Imagine reading this headline in NYT 150 years from now:
"2009 Hudson River Landing: New York River Polluted, Hundreds of Fish Harmed. Captain Sullenberger Posthumously Accused of State Crimes."
This future headline sounds absurd, but the logic used to create it is the same logic employed in this article.
Although our Constitution largely remains unchanged, its interpretation is shifting with evolving social standards. Thus, a deed that was once considered wrong may well be regarded as acceptable by today's standards. However, once an act is deemed to be a crime using due legal process, it remains so. A crime cannot be taken out of context and re-judged.
Thus, while I agree with the sentiment that Brown was an honorable martyr for abolitionists, one fact remains: John Brown was legally convicted in a US court, and no amount of respect for his cause changes the criminality of his actions.-Sonali M.