Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, May 15, 2015

Death Sentence for Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving perpetrator of the deadly Boston Marathon bombing, has been sentenced to death, which is about as predictable as a very predictable thing can be. The deliberate, calculated nature of the crime is unquestionable--the pressure cooker bombs were placed, fashioned, and detonated, in such a way that they would kill or maim the most people and cause the most damage possible. The act was brutal and thoroughly intended to cause shock and horror. Although Tsarnaev is young and was very possibly led about by his brother, the fact remains that having any sense of right and wrong, or shred of humanity--this act should have been unthinkable, but he participated in it anyway.

I'm not a fan of the death penalty. I don't think it's much of a deterrent at all, and our appeals system can be almost farcical. I can't say very much about the argument though, that the reaction of ISIS should enter into how we carry out our version of justice in this country. He took innocent lives and damaged whole bodies--and not to put too fine a point on it--he accomplished nothing. He did not make this country quaver in terror. He did not prove any political point. He said nothing that would make anyone's eyelash dampen on his behalf or for the sake of his view. He is being treated, by our criminal justice system, exactly as a criminal is treated.

What he did was throw his life away, and take others with it. He's an example, not of hardcore jihad, but of feckless violence to no useful end. Anything he might have done with himself would have been better--start a petition, a blog, anything to articulate whatever dissatisfaction he had in a way that was sympathetic and could be understood. But in a sane world, his violence overshadows any meaning. And without meaning, what is there?

It leaves me uncertain whether the death penalty takes away anything he hadn't already given up.


Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, at one time justice was pretty much administered by the injured party or the aggrieved family.

The state came along and said relinquish your prerogative of seeking justice through revenge and let the state provide that justice, and you will receive the full measure of solace that justice can bring, and we will create a more orderly society.

If the state were to completely dismiss the death penalty in cases of absolute certainty like this one, a large number of people would never be able to feel whatever sense of closure the death penalty brings. And then the state would have failed in its promise to the families and friends of the victims.

Today we live in a very therapy-oriented, hypersensitive culture, where every nuance is found to be insulting to someone, or unjust, or unforgivable. This is a society that is not ready for prime time. That is to say, we have so abstracted the contingencies of physical reality that we have lost sight of the requirements of actually, forcefully confronting threats. It may yet be our undoing.

On the battlefield, for example, very quickly and shockingly you remember what it's all about to be a participant in the food chain.

Thank God “civilization” is far removed from the battlefield. Yet there is a very real danger that the civilized become too effete and no longer capable of addressing the grim realities that some threats present.

The aggrieved demand justice, and society has a responsibility to give it to them.

mikey said...

The death penalty says very little about the criminal, and even less about the crime. The death penalty is about who we are, about who we want to be as a community, about our collective values. If we value primitive vengeance, then we kill the killers. If we want to move into a more civilized future, turning our backs on our ancient, tribal construct of community, then we'll have to abandon capital punishment. As so many other nations have done. Note the company we keep in keeping alive ancient barbaric vengeance-as-justice. China. Iran. Iraq. Saudi Arabia. You wouldn't ordinarily think we would want to be in that list.

If killing is wrong, then it's wrong to kill, even the killers. Once we have them in custody, they are helpless, dependent on us for everything they need. To then take our helpless captive and kill him in a bizarre ritual with a weird gloss of due process painted on top is barbaric.

Americans as a people embrace violence and murder as their first choice in solutions. I tend to believe it is because America has seen so little conflict on her shores. That summer morning in 2001 that we are still hyperventilating about represents an average month in many places around the world. When people have experience the costs of massive violence - Europe and Japan were utterly destroyed just six decades ago - you tend to think about it more carefully.