M. SCOTT MORRIS: Monsters are better villians

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

I spent the early morning hours on Friday thinking up ways to punish the men responsible for the Boston bombings.
My plan was to strap them in concrete rooms with IV lines, then give their executioners BB guns.
I pictured the condemned men laughing at first sight of the BB guns, but it wouldn’t last.
A shot to the cheek, a shot to the neck, a shot to the privates, again and again and again. Death could take days or weeks.
That’s straight from my twisted skull, but I thought it a suitable punishment for the men who killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and the rest.
Of course, I’d never want to see that dark imagining brought to life. I’ve long tried to outgrow my eye-for-an-eye streak, and I can’t tell if this past week has helped or hampered the effort.
In 1999, I interviewed Paul Kevin Curtis, the Corinth man arrested on Wednesday and accused of sending deadly poison to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
I was impressed with Kevin during that interview. He was a disciplined man who’d spent many hours perfecting his craft as an entertainer.
In addition to Elvis, he did a pretty good Kermit the Frog impression, among others. I thought him odd only in the sense that he had the courage to follow his own path.
Our relationship changed during the years after he was banned from the North Mississippi Medical Center campus. He believed something horrible was behind a refrigerator filled with body parts that he’d found. I thought a hospital morgue is exactly where you’d expect to see such things.
Kevin held to his interpretation, and it twisted his life. I believe his family when they say he has a mental illness.
Now, he’s on front pages around the country, competing for space with the Boston bombers.
According to the government, Kevin threatened the first black president of the United States, a U.S. senator and a Justice Court judge. If the alleged threat had been carried out, it would rival, if not surpass, the villainy of the Boston bombers.
I’m sure my eye-for-an-eye instinct would rear its ugly head, but I’d easily slap it down.
Kevin isn’t evil. He’s deeply troubled.
The poison letters didn’t have their intended effect, so Americans don’t consider him a monster. He’s just someone the networks talked about during breaks in Boston bombing coverage.
I’ve never met Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, or his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but I’ve watched interviews of friends and relatives trying to reconcile terrible facts with the people they thought they knew.
Would the Tsarnaevs be considered monsters if their bombs had fizzled and failed?
Maybe I’m trying to keep my eye-for-an-eye streak in check, but it’s scarier and more honest to see them as men – twisted and sick, but very much human.
M. SCOTT MORRIS is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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