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Friday, December 09, 2005

I think it's the Will Franken Decade 

Yes, we've all heard about the hundreds of thousands of letters and the millions of lives saved by Stanley "Tookie" Williams, and we know that if Tookie is executed all of these millions of people will immediately give up hope and wear specially colored clothing and shoot up 7 Elevens and Asian-owned motels.

But we haven't seen the hundreds of thousands of letters.

Until now. Courtesy Will Franken (this is only a selection - follow the link for more):

Dear Governor,

I would not be alive today if it were not for Tookie Williams. Three months ago, doctors found a tumor on my left lung. After reading Tookie's Book Gangs And Secondhand Smoke Twenty Feet From A Business, the cancer is now in remission.

The man is a messiah,

Jane Enough
Dear Governor,

I am the word "redemption". Since Tookie discovered me on death row, my popularity has been at an all-time high. Please let him live so that people don't use those bullshit Christian synonyms like "salvation" or "forgiveness".



But Franken can not yet parody the educated supporters of Tookie. Here's the real thing:

Dear Friends:

As you may know, Stanley Tookie Williams is scheduled to be executed by the State of California on December 13. Stan was the co-founder of the Crips street gang in Los Angeles in 1971. In 1981 he was convicted of four murders, which he has always maintained he did not commit. There was no physical evidence connecting him to the crimes and he was convicted on the basis of the unreliable testimony of a jailhouse informant who did a deal with the prosecutor. The trial itself was thoroughly racist. All African-Americans were removed from the jury pool and in his summation the prosecutor used a jungle metaphor to describe Stan (who is Black).

During his years in prison, Stan underwent a remarkable transformation. After several years in solitary confinement, he publicly renounced his gang connections and apologized for the pain and harm that his past actions had caused. Since that time, he has dedicated himself to combating the influence of street gangs and doing whatever he can to end gang violence. Since the mid-1990s he has published a series of award-winning books for children, which de-romanticize gangs, crime and prison. The books have been used successfully in schools around the US and in other parts of the world. His "Peace Protocol" has been used to negotiate gang truces in several cities. He has received tens of thousands of emails from young people thanking him for changing their lives.

As a result of his extraordinary work, Stan was nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize by a group of Swiss parliamentarians, after his anti-gang message helped to defuse a violent gang conflict in that country. I have re-nominated him for the Peace Prize four times since then.

Barring an unlikely last minute intervention by the courts, the only way Stan's life can be saved is if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grants him clemency. There is a growing international campaign to demand that Stan's execution be stopped and, as part of that, I will be nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize again at the beginning of next month. The more people who co-sponsor the nomination, the more impact it will have.

Among those who are permitted to make Peace Prize nominations are "University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes." If you fall into one of these categories and are willing to cosponsor the nomination, please send me your details (name, title, institution, address) as soon as possible [see email below]. And please pass this message on to anyone else who might be willing to cosponsor.

Thanks for your support.

Phil Gasper
Professor of Philosophy
Notre Dame de Namur University
Belmont, CA 94002

And Professor Gasper isn't working for some rinky dink institution. They have a mission statement and a vision statement:

Mission Statement
Adopted 1998, revised April 2003

Founded upon the values of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and rooted in the Catholic tradition, Notre Dame de Namur University is committed to providing strong liberal arts studies and undergraduate and graduate professional programs while addressing the constantly changing educational needs of our diverse society. We encourage our students to develop their potential in a supportive environment and challenge them to share what they have learned through service and the promotion of social justice and global peace. We are a center for values-based learning where students are enabled to build character, competence, and confidence for life and work.

Vision Statement

Guided by the ideals of global peace, social justice, and community service, NDNU will be the leader in values-based higher education for our region.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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