what they do.”rn”So, you would defend the Marquis de Sade, who, when thernJacobins made him a judge, refused to condemn any aristocratsrnto death, insisting that he would kill for pleasure, yes, but neverrnfor justice.”rn”I can see,” observed Crosstitch in a voice that was rapidlyrncooling off, “that your education should have been more carefullyrnsupervised. What is a Christian doing, reading Sade? Butrnlet it pass. Let us even, for the sake of argument, concede thatrnthe judge is no worse. But how is he any better than, say, thernabortionist who is also acting within the law?”rn”There is a difference, isn’t there, between carrying out thernlaw and doing something which is not forbidden? For example,rnit is not against the law for a host to insult a guest or, in mostrnstates, for a man to have unnatural relations with another man,rnbut you would not say that the rude host or the homosexualrnwere acting in the same way as the man who pays his taxes orrnthe policeman who arrests the child-molester. In the formerrncases, the actions are permitted by the law, but in the latter casernthey are commanded.”rn”Let us leave off these fruitless quibbles. Any intentionalrnhomicide detracts from the dignity of life, and it makes no differencernif the killing is done as a legal abortion or an execution.rnOnce a society accepts execution as something normal, it willrnquickly proceed to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.”rn”Isn’t it strange then,” asked Frank, “that Christians havernbeen executing criminals for nearly 2,000 years, while at thernsame time viewing abortion and infanticide with horror? Irnthink the reverse of what you say is true, that as we refused torndistinguish between right and wrong by declaring some crimesrnworthy of death, we lost our reverence for innocent life. Evenrnour manners became corrupted. It is something like DernQuincey’s famous argument about murder. ‘If once a man indulgesrnhimself in murder, very soon he comes to think little ofrnrobbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-rnbreaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.'”rn”I’m afraid I’m not following you at all.”rn”Look, a man might murder or steal with good reason, or atrnleast with what he thinks is a good reason, and the act does notrnstain his soul very deeply, but if these crimes deaden him to thernhumanity of other people, he will lapse into a habitual incivilityrnthat will send him to Hell sooner than a dozen killings. Inrnthe same way, our refusal to punish serious crimes like murderrnand rape by executing the criminal seems to blunt our character.rnIf a serial killer may not be executed, then how valuablernwere the innocent lives he took? How valuable is any life, anyrnpiece of property, and sense of personal worth? From the failurernto kill the killer we pass soon into refusing to punish thernabortionist and an insistence upon tolerating every vice and indecency.”rn”I’d like to go on chatting with you—I realize that you are arnserious-minded young man, but I can see that my friends arernanxious to get on with the ‘roast’ they have planned.”rnThe roast turned out to be a mock-trial in which Crosstitchrnwas to be the defendant, and his friends in the legal professionrnwould play judge, jury, attorneys. The only hitch in the proceedingsrnwas that no one was willing to undertake the prosecution.rn”We owe him a lot,” explained one lawyer who had risenrnto stardom by defending a celebrity who had murdered his wifernin cold blood. “Crosstitch hasn’t just raised the American consciousnessrnon the death penalty; he’s also made it clear that therns)stem is racist—^why else are over half the convicted murderersrnblack? Let me tell you it’s going to be a cold day in Hell beforernany L.A. jury is allowed to vote for the death penalty, if the defendantrneven has a healthy tan,”rnSince no one else was willing to take on the task, Frank—whornhad a bit of the lawyer in his makeup—agreed to play prosecutor.rnAfter the usual shenanigans, the trial got under way withrnFrank reading out the charges. He accused Crosstitch of misrepresentingrnthe Book, of perverting the doctrines of his ownrnancient church, and of a moral cowardice and hypocrisy thatrndestroyed all reverence for life.rnBut the outcome of the trial and Frank’s subsequent adventuresrnwhen he falls into the hands of the premodern bandit leaders,rnPeter, Martin, and Thomas—all that must be reserved for thernsequel. trnPoe at Fordhamrnby Lawrence DuganrnTen miles away, the Atlantic coastrnIs taking a beating from this storm;rnEverything outside the house is wet.rnInside looks dry, dark and warm.rnFrom a little basement windowrnComes the glow of television;rnThe fire is on; a football fanrnWaits for a huddle’s decision.rnI call on a nearby telephone,rnA young man answers the door.rnAn older lady takes his placernJust as the rain starts to pour.rnEdgar Foe’s house in FordhamrnWhere young Virginia died:rnThe house holds in the dark warmthrnAgainst the cold outside.rnI take the tour, watch the film—rnBrahms behind an actor’s voice—rnOne sad April to another.rnYear to year without a choice.rnMove or die the plot says.rnHe moves until she slips away,rnWrapped in his old Army cloakrnOn a cold, rainy Fordham day.rnAUGUST 1997/13rnrnrn