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The Sarasota Horror

Robert M. Price

I just heard about Carlie Brucia’s murder. This morning, as I write, they found the corpse. Alas, it is no longer very shocking to hear that the worthless thug who captured and murdered her had a rap sheet as long as your arm, a criminal record that even included previous kidnapping! How was he still at liberty? You know: liberal laws, liberal judges, slap-on-the-wrist sentencing. Happens all the time. Lethal leniency, lethal to society and to Carlie Brucia, that is, has become the norm. I somehow feel Martha Stewart is in for a rougher time than this creep had –or is likely to have. The murdering vermin Joseph Smith (it’s too bad he defiles the name of the Mormon prophet) ought to have been beaten to death years ago. Why wasn’t he?

It is a sign of social decadence, yes, for Janet Jackson to strip on TV at the Superbowl with kids watching. But the real decadence is a "justice" system that regards it as Job One to exonerate the wicked. Every time I hear of a new atrocity, I expect to see Johnny Cochran or Mark Geragos at a press conference, announcing, "Whoever did this act--is not guilty!" They might as well put it that way, because it seems to be the fundamental axiom of American "justice."

I am a comic book fan, and I must admit to liking the Marvel Comics character The Punisher, who has a movie coming out quite soon. The Punisher, Frank Castle, is a Vietnam vet whose family were killed by mobsters, and, given no justice by the system, he decides he himself must execute those responsible. Of course, it is basically the same story as the Charles Bronson Death Wish movies. The Punisher operates outside the law for the sake of a society whom the law (and its enforcers) will no longer protect. He is a vigilante.

Vigilantes (like the late, lamented Bernard Goetz) breed in times of social crisis in order to fill a vacuum created by the laxity of the justice system. If the system is not doing its job, sooner or later vigilantes must arise. Eventually, if there are enough of them, vigilantism becomes revolution, and a firmer system is installed in place of the old one.

Vigilante violence is wrong, but you can blame it on the government who called it into being. I lost faith in the system the day O.J. Simpson was set free. And let me be honest: if I were to hear he had been gunned down, I would be quite pleased. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but sometimes they do add up to a lesser evil. I confess to clapping when I heard how Jeff Dahmer was executed by a fellow prisoner, and when one of the most notorious child-molesting priests was killed in stir. In fact, I wonder how it is that Susan Smith, who drowned her children to impress her boyfriend, is still walking the earth, alive in prison. What’s the matter with her fellow inmates? Are they getting soft on crime?

I say that, if things do not improve, vigilante justice may become a swelling tide of revolution, bringing forth, no doubt, a regime of repression in the name of security. I don’t want to see this happen. Fortunately, there is something society can do short of revolution. We can vote the cowards out. Or make sure no more of them get in.

Frank Castle served in Vietnam. So did John Kerry. But Kerry is no Frank Castle. Not that you’d expect him to be. But he opposes the death penalty. Me, I’d like to extend it to crimes it doesn’t cover already! And I’ll be darned if I’m going to vote for a guy who’d make sure Joe Smith doesn’t fry for killing Carlie Brucia. Or who’d appoint such judges.


Copyright©2004 by Robert M Price
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