January 31, 2014

"He’s a young kid, and people will identify with him because of that. It’ll be in the media far more dramatically if he gets the penalty than if he doesn’t..."

"... and that’s a good argument for not giving him the death penalty.... He would become both a religious martyr, and a civil rights martyr." If, on the other hand, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is convicted and given a life sentence: "He will live in obscurity in jail and no one will remember him, not in two or three years."

Said Alan Dershowitz, an opponent of the death penalty, making the same points against the death penalty he would always make, and asserting "If [Tsarnaev] doesn’t get the death penalty then no one should."

Prosecutors announced yesterday that they are seeking the death penalty.

Do you agree with Dershowitz that what Tsarnaev is charged with doing is more deserving of the death penalty than anything else you can think of? Or do you think that's not exactly what Dershowitz is saying? Dershowitz thinks no one should get the death penalty, but we'd better have the guts to give it to baby-faced Tsarnaev, or shame on us for accepting the state's imposition of death on all the far less cute convicts at whose photographs we scarcely glance.

32 comments:

Mr. D said...

If, on the other hand, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is convicted and given a life sentence: "He will live in obscurity in jail and no one will remember him, not in two or three years."

I dunno. Do we remember Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan? Do we remember Gary Gilmore? In some circles, people still argue about Sacco and Vanzetti.

The arguments about the morality and efficacy of the death penalty stand aside from the matter of notoriety.

Bob R said...

This crime has no element of torture, a common aggravating factor. So it's pretty easy to imagine worse, unfortunately.

I don't know exactly what Dershowitz is saying, and I wouldn't trust a reporter to relay it. Dershowitz is pretty articulate speaking/writing for himself, and maybe you've read him enough that your interpretation is correct. Regardless, it's an argument against the death penalty that I agree with: that it magnifies the effects of all of our prejudices based on looks, age, race, class, wealth. If we can't execute the young, good-looking mass murderer, then we don't have the guts to use this penalty in a just manner.

Michael said...

I used to be a pretty strong supporter of the death penalty. More recently, I've come to think that our criminal justice system is too error-prone to use the death penalty in many cases. However, I am fairly comfortable about applying it where there is as little doubt about the accused person's actions as in this case.

Scott said...

As a Christian, I appose the death penalty in all cases, as does Dershowitz.

In any case, executing a Muslim who commits capital crimes in the name of his religion is really stupid, because it creates a martyr in a culture that cherishes martyrdom. (Is that what Holder wants?) It's better to let Tsarnaev rot in jail for the rest of his life.

Christy said...

Wouldn't not martyring him be the same as negotiating with terrorists? We won't do this if they don't do that? Were it left to me, I'd butcher him up and throw him to the pigs.

Tarrou said...

Anyone find it odd that the same people who argue for giving the muslims whatever they want when it's freedom of speech suddenly get stingy when it's sentences for convicted terrorists?

Robert Cook said...

Tsarnaev's crime, assuming he's guilty, doesn't even approach being among the worst crimes committed in this country. (For that matter, there are far worse murderers by far than Charles Manson.) What unites Manson and Tsarnaev is media notoriety. There are crimes committed every year in this country that are much more despicable than Manson's and Tsarnaev's, (which is not to say they're not also despicable).

Jan Blickenstaff said...

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has already applied the death penalty to his victims, so he has no standing to argue against its application against himself. This seems a straight up case, caught red handed with intent to inflict as much terror and injury as possible. Given his jahiad motivation there is not much chance of rehabilitation. Dershowitz is arguing a diversion from the case -- Society, the court system, fairness, etc. He should know better; Each case on its merits. The courts have the leeway to apply strictness or leniency as the judge and jury decide.

Michael said...

No, we send the ugly ones to the gas chamber to spare them a lifetime of misery. We send the cute ones to prison for life to let them observe themselves dying by the day.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Run the little fuck over with a car like his brother speedbump, and leave the corpse to be eaten by animals.

virgil xenophon said...

Agree about the risk of making a martyr out of him, but just remember the Puerto Rican terrorists Clinton and Holder pardoned. If he is allowed to live there is ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEE that some future leftist Administration will not view him as a "political prisoner" and pardon him. Think not? The mere fact that the typical LIV, along with "intellectual" types like Althouse, voted Obama into office twice is MORE than enough to give one pause about allowing the rat-bastard to live..

Hagar said...

4 people dead, a large number injured, and it is all on tape plus a written confession prior to arrest.
Not much give there if we are to have a death penalty at all.

However, the tone of the press and the comments hereon make me think we shouldn't. A public execution should not be a lynch party.

The Godfather said...

Remember the Beltway shooters? The young one, who apparently did much or most of the shooting, was spared the death penalty. I'd bet the same happens to this guy.

Lyle said...

He's should be executed just like Timothy McVeigh.

He's only a martyr to a lost cause folks, if violent Islamism isn't a mortal threat to the United States like so many say.

C R Krieger said...

Every time I think Attorney General Eric Holder can't disappoint me any more than he has already, he tries again and succeeds.

While virgil xenophon has a point about Mr Dzhokhar Tsarnaev possibly being pardoned by some future President, I really don't wish to see taxpayer money wasted on the appeals involved in a death penalty.  And, I don't wish to let him bask in some supposed martyr complex on death row.  Just let him rot and see if that opens his soul to his crimes.

Regards  —  Cliff

mccullough said...

Maybe the jury will spare him.

Thorley Winston said...

While virgil xenophon has a point about Mr Dzhokhar Tsarnaev possibly being pardoned by some future President, I really don't wish to see taxpayer money wasted on the appeals involved in a death penalty.


The alternative is not spending taxpayer money, it’s spending taxpayer money on the appeals involved in a life without the possibility of parole case.

Gahrie said...

It's better to let Tsarnaev rot in jail for the rest of his life.

I could agree to this except for two things:

Terrorists are released from jail all the time. I never want to see this punk teaching Islamic Studies at Harvard 20 years from now.

The second reason is that prison is no longer punishment. No hard labor, just time to lift weights, watch TV and read books. There was a time in my life when I would have volunteered for that.

Cliff said...

I wish Dershowitz would just stop talking already. People give him way too much credit as some sort of prominent legal thinker. Nobody is going to sympathize with this "kid". Dershowitz would be better off (and more intellectually consistent) where he to comment on other cases of actual death penalty injustice.

Cliff said...

I wish Dershowitz would just stop talking already. People give him way too much credit as some sort of prominent legal thinker. Nobody is going to sympathize with this "kid". Dershowitz would be better off (and more intellectually consistent) where he to comment on other cases of actual death penalty injustice.

Ron Nelson said...

One of the reasons for the death penalty is the diversion of vengeance from the mob to the state. If the people think the state has become to wussified to exact the ultimate price for heinous crimes there is a risk of vigilantism. While it would be nice to believe that society has extirpated a need for vengeance from its collective soul, that is not the case.

elkh1 said...

Tsarnaev, who?

If he wanted to be a martyr, why didn't he go with his brother? Why went into hiding like a little rat? I think we, the compassionate people of America, should do him a favor, fast track him to his 72 virgins.

On the other hand, may be better to jail him in solitary confinement like that first World Trade Center bomber.

Either way, he will disappear in the "trash" heap of history pretty fast.

William said...

I saw the cell Milosovic was confined to during his trial. It had a kitchenette, a tv, and a pleasant view. Slobo died of a heart attack before the verdict, but his conditions of confinement didn't seem especially punitive. His punishment was hugely out of balance to the crimes he committed........Historically many crimes have been overpunished, but mass murder is not one of them. Most mass muderers die in bed and have state funerals. Tsarnaev was only a penny ante mass murderer, but I think it old set a good precedent to execute him.

n.n said...

Send him to Planned Parenthood. Not only do they or their affiliates have the capital structures to execute over one million human lives in America annually, but their methods of lethal injection or dismemberment are sanctioned by leading domestic and international human and civil rights organizations as humane means for disposing of unwanted, innocent human lives.

Oh, there's the catch. Tsarnaev has been judged guilty of murder by a jury of his peers. He doesn't meet Planned Parenthood's criteria for justified termination and disposal.

n.n said...

Ron Nelson:

One of the reasons for capital punishment is to remove a man or woman who has demonstrated they will, without cause or due process, deny someone their unalienable right to life. It's a decision designed to mitigate a known and perhaps progressive risk to the individual, society, and humanity.

Mitch H. said...

Terror-bomber, targeting children, and cop-killer. That paints pretty much every page of the death-penalty checklist except the hate-crimes section, and that you could possibly count through religious bigotry, except that people seem to not like to apply hate-crimes to folks hating up the ladder rather than pissing down the rungs.

But I see that Cook thinks there's been worse murderers out there. I suppose if young Joker had paused to pick up a severed leg for his stew later on, we could have checked off that empty "cannibal" box on his form.

Kirk Parker said...

If there's anyone who deserves the death penalty, it's a self-professed terrorist murder like this one.

Do it a la Nightrunners of Bengal. No body left to give a proper Islamic burial to.

virgil xenophon said...

Actually, I think a better deal would be to turn him lose on Kodiak Island with plenty of CCTV cameras positioned all over so we could watch the Bears hunt/eat him for sport..

virgil xenophon said...

PS: Apologies to the Bears for threatening their health by offering an inferior source of protein..

Freeman Hunt said...

You murder a bunch of people, I don't care how cute of a mug you've got.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

He'll be an old leather faced man by the time they strap him in the chair. By the time Tim McVeigh's execution came around, most people had forgotten him. Not the people directly affected, I'm sure.

There is an element of justice in waiting until the passions have cooled. I also don't remember if there were protesters at McVeigh's execution.

ken in sc said...


As long as he is alive, there is the danger of other Muslims taking and torturing hostages in order to obtain his release. It's been done before. If he is dead, they can revere him as much as they like, but there will be no incentive to take hostages for him.