ALPERN AT LARGE--It's one thing to be critical of President Donald Trump's managerial style, and it's another thing to be critical about it and be the same guy...and I'm looking at YOU, Governor Gavin Newsom.
You're no civil rights icon...you're just a tyrant. What you did with your reprieving (temporarily, thank goodness) some of the worst monsters on Death Row based on a host of false narratives is an abuse of your gubernatorial power as much as when Jerry Brown tried to do that decades ago.
And after the people of California (who really aren't stupid, and who are quite aware of the implications and controversies surrounding the death penalty) stated they still favor the death penalty, to deny that process by fiat isn't just a weighing in one's personal beliefs.
Tyranny to those on the juries and to the judges who made the decision to choose that penalty over life in prison.
And especially tyranny to the families of the victims, who lost their loved ones not by mere acts of thoughtless violence, but by planned and calculated acts of unspeakable cruelty.
Victims who begged for their lives, and could have been let go before being killed, and whose killers' crimes are prosecuted by the people. It's the people, and not just the families, who need closure.
Does it ever end the horror? No--even the Nuremberg trials didn't end the horror of the Holocaust. But the executions made it clear: society declared those crimes of the Holocaust unforgivable, and created an example that even today makes it clear that there were NO two sides to that story. "Following orders" and any other justification of murder was intolerable.
The death penalty is both the families' and society's way of sending a message: murder in the first degree, calculated and cruel, merits death and society makes such a statement. Hence it's always "The People vs. The Killer", not just a one on one act of revenge against a monster who killed a loved one.
The death penalty for an individual can always be changed if the survivors ask for life in prison instead...and The People, by and large, support that.
The death penalty for an individual can always be changed if that individual was insane when the killings were performed (think "Son of Sam") and The People, by and large, support that.
The death penalty for an individual can be changed if it's not first-degree murder but a murder of circumstance (things getting out of control in a robbery, for example)...and The People, by and large, support that.
And The People ALWAYS support ensuring that ONLY the guilty are punished and want DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent.
But the death penalty being denied against the wishes of the surviving family, and against an entirely guilty individual who society abhors for such deeds...that is something The People will never favor.
Especially because it was done as an abuse of power (and exactly the kind of abuse that Governor Newsom decries about President Trump).
Congratulations, Governor Newsom...you just ended your political career. There are all sorts of "governing by fiat" that you obviously like to do...but you just helped diminish the memory and horror of unspeakable crimes.
Those murder victims meant something, and mean something still today. And so do their families.
This wasn't about YOU, Governor Newsom.
But you sure as hell made it about you.
Congratulations, Governor Newsom, you just helped kill those victims yet again, and destroy the lives of the families yet again...to say nothing about speaking volumes about what you think about the legal and jurisdictional process.
You just ended your political career for some of the least worthy individuals of our society. I hope it was worth it.
And NO, Governor Newsom, you won't be going to Heaven over this tyrannical abuse of power.
You're no saint. You're just another tyrant willing to do tyrannical things because he thought he was "right".
(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of both its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure and Planning Committees. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)