Source: Hawaiian Star
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Misdirected Sympathy”
City of publication: Honolulu, Hawaii Territory
Date of publication: 22 October 1901
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 2996
|“Misdirected Sympathy.” Hawaiian Star 22 Oct. 1901 v8n2996: p. 4.|
|Leon Czolgosz (incarceration: Auburn, NY: public response: criticism); McKinley assassination (personal response).|
|The identity of Wainwright (below) cannot be determined.|
Czolgosz is receiving a considerable
amount of sympathy from morbid cranks. It is extraordinary how many morbid cranks
there are. It used to be thought that San Francisco was the special home of
the morbid crank, but it is evident that this particular style of crank is not
confined to any one part of the Union. It used to be quite a fad in San Francisco
to fill up a murderer’s cell with costly flowers, and if he was a brute like
Wainwright who choked his sister-in-law to death with his fingers, he became
doubly an object of interest and his cell became a bower of roses.
The same morbid sympathy is being shown towards the cowardly Czolgosz. Presents of fruits and of flowers are brought daily to the jail, coming from all parts of the Union, and from people whom one could not imagine would be guilty of such folly or such excessively bad taste. The prison authorities, however, are wiser than those of San Francisco used to be. None of the presents reach the murderer, but are promptly turned over to a hospital where they do some good.
But what an extraordinary attitude of mind is this. Yet it is not a rare one. The victim’s fate is quite forgotten in sympathy for the murderer about to die. Such people forget altogether that the victim of the crime was put to death by the murderer without warning, and without compunction. They forget the circumstances of the crime and center their attention upon the criminal and wondering how they would feel if they were condemned to death.
No man will suffer the death penalty more righteously than Czolgosz. There could not have been a more cowardly or a more dastardly crime. Most murderers are cowardly, though not all homicides are. But Czolgosz’s case was peculiarly cowardly, for it was committed when the victim had extended his hand in courtesy and kindness. It was moreover a premeditated crime, for he had followed the President about for days to get his chance. To extend sympathy to such a ruffian and to soothe his last days with gifts of flowers, or pamper his appetite with rare fruits, shows most undoubtedly minds ill balanced, which cannot appreciate or value the depth of crime and its heinousness.