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Professor has a past

May 3, 2013 - Jim Anderson
Is the rehabilitation of violent criminals possible?

Yes, it’s possible. But is it always permissible?

After watching discussions on Fox News about the Kathy Boudin case, it appears that some people simply say no.

Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, et al., are in a lather because Boudin is teaching at Columbia University.

Boudin was part of the violent, leftist Weather Underground in the ’60s and ’70s, and later the May 19th Communist Organization.

She was convicted for her role in a 1981 armed robbery that left two police officers and a security guard dead. She carried no weapon. In a plea deal, Boudin was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for felony murder and robbery.

She was paroled in 2003.

Her sentence, arguably, was too light. Boudin’s crimes were indefensible, appalling.

Malkin would agree.

But Malkin also despises Columbia for hiring Boudin, saying it’s “confirmation that colleges and universities are cesspools of tenured radicalism and left wing domestic violence.”

The mainstream consensus is that Boudin, now nearly 70, is rehabilitated.

That is, if you believe in rehabilitation at all.

In matters of domestic terrorism, it’s fair to ask, is parole ever permissible?

Will the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect ever be freed? Probably not.

The fact that Boudin — who once advocated and practiced violent leftist dissent — is teaching at a prestigious university has the right-wing talking heads hopping mad.

They’ll likely stay mad. Because what do they recommend as an alternative? Would they prefer that Boudin not work at all? Go back to prison? Many students say that she’s a fine teacher.

Under the Constitution, Boudin would not automatically be disqualified from serving in Congress. OK, that’s probably a stretch as a career choice.

But here’s the crux: imperfect though it may be, the justice system is the justice system.

It’s not within the power of the talking heads or you, or me, or even the victims of crimes, to declare when parole is permitted. We can only speak our piece.

There’s a word for insisting otherwise.

Vigilantism.

 
 

 

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