It pains me to harp on a subject, especially one as annoying as the aftermath of the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which has so far prompted not one but two previous screeds in this space, but something must be said about Stephen Jones, counsel for the defense of convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh, who seems to have gone completely off the deep end.

When all this began, Stephen Jones was basically a country lawyer in the sub-metropolis of Enid, Oklahoma, population around sixty thousand, a semi-urban outpost in a largely rural part of the state, a place which was big enough to afford Jones a living but apparently not enough to indulge his fantasies of becoming a rustic variation on the theme of Alan Dershowitz.

So Jones bade farewell to Enid, leaving behind a newspaper ad explaining his reasons for relocating, and spouting some second-hand pleasantries. (The first hand, Jones neglected to mention, belonged to Abraham Lincoln, whose writings Jones liberally, er, borrowed.) Setting up shop in Denver with his 21-person defense team, paid for by you and me, Jones promptly aligned himself with the black-helicopter spotters and other self-described foes of the New World Order, suggesting early on that the government may have set up an intricate plot to discredit the "patriots" by blowing up the building itself, a notion embraced by some conservatives who in their next breath complained that the government was incapable of running anything more complicated than a roadside vegetable stand. But this bunch is ennobled by the contradictions of its convictions, and Jones, after all, wasn't looking for conspiracy; he was looking to instill Reasonable Doubt.

The jury, if swayed at all by Jones' rhetoric, didn't let it affect their judgment. And Jones pulled out all the stops, even hinting during the penalty phase that declining to assess the death penalty would contribute to making "the first step to restore domestic tranquility", suggesting that execution would bring on more violence. Joseph Hartzler of the prosecution was horrified, and accused Jones of making "almost a terrorist threat". But that, apparently, was the plan all along; Jones insisted that each and every one of us, by failing to object strenuously enough to the government's flubs at Waco and Ruby Ridge, was somehow a shareholder in the Oklahoma City bombing. For that assertion alone, he ought to be shot. Regardless of what you may think of the government's other forays into Fringeville David Koresh, I contend, brought it on himself, and while Randy Weaver didn't deserve what he got, he didn't deserve his elevation to Revolutionary Martyr status either the enemy, pretty much by definition, is anyone who's going to get you killed, and it doesn't matter whose propaganda wins out in the media. If Stephen Jones really wants to align himself with these people, it's a damned good thing he's not coming back to Enid, Oklahoma.

The Vent

15 June 1997

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 Copyright © 1997 by Charles G. Hill