Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- January 09, 1875Equality before the American Law (Editorial)
Another "pretty" example of the highly vaunted "advantage" of America!
The wealthy Americans of Long Island, who shot and killed Masher and Douglas, two burglars whom the former caught in the act, were not even arrested because of their act, and the coroner's jury not only acquitted, but also commended, them for "their efforts in behalf of the welfare of the community". In connection with this case, Charles O'Conor (sic), one of the foremost jurists of our country, rendered an opinion, stating that it is permissible, even commendable, to kill a burglar, and that a burglar, from the moment he sets out to do his evil deed, has not the rights which an honest man, or the man who is threatened by the burglar, enjoys.
Since that time, a 72-year-old German citizen, who also lives on Long Island, shot a robber who sought to deprive him of his meager property, and the robber 2died as a result of the wound. This elderly German gentleman, who took this means of protecting his property against the robber, is logically entitled to the immunity from punishment and the praise that the rich men from Long Island, who killed a burglar, received. Moreover, his deed is logically more justifiable, because he would have suffered more by the loss of his property than the wealthy men would have, if the burglar, whom they killed, had attained his object. According to the conclusions contained in O'Conor's opinion, the old German was fully within his rights. His act is also justified by the fact that he is old and could not have protected himself against an attack by the burglar.
However, in the same Brooklyn where the rich men who killed a burglar were greatly commended for their deed, the poor old German, who committed a like act under more extenuating circumstances, was arrested; and instead of acquitting and praising him, the coroner's jury rendered a verdict in which the man whom this German shot is expressly called a burglar, but which recommends that the German be held "for bringing about the death of a person through too rash 3an act". He will be tried for manslaughter, and is now held in jail.
The New York Belletristic Journal makes these bitter, but true, comments on this matter:
"This is a public declaration that our institutions give only to the wealthy the right to protect their property, and that the poor have not that right. To shoot a thief who steals the silverware of a rich person is a commendable deed, but if a man shoots down the thief who steals the pig or chicken of a pauper, he is guilty of a criminal act. The rich judge's brother, who, with his well-armed company, could easily have captured the thief, was justified in using his gun--but the 72-year-old German, who faced the thief alone and did not know but that he might have had one or more accomplices who might fell him immediately, acted "rashly" when he fired his weapon. According to the opinion of the coroner and his wise jury, the German should have waited until he was attacked, and then defended himself as well as he could, or permitted the thief to do his wicked deed unmolested.4
"There is a vast difference between burglarizing the villa of a rich judge and stealing the chickens of a poor German!"
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