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To the Editors of The Crimson:
I cannot accept Mr. Steven Schorr's remarks re. Gary Gilmore (Crimson, Nov. 17, 1976). They are reprehensible not only because they suffer from misguided albeit well-intentioned liberalism, but because they are the remarks of a smug guilt-mongerer whose j'accuse of society attempts at once to absolve Gary Gilmore of any and all miscreant deeds and to place the burden of all crimes committed anywhere by anyone, on society.
It appears that Mr. Schorr will go to great lengths to condemn anyone but the self-admitted and convicted murderer. Indeed, "all of American society must accept the blame for the life he [Gilmore] has led"! I might point out that Gilmore's psychotic behavior is as much the product of an unfortunate childhood, including a father described by his own son as a distant parent given to violent periods of drunkenness, as it is the reaction of a recalcitrant individual whose psyche has broken loose from the restraints of civilized society.
Does Mr. Schorr really believe that society is to blame for a ruthless and moody convict who told his attorney that he once avenged a friend by attacking another inmate with a hammer, leaving him paralyzed? Does Mr. Schorr sincerely feel that "Gilmore has had no alternative but to follow his life of crime" when Gilmore by his own admission "didn't just kill him for the money"? "I just hate to be told what to do. It [the murder of the motel manager] was something that couldn't be stopped" (New York Times 11/15/76)--because, Mr. Schorr would have us believe, of society!
Mr. Schorr's claim of the lack of rehabilitation of convicts is a legitimate one, and certainly the nation's crime rate could be appreciably reduced with proper rehabilitative training of men and women felons. Yet to suggest that this is reason enough for Gilmore's behavior, evinced before the need for rehabilitation was even apparent, is spurious. To further indict society, thereby acquitting Gilmore, is to commit a travesty of justice.
I should hope that Mr. Schorr, through the power of his pen and his vote, will continue, as I will, to prod the correction system into implementing the vast improvements it urgently needs. But let us not be slipshod and misdirected in pointing the accusatory finger; misplaced guilt is no less heinous a crime than its absolution. Mitchell Weiss
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