Saturday, August 25, 2012

Here & There, Now & Then

That's Bartolomeo Vanzetti on the left, Nicola Sacco on the right, Sacco and Vanzetti as they're commonly known.
85 years ago yesterday, August 23, 1927, they were killed by the good people of Massachusetts.  They'd been charged with and convicted of murdering Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli while robbing the Slater-Morrill Shoe Company payroll in 1920.
Vanzetti almost certainly wasn't involved.  Sacco?  Maybe.
It didn't matter.
  • They were foreigners.
  • They were anarchists. 
  • They were easy targets.
Their trial was unfair.  Not a little.  Grossly.
It didn't matter.
Two men were dead.  Someone had to pay. Why not them.
  • They were foreigners.
  • They were anarchists.
  • They were easy targets.
And they were killed.  85 years ago yesterday.
* * * * *
That's Anders Behring Breivik, mass murderer. 
Yesterday, on the 85th anniversary of the day Sacco and Vanzetti were put to death by the people of Massachusetts, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murders of 77 men, women, and children.  He must serve 10.  If, at the end of 21, he is considered dangerous, his sentence can be extended, in 5 year increments, for the rest of his life.  It is likely that will happen.
The prosecution argued he was insane.  He denied it.  If insane, then his killings were a waste.  But they were not, he says.  They were necessary to prevent the "Islamisation" of Norway.  From BBC News.
Breivik said he did not recognise the court, which he contended had "sided with the multicultural majority in parliament", but added: "I cannot appeal against the judgement because by appealing I would legitimise the court."
He went on to say: "I wish to apologise to all militant nationalists in Norway and Europe for not managing to kill more people."
As I said, it's unlikely he'll ever be released.
But he won't be killed, which it seems is pretty much fine with the people of Norway.  Mark Lewis and Sarah Lyall report in the Times.
The relative leniency of the sentence imposed on Mr. Breivik, the worst criminal modern Scandinavia has known, is no anomaly. Rather, it is consistent with Norway’s general approach to criminal justice. Like the rest of Europe — and in contrast with much of the United States, whose criminal justice system is considered by many Europeans to be cruelly punitive — Norway no longer has the death penalty and considers prison more a means for rehabilitation than retribution.
Even some parents who lost children in the attack appeared to be satisfied with the verdict, seeing it as fair punishment that would allow the country, perhaps, to move past its trauma.
“Now we won’t hear about him for quite a while; now we can have peace and quiet,” Per Balch Soerensen, whose daughter was among the dead, told TV2, according to The Associated Press. He felt no personal rancor toward Mr. Breivik, he was quoted as saying.
“He doesn’t mean anything to me,” Mr. Soerensen said. “He is just air.”
* * * * *
That's Donald Palmer.
On May 8, 1989, in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, he murdered Steven Vargo and Charles Sponhaltz.  Five and a half months later, on October 26, 1989, he was sentenced to be killed.  On September 20, after almost 23 years in prison, it will happen.
Last week the Parole Board held its hearing.  Palmer didn't ask for it, didn't want it.  He refused to be interviewed.  He told his lawyer to file nothing and make no arguments in his behalf.  So the Parole Board considered all the reasons why Palmer should be killed.  And none of the reasons why he shouldn't be.
Today, the day after 85th anniversary of the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti, the day after the court in Norway meted out a 21 year sentence to the killer of 77, the Parole Board issued its decision. The Board noted, as it does, that no court has vacated his death sentence.  And it concluded that he should be killed.
Not, I would think, a particularly tough decision for the members of the Board, all of whom favor the death penalty. 
There are reasons one might spend 22 years fighting his execution and then stop. I don't know what Palmer's are, and at this point it doesn't much matter. Whatever his motivation, he's going to be killed.
Because that's what we do here.  We do it sometimes to the innocent (ask Vanzetti) and to the maybe innocent (ask Sacco).  Certainly, we do it to the guilty, which by all accounts Donald Palmer is.
That's here.  In Norway, for the killing of 77 men, women, and children, the cold dispassionate killings of those 77, by a man whose only regret is that it wasn't more, the sentence is 21 years.  And then, if he's truly dangerous, tack on more time.

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