Sara Jane Olson

"The first time I encountered the word 'kleptomaniac,' I asked my mother what it meant.

"She said, 'That’s what they call it when a rich person steals something.'” (Caitlin Flanagan, in today's New York Times.)

For those of us who lived through the scattered debris of the 1960s, the story of a radical extremist from that time who managed to evade authorities for decades still has a lot of resonance, and the issues of punishment and redemption are quite complicated:

"We should review, very briefly: Sara Jane Olson, née Kathleen Soliah, was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the ’70s militant group most notorious for both kidnapping the newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and espousing a philosophy at one with the age: “Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people.”

"Ms. Soliah robbed a bank in Carmichael, Calif., during which a mother of four was murdered, and a young pregnant bank teller was kicked in the belly and later had a miscarriage. According to Ms. Hearst, who has proved to be a reliable informant on the actions of the S.L.A. (and who was driving the getaway car), it was Ms. Soliah who did the kicking. Furthermore, bullets found in the dead woman’s body and scattered on the floor of the bank matched a gun found in a dresser drawer in Ms. Soliah’s room in the S.L.A. safehouse. Ms. Soliah was also part of a plot to murder Los Angeles police officers by placing pipe bombs packed with nails under two squad cars.

"Ms. Soliah was indicted, but then fled to Zimbabwe. Eventually, she returned under her new alias and married a well-to-do and highly respected doctor in St. Paul, where she became a pillar of the community and a mom of three straight-arrow children, and where she confined her terrorist activities to dinner theater. (She became an amateur actress, with a specialty in — God help us all — Shakespeare.)"

I recommend reading Caitlin Flanagan's entire Op-Ed.