The observations and opinions of a person who has no discernible insights or ideas.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Alternative Justice 

It’s rapidly becoming last week’s news, but I have a few thoughts about the Moussaoui conviction.

Zacarias Moussaoui is believed to have been the intended 20th hijacker on 11 September 2001. He was apprehended before that, and has since admitted to training to be a pilot with the intention of flying a plane into some U.S. building, but has denied that he was to be part of that initial attack. He was convicted of terrorism conspiracy, and was expected to be sentenced to death. A single dissenting member of the 12 member jury kept that from happening.

There has been some disappointment. Let’s face it, as a nation we have a bit of blood lust. The “eye for an eye” philosophy has hardly left us, and we wanted someone to die for the terrible things that were done on that September morning. Moussaoui is the only sacrificial lamb that we could offer, and we’ve missed our chance.

(By the way, I am generally in favor of the death penalty, although I acknowledge that it is a very difficult matter and subject to some very valid debate.)

My opinion of Moussaoui’s sentence is that it is a good thing, probably the best that could come out of his trial. If we killed him, then he would get one shining moment in the spotlight, and then live on forever as a martyr (which was his goal anyway when he set out to become a terrorist). By sentencing him to prison, he will spend the rest of his life living in obscure ignominy. There isn’t as much outrage for prisoners as there are for executions.

What’s more is that we have taken his life away. He has been sentenced to death, to be administered not by the electric chair or lethal injection, but by the slow ravages of time. If we are patient enough to wait for 40 years, he will be dead. We will have achieved everything that we wanted from his trial, while he would have achieved nothing that he sought. Instead of granting him his ticket to paradise, we have taken everything from him “wallowing in freakish misery forever.” That is what the pain is. I can live with that.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?