Thugs and other ordinary citizens need not punish the guilty on my behalf. I’d like the justice system, flawed as it is, to do that.
This week a 96-year-old woman in the Netherlands confessed to murdering a man 65 years ago. She shot him in the chest when he answered his front door and escaped, undetected. She was never even a suspect in the killing. He was rumoured to be a Nazi and she had been a member of the resistance.
After he was killed it came to light that he personally hid some Jews and paid to have other Jewish families hidden elsewhere. He also allowed banned Catholic groups to conduct meetings in his home. In other words, the woman shot one of the good guys based on gossip. She’s in frail health and obviously can’t serve time so the case will not be prosecuted. She has met with the victim’s grandchildren and apologized and explained herself. Far too little, far too late.
This is what’s wrong with vigilanties. Lots of times they get it wrong. Defense lawyers who make up stories to try to confuse a jury about their guilty clients are the scum of the earth but it’s still a better system than letting someone with half the facts do something as permanent as taking a life.