Patterico's Pontifications


Tookie Williams Nominations Made to Save His Life

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General,Nobel Peace Prize — Patterico @ 7:04 am

Congratulations to the L.A. Times for digging into the motivations behind the nominations of Tookie Williams for Nobel Prizes — and for finally reporting that it is “surprisingly easy” to make such nominations.

The story is titled Telling His Story to Save His Life. Reversing the usual habit of burying such information exclusively on the back pages, the story states on Page A1:

[Anti-death penalty writer Barbara Becnel] arranged for Williams to speak by telephone to youth and criminal justice groups, and edited his series of children’s books. Death penalty opponents also took up his cause, pushing him into the limelight by nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize for literature, prestigious nominations that are surprisingly easy to make.

More detail is provided on Page A15. Writer Bechnel obtained the first nomination during a campaign in Switzerland to save Williams from the death penalty:

Around the same time, Becnel met a woman who was active in anti-violence efforts in Zurich, Switzerland, and took Williams’ campaign to Europe. Zurich, like many California cities, was troubled by gangs, with Somali and other immigrant youths engaged in violence, Becnel said.

She made several trips to Zurich and eventually met the Swiss national legislator Mario Fehr, who would nominate Williams for the Nobel in 2001. Legislators and professors in certain disciplines can nominate Nobel Prize candidates.

“The Nobel Prize nominations really catapulted his name into the media,” Alonso said. “That’s when reporters started calling me.”

Further nominations were also made by death penalty activists, primarily to save Williams’s life:

In the meantime, Philip Gasper, an anti-death penalty activist and a professor at Notre Dame de Namur University, a small Catholic school in Belmont, near San Francisco, heard Williams speak via telephone to a UC Berkeley panel and decided to submit more Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

Barbara and I came up with the idea, and she helped me through the process,” Gasper said.

“All you need to do to nominate is to write a nominating letter to the committee in Norway,” Gasper said.

Gasper’s prime motivation in writing the four-page letter was to save Williams’ life, he said, but he also thought that Williams deserved the prize because “his message has had such resonance with kids in the U.S. and in other countries.”

“I think he has probably saved a few hundred lives, at least,” said Gasper, who has nominated Williams four times for the peace prize.

Brown University English professor William Keach, who is also active in the campaign to end the death penalty, nominated Williams for the Nobel Prize for literature.

We had, of course, guessed all along that the primary motivation behind these nominations was to save Williams’s life. Now we know for sure.

As regular readers know, I am involved in a campaign to get myself nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, to make a point about how easy such nominations are to make. Eugene Volokh suggested yesterday in this post (referring to my campaign, though not by name) that such a nomination would not be legitimate, because the nominator wouldn’t really mean it.

I think my nomination would be every bit as legitimate as Tookie Williams’s. If I can talk someone into nominating me, their motivation will be mixed. Their primary motivation will be to expose such nominations as less prestigious than they really are. But they need not be dishonest in making the nomination. Indeed, given the fact that terrorist and murderer Yasser Arafat actually obtained such an award, someone could nominate me and sincerely argue that they believe I am more worthy of the prize than Arafat was.

If Eugene Volokh thinks that Nobel Peace Prize nominations are not truly legitimate if they are made with some ulterior purpose in mind, as he seems to suggest in his post from yesterday, then I assume that he believes Williams’s nominations are not truly legitimate either. I’d love to see him weigh in on this topic in light of today’s Times article.

14 Responses to “Tookie Williams Nominations Made to Save His Life”

  1. So it’s okay to nominate someone for the Nobel Prize if you are trying to save their life. Why not nominate someone to build their self-esteem? That’s what winning does anyway and I’m sure Patterico could use some self-esteem building given the way society demonizes men. (HT Dr. Helen)

    DRJ (15ed57)

  2. Williams’ first Nobel nomination was not a high point of Swiss diplomacy. Pity he is from the same city I am. What’s not surprising is that he belongs to the Socialist party.

    Pigilito (2dffe7)

  3. I love how Gasper gives credit to Tookie for “saving” the lives his ghost-written books supposedly deterred from joining/remaining with gangs, but no blame for the thousand-ish murders committed by the gang he founded. Heads I win, tails you lose.

    Xrlq (e2795d)

  4. Do you suppose this Gaspar guy writes a different letter each time he nominates Tookie, or does he just send in the same one year after year?

    JVW (54c318)

  5. Are Tookie’s apologists racist?

    If Tookie was a white man who started a nationwide criminal gang, and was convicted of killing 4 people, would Bucnel do his “editing” or would Gaspar notice and nominate him, or would Hollywood’s liberals appeal to Arnold?

    Is this a legitimate question, or is even asking the question an invitation to be called a racist?

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  6. […] What’s to say? He murdered four people. He deserves the death penalty. posted by: The Editors @ 1:49 pm November 29, 2005 […]

    The Unalienable Right » Tookie (7a057a)

  7. When I saw the John Gotti biography on A&E, I decided to steer clear of the mob life.

    How come no Peace Prize for big John?

    dennis mosher (14f06c)

  8. I think you have to face reality. You will not be nominated for a Nobel Prize. You’ve already admitted you have never murdered anyone and don’t intend to.
    Maybe you could justify the lesser evil of lying and plagiarizing and go for a Pulitzer?

    Lew Clark (b11f59)

  9. Patterico needs your help…

    Seeing how low the qualifications have sunk to be nominated for the Nobel Prize, Patterico figured now is the time… Read the LATimes article he’s referencing. I had heard essentially the same story on the John and Ken show that I linked to yesterda…

    Cake or Death (59ce3a)

  10. Dennis:

    I cannot understand how A&E can have a reality program based on the Gotti family (without the father). Where did the Gotti families money come from. Someone should sue the family to get some of the profits.

    Davod (afc5b0)

  11. “I think he has probably saved a few hundred lives, at least,” said Gasper, who has nominated Williams four times for the peace prize.

    And I think he is personally responsible for dozens of deaths and indirectly responsible for hundreds. My opinion has just as much weight as Gasper’s.

    OCSteve (16b7b5)

  12. Where did the Gotti families money come from. Someone should sue the family to get some of the profits.

    Trash transporting businesses, and protection insurance.


    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  13. The rules suggest that, 100-250 invited nominations are received each year for each prize and for Nobel Prize, say 140 invited nominations for Peace prize. Refer and .
    This begs the question whether Tookie Williams’ nomination which was “surprisingly easy” was an invited nomination, meaning whether the nominator was in each case an invited nominator. One wonders whether the Nobel Committee assigns numbers and marks the nomination papers and requests it sends out to these 100-250 intended nominators, for each prize so that, the Nobel Committee can easily manage and monitor the responses from each of the 100-250 intended nominators to whom the Nobel Committee has sent out invitation to nominate.

    I had a quick glance at Hitler’s official nomination paper and if memory does not fail me, recall seeing a number on the paper. I have not been able since then to retrace the paper link. If indeed it was a characteristic number for the year and the intended nominators’ use, then, it would support the notion that this simple system of marked and numbered nomination papers would “differentiate” the “invited nomination” from the “unsolicited and uninvited nomination” and enable the Nobel Committee to keep track of their “official nomination” which would be processed and the “uninvited nomination” which may not be processed but targeted for the paper shredder.

    Bearing in mind that, even with 100-250 nominations per category, the processing already requires “several thousand people” to determine the originality of the nominee’s contributions.

    The issue of the fairness [ and secrecy] of the selection of the identity of the 100-250 intended nominators for each prize or about 6,000 intended nominators for each year is a separate issue.

    Further the data base for invited nominations per the Nobel Committee data base, is released 50 years later thus preventing the verification of Tookie Williams’ authorized nomination.

    Finally, the nominations are to be kept in secret and this begs the question, whether the intended nominator so appointed or selected to nominate would have breached the secrecy provisions of their entrusted task.

    It may have been while the initial process of the [ William’s] nomination was flawed as not in accordance with the rules, the later process might have taken cognizance of the rules with attempts to seek out one or more of the 140 intended nominators each year. Thus the initial process, [ or maybe even the later process] if it was not an invited nomination would not count as a nomination as it would be a bogus or phantom nomination, not recognised by the Nobel Committee or approved by it nor later processed by it.

    Arafat’s nomination and award deals with a different issue, where his nomination together with Peres and Rabin’s nomination were through invited nominators and three of them shared the Nobel Peace Prize that year. The middle east conflict is a difficult subject as borne out too by and two specific papers, one here, the Mitchell Plan commissioned by Clinton after the failure of the Oslo peace accords and finished during Bush’s term of office, and second, across the Atlantic, recommendations by Assembly of Western EU , security and defence .

    Whether misdeeds or alleged misdeeds justify revocation of award, is an issue that the Nobel Committee has not addressed, even as Jewish organizations have asked the Nobel Committee for revocation of the award.

    Whether there is an international forum that can hear and try the allegations, and whether the international criminal court of justice has jurisdiction, or some other appropriate forum [court] can or will or is able to hear and try the issue is too, another issue.

    In addressing the integrity of the invited nomination process and the processing that leads to awards; the field of literature and peace are more complex issues, unlike medicine , chemistry, physics, economics.

    Bogus uninvited nominations can create different problems, albeit unintended, while it purports to grant greater egalitarian power to responsible ethical qualified parties to make nominations based on their wide reading or partial reading of the rules, without taking sufficient cognizance of the other rules or practices or norms of the Nobel Committee.

    Whether such a trend of bogus uninvited nominations would eventually be a global trend, with each “responsible” nominator in the four corners of the world, [ uninvited by the Nobel Committee] espousing their own causes and motives for making uninvited nominations, is another issue.

    From 100-250 nominations for literature and peace prize each year, it could escalate and without getting into a flood-gate band wagon, it does raise concern as to whether the Committee has the resources and logistics to handle the excess nominations and it also could put them in a dilemma as to how to handle the excess uninvited nominations, whether each uninvited nomination has to be accorded the same high degree of processing and verification as all other uninvited nominations and all other invited nominations.

    If 6,000 invited nominations require several thousand persons assistance, what number would be required if the nominations world wide escalate on uninvited basis? This is compounded by the short time frame within which the invitations sent out are processed and finalized within a year.

    Finite time, finite resources and logistics have given birth to the invited nominations of about 6000 annually for all the prizes, or 100-250 per prize, and whether invited nomination is the best way, is another issue, but it is the current stated way as the approved recognized way. All others would then fall by the way side, as bogus, uninvited, not official, or, not approved nominations and whether the Committee diplomatically deals with it by a reply , a processing, or not is another issue, best known to the Committee and the persons who submitted uninvited nominations.

    Yi Ling (19fee4)

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