Tags: Tookie | and | Saddam

Tookie and Saddam

Saturday, 10 December 2005 12:00 AM

Where am I missing it?

Here in California at least, there are two images that keep popping up on all the news programs every fifteen minutes – Stan "Tookie" Williams, the founder of the notorious youth street gang The Crips, and Saddam Hussein, notable former dictator of Iraq.

"Tookie" is ... (How did the mastermind of the largest, most widely franchised and most violent inner city gang in the nation, a man convicted of four shotgun murders, wind up being called "Tookie"? Sounds like a character on Sesame Street! Perhaps the better for those now enlisting public classroom students' help to spare him the death penalty.)

Tookie is waiting, moment to moment, hoping desperately for an 11th-hour commutation from Governor Schwarzenegger (once known as "the Terminator," ironically enough). If that doesn't happen, he's scheduled to die sometime after midnight the morning of December 13.

At the same time the still resilient Saddam, known to have given the orders which resulted in the torture and hideous deaths of tens of thousand of his own countrymen, is seen pleading for and championing his own existence before judge and jury of his peers. (He's seen, that is, depending on whether he consents to show up or declines and tells his peers to go to hell.)

What's confusing me is the mixed reactions of my fellow entertainers to these two dramas, playing simultaneously.

In the first and more local one, many prominent celebs, even the humanitarian social activist Snoop Dogg, in concert with the new NAACP, are calling loudly and publicly (sometimes from within public school rooms) for Governor Schwarzenegger to grant Tookie life, not death. They cite some children's books he's written from death row, in which he advises kids not to follow his example.

The latter seems to me a good thing, reminiscent of the TV spot Yul Bryner made against smoking while he was dying of lung cancer. A dramatic object lesson for sure, though Yul still died. Tookie's writings may be of similar value, but the people he was convicted of coldly shot-gunning are still dead.

As are the numberless victims of Saddam's reign. And most of my Hollywood friends do feel that this Mideast variant of Adolf Hitler should be found guilty of his crimes and be put to death. Not worth fighting over, to be sure, but since he's in custody and undeniably guilty, he should not fare better than his victims.

Why the double standard?

If Tookie's death sentence – reconfirmed on evidence in numerous appeals – is commuted because of this death row conversion and Dr. Seuss efforts, won't the wily Saddam take notice? Might we expect him to request a private confessional (say, with the Rev. Jackson or Minister Farrakhan), announce his epiphany and conversion, and then embark on a new children's book crusade of his own? I'm imagining tomes, preferably not illustrated, like "Kids, Don't Gas Your Neighbors; It's Not Nice."

Many of the same here in Tinseltown who've supported abortion rights, even the partial-birth variety, for many years – and felt Terri Schiavo should have "the right to die" – emote loudly that Tookie should live.

Where am I missing it?

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Where am I missing it? Here in California at least, there are two images that keep popping up on all the news programs every fifteen minutes Stan "Tookie" Williams, the founder of the notorious youth street gang The Crips, and Saddam Hussein, notable former dictator of...
Tookie,and,Saddam
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2005-00-10
Saturday, 10 December 2005 12:00 AM
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