What do you know--I'm getting my May post done early. This was in response to a piece by Dahlia Litwick on the fate of Zacarias Moussaoui
. It bugged me in three fundamental ways that I detailed in an email to a debating partner of mine.
While this guy's actual punishment doesn't bother me that much (although I prefer Ron White's scenario for Osama bin Laden--listen to "Comedy Ain't Pretty" sometime for a graphic description of the fate he prefers), I think Dahlia's all wet. First of all, in stating this about the third aggravating factor: "But in refusing to find what seemed the most obvious of the aggravating factors, that he "committed his crimes in an 'especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner'....", she's admitting the jurors rejected the "obvious" in order to get the verdict they wanted. (Personally, I find sitting around waiting for 9/11 like it was Christmas pretty depraved.)
Second thing I don't like about the article is that Litwick presumes that HER reasons for liking the verdict were the JUROR'S reasons and puts them on a pedestal for that. She cites three jurors who thought Moussaoui was a little fish (a Barney Fife). But check this paragraph from this AP story
and see if her bit's what you'd pull out:
"Nine jurors found that Moussaoui suffered a difficult childhood in a dysfunctional family where he spent many of his early years in and out of orphanages. Three found that Moussaoui only played a minor role in the attacks."
See, I'd look at that and think, "it's not death-worthy to plot to kill thousands of Americans because he had a bad home life?" But Dahlia's too busy rushing to her last irritating point to mention that part.
The last paragaph really bugs the snot out of me. I'm really surprised [my friend] didn't rail at the moral equivalence she draws between the American justice system and terrorists. I know you're angrier than I am at some of our legal moves since 9/11, but ye flippin' gods: "for this country to kill a terrorist for his ideas, hopes, and dreams is not much different than the terrorist's desire to come here and kill us for ours"? Dammit, the terrorist's ideas, hopes, and dreams ARE to come here and kill us for ours. So in order to look ourselves in the mirror, we have to accede to having our throat cut?
Finally, why should the state send him to his doom with a smile on his face? Because that's how a state ought to treat enemies who engage in acts of war against it.
Yes, viscerally it doesn't feel that bad that the man will only see about 7000 hours of daylight over the next twenty years. But symbolically, I can't stand the notion that incompetence will let you beat the rap.