Being John Malcovitch


As actors come and go, most of us find our favourites, and few of us are disappointed in our choices. Their work, their talent, entertains us, thrills us, shocks us, or makes us laugh. When I was a young man, a character appeared on our B&W (Black & White) tv screens who epitomised all that the legends of the West. Rawhide’s ‘Rowdy Yates’, or to give the actor’s name Clint Eastwood, shone through the electrons with a talent which, even to an untrained eye such as mine, gave some signal of his talent and his future.

But listening this morning to a BBC radio clip which featured John Malkovich, I realised that, through the massive egos which litter the entertainment world, you can find the occasional nugget which proves that some, at least, use their intellect to think of things other that their plays, films or tv series, and how to publicise them. Malcovitch who is touring with a play which is built around an Austrian rapist/murderer named  Jack Unterweger. who was imprisoned for fifteen years for his crimes, but then fooled (which didn’t take much to achieve) the Austrian ‘Intelligentsia’ that he was reformed, and they clamoured for his release from prison. He exceeded all their expectations, writing a book and also working as a journalist and tv reporter. He was subsequently arrested and charged with eleven more murders, but committed suicide before his trial.

John Malcovich, himself a great actor, who can project a ‘persona’ of evil intent better than most, said something profound during the interview. The Death Sentence, or ‘Capital punishment’ for those of a more squeamish nature was being discussed, especially in respect of America; and Malcovich’s words were rather telling. The interviewer asked if he was content with the Death Penalty, and he replied that ‘there were some people who he would have little heartbreak about’. He also stated that there were many people on Death Row whose cases are very flawed, and they should be looked at once more on appeal. He then stated “The death penalty is a kind of philosphical question, whether it should exist or not. Otherwise, murderers are the final arbiters of life and death, and without the death penalty, it strikes me as being as though society is lacking something when a murderer is the only one who decides whether a person lives or dies”

Do we live in a just society here in Great Britain? Would we be a better society if the death penalty for murder had been retained? Would we have slept sounder if  William Hunter had been given the benefit of a short rope and a long drop? Would we have been able to digest our cornflakes a little easier if the likes of Rosemary West or Ian Brady had been clinically snuffed out, instead of suffering the drawn-out torture inflicted on some of their victims?

By our membership of the European Union, we have submitted to the will of an unelected dictatorship. By our EU membership, we agreed that we should not kill, or plan to kill, any murderer who is found guilty in our criminal courts. The question we should be asking ourselves is simple, have we traded our independence in action and thought for the ‘comfort’ of a supra-national government which itself brooks no dissent. Consider the reaction of the EU bureaucracy when Austria brought in a right-wing party to Government. The immediate imposition of sanctions wasn’t queried in any of the nations’ capitals; no, ‘they are unnacceptable’ was the reaction, because of the ‘Fascist’ associations of the Haider party. It is indeed starnge that the sanctions were slapped upon Austria because they elected a right-wing organisation, but refuse to move at the same time against Italy, despite many of Italy’s politicians having fascist or communist backgrounds!

For my own thinking, I would state that the path of ‘forgiveness’ of ‘reconciliation’, of passive acceptance that the best we can do is lock the killers up is at best barren, at worst useless, because they can always get out, be paroled, be ‘redeemed’. No, the only redemption for a killer is the fact that they will find out what is beyond the great divide of death a lot quicker than if they lived behind bars; if they face a man with a rope and a trapdoor, who will not be budged, who will not give way to special pleading, who will carry out society’s sentence, and remove the killer from our midst!

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