October 24, 2020

Runyan v. State (1877)

posted on: Thursday April 18, 2013

Mason Sciotti ’15/Asst. Portfolio Editor

I’m going to start off with the assumption that you won’t believe me. No matter what I do to convince you that I was justified in my actions, you’ll see me as a cretin, a low-life, a subhuman waste of flesh and blood with utter disregard and contempt for morality, ethics, goodwill towards men, and humanity as a whole. As far as you’re concerned, I’m barely worth the air that the judge inhaled in order to articulate my condemnation. But how can you judge me when you have only seen me on the cross? You know my nature by the manner in which I fold my hands? Or perhaps it is the finger that I choose to use to scratch my temple that gives me away? Well, I’d have to say that your pressed suit and tie tied as tight as a noose gives away your purpose just as clearly as you perceive mine, but I digress. Though I know you don’t believe me, I will continue. The problem with my story is that it is quite simple; it was a matter of self-defense. There was no malice for the public to be shocked and awed about, no mutual lover, no crime of passion at which to wag the finger. No ability to tsk-tsk at the perpetrator, to tout their holier-than-thou attitude. It was just self-defense. He attacked, I retaliated, and I came out on top. Why did he suffer two shots to the head, one to the gut, and numerous stab wounds? Well, I can tell that you have never been in a fight. It’s an altered state of mind; your consciousness escapes you. He pulled his knife, I pulled mine; I was quicker. I honestly could not tell you if it was five jabs or 15, and you wouldn’t be able to either. All I was thinking of was survival. Why do I not have any marks on me? No cuts or bruises? I was faster, and lucky that I was. The gun? He was hurt, but still threatening me. I could see it in his eyes; I knew. I pulled out the gun, and I fired. I emptied the clip. Would you have not done the same? Would you have not protected your own life? No, no of course you wouldn’t have. You’re a veritable Messiah, savior of the oppressed, understanding of the plight of the man who pulls a knife on you on a dark street corner at 3 a.m. Of course you wouldn’t defend yourself; you’d offer him your lung, and turn the other cheek so he can get better aim at your heart. But what do I care. You don’t believe me anyway; I’m scum. Dirt. Less than that, actually. Nothing. A void of humanity. Skin and bones and blood without a soul. Therefore, I’m not sure what you expect this prison sentence to accomplish. How can you reform that which feels no remorse, which has no reason to feel remorse? How can you fix what is justified? Ah, yes I see. Justified in your sense of the word. My mistake. I thought we were a nation of laws, not of easily swayed, prejudiced men. Silly me. Well, off I go then, I suppose. Into the hole whence I came, or so you say. I’ll just be here, using that dusty old piece of paper once called the Bill of Rights as kindling.

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