Tag Archives: murder

What is GOOD?

What is good and what is evil are like beauty:  It is in the eyes of the beholder. To some, killing Christians is good. To others killing Americans is good. To some, killing for Christ is good. For some, killing some poor wretch in the electric chair is good. For some, abortion is good.  For others, abortion is evil and abortionists should be killed. For some, justice as rendered is good. For others, the same justice as rendered is not. Neither morality nor beauty are endemic to the universe. They belong solely to the soul of man.

Dare I say, “Be good?”

No escape for OJ

oj-book11I have written earlier here that, as an old and wise criminal defense lawyer, Tom Fagen, of Casper, Wyoming, once said to me, “You can never beat the big one.” He was referring to murder.  He meant that a jury can acquit, or for other reasons an accused may never be convicted, but the accused cannot escape the consequences of his act. The murderer will end up destroyed in one way or another – if nothing more definitive than suffering a tortured, pain-filled life.

This axiom applies to O.J. I have always held mixed feelings about his acquittal for the murders of two innocent people. There is little doubt in my mind that he committed the murders.  But I thought the verdict of acquittal was understandable given the tenor of the prosecution presented by Marcia Clark – in my opinion a display of prosecutorial behavior that encouraged a predominately black jury to acquit. I wrote about this in some detail in my book, O.J. the Last Word.

Given the state of the collective American mind that O.J. was guilty of murder, O.J. could never hope to get a fair trial anywhere in this country today, even if an angel magically descended and proclaimed him to be innocent.

I do not argue that in his most recent trial for robbery he was not guilty. Out of disinterest I have not followed the case nor examined the evidence. The verdict may have been justified. But he was still entitled to a fair trial in this latest case which, given the state of universal public opinion, he could not receive.

And then there is the societal need for vengeance, which is a black spot on all of us. If he was guilty was his guilt determined by an unprejudiced jury? I say there was zero chance to empanel such a jury in this country today. Despite his acquittal it has become a cultural truth that O.J. Simpson is a murderer and people generally celebrated his conviction in this latest case without the slightest idea of whether he was guilty of not.

Is it all right for a guilty person to be convicted by jurors who are prejudiced against him? If so, this exposes a serious defect in the system, one as antithetical to justice as one that permits a guilty person to escape.

On murder

“You can never beat the big one,” old Tom Fagen used to say. He was a grizzled, tough talking criminal defense attorney who was as sweet and easy inside as an Easter bunny. He was talking about murder — the charge. If you are guilty and tried, and if the jury acquits, it makes no difference. You can never beat “the big one.” An evil entity intervenes. The Prince of Demons shall we call him. He attacks with guilt. I have known those who beat “the big one” in court to at last be beaten by their own hand. Suicide it is called. I think it better called the revenge of “the big one.”

I have seen those who have beaten “the big one” end up being murdered by others. I have seen them die the slow self imposed death of piteous alcoholics or drug addicts. I have seen them die desolate, alone, often diseased when the body has given up because the mind could no longer deal with “the big one.”

I know that the psychopaths and sociopaths, those without a conscience, may still trot around, perhaps dying of old age, laughing that they beat “the big one,” perhaps even more than once. But those poor devils were beaten to begin with, their lives a waste and empty as a can. They never were in the race – not even the human race.

But what about the innocents who are charged with murder and acquitted? Once charged, the innocent can never fully recover — the terror of the trial, the helplessness of standing for judgment in such a place of horror as a courtroom where nothing grows, where no one believes you, where if you rise up and scream your innocence you are hauled away where you can scream only at gray walls, and if you sit passively by the judgers, the jury, the citizens, the court gawkers – they all know you are guilty or you would be screaming your innocence.

And you cannot escape the transforming power of fear. At night you awaken and the first thought that creeps into your mind like a poison worm is that you will be found guilty, that they will haul you off in an orange suit to some dark hole where you will rot the rest of your life, where you will never again see your loved ones, never be touched by a loving human hand, never again see the peaceful leaves of fall or the joyous spouts of spring. No greater punishment exists than one imposed on the innocent.

Or, yes, they may order the gurney and the dripping needle for you, the last meal, the media crowded around to watch you die, and the hateful death-penalty ghouls rejoicing in the hallways that one more of their species has been wiped from the face of the earth.

In this world in which all innocence has become the cynic’s delight, there is no innocence. On that rare occasion when the innocent may be acquitted there has been too much pain for too long. The torture of months, perhaps years of terror awaiting trial and then the horror of the trial itself – it is then that The Prince of Demons comes to occupy even the body of the innocent accused. The tortured body and mind have become emptied of life, empty as death. It’s as if you have been murdered by the malicious heat of the murder trial itself. As old Tom said, you can never escape “the big one.” No, never.

For the love of murder

Why do we care about murder?

We murder every day as regularly as we take our coffee in the morning. We murder in the fields of poverty, the poor beating out less than a bare living like slaves without the benefit of more comfortable ways to die. We murder in the name of war – which is but an acceptable excuse for the mob to kill other mobs. War is only gang killing by grownups. We murder in the gas chambers, or with the executioner’s needle on the gurney. We murder children, that is, we smash their beauty and creativity early on so they conform like beasts under the line and yoke.

The murder demon lurks evilly, furtively, insidiously in all of us. We have felt it. As born killers we have seen it in our mind’s eye. We deny it with all due vehemence. Have we ever thought of murder? Of course, not. No. Never.

Have we ever threatened murder? Weren’t we only joking, or simply expressing our passing anger when we said “I ought to kill the sonofabitch?” Just a way of speaking, so to speak?

But why does the idea of murder enthrall us so? The television marketers know it – their endless violent murders. Why do we stare so at the screen, excited like waiting hyenas for the kill? The psychologists call it sublimation. It is our deeply repressed need to kill that attracts us to the murder movie. Thankfully we can kill by watching killers. Violence and blood is a requirement because a neat and quiet killing does not satisfy.

We are all killers at heart. We know this, but we do not admit it. That is why we are so taken by the killing of others and their stories – like golfers like to watch golfers. OJ. Why did a nation become captured by a brutal killing committed by a man of little intrinsic worth? He could run his ass up and down a football field but he had little more to show for himself. If he’d been charged with sniffing glue or stealing baseball cards would we have cared? Even if he had been convicted of wife beating it might have made the headlines of the “National Enquirer” for a week or two. But a murder? A murder by OJ was something that would mesmerize a nation. Indeed, we were captivated by a single murder while we allowed millions elsewhere to die needless deaths from starvation or curable disease, which, when knowingly and intentionally permitted, could be argued as nothing less than murder.

It is the terror of murder – both our fear that it might be perpetrated against us or our loved ones, and that we, yes, we, might in some fit of passing insanity murder another. We do not speak of this although the kindest, most gentle know in secret places that they have fantasized murder – thank God we have our senses, our defenses so well poised against this monstrous crime – but we have seen it in our own mind’s eye. And the murderer was we.

It takes so little to arouse the murder gene within. Especially among the young. We make soldiers of these just-past-children because they can murder so readily. We teach them to intentionally kill, to kill with malice aforethought, to murder, not one but as many human beings as possible if they wear a different color cloth on their bodies (called uniforms) or if they pray to a different invisible entity (called their god.)

Perhaps murder is the easiest of all human skills to teach. It is easier to teach a young man to kill than to ice skate or shoot a decent game of pool, or to recite the Ten Commandments accurately, the sixth of which is a commandment against murder. One notes that having no other god before one, or creating a “graven image” or using the name of God in vain, or keeping the Sabbath holy or honoring father and mother are all commandments that come before the Bible’s admonition against murder. Presumably it is more sinful to work on Sunday than to murder.

And because murder is so much a part of us there is a powerful subliminal defense against murder. Legally one cannot cut the throat of a surprised bed partner of one’s wife, but a jury will often find ways to acquit such a killer because murder in the juror might explode in full force were he faced with the same situation. I am only saying that murder is so much a part of who we are as humans that we accept the horror of it with horror, mostly because the horror of it, in the end, explains who we are.