John Leo

“Tookie” Williams, put to death by lethal injection last week in California, was a “legend” who underwent “a meaningful martyrdom that sent a lasting message to the world,” according to old-time leftist Tom Hayden, formerly Mr. Jane Fonda.” Meaningful martyrdom”? What can Hayden be talking about? Martyrs die for a cause. Williams died for executing four unarmed people during two 1979 robberies, shooting a woman in the face, and laughing uncontrollably at the gurgling sounds a male victim made as he died in agony.

     Opposing the death penalty, of course, means speaking out even for people like Williams. Still the campaign for him has been wretched excess. His book editor and friend Barbara Becnel, compared him to Rosa Parks. She plans a massive funeral as well as a memorial to him in South Africa. Several people nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize (anybody can nominate anybody, by the way.) Because California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied clemency, Austrians took his name off the Arnold Schwarzenegger stadium near Graz, his hometown. A Christian political group suggested the stadium be named for Williams. In the U.S., all the usual suspects have been whipping up support and sympathy for Williams, including Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, Susan Sarandon and Snoop Dogg.

    So much attention to the murderer, almost none for those he killed. So let’s remember them here: Albert Owens, a veteran and father of two young girls, shot at a 7-11, and three member of an Asian-American family who ran the Brookhaven Motel-Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang and Yee-Chen Lin. In a rare bit of commentary, William John Hagan of Canada Free Press wrote:” The mainstream media has ignored the realities of the Williams case in order to promote an anti-death-penalty agenda. To present this mass murderer as a martyr is an insult to victims everywhere.”

    Hayden said Williams was “railroaded,” another fantasy.  In the Owens killing, two accomplices said he did the shooting. In the motel case, Williams was picked up ten minutes after the shooting of the three member of the Yang family. Shotgun shells at the motel were traced to a shotgun William purchased in 1974. Williams was living with a couple, who testified that he told them details of the three murders that only the killer would know. They gave police the shotgun and said Williams kept it under his bed.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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