By C.F. Twob
Columnist, Ponderings from Pluto
Yes, we know that on March 11, 2005 at Atlanta’s Fulton County Courthouse, Brian Nichols overpowered a 51 year-old police officer and took her weapon. We also know that he fatally shot Judge Rowland W. Barnes and court reporter Julie Brandau along with police Sergeant Hoyt Teasley. He is also suspected of murdering U.S. Customs Agent David Wilhelm.
But, come on, just because he fatally shot the four doesn’t make him guilty of murder. As crazy as it seems, Nichols is innocent of these four murders, even though all the evidence points to him having committed them.
Murder is the taking of human life. Nichols wasn’t trying to kill these people. He was merely trying to express himself.
Think about it. Nichols, a 36 year-old who had initially been facing rape and false imprisonment charges, was merely taking the weapon and going on a shooting rampage to express the frustration he obviously felt from going from a six-figure computer engineering job to a life that would likely be spent mostly behind bars. It’s despairing, isn’t it? It’s really not much different from an artist who, in a fit of anger, hurls paint at a canvas to express anger over running out of Prussian Blue paint or the loss of a wealthy benefactor. Or think about the rock star who trashes a room to express outrage over running out of groupies to, um, well, you know.
Simply put, Nichols’ rampage is constitutionally-protected free speech, as permitted by the First Amendment. We use government money to fund art consisting of crucifixes in urine or pictures of the Virgin Mary made from elephant poop, and we allow pornography to be protected by the First Amendment—why not the this extreme expression of frustration by a disillusioned young man?
With each kill, Nichols was trying to express himself regarding the injustices in society. Consider each of them:
The death of Judge Barnes: Oh, this is a can of worms, isn’t it? Just think of all the terrible judges we’ve read about or seen: Judge Roy Bean (an Old West judge who once fined a dead man for carrying a concealed weapon), Judge Lance Ito, the judges from that infamous 9th Circuit Court, Judge Judy and the other celebrity judges like Joseph Wapner and, of course, Judge Reinhold. What better way to protest an unjust illegal system than to spill a judge’s blood?
The death of court reporter Brandau: The legal system’s compilation of messes would be minimal if not for the court reporters who do such a terrible job keeping transcripts. If only they would fudge on the stenography once in a while, perhaps criminals could get fairer trials. By “fair”, I mean, of course, a trial where they are acquitted.
The death of Sergeant Teasley: We know that all cops are pigs, so Nichols shot him to express frustration over how crooked cops get away with just about anything (otherwise known as “You’ve got a broken taillight” syndrome). You’ve heard of people who bleed “like a stuck pig”, well, there you have it. Teasley, as a cop, was a pig, and Nichols wanted to make him bleed to symbolically show how much bloodshed crooked cops (a redundant term of there ever was one) have caused.
The death of U.S. Customs Agent Wilhelm: Since Wilhelm was a federal agent, Nichols felt a need to demonstrate his frustration at the federal government. Namely, to protest the Patriot Act and all the injustice and bureaucracy it has brought. Some call for an abolishment of federal government and for each state to govern themselves autonomously, and this was what Nichols accomplished. One federal agent down, only a few hundred million to go. And if you think Nichols’ war on the feds is a new thing, think again. About 140 years ago, we fought a war over it called the Civil War.
There you have it. Brian Nichols is innocent. He wasn’t committing murder, but rather just using extreme acts of violence as a First Amendment-protected form of free expression.