Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to explore strange old quotes, to seek out new sayings, and new ways of stating them in a galaxy not so far away. [Listen to our podcast at thequotablespodcast.libsyn.com ]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Collective Wisdom of Assassins

In our first episode/post, we explored the history of the word "assassin." That got me thinking about what some of the most famous assassins have had to say for themselves. Here are selections that may or may not help explain what was in their minds. Download the episode.

Charles Guiteau
"The President's tragic death was a sad necessity."
Charles J. Guiteau, who delayed his assassination attempt on President James Garfield until the First Lady had recovered from an illness. It took Garfield 11 weeks to die from the infection caused by the gunshot wound.

"I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people, the good working people."
Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley in a public receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition. Again, the president died of infection, not the gunshots, but it only took McKinley eight days.

"Before I fired the shots I actually wished him well and bowed to him in reverence."
Nathuram Godse killed Gandhi because he opposed Gandhi's teaching of extreme nonviolence. Nevertheless, Gandhi's sons attempted to have Godse's life spared in order to honor their father's beliefs. They were unsuccessful.

Lee Harvey Oswald being shot
by Jack Ruby as Oswald is
being moved by police, 1963
"Revolutions require work, revolutions require sacrifice, revolutions, and our own included, require a certain amount of rationing, a certain amount of calluses, a certain amount of sacrifice."
Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John Kennedy, is one of the most famous assassins in history, but many conspiracy theorists question whether he was an assassin at all. (P.S. He was.)

"Maybe something can be saved, something can be done."
Jack Ruby, who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, is also a favorite topic of conspiracy theorists. In killing Oswald, was he covering up a much larger plot? (P.S. No.)

"They can gas me, but I am famous. I have achieved in one day what it took Robert Kennedy all his life to do."
Sirhan Sirhan assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy in 1968, but he still lives today in a California prison where he is eligible for parole hearings every five years. This is my favorite assassin's quote because it is the most true: a moment of infamy can (unfortunately) propel the unknown into the world spotlight and keep them there for decades to come.

"I am the son of peasants and I know what is happening in the villages. That is why I wanted to take revenge, and I regret nothing."
Gavrilo Princip may have known about his neighborhood, but he likely had no idea that killing Archduke Franz Ferdinand would ignite the First World War. He may have had no regrets but the 37 million people who died might have urged him to make a different choice.

"I don't think I'm a celebrity. A chimpanzee could have done what I did."
Mark David Chapman murderd John Lennon in 1980 and has spent the rest of his life in prison, where he receives treatment for mental illness.

Aftermath of the Reagan
assassination attempt
“Guns are neat little things, aren't they? They can kill extraordinary people with very little effort.”
John Hinckley Jr. was spared prison following his attempt on President Ronald Reagan's life. When he was sentenced instead to a mental health facility, public outrage helped inspire the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984.

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