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McVeigh says he's sorry
June 9, 2001 9:44 PM   Subscribe

McVeigh says he's sorry --er--in a manner of speaking. "I am sorry these people had to lose their lives," [he said] "But that's the nature of the beast. It's understood going in what the human toll will be.''
posted by caraig (32 comments total)

 
I'm just sorry it's not Monday morning yet.
posted by owillis at 10:10 PM on June 9, 2001


I'm sorry that he's never going to understand what he did.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 10:21 PM on June 9, 2001


Worst than that; I fear that he understands exactly what he did.

Even worse - I fear that others will think him a martyr and try to follow his example.

I'm not necessarily opposed to putting McVeigh to death; I generally have no problem with the death penalty in cases like this. I just have a bad feeling about the repercussions of this one.

Especially since McVeigh claims that this was revenge for the Branch Davidian/Waco incident.

Am I worrying too much here?
posted by hadashi at 10:37 PM on June 9, 2001


Worries me too. There's been a lot of kooks on usenet posting rants like this and while I know they're mostly "harmless" cranks I fear the people with weapons who believe this stuff. I'm sure the federal offices will be on high alert for the next few days, and Bush is headed to Europe (which is a good thing).
posted by owillis at 10:59 PM on June 9, 2001


well, that's one reason not to execute him; another is because he thinks execution is preferable to a life spent in jail.
posted by rebeccablood at 11:07 PM on June 9, 2001


Well, I think the kooks would be around anyway. Better to be rid of him.
posted by owillis at 11:19 PM on June 9, 2001


Regardless of the death penalty debate, I dislike the idea of McVeigh getting it his way.

I believe a True Life Sentence would ultimately be preferred to the death penalty. By that I mean; solitary confinement, no TV or news papers, limited reading material, no visitors, no book writing, no interviews, etc. Completely removed from society for the remainder of their life.
posted by bareback at 11:34 PM on June 9, 2001


I dislike the idea of McVeigh getting it his way

jailing McVeigh to spite him - is that justice?
posted by register at 11:39 PM on June 9, 2001


it is, until you come up with an alternative.
posted by bareback at 11:50 PM on June 9, 2001


I hate this son of a bitch the same way I hate Ted Kaczynski, and for the same reason.

They make it impossible to hold a discourse. It's so much harder, in the wake of Oklahoma City, to get people to listen to the argument that the US Government is out of control, and after Kaczynski's little spree his argument has become totally devalued. Feel free to try and have a conversation that starts with the phrase You know, Ted Kaczynski had a few good points... because unless you're talking to someone rather tolerant (and it's possible that everyone reading this is that tolerant, which would be a good thing) they will dismiss you out of hand. And, unfortunately, by his own hand Kaczynski has made that appropriate. I myself am hideously uncomfortable with the notion that I may share some of the same attitudes towards the relationship between man and his own technological creations as this cowardly, isolated man who could not bring himself to do more than mail anonymous bombs to people, instead of say trying to make his brilliance and eloquence work for him.

McVeigh is even worse. Sure, Waco was a tragedy, and worse, the FBI covered up its misconduct and later was forced to admit that they well may have caused the fire that ended the standoff. But try and discuss any misgivings you might have as to the acquisition and use of governmental power, and you are labeled a crank. Because this man decided to blow up a federal building in order to kill the employees (how, exactly, this would lead to redressing the Waco situation is beyond me...apparently being McVeigh, killing one man somehow brings another back) and he seems to be surprised that these people he was murdering might well have families, and in some cases might have to make use of day care facilities in the same building he was going to blow up. (And if he is so blase about his own death, why didn't he just stay in the truck? If it's worth dying for, why not get it out of the way?)

I hate these people for their cowardice, and the damage they do to anyone who might try to rationally analyze the situation, instead of falling lockstep into a paranoid Turner Diaries fantasy. The weak mind of a McVeigh, tangled up in racist ideas of ZOG and other crap dredged up from the gutter of the fringe, makes any attempt to discuss the issue irrelevant by his very actions. Even Kaczynski, who was admittedly brilliant, chose to attack from afar rather than stand up and be heard. (Sure, he may have been unable to reach many people, but so was Kafka...he didn't even try it.)

Basically, once McVeigh confessed to his actions to two authors, I lost any sympathy for him (and I had very little to start with...let Gore Vidal weep for him, I won't) and as much as I am usually anti-death penalty, I'm pretty sure that this isn't a case of state power being abused in a racist manner. This is a case of an admitted mass murderer whose idea of remorse is to chant acceptable losses when asked about his crime.

Even with the gross incompetence/possible deliberate witholding of documents (and it wouldn't surprised if some FBI agents took it upon themselves to withold evidence in the trial of a man who blew up a building because FBI agents were there, but there's no evidence that they did...and as someone who distrusts the government, it hurts me to admit that) McVeigh admitted he did it. He wants to be a martyr to his cause, not realizing how he marginalizes it.

Let him, and let's move on.

(Man, I can't shut up this weekend. It's been a bad weekend for me, news wise.)
posted by Ezrael at 12:18 AM on June 10, 2001


State-sanctioned murder is still murder.
And all his insider knowledge will die with him.
posted by flowerdale at 2:31 AM on June 10, 2001


The worst part, flowerdale, is that I agree with you. It is state sponsored murder. It is a horrible thing. I don't believe that McVeigh has any insider knowledge, but that doesn't matter. We're going to apply his own logic to him, that killing him somehow balances the scales for those he killed. It's the logic he used when he blew up that building, that he was somehow redressing the Waco conflagration.

I don't think it is justice. I think we're murdering him. But, somehow, I can't summon up the moral outrage I once had regarding the death penalty. I still think it's used unfairly, that it needs to be heavily altered or even completely revised so as to avoid all the innocents who are put to death. And I fear allowing any government the right to decide who lives and who dies.

But I still want him dead. It isn't pretty, or moral, or just. But I want Tim McVeigh to die, because what else can be done with him? Perhaps I'm a coward. Indeed, there's a great deal of cowardice and hypocricy in this whole business, and I'm willing to admit that I am afraid and bitter and tired. Listening to the execution process in Georgia did much less to affect me than I had hoped it would...a cynical shell had crystallized over me, and I couldn't feel the outrage anymore. I don't think life imprisonment suffices, in this instance. Perhaps a lobotomy? Perhaps, in return for destroying so many, we should destroy his identity?

I don't know, and I don't pretend to know. Where is the line? When does a man's crime become so outrageous that there is no fitting punishment?

I just know I want him to die. It's not fair...how could it be? We can't kill him over and over again, after all, and we can't use his death to bring back the slain, and it is ultimately the vindictive use of power like a hammer to attempt to balance books that are unbalanceable.

I wish I could feel the way you do, flowerdale. I wish I could agree, because what you are saying is what I would have, back when I was a more ethically alert person. But I can't. Maybe we shouldn't make exceptions to our moral choices, but I am, this time. Slippery slope be damned.
posted by Ezrael at 3:21 AM on June 10, 2001


For what it's worth, in the wake of Oklahoma City, the militia movement -- which had been peaking -- lost much of its steam. People realized there were real consequences to taking up arms against the legal government, and I think more than a few of them realized the deflating truth: the government is us. The people who died that day weren't special, weren't involved in some conspiracy. Most of them were just anonymous bureaucrats shuffling papers: social security documents, small business loans, environmental regulations, tornado response plans.

I was virulently anti-death-penalty in my youth, but as an adult I've come to a different point of view. I believe most of the arguments "supporting" it are bunk. I also believe it's almost impossible to administer fairly, viz. the high number of Illinois cases where death-row inmates have been completely exonerated by new evidence. But in the end, there are people like Gacy, or Dahmer, or McVeigh; and what are you going to do with them?

Are there serious questions about John Doe No. 2, even today? Absolutely. Is there a conspiracy requiring further investigation, such that we should delay this duly ordered execution? I just don't see it. We'll never be able to answer all the questions, and from where I sit, the key players are behind bars.
posted by dhartung at 4:07 AM on June 10, 2001


and what are you going to do with them?

As an outsider I find the agonized repetition of this phrase a little strange.

"What are you go to do with him?",

Answer: Stick him in jail for life and forget about him. Killing him won't make his reality go away.
posted by lagado at 4:24 AM on June 10, 2001


As an outsider I find the agonized repetition of this phrase a little strange.

"What are you go to do with him?"


I would find it a bit stranger if we didn't agonize about it. I mean, we are talking about killing him. Should we be flip about it? Sticking him in jail means that we have assumed the responsibility for his life, for however long he may live. Frankly, I don't want it.

I find myself agreeing with dhartung on this. In America, at least, the death penalty has been a hideously misapplied mess, often racist, often applied to men proved innocent later. In this instance, however, I don't see that...and if ever we are to apply the death penalty, then we should apply it now.
posted by Ezrael at 4:50 AM on June 10, 2001


Look how much Charles Manson's image has deteriorated since the whole Helter Skelter debacle. If he had been executed [and he almost was] he would have left a good looking corpse and a lot of disciples. As it is now he just seems like a crazy old man. For a young hothead, growing old in prison might well be a fate worse than death.
posted by jessamyn at 4:54 AM on June 10, 2001


Good point, jessamyn.

Sticking him in jail means that we have assumed the responsibility for his life, for however long he may live. Frankly, I don't want it.

Of course by killing him you will also have assumed responsibility for his life. I hope you get whatever you need out of this bit of theatre.

The Dramaturgy of Death
posted by lagado at 6:04 AM on June 10, 2001


Ezrael: if there was any conviction behind the notion that death is a purgation, a catharsis, they'd slit McVeigh's throat at dawn on the solstice and let his blood run into the ground he tarnished in OKC.

(Which is what lagado pointed towards, in a way. Good link.)

Instead, you add another unanswered question to the long list associated with this atrocious series of events. There are no nice Hollywood endings here, no matter how hard the media looks for one.

Anyway, after the execution party's over for this guilty, self-absorbed white guy, who has benefitted from exquisite legal care, it'd be nice if the states glance over the cases of those under-represented and quite-possibly-innocent black guys that fill their death rows.
posted by holgate at 8:44 AM on June 10, 2001


I get some mordant humor out of the widespread use of "cowardly" to describe the bombing, which seems to imply that the writer does affirm a "brave" way of carrying out a revolution on the government. I'm guessing the right way involves self-sacrifice (not literally), but people would probably have to actually start voting to even get in the mood for that.

I am horrified by McVeigh's crime and feel grief for the victims, but I am uncomfortable with how he has become a kind of moral blockbuster on which people can focus their outrage, knowing that, for once in the powerless lives many of them live, they can feel absolutely right and just. Some even use the word "evil," because at last we have a clear example of it, whether we had heard about it first in the good book or had simply felt the rushing need for something to counterpoint our customary apathy against. When the man dies, viewers can return to the warming bath of complacency, commenting, in the fiery glow of big business and corrupt government and above all the abandonment of civic duty, how nice and toasty it's getting.
posted by Joe Hutch at 9:09 AM on June 10, 2001


Feel free to try and have a conversation that starts with the phrase You know, "Ted Kaczynski had a few good points..."

If you want to rail against technology, you can find a better platform for dialogue than that nutjob. Talking up the good points of the Unabomber reminds me of Marge Schott's infamous quote that Hitler "was good at the beginning but he just went too far."

As for McVeigh, the guy blew up a day care center and has admitted his guilt. I think the photo of Baylee Almon, the dying 1-year-old being taken out of the wreckage, is more than enough justification for what we are doing to McVeigh tomorrow.
posted by rcade at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2001


Ezrael:

Wow. Your comments were very well thought out and quite moving, especially your observations about their actions marginalizing the very ideologies they claimed to stand for.
posted by hadashi at 9:32 AM on June 10, 2001


In my freshman engineering class, we have in past years built assignments around having students read and critique sections of the Unabomber Manifesto. We've had some great conversations as a result--and not just of the "he's an evil nutjob" variety.
posted by rodii at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2001


I get some mordant humor out of the widespread use of "cowardly" to describe the bombing, which seems to imply that the writer does affirm a "brave" way of carrying out a revolution on the government. I'm guessing the right way involves self-sacrifice (not literally), but people would probably have to actually start voting to even get in the mood for that.

Y'see, that's more or less what I've been on about all damn weekend. There is a brave way to stand up to the government...mainly, by taking control of the apparatus. It is possible to do. You don't have to kill anyone. I'm not looking for an armed uprising, and self-sacrifice is a way to do it...although I'm thinking Ghandi rather than McVeigh, and Thoreau rather than Kaczynski. It's braver to stand up and try to convince people through the living of your life than to blow up a building with people in it, yeah. That, I believe.

If you want to rail against technology, you can find a better platform for dialogue than that nutjob. Talking up the good points of the Unabomber reminds me of Marge Schott's infamous quote that Hitler "was good at the beginning but he just went too far."

Which was in essence my point. He pissed away any credibility he might have had. rodii's mention of reading the manifesto in class and having critiqued it make me wonder if that was what he was afraid of...he couldn't bear that his precious ideas could be examined, and that is cowardice as well. If he'd really believed in them, he's have spent his life trying to convince us rather than engaging in his little jihad against the people who had the courage to make their intellect work for them.

Of course by killing him you will also have assumed responsibility for his life. I hope you get whatever you need out of this bit of theatre.


Well, I won't. That's what I'm trying to say, that unlike everyone who is so damn sure what to do with him (kill him, keep him alive forever) I am unable to decide. My intellect says the death penalty is a power the state should never hold. Emotionally, I'd like to kill him myself. Everyone keeps arguing about it, but no one addresses that particular problem. It's not about McVeigh anymore, really. It's not even about the death penalty. I feel no justice coming, just a death, and it stacks up on the pile of bodies already sacrificed to the growing discontent between the government and the governed.

Part of what so enrages me about all this is how divided I, personally, am. For once, the idea of reconciling these two opposing viewpoints isn't an intellectual argument, it's quite real to me. I'm living it, and I don't see a way out. I am responsible, as an American, for what we do to McVeigh. That much I know. What I don't know is how to reconcile my responsibilities...and in fact, there is nothing I can do at this point. He had admitted his guilt, and he will die for it.

I will have to live knowing that I wanted him to.
posted by Ezrael at 12:28 PM on June 10, 2001


In my freshman engineering class, we have in past years built assignments around having students read and critique sections of the Unabomber Manifesto.

This is far more seriously than he deserves to be taken.
posted by kindall at 12:35 PM on June 10, 2001


Well, who wouldn't condemn what he did? But getting back to McVeigh's comment, about "the nature of the beast":


Essentially, he decided he was fighting a war and considered the civilian casualties as collateral damage. In a way, he's right: this is something our own government has and continues to do around the globe. A few weeks ago, I read the book "White Out" by Alex Cockburn (I know, I know, Alex Cockburn can be out there sometimes, but I figured it would supplement "Dark Alliance", the book on the Contra-drug running written by former San Jose Mercury News journalist Gary Webb). Learning some of the things our own government has done, they way it has propped up some of the most brutal dictatorships around the world and allowed them to continue their drug running and gun running, all under the supposed umbrella of "National Security" or "Stemming the tide of the Red Menace into (insert your choice of 3rd world stomping ground)", and the way so many of the big players in these actions walk away scot free, getting cushy private sector positions or their own talk shows... well, it makes one think.


In both cases- with McVeigh, and with the actions of the CIA and our Congress in supporting it over the years- their ideologies were supposedly based on promoting freedom and democracy, and yet went to extremes that were as diametrically opposed to true freedom and democracy as one can get- the indiscriminate murder of innocent civilians. In other words, while we condemn McVeigh so easily (as well we should, we are well past the time when we should be asking the same questions of our own government.
posted by hincandenza at 1:32 PM on June 10, 2001



This is far more seriously than [the Unabomber] deserves to be taken.

Why?
posted by rodii at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2001


A surreal infographic.
posted by owillis at 2:55 PM on June 10, 2001


Even worse - I fear that others will think him a martyr and try to follow his example.

Waco was an act of violence. Oklahoma City was an act of violence. And now we prepare to do another act of violence. One which may very well breed more violence.

Violence breeds violence. We are suckered into playing the Hatfields and the McCoys. How long have they been feuding in the Middle East?

At some point, we have to scream STOP! Otherwise there is no end.

Any child knows the answer. Why do we find it so difficult to admit?
posted by Twang at 3:22 PM on June 10, 2001


Oliver: I've already had some fun with it.
posted by dhartung at 4:13 PM on June 10, 2001


Any child knows the answer.

Except for the kids who were blown to smithereens by McVeigh, of course.
posted by rcade at 4:45 PM on June 10, 2001


Ezrael; thank you for your considered response to my "drive-by" post.
I think any co-conspirators will breathe more easily knowing there's no chance McVeigh will get religion and squeal.
And will US government employees stay at home on June 9 2002-3-4 etc for fear of the militia retaliation?
posted by flowerdale at 6:31 PM on June 10, 2001


Dan: I'm waiting for the "kung-fu, my life is expiring grip"
posted by owillis at 7:19 PM on June 10, 2001


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