Ethical Scrapbook Part I
Ethical Scrapbook Part I
Regardless of the fact that acts of vigilantism traverse against the legal institutions embedded in society, vigilante justice continues to dominate most communities in significant parts of the globe. Much of the vigilante justice carried out on alleged perpetrators within the social milieu has been attributed to the inability of the inculcated law to deliver proper and impartial punishment to perpetrators. Indeed, in informal context, vigilantism transcends where the long arm of the law is incapable of reaching. In the environs of American neighborhoods, the rate of acts of vigilantism have been increasing with more people taking the law into their hands to commit acts that are deemed as moral by the society but deviate from the institution of law enforcement. Events such as those committed by Kimberly Cunningham, Jonathon Edington ,and the arson attempt against Timothy Chandler signify a considerable section of vigilante justice in the contemporary society.
When she was only nine years old, Amanda Cunningham, daughter to Kimberly Cunningham, experienced pedophilic molestation from her own uncle in Knoxville, Tennessee. As if the act was not satisfactory enough for the assailant tendencies, a few months later, Amanda was raped again by her uncle with respect to her testimony in court. Her mother, Kimberly Cunningham was never aware of the incident since her daughter kept it a secret as she was threatened by uncle. However, her erratic and changing behaviors at home forced the mother to reconsider to the point that she decides to enroll her at the detention center only for Amanda to confess of the acts her uncle had committed against her.
Learning of the acts committed against her daughter by her own uncle, a distraught Kimberly took Amanda back home, and in 2003, she decided to confront Hundley on the allegations presented to her by daughter. Armed with a gun, Kim called Hundley out to the parking lot to confront him hoping that her daughter was mistaken and the allegations were untrue. However, Hundley admited it and provoked her with it. The insinuations made by Hundley enraged Kim who decided to pull out her nickel-plated revolver and shot him ten times before turning herself in to the police (Francescani, 2007).
Jonathan Edington was a patent lawyer by profession. The 36-year old lawyer, who had pursued an engineering course in Syracuse University, graduated with a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School in 2004. In addition, Edington performed patent law in Fairfield. On August 28, 2006, Jonathon Edington went to the house of his neighbor Barry James and surprisingly stabbed him thirteen times in cold blood. The motivation for his vigilante act was based on the indictments of molestation conveyed to him and his wife Christina Edington by their 2-year-old daughter. Apparently, Edington’s daughter alleged that Barry James molested her. However, prior to the trial and conviction of Edington, there was no proof indicating that their daughter had been molested by the suspected individual as reported (Salzman & Stowe, 2006).
The indictments of molestation were defended in court by Barry James’ family through the attorney Peter Ambrose. On 10th of October, 2006, Edington defended himself on a ‘not guilty’ stand regarding the death of Barry James. In addition, the allegations against Barry James based on molestation were false as asserted by the Fairfield Police. Furthermore, at the time of the investigation of the molestation indictments, it was deemed that Edington’s wife Christina did not cooperate with the investigation regarding the murder. However, in 2007 on the month of June, Edington pleaded guilty to the charges of manslaughter in the First Degree of which he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Jonathon Edington on Trial for Murder of Barry James
In this respective case, Timothy Chandler was the victim of an act of vigilantism applied against him. Two vigilantes, who were neighbors to Chandler, were responsible for carrying out vigilante justice on Chandler based on the assertion that Chandler was a child pornographer. These assertions were based on the child pornography charges filed against Chandler of which the whole community possessed full information. In 2007, neighbors Robert Bell, a construction worker, and Gary Lamar Sellers, an mechanic specialized in coal-mining paraphernalia, decided to take the law into their hands by setting fire to the house of Timothy Chandler. Luckily, Chandler escaped from the flames. However, his wife was burnt to death from the engulfing flames that covered the entire house (Associated Press, 2007).
Chandler’s Property Burnt Down by Vigilantes
In conclusion, acts of vigilantism in the society are based on the moral nature of humans. Since morality and ethics embody much of an individual’s psyche, it still does not provide any person with the right to commit violent acts and pass judgment illegally on alleged and confirmed perpetrators. The cases encompassing Kimberly Cunningham, Jonathon Edington, and Timothy Chandler dictate a sense of urgency to condone acts of vigilantism within society. Such acts have proved to be detrimental and daunting to the efforts applied by the law enforcement agencies in curbing insecurity. Thus, it should be emphasized that vigilante justice is not justice itself, but it is rather an impediment to the carrying out of public justice.
Associated Press. (2007, Sept. 14). Police: Vigilante justice led to unintended death: Two charged with murder after fire kills accused child pornographer’s wife. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/20780983/#.UV53kFdXss0/.
Salzman, A., & Stowe, S. (2006, Sept. 1). Two Lives, colliding violently, details of fatal stabbing emerge. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/01/nyregion/01stab.html?_r=0/.
Francescani, C. (2007, Oct. 19). Murder or Vigilante Justice?. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=3685448&page=1#.UV6MP1dXss0/.