Williams’ last chance for a stay of execution was an appeal for clemency to the Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican Governor of California by the Grace of Loki the Trickster God presumably. It’s quite often suggested in the media that although Schwarzenegger is part of the Republican top brass, he’s actually a closet liberal. Certainly socially, he’s perceived to be rather more liberal than George Bush, but then that’s not terribly difficult. The problem is that I haven’t seen any evidence of his alleged liberal leanings. Stepping in to stop gay weddings in Sacramento doesn’t strike me as very socially liberal, and approving the state-sponsored killing of a man who may have been a murderer, and may or may not have been repentant isn’t very liberal either.
I’m not idly questioning the jury in this case’s integrity or judgement, I’m basing what I say on Schwarzenegger’s own words. Last week, the governor said that he was "agonizing" over the case. Well you don’t agonize over things that you’re certain of, and even within a legal system that allows the State to take away its’ citizens’ lives, surely being unsure of their guilt is reason enough to show clemency? However it does not appear that Schwarzenegger thinks like that, stating, "I could find no justification for granting clemency".
This is an abhorrent statement. You don’t need to justify clemency. But you do need to explain why you let someone die, and you’d better be damned sure that he’s guilty. Something which Schwarzenegger was not. So why did he sanction Williams’ death? The obvious explanation is that he did it to align himself with influential figures and sections of the Republican Party grassroots, which is understandable in the context of political skulduggery. Only political machinations in a democracy don’t usually involve anyone’s death, especially not in a country that is the self-appointed global guardian of freedom, democracy and the legacy of the Enlightenment. For a group of proselytising Christians, Bush and his friends seem to have surprisingly little grasp of the concept of forgiveness. This continuing appetite for judicial revenge all seems a bit ‘Old Testament’.
In two years’ time, Bush will leave the White House, and his gang of neocon zealots with him. They haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. At which point there’s a good chance that Schwarzenegger will be secure among the Republican nomenklatura whether he demonstrates a little effortless magnanimity or not. He can afford to make a point, to affirm what he stands for, if he really is a liberal Trojan donkey in the midst of the Republicans. But maybe he’s just a Macchiavellian greasy pole climber. Either way, I doubt that it will have been worth going to bed every night knowing he wasn’t quite sure if that man should have died or not.
"Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad." - Conan The Barbarian, 1982
"Yes we bloody well will." – The Militant Pine Marten, 2005