Dear Mr. Darrow,
I would like to commend you for your commitment to justice and your desire to help those in society who do not have the resources to fend for themselves. Still, I feel that your address to the residents of Cook County Jail has overstepped the limits of reason. In that speech, you suggest that the men incarcerated there have truly done no wrong, despite the fact that every man in the room has violated the code of conduct established to govern your nation. Instead, you suggest that the system that administers the law is inherently flawed, and therefore, its related institutions are worthless. You are a student of the law, Mr. Darrow, and you must recognize that the law itself serves a critical function in society, apart from any shortcomings in its administration; the law helps men overcome their underlying tendency towards chaos and lays the foundation for progress.
You have demonstrated the depth of your beliefs through the cases you have taken, such as the defense of Eugene V. Debs for his role in orchestrating the Pullman Strike and the defense of William Haywood and his fellow members of the Western Federation of Miners in the case of the murder of Governor Steunenberg in Idaho. I, too, believe that everyone deserves a fair trial, and I am so impressed by your noble efforts and your ability to see the human suffering that has brought men to commit crimes. For instance, I believe you were correct in your opening statement in defense of Eugene V. Debs that the striking organization of the workers at Pullman was “an effort that was being made to better the condition of the workingmen and women” (Kersten 82). Pullman had truly created intolerable, unfair working conditions for its workers, and it should have been forced to change those standards, lawfully. In the strikes committed by Mr. Debs and his followers, many people were killed, and millions of dollars of damage were inflicted upon Pullman’s property by irrational, angry people who willingly broke the law. Those infractions deserve to be punished if anyone in your society is ever going to behave respectfully towards other people again.
I can personally relate to the situation of the workers in the Pullman case because I have behaved in the same way. I have willingly committed crimes, knowing that if my society chose to take issue with my actions, I would have to abide by their judgments. I did not see my behavior as treasonous because I felt that good could come out of questioning the status quo, but I knew that many would see my challenges as a threat. When the jury in Athens found me guilty and sentenced me to death, I did think it was harsh, but I chose to live in that society. I knew the risks of my actions, and in pursuing that dangerous behavior anyway, I positioned myself to be punished. Therefore, even when Crito gave me the chance to escape my punishment, I did not do so. The law matters more than one person’s happiness or freedom because it promotes tranquility and progress.
More than anything, I believe in the value of the law and the importance of adhering to the decisions made by a law-abiding authority. Regardless of your personal emotions or the perceived injustices that are done to those who are left with few options, caring members of a community must prioritize the greater good over personal happiness. As members of a society, we are all bound to do our best to uphold the law, and those who disobey the law are indeed criminals who deserve to suffer punishment for their wrongdoings. You point out in your address, “Most of the crimes for which we are punished are property crimes” (Darrow). Your obvious distaste indicates that a crime that violates another’s property and not another’s body makes that crime less meaningful. However, the law is clearly stated in America, and those who do choose to steal understand the potential consequences of their actions. You are correct that many thieves and criminals…