A Tale Of Two Killers

Originally published at NationalJournal.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Cory Maye of Mississippi and Stanley “Tookie” Williams of California had two very different pasts before they landed on death row — Williams in 1981 and Maye in 2004.

Maye had no criminal record before killing a policeman who had burst into his home without a warrant. Williams, on the other hand, was a founder of the infamous Crips street gang, convicted of killing four people in two crimes.

But now the two have one more thing besides their criminal sentences in common: Each has become a focal point of renewed debate about capital punishment — a debate being driven in large part by bloggers.

Blogging about the death penalty, and particularly against it, is not a new idea. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has been at it for 18 months, and Amnesty International launched Death Penalty Blog in July. Some state affiliates of NCADP, including those in Alabama, Missouri and Tennessee, also publish blogs.

After the national branch in October discussed Internet activism at its annual conference, NCADP blogger David Elliot posted three entries on blogging about the death penalty. “To me, it’s about encouraging each other, building community, exchanging ideas, sharing what works and what doesn’t,” he wrote. “Taking new messages and trying them out for a spin. Doing new things.”

Blogs with broader content also cover the death penalty periodically, especially when it is in the mainstream media mix. But until last month, as the nation neared its 1,000th execution since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, the topic had not reached critical mass in the blogosphere.

Then came Tookie Williams and Cory Maye.

A Blogospheric Eruption Over Hawaii’s Future

Originally published at NationalJournal.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Back in 1893, a small band of U.S. Marines, acting at the behest of a renegade U.S. diplomat and greedy businessmen, staged a successful coup against Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. President Grover Cleveland fired the diplomat, condemned the “subversion of the queen’s government,” and urged Congress to seek a solution “consistent with American honor, integrity and morality.”

Instead, the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898. And in the century since then — even after Hawaii voted overwhelmingly to become the 50th state in 1959 — battles over the sovereignty of the Aloha State have continued to erupt. In 1993, for instance, the U.S. government officially apologized to Hawaiians for the overthrow of their monarchy.

The latest fight is over “the Akaka bill” in Congress, and blogs have become a weapon in the ongoing warfare over that legislation. From Hawaii to Washington, blogs both large and small, with audiences national and regional, have demonstrated the power of their technology to explore a niche topic in great detail and to try to rally opposition to a relatively obscure proposal.

The bill, authored by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, would recognize native Hawaiians much like the federal government recognizes Indian tribes. That step would make Hawaiians who meet certain ethnic standards eligible for federal aid in education, housing and other arenas.

Although the measure has the support of the state’s congressional delegation and its governor, some Hawaiians still want to live in a sovereign nation and see the bill as a threat to that goal. Some conservatives, meanwhile, oppose the measure on racial grounds because it would grant federal aid based on Hawaiians’ blood lineage.

Opponents from both angles are blogging against the legislation. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin’s rants are generating the most attention because of her broad readership. She dubbed the measure “the worst bill you’ve never heard of” and has characterized it as “apartheid in Hawaii.”