When the sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came down yesterday, I was a little torn. I am against the death penalty for the same reason I hold most of my positions; the data makes it clear that state sponsored killing has no upside. It doesn’t deter a damned thing (if it did, people in Dallas would all leave their front doors open), it costs taxpayers exponentially more than a life sentence, and we get it wrong way too many times to make this an acceptable practice.
Even though I’d worked all of this out nearly two decades ago, I was still a little torn. I mean, what he did was horrifying. Make no mistake, I am appropriately horrified at what he did, and I remember the video vividly. A child died on top of the life altering injuries that he and his brother inflicted on so many people. It doesn’t get much more loathsome than what they did. So I was torn because I have some pretty strong emotions about what he and his brother did, and those emotions are at odds with what I intellectually know. So I kicked the tires of being a barbarian around for an hour or so. Turns out that barbarism really isn’t for me. If barbarism was ever going to be a good fit for me, this would be the time. We know he’s 100% guilty, so no fear of killing the wrong guy like we’ve done so many times before. Yes, the deterrent thing is still bullshit and the cost will be astronomical, but those two things will be true in any death penalty situation. But that visceral emotional thing was present here for most of us, since we watched it happen so this isn’t like reading about a murder and thinking about the death penalty from the most detached perspective. Am I as emotionally invested as someone who was there, or had a loved one who was there. Not even remotely, please don’t think that’s what I’m saying. I’m just saying that this is one of those cases where we’re all a little attached to it.
But even in this situation, where the strongest case for the death penalty was put before me, I still couldn’t succumb to my baser instincts. The death penalty is for revenge. It’s not for anything else. I frankly don’t see how adding another corpse to the death toll of the Boston bombing helps the situation, unless your objective is to feed one of the most primitive of all emotions; revenge.
Some of the family members want it, others don’t. I’m sorry, but those families who need this person to die in order to get “closure” should evolve. We’re a first world country that practices the third world barbarism of execution. Fucking evolve already. There’s no excuse for being a barbarian, when you’re holding an iPhone in your hand. I get being barbaric when you don’t have indoor plumbing and have to dig a hole to shit in. I don’t get it in America when you have all of the world’s knowledge in your back pocket.
If Larry Flynt, who grew up in the backwoods of freaking Kentucky can speak out to spare the life of the man who paralyzed him, everyone can evolve.
If you’re counting in a corpse to give you the peace that you seek, you’re doing life wrong. You’re literally squandering the sentience you were given. It’s time to join the rest of the developed world.
Evolve already. That’s how you’re going to find peace.