Justice delayed is justice denied

Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof is escorted from the Shelby Police Department on Thursday.

Dylann Roof won’t get the “race war” he reportedly wanted.

But it’s reasonable to assume that this was another crucial motive for the alleged killer’s mass murder at the Emanuel AME Church:

He wanted to become famous — and will gladly settle for the infamous status that he has now attained.

OK, so it’s reassuring to know that instead of deepening our ethnic divisions, the stunning slaughter of nine innocent people at a Bible study meeting has strengthened local unity across racial lines.

It’s even of some limited consolation to know that if Roof is convicted — and why wouldn’t he be if he confessed? — he’ll either lose his life or spend the rest of it in prison.

Yet there’s no escaping the unsettling reality that Roof has made a name, albeit an abominable one, for himself.

And though “race war” has not been declared, this heinous act also triggered more debate about what’s wrong with our country — and how to fix it.

There is something wrong, isn’t there?

It’s scary to know that one creep with one gun and obscenely evil intent can kill nine innocent people in a church or anywhere else.

Some Americans try to ease that fear by spreading the responsibility too far beyond the individual mass killer.

They cite negative societal factors that presumably sow the seeds of sociopathic savagery.

They contend that we can significantly stem the rising tide of senseless violence by minimizing our cultural shortcomings.

So we bicker about how much to blame not merely our absurdly lax gun laws but the insidious influences of incendiary Internet content, violent entertainment fare, neglectful parents, deficient schools, decaying moral values, offensive flags, etc.

Some Americans, in the wake of this week’s crime against humanity, decency and our Holy City, have even dubiously branded the “right-wing media” as accomplices in the bigotry-driven atrocity on Calhoun Street.

Their overreaching case:

Criticism of our first black president on talk radio, Fox News and elsewhere has been so relentless, bitter, biased and misleading that it has spawned not just political discontent but racially charged hatred.

That’s far enough into a thorny thicket of allegedly collective guilt, a topic fraught with preconceived notions on all sides.

Back to the twisted little twerp/thug/terrorist from Lexington (S.C., not Ky.) who has made big news:

It took the authorities less than 14 hours after Wednesday night’s carnage to apprehend Roof in Shelby, N.C. As he was shown in custody there Thursday afternoon, he appeared to be smirking.

He didn’t look so smug Friday afternoon during his bond hearing at the Charleston County jail. His face exuded callous indifference as loved ones of his victims, in awesome displays of grace, expressed forgiveness of him — despite his failure to seek it.

Good for those good people.

As for that very bad reportedly confessed killer, though, how long will it take us to try, convict and execute him?

Ponder the interminable case of James Eagan Holmes. He is charged with killing 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012.

His trial didn’t start until more than two years and nine months later on April 27, 2015 — and apparently is far from done.

What about a defendant’s Sixth Amendment “right to a speedy and public trial”?

What about the public’s need for timely justice?

We should — we shall — make much quicker work of Roof.

And if mass murder in a church, with victims including an 87-year-old woman, doesn’t rate capital punishment, what does?

Just don’t count on that ultimate, fitting outcome.

The death penalty, already abolished in much of the civilized world, is on life support in our nation.

However, regardless of their position on capital punishment for Roof or anybody else, local residents should take solace — and pride — in how our community is responding to the white-racism-based barbarity that desecrated a historic black church Wednesday night.

Geraldo Rivera said Friday on Charlie James’ show on WTMA-AM 1250 that “having just covered Baltimore,” he was “deeply impressed” by the positive contrast here in the wake of Wednesday night’s church massacre.

Rivera — yes, he works for that dreaded Fox News — hailed what he saw as the uplifting, shared response in Charleston, describing it as: “Hug me, cry with me, our city has been so wounded, but we’re in this together.”

Yes, we are.

That togetherness was on vivid display again Friday as a wide cross-section of people paid profound respects outside that special church on Calhoun Street.

So now let’s not just keep it together.

Let’s make things better together.

And let’s proceed with bringing Dylann Roof to the justice that he — and his dead and living victims — deserve.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.