Letters to the Editor

Letter to U.S. leaders on French insanity plea verdict

I have sent the following email to President Trump, Senators McSally and Sinema, and Representative O’Halleran:

My name is Jeffrey N. Penfil, DMD. I am both a business owner and a community volunteer, currently serving as President of the Dove Mountain Rotary Club. As an American citizen, a citizen of a civilized nation, I am appalled at the following incident currently occurring in France: “In France, a killer’s successful insanity defense sparks outrage.”

First, I am a healthcare professional. As such, since reading about this situation, I have done significant research into marijuana consumption and psychotic episodes. There has NEVER been a documented case where cannabis usage has led to a psychotic episode such as that described in the article. While there are some studies that show long-term heavy use can lead to a psychotic personality, NO studies show single-use effects like those used in the defense of this murderer. To claim this as an excuse for this crime is a travesty to all legitimate clinical research, as it is not backed up by science. Since when does the deliberate abuse of an illegal drug exonerate the perpetrator of a horrific hate crime such as this, especially with witnesses calling the police during the crime itself?

France is supposed to be an ally with a similar moral compass to other democracies and allies. This fails that test miserably. It allows the admitted perpetrator of an anti-Semitic hate crime to walk the streets a free man. Also, as a Jewish American, I shudder at this, as it is reminiscent of the beginnings of Nazi Germany in 1933, when Jew’s rights were gradually torn away, which led to the Holocaust. Is history repeating itself less than 80 years later, in France this time?

As such, and as a constituent, voter, business owner and Rotary Club president , this has now become the single most important issue to me in the upcoming elections. Please tell me how you plan to publicly address and condemn this act by the French judiciary, and also how you plan to address it with our “allies,” the French government. I truly believe that government to be in such fear of Islamic reprisals that they will forgive this cold-blooded, horrific and anti-Semitic crime that happened literally under their noses. The article states the police stood outside the apartment during the attack but did not enter due to fear of terrorist activity. When that happened in Parkland, Florida, the officer was arrested and charged for his inaction. When it happened in France, not only were the police not charged or even named, the murderer himself was exonerated. This inaction on the part of the French judiciary is unacceptable and unconscionable.

If this type of incident were ever to happen in the U.S., I would pack up and leave the country I love forever, which is what I fear all French Jews need to do right now to avoid being tortured and killed without any reprisals whatsoever. I demand to know how you will personally address this, both publicly and to the French government. For now, I recommend a complete boycott of all French products until this decision is reversed. I am also more than willing to discuss this issue further with you or anyone else, and would certainly be happy to join and be part of any task force and/or PR efforts to combat this growing concern for the future of the freedoms we all cherish. I look forward to your prompt and insightful reply.

— Jeffrey Penfil, DMD, Thornydale Dental