Today's Orange County Register ran an article on Mister Lamb. He belongs to a gang. He's been convicted of planning and carrying out the murder of a fellow gang member. And the long and short of it is, a jury recommended the death penalty. If you have the need to read the tediously boring details, here they are. The only thing that really needs knowing is, if he gets a death sentence, it'll be 2020, at the earliest, before he's packed off to the Lake of Fire.
In the old days, which wasn't long ago, Americans didn't waste much time, energy or money sorting out the lives of the Mike Lambs of their world. For one thing, there weren't many prisons. For misdemeanors, there were fines and floggings. For the more serious crimes, there was the scaffold. Nobody back then saw much point in paying for motels for murderers or rooming houses for rapists.
But what we have today, when you consider the waste of time, expense and brainpower, is a joke. And a cruel joke at that. A lose/lose situation. Imagine the number of months Mike Lamb has been locked up while the legal system has meandered through its goofy hoops to bring us to this point. Imagine taking that money (the expense amounts to millions) shredding it and throwing it into Los Angeles harbor. Deep-sixing the money would have the same effect as spending it on Mike Lamb.
What the system should have done, first and foremost, was thank him for killing the other guy and for saving it the time and expense of having to do it. And then it should have taken him out and shot him. To death. No tears. No guilt. Maybe an appropriate Bible verse about sinners and salvation. But in these PC times, that has to be optional.
But perhaps there's hope on the horizon. Not for this generation of Americans. They need to stew in the muck until they stink in their own nostrils. You know the saying, "Before one mends, must sicken worse." The hope is that a future generation will look back on the 21st Century as a bad dream in which the inmates (no pun intended) ran the asylum.
Who was it who said, the Beast of the East? It's true. While America becomes queasier and queasier about crime and punishment, the Chinese are moving ahead at breakneck speed. The number of executions in China is a state secret. It's estimated to be 8,000 per year. That's a huge number. Huge. And the Chinese, God bless 'em, are upgrading and refining and moving forward. In fact, they're taking it on the road. Look at this little honey. A mobile executioner. Brings the penalty to the prisoner at the point of perpetration. Gets three miles to the gallon but hey, who's counting?
I wrote a play about a Chinese criminal. His name was Cheung Tze-Keung. His moniker was Big Spender. He was an arms dealer, kidnapper and killer. Having said that, he was much more interesting than Mike Lamb. He kidnapped the son of Li Ka-shing, the Donald Trump of Hong Kong, then personally went to the tycoon's house and waited there until the ransom ($133 million) was collected. That takes balls.
I wondered what they talked about while the money was being gathered. A billionaire is a kind of criminal too, you know. I thought they would find much more in common than not. Perhaps they traded strategies. Or underhanded methodologies. Who knows? My play is a flight of fancy about two guys in a room chatting while a huge strongbox slowly fills up with cash, moola, long green, up front whipout.
In the last scene, after Big Spender is caught, the tycoon visits him:
BIG SPENDER:So.........you've come here to gloat, have you?
BIG SPENDER:To watch me die, then?
TYCOON:Not that either. Too many pickpockets in the crowd.
BIG SPENDER:I can't help but notice you're not angry.
TYCOON:No. Not angry.
BIG SPENDER:Some of the others want me boiled in oil.
TYCOON:Well, you do have people who react badly at having their assets taken from them at gunpoint.
BIG SPENDER:Yes, I suppose so.
TYCOON:So.........how are they going to do it.
BIG SPENDER:Single bullet. Back of the head.
TYCOON:Yes. That would be their way. Economical. They're minimalists at heart.
BIG SPENDER:They said no speech.
TYCOON:No big surprise there.
BIG SPENDER:They were very insistent on no speeches.
TYCOON:That's understandable. Professional jealousy. Their sworn enemies are such adept public speakers. Lawyers and priests and the like. I'm told Chairman Mao was an unmitigated bore---could actually bore you to death. Sorry. No offense.
BIG SPENDER:None taken.
TYCOON:Will your mother be visiting you before.........um......?
BIG SPENDER:Yes. She promised.
TYCOON:You must prepare her.
BIG SPENDER:For what?
TYCOON:For the bill.
BIG SPENDER:What bill?
TYCOON:The bill for the bullet.
BIG SPENDER:Are you serious?
TYCOON:Would I make something like that up?
BIG SPENDER:But why?
TYCOON:It's their way. They're vindictive---and they can be pretty petty in their vindictiveness. Taken as a group, they're not very bright and what passes for humor in their world is less than clever. Even so, you need to be on your guard. You need to watch what you say. They take everything at face value. They wouldn't know a double entendre from a monkey's ass. Above all, remember this. They have all the guns. Tell your mum to pay up promptly. Tell her not to kick up a fuss.
BIG SPENDER:I will. And thank you.
Summary: Cheung Tze-keung, aka Big Spender, a 44 year old Hong Kong crime boss, was sentenced to death after being found guilty of arms smuggling and kidnapping two of Hong Kong's wealthiest tycoons, Victor Li, the eldest son of Li Ka-shing, and billionaire property developer Walter Kwok. Thirty-five members of his gang were also convicted. Three were sentenced to death, two received suspended death sentences, and the other 29 were jailed for life.
5/23/96- Cheung kidnaps Victor Li Tzar-Kuoi, son of Li Ka-shing, one of Hong Kong's wealthiest men.
9/29/96- Cheung kidnaps Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, chairman of the Sun Hung Kai Properties company.
11/18/98- Cheung sentenced to death
12/16/98- Cheung executed
The trial was held in Guangzhou even though the events occurred in Hong Kong. Cheung's lawyer, and other constitutional experts, lobbied the government for the trial to be transferred to Hong Kong, but they were rejected.
The Guangzhou Municipal People's Prosecutor formally charged Cheung and his 35 followers with a series of charges relating to "cross-boundary crime including illegal possession, transporting and smuggling explosives and firearms, robbery and kidnapping". The charges, which were denied by Cheung, included the abduction in 1993 for a four million yuan ransom of a Fujian merchant who had only come forward after Cheung's arrest. The trial began on 18 October 1998. It was reported that Cheung made a full confession on the first day of the trial.
The trial was criticised by some human rights observers for its lack of transparency, as Cheung's mother and lawyer were not allowed in the courtroom, and others alleged that the PRC was holding the trial in secrecy to cover up embarrassing links that military officers had sold weaponry to Cheung.
On 16 December 1998, Cheung's appeal was denied and he was summarily executed by a firing squad
You will notice that, upon denial of appeal, execution was immediate. There's such a sweet finality to closure. The Mike Lambs of this world should be so lucky.