Mark David Chapman, the murderer of John Lennon, has been denied parole for the seventh time since becoming eligible for it after being sentenced to 20-to-life in 1981.
Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, argued against his release–as she has each of the previous times. This is almost certainly the reason Chapman is still behind bars.
Yoko is regularly referred to, and touts herself, as a peace activist.
Now, I don’t know exactly what a peace activist does other than make headlines, but presumably peace activism encourages reconciliation and forgiveness from all sides of an ongoing war. After all, peace can’t break out if only one side agrees to make this the first day of the rest of their lives.
Indeed, the word parole derives from the French for “spoken word”, specifically here “word of honor,” given during wartime. Soldiers who’d been captured on this continent fighting the French and Indian War gave their parole not to fight and to go home to their respective countries, either England or France. The alternative was to be held as a prisoner.
So it seems more than a little–uh–hypocritical of Yoko Ono to expect everyone else to forgive and forget when she won’t do that with the murderer of her husband. Even after 32 years. Even though he’s served far, far longer than almost every other murderer with no prior convictions. Even in New York City.
Here, courtesy of a 1996 story in the New York Daily News arguing for longer sentences routinely served back then, are three murderers whose crimes were inarguably more gruesome than Chapman’s:
John Beckford: In 1980, he pulled a prominent civil rights lawyer from his car in the Bronx, then shot him dead, even after the victim turned over his cash. Beckford served only 15 years.
Kenneth Wedra, a contract killer, blew away a Westchester housewife in exchange for $9,000 from her husband. He served 25 years, but she is still dead.
Richard LaBelle raped and killed a 15-year-old Troy, N.Y., girl as she walked to a roller rink after Thanksgiving dinner with her family. He’s walking the streets today.
Of course, these guys had the good sense not to murder someone really, really famous with a really, really famous and powerful wife.
If peace is her goal, wouldn’t Yoko Ono do a lot more good for her cause by demonstrating her own willingness to move on?
The answer, according to Yoko herself, appears to be yes. Here are some of her own words, published in the New York Times on the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s murder:
The most important gift we received from him was not words, but deeds. He believed in Truth, and had dared to speak up. We all knew that he upset certain powerful people with it. But that was John. He couldn’t have been any other way. If he were here now, I think he would still be shouting the truth. Without the truth, there would be no way to achieve world peace.