Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bad Olsen, Good Terrorists

Normally I wouldn't have read the story, but I was curious when I noticed a couple of headlines in my RSS reader regarding an "ex-radical going back to jail." Turns out they were referring to Sara Jane Olsen of Patty Hearst 'fame' in the 70's. That entire event, as heinous as it was, barely registered in my mind back in the 70's so I only know the surface details. I remember when Olsen was found living a sedate life, the mother of three children a few years back.

I'm assume that my readers know the story and who I'm talking about. However, just in case, here's a nutshell recap.

Radical group in the 70's, botched robbery, people killed. The group did some very nasty things. Olsen managed to disappear, blend into normal life and from all accounts, did good works and possibly tried to make up for past sins. As a result of one of those Most Wanted type programs she was outed, captured, and sentenced to long years in jail. What a secret to hide for so many years. I bet there wasn't a night her head hit the pillow without a prayer of thanks for being free and a strong twist of pain in her gut knowing she had a huge monster lurking that could reach out and grab her at any time.

Skip ahead to now. She was released on parole, people screamed and yelled, they "discovered" an error and back she went to prison. She'll serve another year before being eligible but I'm not so sure it'll be as easy for her to get out then, either. The mother of the son who was killed in the mid-70's by Olsen's group has teamed up with the police and they're hopping mad. Can't say I blame them.

Finally, I'm getting to the crux of my blog!!! Promise.

Here's a few lines from one of the stories that I just read:

"Parole shouldn't even be an option for terrorists who are convicted of murdering innocent bystanders and attempting to murder police officers," said the group's president Tim Sands. "Anyone who tries to kill police officers should get significant jail time and serve their full sentence."

Contrast that with all the people yelling and screaming about what we're doing to the poor terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, all those who are upset because we're keeping terrorists in jail at all and those who want to talk to them and make it all better.

These people blow up people then go celebrate. They strap bombs to children and send them into crowded markets. They are plotting to kill us as I type this blog. Yet we just need to learn to get along.

It's easy to succumb to believing we can overcome an entire cultural and religious upbringing simply by having a better dialog. Those people who are preaching peace, love and forgiveness for all can't even stop the violence in their own neighborhood, much less an entire country. It's a great idea in theory and one I wish were a reality. But it's not.

I don't know how the people who want Mary Jane Olsen to stew in jail feel about the war. They could feel exactly the same way about the terrorists who are today threatening our country and the world. It just struck me because the Olsen situation is happening in California where most of the stories I read seem to show they majority would give a terrorist from another country a pass, yet throw the lock and key away for a warped kid who seemingly repented and saw the error of her ways.

All I wanted to do was toss the contrast out into the big Internet yonder and maybe spark some thought. In regards to Olsen, I don't know enough about it to have an opinion as to whether she should rot in jail forever or be able to attempt to resume the life she built after vanishing. Maybe she truly repented and has never walked over the line since. Maybe she was scared into seeing where she was headed. The 70's were not quite as radical as the 60's but there was still an awful lot of anti-establishment stuff being crammed into kid's heads. I generally think consequences are a good thing. I just can't say whether she's paid the price yet or whether she ever will.

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