I can remember December 8, 1980 – the night John Lennon died – it seems like only yesterday. Out for an evening of watching Monday Night Football with my friends, what should have been a pleasant occasion turned into one of the saddest times of my life.
Mark David Chapman robbed the world of former Beatle John Lennon in less than thirty seconds. In that despicable moment, he became a blip on the media radar, as is always the case in these horrific crimes, but in his wake was left the detritus of millions of broken hearts, mourning a man who made a difference in their lives in tangible and intangible ways.
John Lennon was more than the Beatles – that is why “former Beatle” may have been an unfair label; unfortunately, he and Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr would always have that attached to stories about them, however unfair that may have been. They were all unique musicians deserving attention in their own right, but of the four John Lennon made the most of his status and had an impact on the world as an advocate of peace and love.
How incongruous then that some twisted soul would walk out of the night and steal this man from all of us. This less than “Nowhere Man” came with a plan to snuff out the life of a shining star. After committing this act of violence, there should have been no debating his fate – they should have thrown him into a hole and thrown away the key. Alas, our system doesn’t work that way.
Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, rightly wrote a letter to the Parole Board indicating her opposition to Chapman’s release, citing dangers he poses to herself and John’s sons Sean and Julian. Yoko, in her magnanimity, also expressed concerns for Chapman himself due to still angered fans seeking revenge if Chapman was released.
Unbelievably, five people wrote letters to the Parole Board advocating Chapman’s release. No one knows who they are, but millions of John’s fans would like to have a word or two with them as to understand their thought process.
The board ultimately once again denied Chapman parole (with no reason given publicly), yet in the past the board has noted that releasing Chapman would “undermine respect for the law.” Hopefully, this will be the pattern every time he is up for release until the day Chapman dies.
It is hard to understand why Chapman was even sentenced “20 years to life” in the first place. He obviously planned the crime well beforehand and admitted to murdering Lennon. There should have been a sentence of life without parole for this lunatic, but still he gets a chance to plead his case and cause Yoko and John’s sons to suffer all over again.
Chapman, who is currently kept in isolation for his own safety in Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York, is said to have found Jesus while he has been incarcerated. Why do we always hear this about vicious criminals – mass murderer David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) is another who claims he has found Jesus – after the fact? It makes you wonder why they couldn’t have found Jesus first before committing such horrible crimes. It always seems like a dubious claim at best, one that in no way softens the horror of the actions they took before supposedly seeing the light.
So, who cares that he found Jesus – it is meaningless after what he has done. Chapman should be forced to sit in a room for the rest of his life with huge pictures of John Lennon on all the walls, listening to the song “Imagine” played over and over again. Anyone who thinks this is cruel or unusual punishment is probably one of the five people who wrote the letters advocating Chapman’s release.
Though I am glad Chapman was denied parole once again, it is annoying that his face and story gets put back in the news. As is my policy, I don’t post pictures of killers and criminals because that is exactly what they want, a warped version of notoriety only they can appreciate and others like them can understand.
Chapman once said that he was willing to be held accountable for his atrocious act of violence “however long it takes, forever.” Well, here’s hoping that this human excrement stays locked away forever and a day.