I don’t know about you, but I’m glad Mark Chapman isn’t leaving Western New York. It’s not like I’m friends with the guy. It's not like I visit him regularly in prison. I’ve never even met him, which is probably a good thing since if I did I would tell him he deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars until he dies a miserable, painful death at which point not only will he go to hell, he’ll go to the special place in hell.
But despite all that, I’m glad he’s staying here.
When I heard that Chapman had been transferred out of Attica Prison after 31 years, my first thought was that he was being shipped downstate somewhere….just like they did with Attica’s other most notorious inmate, Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz. But then when I heard that Chapman was merely being shipped to another WNY prison, the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, I was relieved.
Why, you might ask?
Why, if I feel such a strong sense of loathing for the man who killed John Lennon, do I want him to remain here in our area.
I like to write about him.
And as long as he’s in a local prison, I can use the excuse that it’s a local story.
Let’s face it, for a lot of people under a certain age, Chapman is no big deal. Sure, everyone knows the Beatles….and everyone knows what John Lennon meant to the music world and the world in general…..but if you weren’t around when he was murdered, or you were too young to be affected by it…..Chapman is just a guy who killed a famous guy.
But if you were old enough back in December 1980, Lennon’s murder was a generational moment. You remember where you were when you heard the news. You remember how stunned you were when you heard the news. For millions of Americans, it was during Monday Night Football. Howard Cosell, of all people, broke the news.
For many people, it was the day the music died.
When celebrities die…especially when it’s unexpected….it hits us emotionally. We react like we’ve lost a member of our family.
It happened when Michael Jackson died. It happened a few months ago when Whitney Houston died. For music fans of a certain age, it was Kurt Cobain’s suicide.
John Lennon’s murder changed the world.
Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life. Since 2000, every two years he’s had a parole hearing. Every time, he was denied. He’s up for parole again this year. And I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that once again the answer will be no. Which it should be.
Chapman didn’t get the death penalty, because he couldn’t in New York State. But he deserves to die in prison. This is one of those cases where a life sentence needs to be a life sentence.
Yeah, I know what you’re going to say. Look at me, valuing one life over another, saying John Lennon’s murder was worse than others because he was a celebrity. No, it was worse because he was John Lennon. He wasn’t just a Beatle. He was one of the most influential people of the 20th Century.
We don’t know why Chapman was transferred out of Attica. By all accounts, he was a model prisoner there. He was even allowed conjugal visits with his wife. I’m sure she wrote a lovely letter to the Parole Board in 2010 asking for his release. Yoko Ono also wrote a letter last time around….just like she did every previous time….urging them to keep Chapman behind bars. She’ll probably do it again this year.
And since Chapman is staying here in WNY….I can write something then too if I want. Which I probably will. As you can tell, I feel pretty strongly about it.
So thank you, state prison officials, for keeping him here. And giving me an excuse to keep writing about him.