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The McVeigh Fiasco

Given the evidence, why execute a sorry human being?

Before reading on, try a comparison experiment. Download, then compare, these two editorial cartoons. Analyze them closely. Think about the contrasts between them. Once you have done this, read on...

Get the pertinent Steve Benson (Arizona Republic) cartoon re McVeigh verdict here...

Get the pertinent Jim Borgman (Cincinnati Enquirer) cartoon re McVeigh here...


If Timothy McVeigh did blow up the Murrah Building, he should be punished. But several questions should be asked:

1) Did he actually do it?

2) Irregardless of whether he actually did or did not do it, could he have gotten a fair trial, given that:

a) Only persons who supported the death penalty were permitted to be on the jury,

b) The media, up to the moment of the sequestration of the jury, could have readily influenced the jury with emotional stories from the victims,

c) The prosecution was willing to make deals with the Fortiers when, if justice was to be truly served, they too should have been indicted for the same crimes as McVeigh, punishable by death,

d) Janet Reno and Bill Clinton, along with all of the Republicans in the world (including, apparently, some who seem more in place at a Klan meeting, a Nazi Holocaust Final Solution meeting, or at a Chinese Politburo meeting), calling for McVeigh's execution, even before Judge Matsch had even dealt with the media's first question,

e) The shenanigans that the Dallas Morning News carried out. Yes, they have the First Amendment right to speak - but why couldn't they have put a lid on the story until the jury was sequestered?

f) That the most important appeal that McVeigh could make (only allowed before his sentencing) could only be heard by the same judge who presided over his trial, who was not necessarily able to weigh his appeal with impartial judgement.


Given the above factors, how can you justify the death sentence of Timothy McVeigh? I have ample reasonable doubt about McVeigh's guilt, given that the evidence given at the trial was not conclusive, merely suggestive. You now have the opportunity to convince me that I am wrong to hold this position. In order to succeed, you must:

1) Prove to me, beyond a reasonable doubt, that all of my points made above are false. 2) Prove to me, beyond all doubt, the infallibility of human judgement.

Good luck!


Timothy McVeigh quoted from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis at his sentencing, "Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher.  For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.''

The reaction of the media, the judge, and the victims' families was wholly negative.  They seemed to think that McVeigh was justifying his (alleged) actions, for which he was (wrongly?) convicted, by linking his (alleged) actions to the Waco/Koresh incident.  They wanted him to grovel, to apologize (not that it would have done him any good).

Perhaps, if McVeigh did what he was convicted for (only God and Tim McVeigh know for certain, and no one in the United States is God), that might have been what he was thinking.  However, I find it interesting that those who would like to see McVeigh executed (preferably in a more horrible fashion than lethal injection) would ignore the obvious application of Justice Brandeis' words.

It is quite clear to me, and to those who are not blinded by the inherently emotional (and thus, irrational) arguments of those who support capital punishment, that Justice Brandeis has a point.  It is clear, given that the facts clearly show that capital punishment does not deter crime (else states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin (which do not have capital punishment) would have higher homicide rates than Texas and Florida (which do) - clearly not the case), that the government is clearly setting an example: Homicide is OK, because we do it.  

Justice Brandeis' words should not be taken lightly by those who purport to be our leaders.  It is quite unfortunate that they are doing so.   How many innocent persons will be executed before they realize the import of their ignorance of these words? 

They say to us,  "Ignorance is no excuse under the law..." 

I would suggest that they look in the mirror and say that...


Updated as of 16 August 1997.


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