Unrepentant killer Dylann Roof has gotten what he desired–the death penalty.
Today’s sentencing phase of his murder/hate crime trial revealed a unanimous jury vote calling for the baby faced killer to die for his crimes.
Opinion on Twitter at #DylannRoof is mixed, with some saying he would be punished more by a life sentence in a heavily Negro prison.
It’s interesting that Anders Breivik killed 77 people and only received a 21 year sentence in Norway. American justice and Norwegian justice are miles apart in how racially motivated killings should be punished.
It came as no surprise that a federal jury recommended the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the unapologetic, unrepentant young man who in June 2015 massacred nine African Americans inside a historic church in Charleston, S.C. Not only did he deliberately target innocent parishioners in the midst of Bible study for the sole purpose of advancing the cause of white supremacy, but the trial was as one-sided as could be. Deliberations took less than three hours.
Given the indisputable evidence of guilt and premeditation, the only possible defense against the charges would have been insanity. However, Roof’s rejection of mental illness as an affirmative defense at trial and as mitigation in sentencing speaks volumes about his mission. Such a legal strategy would, from his perspective, have negated any legitimacy to his hateful agenda. It would have suggested that his racist ideology was merely a product of a diseased mind, not a valid political position. Even as he stood firing round after round at his helpless victims, Roof proclaimed, “I’m not crazy,” according to witness testimony.
Roof’s statement that he doesn’t hate blacks, but rather hated their behavior, offers an insight into how almost every white, Asian, and even Mexican person feels. It’s not the color of the skin, but the destructive effect that blacks have on civilization that he says motivated his misguided crime.
Roof’s refusal to mount a case against death, to call any witnesses on his behalf, wasn’t so much because of his stated desire to spare his family the embarrassment. That horse had long left the barn by virtue of his atrocious crime. More likely, his posture reflects a stoic readiness — as a young rebel with a cause — to become a martyr. Like-minded racists would view Roof as a hero, and would invoke his name and the government’s attempt to silence him through the death penalty as a rallying cry for white supremacy. As one skinhead vowed shortly after the church shooting, “Dylann will be my next tattoo.”
By virtue of his death sentence, Roof is guaranteed greater celebrity. Any appellate actions on his behalf and any steps in preparation for his execution will undoubtedly be publicized widely, along with a reminder of his offensive motivation for the assault. Having him instead reside for the rest of his life behind prison walls in obscurity would have been a far more palatable outcome.
Just as Roof rejected the idea of claiming mental illness as defense or mitigation, the government rejected an offer for him to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Although the prosecution was successful in seeking the death penalty, the trial was costly in more than just a monetary sense. We were already well aware of Roof’s despicable attitudes toward blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, feminists and gays. But thanks to the prosecution’s decision to have Roof’s jailhouse journal read into evidence during the trial’s penalty phase, his hateful musings became quoteworthy material for major news outlets around the country.
Of course, Roof is hardly the first to have his anger-filled opinions disseminated widely on the coattails of a killing spree. Our collective fascination with bizarre crimes — cleverly repackaged as a desire to understand aberrant behavior — has us as a willing audience for all sorts of violent malcontents. But we must avoid lending any credibility to such rants and raves.
The press is making a big deal of how noble blacks were calling for life imprisonment rather than death. It’s a cynical ploy to generate sympathy for blacks.
As to whether Dylann is a hero or not, I’ve never seen anyone write that he is. Most of us feel that he set back the cause of racial separation. In fact, it’s also almost as if he was led to kill by someone wanting to discredit the alt-right, White Nationalism, race realism, etc. If he was a victim of mind control by the federal government, with the goal in mind of banning guns, the plot fell through.