UMKC School of Law
Cruelty Only Breeds Cruelty

If these two boys die on the scaffold, which I can never bring myself to imagine,--if they do die on the scaffold, the details of this will be spread over the world. Every newspaper in the United States will carry a full account. Every newspaper of Chicago will be filled with the gruesome details. It will enter every home and every family .
Will it make men better or make men worse? I would like to put that to the intelligence of man, at least such intelligence as they have. I would like to appeal to the feelings of human beings so far as they have feelings,--would it make the human heart softer or would it make hearts harder? How many men would be colder and crueler for it? How many men would enjoy the details, and you cannot enjoy human suffering with out being affected for better or for worse; those who enjoyed it would be affected for the worse.
What influence would it have upon the millions of men who will read it? What influence would it have upon the millions of women who will read it, more sensitive, more impressionable, more imaginative than men. Would it help them if your Honor should do what the state begs you to do? What influence would it have upon the infinite number of children who will devour its details as Dicky Loeb has enjoyed reading detective stories? Would it make them better or would it make them worse? The question needs no answer. You can answer it from the human heart. What influence, let me ask you, will it have for the unborn babes still sleeping in their mother's womb? And what influence will it have on the psychology of the fathers and mothers yet to come? Do I need to argue to your Honor that cruelty only breeds cruelty?--that hatred only causes hatred; that if there is any way to soften this human heart which is hard enough at its best, if there is any way to kill evil and hatred and all that goes with it, it is not through evil and hatred and cruelty; it is through charity, and love and understanding.