, 2005 10:26 AM | TrackBack