Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I am listening to news of Zacarias Moussauoi's trial on NPR right now and
it is making me angry. Why is it that the prosecutors in this asshole's trial don't
understand that by pursuing the death penalty we are martyring the
bastard and doing exactly what he wants? He admitted that had he not
been picked up on immigration violations he'd already be dead after
flying a plane into a building. He doesn't want to live in jail. He
wants to die for his cause and the prosecution is going to give him
just what he wants. Are we a nation of vindictive 6 year olds who
don't understand the consequences of our actions? I am so pissed off
right now I want to go outside and just start slapping people for no


Thomas Westgard said...

I actually feel the same way about the death penalty in every case.

What I would like to see is that criminals are treated like unimportant losers. The victim of the crime, even if they were ordinary before, gains our respect by virtue of being a crime victim. But to avoid supporting martyrdom, our treatment of criminals has to render the criminals unimportant. That is, I think we should aspire to present crimes that way. It is certainly not how they are all actually presented. We have an entire gangsta subculture created by an ineffectual and poorly-run criminal justice system.

Demanding the death penalty always undermines the idea that the criminal is beneath our notice. As a society, we are not obligated to ask for the death penalty, nor is it ever the clearly best choice. There are many reasons not to use the death penalty, which I won't attempt to review in any depth here. The one that I will mention is that, in the Moussaoui case, it makes cooperation with European countries more difficult. We are going to need the help of the French if we are going to root out terrorism, and executing Moussaoui will interfere with our future requests from the French. It will not convince religious zealots not to bomb us; in fact, it will probably accomplish the opposite.

Our decision to introduce the death penalty into the equation creates a sideshow regarding that choice. The star of the sideshow is the criminal. That kind of treatment elevates the criminal into an important figure, exactly the kind of attention we should be trying to avoid.

Michael K said...

I am against the death penalty for lots of reasons and this is just another example of why it is not only brutal but in this case stupid as it will only fan the flames of terrorism. Nobody loves a martyr quite like muslim extremists.

Thomas Westgard said...

I heard that the death penalty was approved for Moussaoui today. Let the circus begin. Well, I guess it already has, but it will continue.