Linguistic Linguine alert.
You have to read the whole thing to get the full effect; I just can’t give you snippets. The problem is, it names a sitting judge, and I ordinarily don’t link to source material that does that. But I’ll have to now, because I don’t want to blockquote an entire P-D article without linking back to it. So, kindly avert your eyes when you get to that point.
McClellan calls this particular murder “senseless,” but as you can read in the article, it’s isn’t senseless. There is a perfectly logical, if wholly unagreeable, reason why this murder happened. It is because the now multiple murderer was unable to control his passions and emotions. Yet, this now multiple murderer has the blood of two human beings on his hands, but did not get a guaranteed life sentence for either.
Someone on AR made a great point awhile back — Our legal jurisprudence has this bassackwards notion that someone who commits murder on a whim or as an outgrowth in uncontrolled passion is less dangerous than someone who commits murder after planning and deliberation, such that we don’t imprison the former for life, while we do the latter and on occasion execute them. In reality, the man who can’t control his passions and emotions and winds up killing someone for it is more dangerous in a way than a man or woman who would premeditate a murder.
Two ordinary unremarkable plainly dressed men who never met each other before now are alone at a bus stop, waiting on the bus. There is no credible circumstance where man A would want to premeditate a murder against man B, because there are no grounds. However, if they strike up a conversation, and man B says something cross or untoward that offends man A, and man A chokes man B to death in reaction, then man A is going to prison, but not for life. He will get out after a few decades.
Let’s say man A and man B aren’t random strangers, but instead business partners. Their business is on hard times, and man B has a life insurance policy which names their business partnership as a beneficiary. Man A plots a scheme to murder man B for the life insurance money and make it look like man B was in the ghetto buying drugs and the deal went horribly wrong, in order to pin it on one of the neighborhood drug dealers. Man A goes through with it, but the police detectives figure out the ruse, and slap the cuffs on man A. Man A is at least going to prison for the rest of his life, and he could get the death penalty.
Does the first circumstance sound that much “better” than the second circumstance such that the murderer in the first circumstance should get out of prison in 20 years and the murderer in the second circumstance is dying in prison for sure? Why is the second man B’s life insurance policy plausible grounds for premeditation, while the first man B’s insulting words not? Did not the first man A premeditate the murder of the first man B after man B uttered the insult? Why is short term passion not legally considered the same kind of premeditation as the long term planning for the insurance money? In the first circumstance, man A started to choke man B to death a few seconds after man B’s verbal indiscretion, while in the second circumstance, man A took a month to plan out the murder of man B. Why is a few seconds not premeditation and a month is? It doesn’t take long for the human brain to form a thought.
More people are more likely to be murdered as a result of whimsical, second-degree murder, than premeditated, first-degree murder. But they’re just as dead anyway. That’s my fear — I have a snarky personality, and it’s just as present in real life as it is in this medium. I try to control it, but not always successfully. Carrying a gun around has served to keep my smart trap shut for the most part. However, I can’t think of any reason why anyone would want to murder me as a matter of long term premeditation — Maybe I chatted up some woman who was still in a committed relationship, or the relationship was far more over in reality than her last boyfriend thought it was, but I am always on the lookout for wedding ring tans.