|Can we put up a reward
for Terrorism and not issue blood money? Is there a mixed
message when we put a bounty on human life in our struggle to right
the world from Terrorism's thirst to kill with abandon?
What difference is there between being Vigilant and being a Vigilante?
27, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 441
Scrambling For Terrorism Droppings--Money & Blood
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 27 --
When money and blood mix, it gives off a foul stench.
Currently, the odor rises above a truck driver, a Catholic priest, a rest
stop attendant and a woman who liked to pass on gossip.
The problem is reward money for information
leading to the arrest and indictment of the Washington-area sniper.
There's $500,000 on the table, and a number of hands reaching for it.
There's Ron Lantz, the truck driver who
called in the sighting of the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice containing the two
snipers, John Muhammad and Lee Malvo. And, the man who helped
him keep an eye on the suspects until police arrived, Whitney Donahue, a
rest stop attendant. Then there is the Catholic priest
in Ashland, Va. who got a call from one of the sniper suspects boasting
about their shootings in Alabama. The priest tipped police to
investigate. And, finally, a neighbor woman in Tacoma where
the alleged snipers lived who reported the suspects shooting at a tree
stump has her eye on the pot.
Reports indicate that more than
60,000 people called with tips and information about the snipers during
the killing spree that took thirteen lives.
The reward fund is being administered by
Montgomery County officials who would like to disburse it immediately.
But Virginia prosecutors have warned them if they do, witnesses who
received reward money may be challenged as "paid witnesses," injuring
I thought about the idea of mixing blood
and money. I'm sure that in the heat of any battle with
Terror, money isn't a prime motivator for doing the "right thing."
When people are being shot and killed, and you could be the next, it isn't
hard to pick up a phone and call an information center without regard to a
reward. The big reward at that moment is getting the killer
off the streets, returning to a state of "normalcy" rather than constant
But as the passion of the moment dies, and
in its place is a pot of gold--$500,000--a new Terrorism exists--"who gets
claim on the reward?" In this case we have four primary candidates,
a truck driver, a washroom attendant, a priest and a nosey neighbor.
All were, in some way or another, direct links to the culmination of a
manhunt. If you take any link out of the loop, perhaps the
snipers wouldn't have been caught as early as they had, perhaps more
people would have been killed.
If the priest hadn't called the police and told
them the "weird call" he got about a shooting in Montgomery, Alabama might
be linked to the snipers, the police would not have found Malvo's
fingerprint and ran it through for a match that led to the identification
of a blue Chevy. If a truck driver hadn't been alert and seen
the car parked along a truckstop, and if the washroom attendant hadn't
been there to help perhaps the criminals would have driven off. And then there was the woman who
complained about the two men shooting into a tree stump....
Each one at the time performed an act of Vigilance, an
act of "citizenship" regarding the concern and safety of others and
society as a whole. Now, however, the purity of the act has
evolved into a mercenary category. Money is on the table--blood
On Thanksgiving Eve, 2002, it seems a little
strange that one of the bigger moral issues facing America is whether or
not to distribute the sniper reward money. If it is awarded,
it could injure the prosecution of the suspects. Prosecutors
have always been gun-shy ever since John Hinckley used the "Twinkie
Defense" successfully to escape penalty for shooting President Reagan.
Any attempt to discredit any witness would be welcomed by the defense.
It still troubles me to think of a
bounty on human heads. Putting an amount like $500,000 on the
snipers makes you wonder about the value of life. If you
divide $500,000 by thirteen victims--the dead ones--it makes their lives
worth about $38,461 each. That doesn't seem quite enough.
Worse, if you compare the bounty on Osama
bin Laden's head--$25 million--to that of the snipers, that seems a
disproportionate amount for Osama. It's 50 times as much value for
Osama than for the snipers. I'm not sure the Terror of the
bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon were as terrifying as the
idea that a sniper was running loose killing innocent women, children and
men without being caught. Personally, I felt more insecure
over the sniper than I did over a plane-full of Terrorists.
Proportionately, the reward for Osama
isn't that large. Based on the number of people he is alleged
to have ordered the killing of, his reward of $25 million represents five
times less the value than that of the sniper when measured by the value of
a human life.
The $25 million reward for Osama
divided by the number of deaths on September 11--3,000--amounts to a per
capita reward of $8,333 per death. Compared with the sniper's
per capita reward of $38,461, ($500,000 divided by 13 deaths) it
makes the reward for the snipers intrinsically more valuable.
Of course, there are massive differences
between the two situations. In one case a madman plots the demise of
thousands at once, in the other, a madman plots the demise of thousands
one at a time. See the difference?
It's not easy, is it. Madness
is divided by a thin hair, sometimes invisible. It is clearly
evident by the money-for-blood reward system, the bounty we place on human
It is never enough. Are the lives of
the World Trade Center Victims worth $8,333 each to bring their murderer
to justice? Or should that number be $100,000 each?
What is the price of Justice? What is the cost of revenge?
If the per capita reward value of each Nine
Eleven victim was $100,000, the bounty for Osama would shoot up to $300
million dollars, twelve times higher than what it is now ($25 million).
On the eve of Thanksgiving, I'm a little
sad to think we mix blood and money to seek and prosecute Terrorists.
The aforementioned 'good citizen' right actions seem like such civic
duties and putting reward money up soils
the idea of Vigilance. It makes me think a truck driver, a
priest, a washroom attendant and a nosey neighbor (or Vigilant one) were
after the money all the time.
I don't think that was the case.
Mass killers ultimately threaten everyone's
family. Osama bin Laden and snipers Mohammad and Malvo, all
threatened to kill indiscriminately everyone's family--mother, father,
children, grandkids, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, associates.
When Osama or the snipers struck, they weren't after anyone in particular.
That was the root of the real Terror.
They were after everybody and nobody.
Dick and Jane Nobody was the target.
Race, color creed, economics or religion
didn't matter. Kill 'em all, was the hue and cry. Kill
But in the smoke that follows the fire's
arrest, there's a stigma.
This is the stench of the reward money.
It lingers over the bodies of the dead, limiting
their value as Sentinels of Vigilance, predisposing them to commodities
worth $38 k.
I guess that bothers me.
I want to think Americans act against Terrorism
with Vigilance, not for monetary gain.
I know at the moment of the act, that is true.
No money is worth being killed to acquire it, and guys like the truck
driver and washroom attendant who stood by as the snipers slept in the car
were brave indeed.
The priest and the stump woman I have to stretch
a little to see their Courage, Conviction and Right Actions combining to
make them Vigilant, but I can if I stretch far enough.
Reward posted in Afghanistan
Leaflets--A glut of Blood for Money Messages
The Osama reward. It seems like a
total impossibility. Even if someone claims the bounty, I'm
sure there will be a zillion challenges. When the CIA and FBI can't
find Osama, it would be an ultimate insult that some average citizen would
bump into him at Macy's and call and collect.
So as I eat turkey dinner, I'm going to try and
focus on the lottery as a form of wealth and prosperity for those who wish
to gamble. I'm going to put the idea of bounties out of my
mind, and try and be thankful for people who are driven to protect one
another, more than lacing their pockets with gold pieces.
That way I'll have a Vigilant, Happy
I hope you do too!
of Miniscule Destruction
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