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
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.
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
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.