July 15, 1995 in City

Justice From Law, Not From Passion

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Supporters are trying to cast accused double murderer Ken Arrasmith as a Bronsonesque hero - a righteous avenger who gunned down two suspects to revenge a daughter’s alleged rape.

In cold blood. With 29 bullets.

Indeed, evidence exists that Arrasmith’s victims, Ron and Luella Bingham of Clarkston, Wash., preyed on young girls. Since their brutal deaths two months ago in an East Lewiston garage, 17 other females have come forward to say the Binghams raped and tortured them.

If these allegations are true, the criminal and justice systems failed these teens and women badly. But a judicial breakdown doesn’t justify vigilante murder. Ever.

Vigilantism is an undisciplined code of anarchy, ruled by passion rather than law. It served some purpose in the 19th Century, helping tame the West before the law arrived. But American history proves that vigilantism hurts and kills innocent people along with the guilty. Many law-abiding minorities suffered at the hands of a lynch mob.

Our country is founded on a unique system of laws that guarantees certain rights, such as a fair trial, to all - even the most despicable of individuals. After all, sometimes a likely suspect is innocent. Our laws have served us well for more than 200 years.

Of all people, Arrasmith should have had an appreciation for our laws. He’s an ex-cop. He has seen the system generally work.

Prior to the shootings, he did the right thing by reporting the Binghams’ alleged assault on his daughter to the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office. But then he grew impatient and overstepped tragically by acting as the Binghams’ judge, jury and executioner. Now, he must face the consequences, which, if he’s found guilty of first-degree murder, could mean execution or life imprisonment away from his traumatized daughter.

Any parent can understand the motives that pushed Arrasmith to a murderous frenzy. But our society is in dire straits if we allow individuals to trample the Fifth Commandment.

After all, accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh might have thought he could justify the wholesale slaughter of innocent people in the name of the Waco dead. Where does it end?

Heaven help us if Ken Arrasmith’s brand of justice becomes popular again.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board


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