• Doug Neckers

I'm Damned Mad

This is going to be straight and simple. I want to begin by quoting the immortal words of Tom Becker, the now-retired President of New York’s Chautauqua Institution, who uttered them eight years ago at a memorial service for a professional violinist serving in the institution’s orchestra.


Mary Whitaker was murdered in her home in rural Sherman, NY after a performance after she discovered a couple of deadbeat criminals robbing the place; another senseless killing, this time at one of the most idyllic places in America.


President Becker, a gentle, civilized man, said “I’m damned mad and I’m saying good Americans need to take their country back from the lawless -- those that think the law isn’t for them.”


Though the killers were indeed convicted and drew long prison terms, the violence in this gentle place was far from over. This August, the Chautauqua community had to endure the shocking attempted murder of author Salman Rushdie as he was preparing to speak at the Chautauqua amphitheaters, an attack that cost him the sight in one eye and the use of one hand.


These days, evil forces taking the law into their own hands have been striking in many places, as witnessed in the violent attack in his home on Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Her 82-year-old spouse was attacked by an apparently deranged fool, in his own home, in the wee hours of Oct. 28.


In my opinion, we should not glorify the attacker or mention his name any more than we can help. As a guide, we can look at how the International Military Tribunal dealt with the top surviving Nazis when they were tried at Nuremberg.


They were given a fair trial; most were found guilty and many were hanged.


Afterward, the Allies cremated the bodies of those executed, secretly disposed of their ashes, and made sure their graves did not become a shrine for those who would do more evil. Those imprisoned were largely forgotten too.


But the real threat to our democracy goes beyond those who carry out such attacks. More insidious are those who are undermining democracy with their mouths, like Steve Bannon (who is going to jail), and who spew hatred on the airwaves, and those like Fox News host Jesse Watters, who said the Pelosi attacker should be released on bail, because “people get hit with hammers all the time.”


We need to use all the legal resources we have and put "the mouth," Donald Trump, in jail the next time society has legal reasons to be able to do so. Keep the wheels of justice grinding to deal properly with the insurrectionists of January 6, 2021. Let our federal judges honor the Constitution by dispensing justice to these jerks just by applying the law (let’s hope they have the strength of Watergate’s John Sirica).


We must also remember that being in and running for political office is not a contact sport. We also need to tighten security, not just for people holding government positions, but also for their families. Put protective arms around these people and their families. Prevention is far better than dealing with the consequences. Give that job to a special division in government, and get it done!


When Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Holocaust, was found guilty in Jerusalem, the state hung him just moments after midnight on June 1, 1962, just hours after his final appeal had been rejected by the Israeli courts. I knew Gabriel Bach, one of the prosecutors, personally. He told us they didn’t want to give the crazies time to react in any way. So they hanged him immediately, cremated him, and tossed his ashes into the Mediterranean Sea almost before the ink was dry on the trial transcripts. I am not calling for mass executions in this country. But our judges need to have the courage to start applying the law fairly, but toughly. It’s time to shut down the lawless Americans -- who are really anti-Americans -- making careers out of lies and bad behavior. Leave them to the ignominy they deserve. Put them and what they stand for in the ash can of history.


I’m damned mad, and you should be too. America was meant, as President Gerald Ford once said, to be a government of laws, not men. It’s time to prove that and apply it to everyone—even a former President, if he is convicted of breaking those laws.


You certainly know who I mean.


**


Douglas Neckers is an organic chemist, the McMaster distinguished professor emeritus and the founder of the Center for Photochemical Sciences at Bowling Green State University and also a former board chair of the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, N.Y.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash



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