Friday, December 09, 2005

guilty as charged

So, last night I read an article that said that a federal appeals court had agreed to hear an appeal from Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal has been in prison now for 23 years after having been convicted for killing a Philadelphia cop. Four years ago, his death sentence was overturned by a federal judge, while refusing to overturn his conviction. Because both sides appealed the ruling, Abu-Jamal has remained on death row.

In the late 90's, every stupid progressive (and, I guess, a few smart ones as well) were wearing Free Mumia t-shirts. I remember developing an odd level of hostility toward these folks. It wasn't entirely about their support of Abu-Jamal, but the sense, in general, that they were inclined to get behind issues that were "cool" without knowing jack sh*t about the issue. Things were easily explained in black and white arguments. And, in Abu-Jamal's case, this was literal. As far as those smelly liberals thought, a black man had been wrongly convicted of killing a white cop and was being forced to pay with his life.

But the real rub for me was not whether or not Abu-Jamal was wrongly convicted and, because I am against the death penalty in all situations, it was certainly not that I thought his death sentence should be upheld. It was those damn smelly liberals. Here they were, shouting up a storm about Mumia when there were countless (actually, they can be counted, I just don't know the number) other black man being held on death row. Why didn't they matter? Did it have ANYTHING to do with the fact that Mumia was the kind of black man that appealed to white liberal college students? With his long braids and eloquent "damn the man" reports from prison, aired on NPR, wasn't he the perfect hero? The kind of black man that hippie girls like to bring home at Thanksgiving to scare the crap out of their dads and show them how far from the nest they have flown?

Okay. Fast forward to, um, a few days ago and my post about Tookie Williams. Am I guilty of the same thing? No, because I am only advocating that his life be saved and I feel that way about all people on death row? Yeah, but why am I not writing about them on my blog?

Free Mumia?


Anonymous said...

like the unitarians say, "jesus was an important person... but we're all important people." in this case, i think it's just a case of political expediency. compared to furman , however, mumia and the tookster, are minor players.

Anonymous said...

some more thoughts on anonymous death row inmates/executed people:
the celebrity cases tend to get mired in so many reactive claims that it's hard to get toward the truth. take a look at (on death row) or the case of Ruben Cantu (executed). also, there's a pretty interesting paper "exonerations in the United States 1989 through 2003" in the journal of criminal law and criminology that convincingly argues that miscarriages are much more common that previously believed.

abf said...

It was pretty disturbing to read -- the day after Tookie Williams was executed -- that the state of California is considering implementing a moratorium on the death penalty. Good news, but a bit of a slap in the face for those people who were trying to save Williams' life.

State legislators will decide next month whether to impose a moratorium for a period of three years.

Read this.,0,3456292.story?coll=la-home-headlines