April Showers Bring Mass Murder

Gentle April — when the earth thaws and spring flowers bloom!  April, which moved Shakespeare to write:  “As oft ‘twixt May and April is to see, When winds breathe sweet, untidy though they be.”  April, when the optimistic promise of spring is finally realized and the month ends with sunshine and warming breezes on our faces!

So why has April become the month that violence and domestic terrorism experts are calling the start of “the killing season”?

Let’s face it:  April’s recent track record really sucks.  From the Oklahoma City bombing to the Columbine killings to the Virginia Tech mass murders to the Boston Marathon attack, April has a history as bloody as a Quentin Tarantino film.  It’s painfully apparent, and not just for people like me who have April birthdays and notice the awful things that seem to happen, with distressing regularity, during my natal month.  Experts are wondering why.

ahitlerThey think it may have all started with Adolf Hitler.  He and I share the same April 20 birthday, and his legacy is so bloody and terrible, with its toxic mixture of racial purity and brown-shirted fascism and institutionalized genocide, that it has attracted wackos and racists and nutjobs eager to make a name for themselves long after Hitler killed himself.  It wasn’t coincidence that the Columbine shootings also occurred on April 20 — just one of the many bad things that happened on that date, so much so that some people say it’s the worst day of the year.  One of the Columbine shooters was obsessed with Hitler and planned the attack to occur on his birthday.

Unfortunately, the experts say, the crazies among us apparently pay attention to such anniversaries.  Timothy McVeigh specifically planned the Oklahoma City bombings for April 19, which was the same day that the FBI stormed the Branch Davidian compound in Waco and 76 people were killed.  More recently, other killers have planned their attacks to recognize or emulate McVeigh, or the Columbine shooters, or one of the other lunatics who have turned the April calendar into a horror show of evil and carnage.

So keep your eyes open.  If recent years are any indication, something really, really bad is going to happen this month.

Poor April.  It really deserves better.

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Another Reason To Oppose The Death Penalty

In Colorado, James Holmes has been convicted of multiple counts of capital murder.  He’s the bug-eyed killer who burst into a crowded movie theater in 2012, threw tear gas, then started shooting, killing 12 people and wounding 70.  The carnage he caused has been recounted, with lasting horror, by some of the survivors at his trial.

But now we are hearing emotional testimony from James Holmes’ mother.  She says she thought she had a “good kid” who was self-sufficient and responsible, although she was saddened and guilty that he was “losing his joy” as he grew into adulthood.  She says she never knew that her son was so mentally ill that he was capable of random mass murder.  And other family members, teachers, and friends have testified about Holmes being a happy boy, a “Renaissance child,” and a nerdy teenager.

It’s all part of the “mitigation phase” of the trial, where the jury will decide whether Holmes should receive the death penalty for his appalling crimes.  His lawyers want the jury to feel sorry for him and his family and to conclude that the shootings didn’t occur because Holmes was intrinsically evil, but because he was mentally “sick.”  And so the jury has been listening to witness after witness testify about Holmes in a way designed to encourage jurors to show mercy — even though he didn’t show mercy to those innocents he gunned down.

I’m opposed to the death penalty on principle, so I don’t need to be convinced that Holmes should receive life in prison.  However, I think this phase of the Holmes trial aptly illustrates another reason why the death penalty should be abolished.  It is simply unfair to put the families of the victims through a process where they have to hear that the person who ruthlessly killed their loved ones was once an outgoing “Renaissance child” or an uncoordinated teenage nerd, and it is unseemly to call his Mom and Dad to the stand to shed a few tears to try to save their little boy’s skin.

A process that is designed to curry sympathy for the killer, by recalling his boyhood and moments where he laughed or cried or kicked a soccer ball, is senseless and offensive because whatever his meager childhood accomplishments may have been shrivel to nothingness against the magnitude of his adult crimes.  Don’t try to make me feel sorry for James Holmes.  I feel sorry for the victims and their families for the loss that Holmes inflicted.  Lock him away, and be done with it.

Crime . . . And “Punishment”

Anders Breivik killed 77 people, many of them kids, in carefully planned attacks on government buildings and a youth camp in Norway.  Today he was determined to be sane, was found guilty of the mass murder — deemed “terrorist acts” under Norwegian law — and received the maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.

A man who kills 77 people is found to be legally sane?  Sentenced to a mere 21 years in prison, as the maximum available penalty for the cold-blooded killing of dozens of people?  And, according to the news article linked above, the “guilty verdict comes as welcome relief to victims and their families, who have been looking for closure 13 months after the tragic event”?

It is unimaginable that a disturbed mass murderer like Breivik, who is only 33 years old, could be walking the streets, a free man, in only two decades.  What better indication could there be of the differences between the United States and Norway — their people, their criminal justice systems, and their concepts of just punishment — than this absurdly lenient sentence?

Many Americans applaud the European social model and decry the harshness of punishments meted out by American courts.  Does anyone, however, seriously defend this grossly inadequate penalty and the notion that 21 years in prison is sufficient punishment for an unrepentant fanatic who gunned down 77 innocent people and now plans to write books about his attacks and his crazed political views?

Madmen In Every Corner Of The Globe

Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in Norway last summer, is on trial in Oslo.  Although he has admitted to the killings, he has pleaded not guilty to charges of mass murder and terror.

Today Breivik got a chance to explain his actions and his twisted motivation.  He bragged that he had carried out “the most spectacular and sophisticated attack on Europe since World War II.”  He said his ruthless killing of unarmed people at a youth camp was an act of goodness, not evil, and explained that he acted to defend Norway against immigration and multi-culturalism.  He thinks liberal ideas are ruining Norway — and apparently he thinks the appropriate response is to murder people in cold blood.

In short, Breivik is an evil lunatic.  His existence in a beautiful, peaceful country like Norway just means that you can find madmen everywhere.  I suppose it should be comforting, in a sense, that America doesn’t have a corner on crazed mass murderers — but it isn’t.  How many disturbed, dangerous people like Breivik are out there?