Once upon a time there was young wolf. With his little brothers and sisters
he suckled at his mother's breast and with them he romped and played i
the sunshine. He was a happy, harmless little puppy. He lived in a country
where there were many sheep and one day, as he was approaching maturity,
he killed a little lamb and tore it to pieces.
MURDER MEANS TO END
FOR HIM, SAYS WRITER
Los Angeles Examiner ~ February, 4, 1928
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The
And the sheep waxed wroth and in their excitement they ran around in
circles and said unkind things about the young wolf and demanded that he
be punished; but there came a young sheep from another fold, a young sheep
who had no little lambs of his own, and he said to the angry sheep: "The
young wolf did not know what he was doing when he killed your little lamb."
And the sheep said: "How come?" And the young sheep said: "We have known
the young wolf all his life, we have seen him romp and play in the sunshine
with his little brothers and sisters, we know that he drinks nothing but
milk from the breasts of his mother."
"And what of that?" demanded the sheep. "Can you not see," asked the
young sheep, "that such a kindly little wolf could not have killed your
little lamb and torn it to pieces unless such a great change had taken
place in him that he did not know what he was doing?" And the sheep scratched
their heads and turned to the kindly shepherd who stood there with his
twelve faithful Collies and they said to him: "Shepherd, we are only sheep;
you know more about wolves than we do and so we are content to leave this
matter to you, in whom we have so much faith, confident that you will protect
us from this wolf and from all other wolves."
The defense plan, in the HIckman case, of introducing such evidence
as to make the crime appear so atrocious that the jury will be convinced
that the Eddie Hickman of 1926 could not possibly have perpetrated it unless
he had become absolutely insane, ignores the fact that the anti-social
tendencies of the instinctive criminal mature as the individual matures.
Rosa Bonheur did not wrest a paint brush from the hand of the accoucheur
and delineate a noble Norman stallion upon the counterpane of her mother's
bed, and yet Rosa was a born artist.
Hickman did not leap from his cradle, seize a butcher knife and dismember
an innocent little girl, and yet Hickman was a born murderer. If
nothing had thwarted his ambitions, if no obstacles had intervened to render
the winning of an honorable goal difficult, Hickman would never have committed
a murder, nor any other crime. To the instinctive criminal of his type,
crime is merely a means to an end. It is not in itself the chief consideration,
as it doubtless is in the diseased minds of the criminally insane.
LIKE ENGLISH CASE
Hickman's case is analogous in many respects to that of a very famous
English criminal case of the early part of the Nineteenth Century, Thomas
Wainewright, well known in his time as an essayist, a man with a brilliant
future, started on a career of forgery and murder for the sole purpose
of obtaining funds to satisfy his craving for a life of ease and luxury.
This was his ambition. In another it might have been an ambition to go
to college. What difference does that make?
He murdered relatives who had befriended him in order that he might
obtain their property. ONe was a beautiful and very healthy girl whose
life he had insured for some ninety thousand dollars. Her he poisoned.
He was a man of super-refinements who hated all vulgarities and "sordid
instincts." Yes, he was very much like Hickman and a commentator says of
him: "Wainewright presents to us a perfect picture of the instinctive criminal
in his most highly developed shape," but nowhere, in all that has been
written of Wainewright, have I discovered any suggestion whatever that
he did not know the difference between right and wrong.
The defense will show that Hickman is not normal. Of course he is not
normal in the sense that you and I are normal., or think we are; but in
another sense, he is normal -- he is a normal instinctive criminal and
as such he is a very real and terrible menace to all of us and should be
destroyed, as all his kind should be destroyed, and our laws should be
so remodeled that they may be destroyed with dignity, for ourselves, and
dispatch for them -- especially dispatch.
If our criminal laws are remodeled to harmonize with our blatant claims
to rationality a considerable mass of presently admissible testimony which
now wastes a great deal of our time and money will, happily, go into the
discard. What in heck do we care if the accused has two gold teeth and
sore tonsils, or cirrus meningitis, or dementia praecox or that he is a
paranoid who is suffering with a megalomania? Mussolini may, conceivably,
be suffering with a megalomania, but I doubt that he would consider it
entirely social to cut up our baby sisters, nor, if he did, that we should
agree with him.
We do not care what ails this bird, Hickman. We know that he murdered
Marion Parker. We know that he knew it was a wrong thing to do. We know
that he should be hanged and if he is not hanged our already tottering
respect for our laws may do such a Brodie that the next murderer we catch
-- well, I was going to say something that I should not say, that no self-respecting,
law-abiding citizen should say, but sometimes it is difficult to make our
thoughts behave. We might send the next one to the Senate from Pennsylvania
or Illinois and if he is as sensitive as Hickman has been described to
be, he would die of shame.