The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has undoubtedly shocked most of us. Almost two weeks have passed, and while the airways have been filled with talk of gun control and mental health reform, it’s unlikely anything substantial will happen to address the multitude of issues causing and emanating from mass shootings. I hope I’m wrong, but history tells me the fervor will soon abate, and we will return to normal. As we did after the shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs.
Solutions are difficult to find, as it seems the reasons for mass shootings are as unique as the perpetrators. In most cases, the gunman doesn’t survive, so we have few clues as to what he was thinking, if he was thinking at all. Anger seems to be a recurring theme. It’s difficult for rational human beings to understand the relationship between an angry man (or boy) and the disproportionate response of firing a fusillade of bullets at innocents. Is mental instability the only reasonable explanation we can offer?
These are sensitive topics to discuss in the wake of recent tragedy, and yet topics worthy of serious exploration. How do we prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future? Can we? In Ultimate Verdict, we are confronted with the acts of a rogue Judge who decides that vigilante justice is one certain way to redress injustice in our system. Fictional anti-hero Judge Raleigh Westlake struggles with the irrationality of murder, and he devotes his career to dispensing justice — sometimes within the system; sometimes despite the system. Though he has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, the Judge ponders whether every killer deserves the protections of due process and public trials, or whether in some cases those procedures should be abandoned for the sake of swift, ultimate justice. Are there certain mass murders so heinous, so outrageous, so beyond the bounds of humanity, that the killer by his very act has forfeited his right to a trial by jury? Ask yourself this question.