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Thursday, January 13, 2005

And now, a 40-years-late kinda moment.

By: Michael Akerman


http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/08/nyregion/08mothers.html?oref=login&th

Since reg. is likely required:

"After 40 years, after all the ceremonies, the visits to Mississippi,
the interviews, the strokes, the deaths of loved ones, births of
grandchildren and the simple march of time, the news came, and two
mothers, separated by 80 miles but locked together in history, came to
realize the obvious. Their sons had not come back, but a painful part
of their lives - and civil rights history - had.

Both in their 80's, they carried themselves yesterday with aplomb, and
a bit of resignation, having believed for so long that someday, maybe,
someone would be charged in the murder of their sons, Andrew Goodman
and James Chaney, and a companion, Michael Schwerner. They were young
men - Goodman and Schwerner, white New Yorkers, and Chaney, a black
Mississippian - killed in 1964 during a voter registration drive in
Mississippi in a crime that shocked the conscience of the country. On
Thursday, Edgar Ray Killen, described by officials as a former Ku Klux
Klan leader, was charged with the murders. Mr. Killen pleaded not
guilty yesterday."

Not to be nosey, but why are we trying to spend taxpayer money on
this? Does anyone see a point in locking up some old guy who poses no
danger to anyone (admittedly, he used to), when we could be saving
that space and money to rehabilitate current criminals? I think this
is just a weak and foolish attempt to build up a frothy, airy, foamy
pedestal of "justice" such that the prosecutors, detectives, and
mothers of the murdered can stand on top of it, claiming "We got the
bad guy! Justice is served!"

Would he have done anything like this again? His record, and all
logic, certainly indicates no. He has not murdered since the original
incident, if he is guilty, and he's frickin' 80 years old! Shouldn't
the point of the justice system be not to get some silly revenge, but
to rehabilitate those whom we can? This man requires no
rehabilitation.

I think the judge should throw this out, honestly. This is ridiculous.
Incidentally, if any of you happen to be said judge, feel free to.

*Pop* goes the pedestal!

~Michael Akerman

ADDENDUM:

I posted this originally on a mailing list, so I'm also going to post one of the other members' response and my response to that:

Yes. If someone hurt one of my daughters, I would feel that it was my responsibility to hunt down and do far worse to the perpetrator. And the only thing that would restrain me, would be a believable assurance that in fact the attack on my child was also an attack on society and that society would exact the punishment or revenge due to be paid on account of the crime.

Had I been the parent of one of the children killed, I would have long since been obliged to recieve my reckoning with the blood of the man that did the killing.

If I did that, I would expect to be charged with a crime- and I should be. If society will not punish the murderer, society has no right to tell me that I can not.

How long it's been and how old the murderer, is not relevant. I'm sorry the old fart didn't spend his life in prison and don't care if it's hard on him now. I don't care if the experience kills him sooner than he would have died anyway. I don't care if he becomes tender vittles for any old prisoner that wants him for any old purpose.

If he's guilty. I think it is known that he is, but there may be something we don't know. In any event, he is entitled to a trial. Like Bryan Dennehee (sp?) said in Desperado 'we're gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a proper hanging".

[Name Withheld]


That entire argument is built on the "how would you feel" premise, and
that is certainly not a valid system of justice. If it was, we would
all be in prison for being rude.

The justice system must be built upon a weighing of personal rights
versus society's rights. It is not you right to get revenge for a
crime. That is merely a baser instinct. You are not entitled to it.
You do not deserve it. Only an unbiased judicial process (or one that
allows for bias by random assortment) can have the moral grounds to
punish someone for a crime.

On a religious basis, Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the
first stone." Whether Christian or not, these words do indeed describe
our judicial system. We cannot have one person decide another's fate,
so it is not in individual hands to punish a crime. Which is why that,
itself, is a crime.

So, an argument based on vengeance (which all of you have used) is
entirely invalid. Our justice system cannot mete out punishments using
the "grab your shotguns and let's shoot that no-good nigga for
something" method, and that's exactly what this is. Punishing someone
purely for the sake of punishing him.

It is true that our justice system does stray into a revenge system
far too often, but it cannot be said that this is how it should be.
Sun Tzu said that the ultimate acme of skill in war is to destroy your
enemy without wounding him. This is very much war, as are all trials,
and we are slaying a person who has already been defeated. Were he
still a danger to others, he would still be an enemy. Fact is, he's
not. What we are doing is attacking Russian because it used to be a
part of the Soviet Union. We cannot apply justice to deeds no longer
done, as it achieves nothing but wasted money and antipathy.

~Michael Akerman

Of course, he responded to clarify his argument, but it was essentially the same as above, so I won't reprint it.

I still agree with me ;).

By my hand,
~Michael Akerman

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