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'Vigilante Justice,' Menendez Trial

January 23, 1994

* Susan Estrich's Opinion article, "Vigilante Justice" (Jan. 16), was on the money. Consider this too:

The citizens who protest in favor of and condone the actions of Lorena Bobbitt, the Menendezes, Damian Williams and the woman who killed her son's molester should examine the consequences of these people's violent acts. By deifying those vigilantes in any form, people send a dangerous message to those victims who need help. It tells them that it's OK to mete out justice in your own way, regardless of the law.

It's true many people are ignorant of, or afraid to use, existing legal channels to get help. But even those facing serious adversity are responsible for their own actions. Our societal energy should be focused on helping people before they explode, not in excusing their actions when they do. Most people don't commit crimes when under hardship.

Our compassion should live not in declaring someone innocent of a vengeful act, but in consideration of the cause during sentencing.

JAMES D. UNDERDOWN

Los Angeles

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