Opinion: Vengeance is mine, quoth he

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Bridget Sharkey

Last Sunday, four men robbed Robert O’Neal outside of his home. They berated him and threatened to rape his daughters. When they drove off in their vehicle, O’Neal decided not to risk them coming back.

He sped after them in his sport utility vehicle, even though the men were not only armed, but openly firing at him. O’Neal smashed into the rear bumper of their car, and one of the gunmen, enraged, jumped out to shoot him. O’Neal floored the engine and ran the gunman over, killing him. When police arrived on the scene, they arrested the other two burglars, aged 15 and 19 years old.

The punishment for the crime these men committed was swift, and in one case, deadly. There was no long-winded investigation, no loss of evidence and no lengthy paperwork to fill out. O’Neal went Total Recall on their asses and the result was apropos.

Such an incident begs the age-old question: Is it permissible for members of society to take justice into their own hands?

In most cases, the answer would be no. The United States already has the highest homicide rate in the world, so the last thing we need is a bunch of Monatgues and Capulets running around killing because of their own personal vendettas.

On the other hand, maybe the United States would not have such a high homicide rate if murderers and serial killers were more fearful of the system. If dopey-hick Otis Toole could get away with murder for years while the police lost evidence – including Toole’s car – then maybe there really is hope for little would-be murderers everywhere. Even if you get caught, there is a good chance you will get off easy, especially if it is your first offense and you cry about having had to eat Ramen noodles every night as a child.

What would have happened to those men if O’Neal hadn’t been an Ah’nold fan? Those men hardly would have been a first priority to the police, because despite their threats, all they really did was steal $1,500 and some credit cards. However, the burglars knew where O’Neal lived and told him they would return. That simply was not a risk O’Neal was willing to take.

“This has got to stop. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, it won’t stop,” O’Neal explained afterward.

If we consider our society at its most basic state, when we remove all our ideals and our morals and our bourgeois respect for the law, we’re all just a pack of wild animals.

Even though most of us never will have to face our inner animal the way O’Neal did, we sometimes feel this instinctual blood thirst through horror movies. When the murderer’s last victim is running away from Jason or Michael or whomever, she always fights back and leaves him wounded or at least a little dazed.

But that’s not good enough. Because Jason is coming back (chh-chh-ahh-ahh) through the woods. He’s starting to get up … he’s coming after her … so what’s our first thought? Kill him, stupid! Don’t just hit him! Stab him!

So what if Jason will return in Halloween 35: The Massacre of Girls in Wet T-shirts next fall? Well, for now, we want him dead. And, according to the Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney, it’s okay to kill a killer and rob a thief. Once terror and adrenaline set in, you only turn the cheek long enough to reload.

Of course, there comes a time when you no longer are operating in panic mode, when you fear for your life, but in revenge mode, when you want justice. There is a difference between acting in the heat of the moment and plotting vengeance for years.

And dialing 911 isn’t always enough. Sure, the system works sometimes. Sure, the cops sometimes come through in the nick of time. And the other times? Other times you have to put on your No Fear T-shirt, play a little Whitesnake and go roller-derby chick on those gun-owning punks.

Bridget Sharkey is a senior in LAS. Her column runs Mondays. She can be reached at [email protected]