Uncatchable
May 3, 2012 11:03 PM   Subscribe

George Wright, America's most elusive fugitive, ran for forty years. He ran from the cops after escaping from prison. He ran from the feds after the most brazen hijacking in history. He ran from the authorities on three continents, hiding out and blending in wherever he went. It was a historic run—and now that it's over, he might just pull off the greatest escape of all.
posted by vidur (75 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
In 1972, Wright held a gun to the head of a pilot on a plane packed with eighty-six passengers. He received a million dollars in cash—the largest ransom ever paid in an airplane hijacking in the United States—and forced the plane to fly to Algeria. Then he disappeared. In late September of 2011, he was caught.

The mug shot of Wright—the picture that's in my mind—shows a 19-year-old kid with a modest Afro, his jaw set, his eyes cold and challenging. Before me now is a 68-year-old man.

2011 - 1972 = 39 years
68 - 19 = 49 years

Did he age an extra 10 years while on the run? Or did a ridiculous math error slip by all the editors and proofreaders? I have been seeing more obvious typos in magazine articleson the web lately, but when something like this hits me in the face, I don't want to continue reading.

ti;dr too inept; didn't read
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:11 PM on May 3, 2012


In 1962, he participated in a robbery at a gas station in New Jersey

That's when he was 19, and got arrested.
posted by Night_owl at 11:19 PM on May 3, 2012


The mug shot is from 1962.
posted by Mitheral at 11:21 PM on May 3, 2012


Thank you. My faith in GQ is mostly restored. Feel free to act like I don't exist.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:24 PM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't help but feel there's some sort of emotional statute of limitations on this kind of thing, even if there isn't a legal one.

That is, I don't see a benefit to society to locking him up. There's something in the article about setting a terrible precedent but I'm not sure I agree. What would be the terrible precedent exactly? That if you miraculously escape being caught (most law-breakers want to do this already) and then you live a virtuous, spotless life for 40 years (many won't do this), you might not go to prison after all. Sounds like an ok precedent to me.

The argument that he should "pay" for the crimes he committed is an argument based on retribution rather than societal benefit and I guess not the type of argument that sits well with me.
posted by vacapinta at 11:34 PM on May 3, 2012 [27 favorites]


Did he age an extra 10 years while on the run? Or did a ridiculous math error slip by all the editors and proofreaders?
key point:
In 1972, Wright held a gun to the head of a pilot on a plane packed with eighty-six passengers. ... forced the plane to fly to Algeria. Then he disappeared.
So how could he have gotten a mug shot taken in after disappearing.
posted by delmoi at 11:37 PM on May 3, 2012


I don't think the United States, as a society, believes in rehabilitation at all. At least for "blue collar" crime. Our prisons are not there for rehabilitation. We don't allow criminals who have served their time another chance; they will forever be branded.

(We barely prosecute white-collar crime and we give white-collar criminal CEOs cash bonuses if they promise never to do it again. Which they promptly do.)
posted by maxwelton at 11:51 PM on May 3, 2012 [25 favorites]


Please do not allow my stupidity to derail this topic. Unless laughing at the foop is the most fun you can have on a Thursday Night/Friday Morning ... the rest of you couldn't get tickets to the midnight showing of Avengers either, eh?
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:53 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Breathless sensationalism. "Uncatchable"... "George Wright, America's most elusive fugitive, ran for forty years."

Gee whiz. Like, there are no unsolved cases where someone has escaped or been running from the law, and has been out there for longer than George Wright? Really? Sure, Wright had a long run, but why the "most elusive"? I bet you there are those who disappeared and you never heard a peep from them and they died of old age decades later. "Most elusive", my ass.

Generally a badly written article. I wonder what Wright thought when his confederates were captured by the French in 1976, and then only spent 2-3 years in a French prison, and then were released and presumably not returned to the U.S.. Sounds like it might have been a preferable deal to do the 3 years, and then live legally instead of avoiding prison, but then constantly moving around and jumping at shadows for 40+ years.

So many more interesting questions could have been asked and topics explored. But I guess if you send a jackass on an assignment, you end up with a jackass result.
posted by VikingSword at 11:58 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


So many more interesting questions could have been asked and topics explored. But I guess if you send a jackass on an assignment, you end up with a jackass result.

Jeez, did Michael Finkel piss in y'all's breakfast cereal this morning or something? Does the author have history of jackassery I don't know about? Because I thought it was an acceptably well-written piece that didn't draw too many glib conclusions about a tricky subject.
posted by brennen at 12:03 AM on May 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


The argument that he should "pay" for the crimes he committed is an argument based on retribution rather than societal benefit and I guess not the type of argument that sits well with me.

I feel like he deserves prison as much or more than the majority of the people in there. Which is to say, I'm not entirely sure prison serves a useful societal function in general.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:09 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I guess if you send a jackass on an assignment, you end up with a jackass result.

I dunno, I think that's a bit uncharitable. I enjoyed it. There's certainly more it could have covered, but that's ever the case, don't you think?
posted by smoke at 12:25 AM on May 4, 2012


I can't help but feel there's some sort of emotional statute of limitations on this kind of thing, even if there isn't a legal one.

As Walter Patterson how he feels about that.

oh wait..you can't....he's dead.
posted by lampshade at 12:25 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh wait..you can't....he's dead.

So he doesn't give a shit.
posted by maxwelton at 12:28 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm 30 and already incredibly different than I was at 19. I can't even imagine how another forty years will change me.

The person that killed Walter Patterson doesn't really exist anymore.
posted by imabanana at 12:36 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the FBI agent mentioned towards the end of the article makes the most compelling argument for incarceration. The point is, if a guy can get away with it, it may give hope to other people who are contemplating daring escapes and similarly destructive escapades. It is a debatable point, and I don't care to debate it here. But it is not, in my view, a point that can be easily dismissed. Other than that, though, I'm inclined to agree with the sentiment that he seems (according to a magazine article) to have reformed, and should be allowed to go free. On the balance, I'm not sure what I think.
posted by Edgewise at 12:47 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]



I'm 30 and already incredibly different than I was at 19. I can't even imagine how another forty years will change me.

The person that killed Walter Patterson doesn't really exist anymore.


Did this happen to Nazi concentration camp guards sometime in the late 80s? Or were they different and evil to the end?

You take part in murder, you goddamned well pay for it.
posted by codswallop at 12:52 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


So many more interesting questions could have been asked and topics explored. But I guess if you send a jackass on an assignment, you end up with a jackass result.

I'm sure GQ cut lots out, it happens.
posted by furtive at 12:57 AM on May 4, 2012


Compare response to this to the whole Roman Polanski debacle.
How do class, race, and the nature of the crime affect the mass response to these two situations?
posted by TheKM at 1:26 AM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Good lord, you people think he hasn't paid for it? Have you read the article?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:31 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


You take part in murder, you goddamned well pay for it.

The Portuguese government and many other governments disagree. There's a statute of limitations on all crimes including murder. It is one of the reasons he is not being extradited.
posted by vacapinta at 1:54 AM on May 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


he might just pull off the greatest escape of all.

He did. There's an addendum at the end of the article saying the case is closed. Must be a bummer to write this and have it outdated by the time it's published. But why keep the catchy opening "pull off the greatest escape of all", then?
posted by lucia__is__dada at 1:57 AM on May 4, 2012


The Portuguese government and many other governments disagree. There's a statute of limitations on all crimes including murder. It is one of the reasons he is not being extradited.

And that's the injustice. Do his victim's kids get their Dad, Mom, and childhoods back?
posted by codswallop at 2:01 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


And that's the injustice. Do his victim's kids get their Dad, Mom, and childhoods back?

Will they get it back if he is murdered or incarcerated for life by the USA?
posted by lucia__is__dada at 2:08 AM on May 4, 2012 [25 favorites]


Sounds like it might have been a preferable deal to do the 3 years, and then live legally instead of avoiding prison, but then constantly moving around and jumping at shadows for 40+ years.

The others were on a hijack charge, not hijack and (presumably) murder one.
posted by jaduncan at 2:13 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Will they get it back if he is murdered or incarcerated for life by the USA?

Nope, they'd get the only possible thing left to them. Justice.

"We can not give up hope that there will be justice for my father. My sister and I were orphaned by this crime as our mother died shortly afterwards. My father has seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren who never had the opportunity of meeting him". - Ann Patterson
posted by codswallop at 2:29 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


As much as I feel for victims of crime, luckily, justice is not decided by the victims. Such things would lead to, among other things, escalating violence as the family of the criminal also decides they have been wronged and strike back and start an eternal feud. Arguably, this kind of justice system is responsible for the escalation of violence in places such as Bosnia or Sicily or Mexico.

It is delegated to the justice system which looks after the larger interests of society. And as mentioned before, different justice systems have made different determinations.
posted by vacapinta at 2:42 AM on May 4, 2012 [19 favorites]


Nope, they'd get the only possible thing left to them. Justice.

You misspelled vengeance.

Even the police agree that he did not fire the gun that killed the man. He spent several years in jail. His "defense" lawyer offered no defense. The judge told him that if he had tried to defend himself before a jury and failed, he would have been sentenced to die.

He was an accomplice to a robbery where someone else committed murder, and he spent several years in jail for it. And you want him to spend more.

I pray you are never subjected to the same justice that you advocate.
posted by eriko at 3:23 AM on May 4, 2012 [28 favorites]


"It is delegated to the justice system which looks after the larger interests of society.

Tell it to Scalia.
posted by marienbad at 3:28 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Must be a bummer to write this and have it outdated by the time it's published.

The perils of dead-tree media. But the story isn't 'outdated' because it hadn't reached an end - stories rarely do. An author has to pick a point and put a bow on it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:35 AM on May 4, 2012


VikingSword: " I bet you there are those who disappeared and you never heard a peep from them"

Where's D.B. Cooper when you really need him?
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:53 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did this happen to Nazi concentration camp guards sometime in the late 80s? Or were they different and evil to the end?

Assuming this is a reference to Demjanjuk, it's not really a comparison. Demjanjuk was charged with being involved in the deaths of nearly 28,000 times the people as Wright. While we can talk about the value of war crimes trials until we're blue in the face, war crimes/genocide and convenience store robbery aren't really comparable.

Additionally, I'm a little surprised that Portugal even contemplated extradition as (IIRC--I read the article the other day) many countries are reluctant to extradite when there's the possibility for the death penalty.

I can't help be reminded of the film Die Innere Sicherheit, which is about this girl whose parents are meant to be understood as RAF members who've been on the run her whole life.
posted by hoyland at 5:12 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


So many more interesting questions could have been asked and topics explored. But I guess if you send a jackass on an assignment, you end up with a jackass result.

Maybe you're not familiar with how "word counts" work. I hope I don't sound patronizing, but this is a complaint I hear about a lot of stories; why this or that or the other question wasn't asked. These questions might very well have been asked, but were cut for space. Or the journalist might have felt that in order to stay within the word count, some points needed to take priority over others.

This article did an exceptional job in covering Wright's life, and was well-organized. It revolved around him telling his story within a personal setting, but was anchored on all sides by contributing and often retorting voices to the story. The journalist did his job right here, I believe.

As to his crimes and his life thereafter, I agree with the FBI that allowing someone to escape charges simply by virtue of eluding capture for a very long time sets a bad precedent, but that's not what happened here. Or at least, it's not the only thing. Wright sought to live a purposeful life. He devoted himself to charitable works, spending his time in service of others for decades. He didn't have to do any of this - he could have kept bopping around the world partying and DJing like he did in his early years. He chose instead to purposefully lead a morally upstanding life that I could only hope to have the dedication to lead. There isn't a simple, cut-and-dry judgement that can be placed on situations like this, and the total examination of his life up until this point is an important one to make. As it is, I agree with the Portuguese judges. Apart from the purely legal ruling that he is de facto Portuguese and thus not subject to extradition. I can't excuse or dismiss what he did as a younger person, but Wright has demonstrably reformed.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:33 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


In much of Europe, there is abiding belief in the healing power of time

I try to imagine living in a place where mercy and compassion are held in higher regard than vengeance, and my imagination kind of fails.
posted by localroger at 5:40 AM on May 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


The argument that he should "pay" for the crimes he committed is an argument based on retribution rather than societal benefit and I guess not the type of argument that sits well with me.

I agree. I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of using prison as retribution; I wish we had a system focused more on healing and prevention, but that's kind of like saying that I wish we had a medical system that was focused on providing access to everyone. Someone who is dangerous should be separated from society and incarcerated, definitely. This guy certainly doesn't fit that criteria.

There are innumerable others who have escaped punishment for old crimes. If Idi Amin can die peacefully in exile, I'm not going to lose sleep over whether or not the surviving remnants of, say, 1970s political extremists or bank robbers go to jail as geriatrics. (There's also the question of what will happen to the American political fugitives who are living in Cuba when the regime there eventually changes.)
posted by Forktine at 5:56 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


It might be a caricature to imagine that the journalist who wrote this has dreams of selling a movie script, but the opening paragraph of the article (quoted as the text of the FPP) evokes precisely the script for the voiceover of a movie trailer.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:00 AM on May 4, 2012


Additionally, I'm a little surprised that Portugal even contemplated extradition as (IIRC--I read the article the other day) many countries are reluctant to extradite when there's the possibility for the death penalty.

EU countries only extradite to countries with death penalties on the understanding that the prosecution won't seek them.
posted by atrazine at 6:13 AM on May 4, 2012


ricochet biscuit : but the opening paragraph of the article (quoted as the text of the FPP) evokes precisely the script for the voiceover of a movie trailer.

That's the popular style for true crime stories these days. Also, the introduction which mades the writer the star of the story. Everything down to the first "dots" in the article is about the writer's adventure and emotional reaction, and not about the story itself. Esquire, GQ, Maxim, etc., they all do true crime this way, to draw in young-male readers that they assume don't like to read with movie-like pitches and a connecting storyline for the "hero" (the storyteller, the writer) to identify with. I can't think of the last time I've read a true crime story in a current magazine that doesn't start with a movie-poster description of the criminal followed by several paragraphs about how the writer feels about interviewing somebody connected to their assignment.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:20 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did this happen to Nazi concentration camp guards sometime in the late 80s? Or were they different and evil to the end?

You take part in murder, you goddamned well pay for it.

codswallop, very, very few Nazi concentration camp guards were ever even accused of a crime by legal authorities after the war. Your example is ridiculously wrong.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:51 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The hijacking is a touchy subject for Wright. He's never been brought to trial for the crime."
posted by Nelson at 7:23 AM on May 4, 2012


I thought was an interesting article. It gave me conflicting feelings while steering me towards sympathy for Wright.
In addition to raising some thoughts about the muddy area that sometimes exists between law and emotion, I also think it's a fascinating example of perspective, and the "two sides to every story" cliché.

The story could just as easily have been framed thusly (but with better writing, I'm sure):

When I was 15, I stood at the window and waved goodbye to my Dad after Thanksgiving dinner, as he climbed into his truck and drove to his job at the gas station. It was the last time I ever saw him. A few hours later two men came into the station, beat him severely, and left him to die. They took the $70 in crumpled bills that were in his pocket. Later said they had only done it because they needed $1.25 for the bus.
A year later my mother died of grief and I was left an orphan, to raise my younger sister.
George Wright, one of the men who killed my father, was sent to jail and served only 8 years, escaping from a Medium security prison in 1970. Two years later he dressed as a priest, boarded a plane flying from Detroit to Miami and pulled a gun out of a hollow Bible. He received the million dollars he demanded after threatening to cut off the passengers heads and throw them "out the motherfucking door", and then he and his partners hijacked the plane to Algeria, where he disappeared.
For 40 years I've struggled with the pain of losing my parents
(etc...insert personal details, anecdotes and hardships of the ensuing years).
In 2011 I received a call that they had caught the man who killed my father. He was living in a beautiful seaside town in Portugal under a different name. He had a wife and family.

You get the idea. If you really wanted to tweak the sympathy you could end the story with her agonizing how to explain the verdict to her kids; how Wright is absolved of all charges and is a free man left to live out his life in Portugal.
The last line could be be Wright saying "fine by me."
posted by chococat at 7:47 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Tangentially to the article, I find it irksome when writers try to play up the heinousness of someone's crime by noting that they committed the crime and then

he left a man bleeding to death while he went out to dinner

They went to a place called the Belmont Inn, where Wright ate two cheeseburgers and played bar shuffleboard. Patterson died in the hospital two days later.


The obvious suggestion is that the act was so meaningless to them that they could just saunter away and have a normal evening after shooting someone. But really, even if they were wracked with guilt and horror at their actions, in a state of shock at the enormity of their crime, they'd probably still go get some damn cheeseburgers and play bar shuffleboard. Nothing about eating a cheeseburger suggests that they were partying down and rejoicing in their evil deeds. One thing has zilcho to do with the other.

I don't know why this kind of thing bothers me so much...I guess because it's such a cheap, manipulative, dishonest rhetorical device, and I see it all the time.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 7:57 AM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Who cares who Wright killed or how many people were killed or how many people were left parentless? They aren't cool; Wright is. All those faceless victims just exist to make Wright cooler.

I'm just glad to know that if I'm sympathetic and cool enough, metafilter will have my back no matter what I do.
posted by happyroach at 8:26 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


What Wright did is murder. It doesnt matter if he pulled the trigger or not. It's the felony murder doctrine.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:28 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


ous suggestion is that the act was so meaningless to them that they could just saunter away and have a normal evening after shooting someone. But really, even if they were wracked with guilt and horror at their actions, in a state of shock at the enormity of their crime, they'd probably still go get some damn cheeseburgers and play bar shuffleboard

You're right. Its the failure to turn themselves in after killing a man in a robbery that shows that they had no remorse.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad to know that if I'm sympathetic and cool enough, metafilter will have my back no matter what I do.

That's a really uncharitable and unfair reading of what people have been saying in this thread.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:40 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm just glad to know that if I'm sympathetic and cool enough, metafilter will have my back no matter what I do.

Sarcasm, strawmen, and assuming the worst of people you disagree will probably help make you cooler, if not massively more sympathetic.
posted by Copronymus at 8:40 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The law is always about emotion at least when a jury is involved. It's about politics, culture, revenge, and sometimes its even about coolness. But let someone point this out and what we hear is "oh no we're impartial, the law is the law." Don't tell me those statements from the FBI, sworn to uphold the law, weren't dripping with emotion and culture.
posted by Xurando at 9:21 AM on May 4, 2012


In much of Europe, there is abiding belief in the healing power of time

Well, that explains Berlusconi then.
posted by chavenet at 10:35 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was an accomplice to a robbery where someone else committed murder, and he spent several years in jail for it. And you want him to spend more.

I pray you are never subjected to the same justice that you advocate.


Sanctimonious horse-shit. Are you implying I engage in violent felonies like knocking over gas stations?
posted by codswallop at 10:43 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you implying I engage in violent felonies like knocking over gas stations?

Seriously? Get a room or take it to metatalk if you want to start a fight that much.
posted by jaduncan at 10:58 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


How else exactly would I be subjected to "that same justice I advocate" if I didn't commit violent crimes?
posted by codswallop at 11:15 AM on May 4, 2012


He said he prays you are not subjected to the same justice. That is in no way an implication that you commit violent crime. Stop being obtuse.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:19 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


He was an accomplice to a robbery where someone else committed murder, and he spent several years in jail for it. And you want him to spend more.

The Felony Murder Doctrine makes him as guilty of murder as the other guy, even if Wright's story is to be believed. You cannot undertake a robbery or other felony armed or with another person armed and escape the consequences because in the scrum of events, you didn't happen to be the one who pulled the trigger. You are assuming that risk.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:36 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was an accomplice to a robbery where someone else committed murder, and he spent several years in jail for it. And you want him to spend more.

George Wright pled nolo contendre to murder in the case.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:45 AM on May 4, 2012


The law is always about emotion at least when a jury is involved. It's about politics, culture, revenge, and sometimes its even about coolness. But let someone point this out and what we hear is "oh no we're impartial, the law is the law." Don't tell me those statements from the FBI, sworn to uphold the law, weren't dripping with emotion and culture.

There was no jury trial.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:45 AM on May 4, 2012


He said he prays you are not subjected to the same justice. That is in no way an implication that you commit violent crime.

How could I be subjected to the same justice if I don't commit violent crime? That isn't being obtuse, that's calling people out on their drivel.
posted by codswallop at 11:52 AM on May 4, 2012


But he's not implying this is something you're doing right now. Nor would you have to commit a violent crime to be subjected to it. You really need to dig in your heels over this?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:54 AM on May 4, 2012


I'm sorry, he helped hijack a plane. Everyone else involved served jail time. Why doesn't he deserve to?
posted by maryr at 12:00 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's the felony murder doctrine.

Isn't the felony murder doctrine a more-recent development? At any rate, it isn't law.
posted by rhizome at 12:21 PM on May 4, 2012


Why doesn't he deserve to?

The justice system isn't really about what criminals deserve instead being about what benifits society.
posted by Mitheral at 1:25 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


You're right. Its the failure to turn themselves in after killing a man in a robbery that shows that they had no remorse.

I don't understand how willingness to give oneself over to suffering for the rest of one's natural life is the standard for remorse.
Is this some Christian thing?
posted by TheKM at 1:47 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The justice system isn't really about what criminals deserve instead being about what benifits society.

I do agree that at this point he's not likely to commit further crimes, but it does seem like he should be punished for endangering lives like that. That hijacking could easily have ended very differently.

But I don't know. I mean, I agree with you, that the justice system should be about what's best for all, not one, but if someone gets away with a crime simply by evading capture? It doesn't seem fair. Or just. Especially if others have paid for it. I can agree with you logically, but it doesn't sit right in the gut.
posted by maryr at 1:56 PM on May 4, 2012


I can agree with you logically, but it doesn't sit right in the gut.

Just out of curiosity, have you publicly paid for all of the "crimes" that you've committed in your life? Lord knows I haven't, and while I still have twinges of guilt about awful things said or something "borrowed" but not returned, it would be more outrageous for the kid whose eyes I threw sand in in fifth grade to show up tomorrow demanding justice.

Wright endangered lives with the hijacking, certainly, and that's indefensible. But people do the same thing every day in their cars while posting facebook status messages at 70MPH. Those people aren't punished, even when their Escalade crosses the center line and wipes out a carload of people just trying to get home.

If the descriptions of Wright's life are accurate, he added more good to the world in the years after his crime than he ever would have rotting in a jail somewhere. Hell, he's added more good to the world than I have, in all likelihood, even putting the murder and hijacking on one side of the scale and his life subsequent to it on the other. That's not to demean the loss of family and friends of the man killed in the gas station, but at some point the time for retribution (and let's be honest, that's all we're talking about here) has passed. What, exactly, will be accomplished by sending a 70-year-old to prison for a crime committed 50 years ago?
posted by maxwelton at 2:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


So all I need to do is some charity work, and I can commit any crime I like. Cool.
posted by happyroach at 3:06 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


How could I be subjected to the same justice if I don't commit violent crime?

Very easily.
posted by localroger at 3:11 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


So all I need to do is some charity work, and I can commit any crime I like. Cool.

Works for churches.
posted by maxwelton at 3:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great read... thanks for posting it...
posted by ph00dz at 5:19 PM on May 4, 2012


Those people aren't punished, even when their Escalade crosses the center line and wipes out a carload of people just trying to get home.

Actually, yeah, they are. It's called manslaughter.

I just think there are probably better cases out there for the argument than Wright. (It would have been nice to see a little more evidence of his good works as well - I don't doubt that he worked for a charity, but surely they could have found someone other than his wife to vouch for him? I mean, the pilot from the hijacking got a whole subsection. Maybe it was edited out for length?)
posted by maryr at 8:28 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


So he doesn't give a shit.

So why is murder a crime? The victim can't give a shit.

"I'm just glad to know that if I'm sympathetic and cool enough, metafilter will have my back no matter what I do."

Sarcasm, strawmen, and assuming the worst of people you disagree will probably help make you cooler, if not massively more sympathetic.

That's a pretty harsh thing to say Perhaps if he murdered someone for money you wouldn't be so mean, though.
posted by Snyder at 12:04 AM on May 5, 2012


Everybody clamoring for "justice" should be relieved when they the end of the article. Unanimous decision, involving 3 judges, not just one. The law is satisfied that justice has been served.
posted by BurnChao at 12:32 AM on May 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh the U.S. The survival of the fittest theory seeped into every atom of its. No one really cares about the weak people dying which Wright hasn't been until he's caught.
posted by Chernobyl at 1:52 AM on May 5, 2012


I thought this bit about the 1976 trial of the other hijackers was interesting:
Their French lawyers argued, successfully, that racism was so rampant in America that they could not receive a fair trial there, so the proceedings were held in France.
France had (and has) its own problems with racism, but I didn't know that this opinion of the USAn judicial system was more than 25 years old.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:09 AM on May 5, 2012


In 1976 memories of the civil rights movement of the 1960's and the struggle it faced were very fresh and much of the nation was in full bore backlash mode. Today it is possible to be stupid enough to pretend that racism is a thing of the past in the US if you are isolated and stupid enough, but in 1976 nobody thought that.
posted by localroger at 5:24 AM on May 5, 2012


I have no idea how I feel about this story upon finishing it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:05 PM on May 5, 2012


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