Three letters to the Times (May 2), "Shooting by Victim's Father," all expressed understanding and compassion for John Spiegelman for shooting the man accused of murdering his daughter. Although I agree that he deserves that kind of empathy from all of us, I feel there is a more subtle and dangerous way of thinking that is being expressed.
Each letter implied or expressed directly that Spiegelman's act of violence was an acceptable exception to their own sense of right and wrong because it was a normal human response to extreme frustration; the legal system had failed him, and the government breached its contract.
All true, but in these times we can no longer afford to have exceptions to our own deep knowledge that taking the life of another is not acceptable. Had he actually killed the accused man he would not have eliminated a killer in the world but simply created another--himself.
Unless we as individuals see clearly and decide that violence is no longer an acceptable means of resolving conflict, including all of the understandable exceptions, we can not ask our world leaders to do the same. At the global level with the advent of nuclear weapons the stakes are much higher, so high in fact that we often choose not to think about it.