On Leopold and Loeb
And now we have another case of our over-intellectualized civilization running amuck. A thirteen-year-old school boy is dead and two families are heart-broken over one of the most appalling incidents known to the criminal history of the New World.
Two college students, in the Middle West, kidnaped young Robert Franks, according to their own confession, and murdered him in cold blood, entirely for the sake of a "thrill." The defense, according to newspaper dispatches, is rallying its forces around a new plea, "dementia jazz-mania," in order to free the confessed murderers.
All the while, the people of the world and especially of the United States wait with intense interest to see what the outcome of the trial will be. The two young murderers, both of whom are described as "intellectually brilliant" come from extremely wealthy families. They await the findings of the court confident that they will be cleared, or at least let off with mild sentences. One of them is said to be "cocky"--sneeringly content that his punishment will be side-stepped. Unfortunately, he has some foundation in past history for his confidence.
Under the law of the state in which the case is to be tried, capital punishment could be meted out to the slayers in spite of the fact that they are not of age. Although neither of the young men is 21, both of them are old enough yet seemingly not mature enough to realize the enormity of the crime they committed.
And so, in the last analysis, the whole thing goes back, not entirely to the murderers themselves not to the parents, but to our civilization and system of education. Our system of education, whereby a man's mind his intellect--is developed at the expense of his physical and moral strength.
If the body and soul are not hurtured and developed apace with the mind, there can be no balance. Without balance, ideals are formed on an uncertain basis and we cannot be sure that atrocities, even worse than the one in hand, will not be committed more frequently in the future. The leaders of tomorrow must have trained minds, but these minds should not be developed at the expense of a moral sense. Intellects which know nothing of human experiences cannot help being warped and twisted. THE DAILY PALO ALTO, Stanford University.