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SLA Arrests: 'Vengeance Is for God'

January 20, 2002

Re "A Son Has Been Waiting 26 Years for Justice," Jan. 17: Columnist Steve Lopez and Jon Opsahl have it wrong. It is not the function of the justice system to provide therapy or vengeance to Jon Opsahl or even to focus on his slain mother, Myrna Opsahl. That is the function of the civil courts. The job of the criminal justice system is to keep our society safe. I defy anyone to tell me how our society is any safer if Sara Jane Olson, Bill Harris, Emily Harris (Montague) or Michael Bortin are put in prison for the rest of their lives.

I also don't understand why it is therapeutic and satisfying for Jon Opsahl to be an instrument for taking parents away from their children. Does it make his loss any less painful to know that he has inflicted that same pain on other children? Vengeance is for God, not for Jon Upsahl or even for the criminal courts.

Hadassa Gilbert

Los Angeles

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Re "4 SLA Figures Arrested in '75 Bank Slaying," Jan. 17: Hurrah, three more former members of the Symbionese Liberation Army [and Sara Jane Olson] were arrested in connection with a murderous 1975 bank robbery. I find it bizarre how so many normal-looking people continue to make the same kind of sappy-headed statements that were made during SLA member Olson's case: "Oh, they were just trying to live normal lives."

Yeah, remember how the world discovered that a lot of former Nazi SS officers had escaped capture and had attempted to live normal lives? That didn't abrogate their crimes. Pass the matching bracelets, officers. Job well done!

Scott A. Tucker

Monterey Park

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An innocent's brutal murder should never be swept under the carpet of time and progress. That said, let's not rush to paint the current SLA suspects as unrecognizable faces of pure evil. Our country was being swept up in a costly, perverse and dishonest war, we were being lied to on a daily basis by our military and government and three decent voices of hope had been extinguished--not by trumped up scandal and innuendo this time, but by assassins' bullets. It seemed that the very soul of this country, born out of revolution, had been corrupted to the side of business and establishment abuse.

Unlike Washington, Paine and Franklin, the SLA revolutionaries lacked vision, competence or judgment. The result was a miserable and pathetic tragedy for which they must be held to account. But I will not condemn the spirit of resistance to a government no longer, of, for or by the people.

Charles Shaughnessy

Santa Monica

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