Cool the Fantasies of Mob Violence
The bloodthirsty tone of recent website comments in the Haddock murder case has reached disturbing levels.
Reacting to the court plea that sent one teenager to prison in the murder of 12-year-old Emily Haddock, one writer expresses hope “that this animal will die an unnatural painful death.” Another prays that the youth “slowly rots in prison and rats slowly make a meal of him.”
Several commenters do not flinch from summoning a lynch mob: “Just drive ’em to Lobelia and turn ’em loose after the residents had notice they were coming. I assure you they would be begging for a needle then.”
Some are asking for the return of officially sanctioned public hangings. Others display resentment at the very concept of holding trials at all and call for speedy injustice: “WHY do these scum bags need a trial???? Anyone remember the Mel Gibson torture scene in ‘Braveheart’? Give it to these guys and still wouldn’t be enough!”
Whoa. Torture? Mob violence?
Bringing Out the Worst
Surely the extreme examples quoted above do not portray the kind of justice system advocated by most Moore Countians most of the time.
The Haddock case involved such horrifying savagery, such disgusting disregard for the most innocent of human life, that it brings out the worst in all of us. If ever a case justified feelings such as those voiced above, it has to be this one. But no matter what our hearts may tell us in the heat of passion, our heads must tell us something else.
Even if one still believes in the death penalty (most civilized nations of the world no longer do), it still is supposed to carried out under the dictates of the law, not the kind of bloody, freelance vigilante action being called for in the above-quoted expressions of rage.
To the extent that those expressions can be taken seriously at all, we prefer to think that they amount to exercises in verbal hyperbole and that they don’t come close to representing the views of most of us who inhabit this county or this country. Are we really prepared to toss out the law books and reach for the rope whenever we feel wrath and outrage rising within us?
Family Endorsed the Deal
Bear in mind that the plea deal worked out with the district attorney’s office and lawyers for defendant Michael Graham Currie was endorsed by the Haddock family, whose members did not want to suffer through the airing of heartrending evidence in a trial. If the arrangement was acceptable to those closest to the girl, it should be acceptable of us, hard though it may be to swallow.
The murder of little Emily Haddock must rank as one of the most terrible crimes imaginable. But in a way, terrible crimes can be viewed as the most difficult of tests to determine whether we are serious about the rule of civilized law, dispensed in just and orderly fashion.
No matter how extreme and infuriating the provocation in this case, we must not be prepared to respond to it by descending, along with the perpetrators, into barbarism. Two wrongs still don’t add up to a right.
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