Saturday, July 25, 2009

NBC Dateline airs brief biography of Patty Hearst

On July 24, 2009 NBC Dateline aired a one hour segment “Kidnapped Heiress: The Patty Hearst Story”. The transcript (Josh Mankiewicz) link is this. There are some videos, for example this:

I was “coming of age” as a young adult, having started working “in corporate America” for “the establishment”, when I heard about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. In the documentary, she describes it as a knock on the door at her Berkeley apartment, followed by home invasion. The indignation of her captors is described, and the documentary properly characterizes the Symbionese Liberation Army as terrorists, but it seems crude compare to what happens today. But the captors told her father that he (or the Hearst family) would be personally and morally responsible for what happened to Patty.
The Wikipedia article on “Patricia Campbell Hearst” or “Patricia Hearst Shaw” has an interesting well-known image that I guess bloggers aren’t supposed to reproduce except to talk about the image itself rather than the story; look here.

The documentary traces her “conversion” to Tania and her participation in the Hibernia Bank robbery, and her cross country life with her captors, winding up in Scranton PA before returning to California to be arrested.

The family wanted to use duress as the defense (not drugs) and, given the politics of the times, the jury didn’t accept it. She served 22 months in prison before President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence. Patty (who appears several times in the documentary at her current age, being interviewed) says that today we don’t charge people for crimes they are forced to commit while kidnapped. But at the time she was a convenient target for social disapproval.

She wrote an autobiography, "Every Secret Thing", which became a movie “Patty Hearst” in 1988, by Paul Schrader.

The second hour presented “The People vs. Vincent Brothers”, a notorious crime in Bakersfield CA, blog story here. Another link about the entomology investigation at UC Davis is here.

Attribution link for photo of Berkeley. CA on Wikipedia. I last visited the area in Oct. 2000 and Feb. 2002.

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