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Judgement should be passed in courts

To the Editor:

I'm not sure the response by Richard E. Herrmann ["Criminals do not deserve sympathy," Feb. 12] to my letter even warrants a reply, but I'm personally insulted enough by it to give it a try.

Let's get down to business, Rich. You were mugged. You mentioned this almost in passing, but the fact of it shouts itself out all through your letter.

So when you hear of Bernard Goetz shooting four kids, you put yourself in his position and cheer him on. But the whole point of my letter, which you missed entirely, was to attempt to get people like you to consider the other side of vigilanteism.

Let me try once again to make it more personal: your letter seems less of a reasoned argument and more of an unwarranted attack on me. Key words, Rich: attack on me. Under your own concept of justice, what should I do? Allow the attacks to continue? Or wait for someone in authority to protect me?

Let's say my screwdriver-toting friends and I were to mosey across the river to stop your attacks, in whatever way we had to. Would we be wrong?

The magic answer is yes, Rich, we would be wrong. The American ideal of justice resides in an impartial judge hearing all sides to an argument and deciding on the fairest course possible.

Goetz didn't think of that. Maybe you didn't think of that when you were being mugged either. But we're not being mugged now, Rich. Despite your derogatory remarks, I'm not attacking you. We're discussing an idea about justice which may escape you, through no fault of your own -- you are afraid, as so many people are afraid.

But look beyond what you're saying to the greater implication. Look beyond you gut response to see what it implies -- if you deny the law, you put yourself outside of its protection. Think about different countries, different times, and consider how important that protection is.

I will add, since you don't know me, that I was born and raised in New York City. In fact, I frequently rode the subway line on which Goetz shot four people, and only now consider it truly dangerous. On a more personal side, I pity you if I make the world more frightening for you.

It is a frightening world, to some, certainly. But it would be more frightening if people took law enforcement away from those we gave it to and started using it as their own personal club.

You never can tell who may want to club you, Rich.

Paul Romanelli '86->