April 17, 2015

For the second time in as many weeks, a major newspaper has placed a powerful and dominating essay on its front page. Boston Globe readers awoke to a front page plea from Bill and Denise Richard, the parents of an eight year old son who was killed and a seven year old daughter who was seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombing attack.  The front page letter asks federal prosecutors to “end the anguish” by dropping the death penalty and locking up Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the rest of his life.

(Front page photo courtesy the Newseum)

(Front page photo courtesy the Newseum)

The timing of the “End the Anguish” plea comes as the city’s emotions are once again, raw. This week marks the second anniversary of the bombing. Soon the federal jury considering the case will gather for another month or so to decide whether to hand Tsarnaev a death sentence.
In the letter, the Richard’s wrote:

We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring.

The bombing, of course involves more than the Richard family. Two other people besides eight-year-old Martin Richard died and more than 260 others were injured including 17 victims who lost limbs. 

In a separate news story, the Globe asked US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz about the Richard’s letter:

She could not legally comment on the specifics of the Richard family statement, because the case is pending.

She added, “But as I have previously assured both Bill and Denise, I care deeply about their views and the views of the other victims and survivors. As the case moves forward we will continue to do all we can to protect and vindicate those injured and those who have passed away.”

The Richard’s letter concludes saying:

This is a deeply personal issue and we can speak only for ourselves. However, it is clear that peace of mind was taken not just from us, but from all Americans. We honor those who were lost and wish continued strength for all those who were injured. We believe that now is the time to turn the page, end the anguish, and look toward a better future — for us, for Boston, and for the country.

Two weeks ago, The Indianapolis Star included a powerful front page demand that state lawmakers “Fix This Now” referring to Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” In the Star’s case the paper was editorializing, the the Globe’s case the paper allowed a family to find a voice. But placing the voice so loudly on the page front gave the voice the same volume and prominence as the Indianapolis editorial.

Correction: The term editorial was used to describe the essay written in the Boston Globe. It was not an editorial, which would indicate it is the voice of the newspaper.

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