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Editorial: Rule of Law or No, Aren’t We Supposed to Be Better than Tsarnaev?…

Aftermath of the bombing (via wikipedia)

Today the jury in the Boston Marathon bombing made its decision as to the fate of convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In a unanimous recommendation, the jury sentenced Tsarnaev to death. Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, the case was tried in federal court and the US government does.

This was a federal case and in that sense perpetrated against the People of the United States, but this was principally a crime against our commonwealth. It was at a Massachusetts tradition, in our capital and inflicted a human toll heavily borne by our residents. This point is not made out of some latent states rights argument, but Judge O’Toole did thank the jury for their service to the people of Massachusetts and, if fulfilled, the execution shall be carried out in our name.

It is telling that some family of the victims rejected the death penalty. The parents of 8 year-old Martin Richard—whose broken, eviscerated body prosecutors paraded as among the justifications for Tsarnaev’s execution—rejected that idea as it would and now will, lead to a series of near-endless appeals. Indeed, since the federal government restored the death penalty only three have been executed despite many more being so sentenced to die.

There will be no closure now until a court tosses this sentence out. Less likely and more darkly, it may come when we actually bring ourselves to the Tsarnaev brothers’ level and take his life. A life that would have no more vitality or meaning had we simply held Tsarnaev to the life sentence he imposed on himself.

This blog opposes capital punishment for the reasons we outlined in our editorial against executing Tsarnaev. Among those concerns with the death penalty are human error, cruelty, but the most ironic may be that Islamic terrorists might deify Tsarnaev. Dzhokhar and his late brother, Tamerlan, more bumbling, if deadly idiots than precise and calculating masterminds will no doubt quickly find their way into the propaganda of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabab or Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

We can only fault the jury so far, as they are but tools of a law designed to produce this very result, one little more than vengeance. Indeed, it is the government’s zeal for this result that troubles us the most. However reprehensible, even evil some defendants are, the government should not seek the death of one of its citizens or residents whether by rule of law or no. Add to that the risk this will be a terrorist recruitment tool and that we should not sink to Tsarnaev’s level…

We can only hope the courts may do what the jury did not and deliver us from this naïve direction.