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.)
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 United States, 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-Eleven; and three members 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 10 minutes after the shooting of the three members
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.
One man said Williams
had bragged about killing three people who lived on Vermont Street,
the location of the motel. The witness later said his testimony
was coerced, but a three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court
of Appeals rejected that claim.
A fellow inmate at
Los Angeles County Jail testified that Williams drew up an elaborate
escape plan, which involved blowing up a van carrying prisoners
from jail to court and killing guards and inmates. Handwritten
notes by Williams, which featured his habit of using stars to
dot his I's, corroborated the story of the plan. The fellow inmate
also testified that Williams had admitted the motel murders.
Williams has been
riding the death-row celebrity train for some time. Jamie Foxx
made a TV movie about him, "Redemption," referring to
his decision to write children's books warning against the gang
life. But the death row killer who writes high-minded books to
promote clemency is not a new phenomenon. In his column, Hagan
discusses Williams' checkered career in prison, including two
instances of throwing chemicals in the eyes of guards.
In denying clemency,
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out that Williams had never
apologized for the murders, or even admitted committing them.
A farewell message from Williams contained the lyrics of "Strange
Fruit," an anti-lynching song. So the unapologetic killer
apparently had no clue about how he reached death row.
The media keep converting
killers into celebrities deserving of our sympathy. Gary Gilmore,
a Utah murderer, was the subject of an enormous book by Norman
Mailer, and the ACLU furiously pursued his cause even after Gilmore
said he wanted to die. Mailer turned the killer Jack Henry Abbott
into a radical-chic celeb and a sought-after Manhattan dinner
guest once Mailer and other prominent folk helped get him paroled.
He grew suddenly less popular when he killed again, knifing a
waiter to death.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the
convicted cop-killer, is a big name on the left, enlisted to speak
on National Public Radio (at least until the protests got too
loud) and invited to give major talks, including commencement
addresses at two colleges. Now add Williams to the list: the Rosa
Parks and Nobel candidate of unrepentant killers.