Mark Steyn: "They demanded that Arnold's name be removed from the Arnold Schwarzenegger football stadium. They proposed that it should be renamed the Tookie Williams football stadium. They launched moves to strip Arnold of his Austrian citizenship on the grounds that the death penalty is illegal in Europe, which is why a barbaric nation like the United States is ineligible for membership in the EU. ('What a tragedy,' as Americans always say when you point this out to them.)
'People have had enough of him,' Peter Pilz, an MP in the Steiermark regional parliament, told The Guardian. 'For us, he has committed a state crime.'
Personally I have no feelings one way or another on the death penalty. But I'm strongly in favor of sovereign jurisdictions having the right to run their own criminal justice systems. Which is why I rejoice at Arnold's reaction to the 'threat' from Graz.
Writing to the mayor of his old town, Schwarzenegger noted that in the course of his gubernatorial term he'd have to make decisions on other death-row inmates, too - the next one comes up in January. So, wrote the governor, 'in order to spare the responsible politicians of the city of Graz further concern, I withdraw from them as of this day the right to use my name in association with the Liebenauer Stadium... I expect the lettering to be removed by the end of 2005' - and, given that most European municipal workers are on vacation till the second week of January, that means the mayor may have had to sub-contract the job to any obliging Albanian Muslim refugees he could round up.
'The use of my name to advertise or promote the city of Graz in any way is no longer allowed,' continued Arnold. 'Graz will not have any problems in the future with my decisions as governor of California, because officially nothing connects us any more.'
And just for good measure he returned the "Ring of Honor" he was given in 1999 for the "pride and recognition" he brought Graz...
...But mysteriously the governor's severing of ties with his home town seemed to distress them. The mayor, Siegfried Nagl, begged Arnold to reconsider, only to be told that the ring was already in the mail. It seems that, aside from Kurt Waldheim, there haven't been a lot of internationally marketable Austrians in recent years, and somehow the campaign to rename the football stadium has lost its momentum. The former Crip gang leader would certainly look very fetching on a souvenir dirndl or baggy gangsta-style lederhosen, and no doubt you could have a range of commemorative dishes on the cafeteria menu - say, a 7-Eleven schnitzel, to mark Tookie's murder of 26-year old store clerk Albert Lewis Owens, followed by a Brookhaven strudel, to honor the motel at which he murdered an elderly Taiwanese family for a hundred bucks, all washed down with a Muthaf--ka apfelsaft, named for the term he used to threaten the jurors who convicted him. Should do wonders for the Austrian tourism industry."