Thursday, April 27, 2006
Who knew what J.R.R. Tokein would be on to with this quote from Lord of the Rings:
Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.
I have had some trouble understanding how I feel about the outcome of the Moussaoui trial. I guess I don't really get much of a say, what with not being a juror nor being a family member of a victim.
As an American, though, and certainly stung by all of the events on September 11, I suppose there is entitlement to some sort of an opinion as to the fate of this....half-wit.
Moussaoui's defense team, people whom I do not envy, made an interesting point in their claim that to sentence him to death would be essentially to play into his hands; to be a martyr. This is a claim which the jury rejected, according to NPR reports. Interestingly, the jury also rejected the defense's claims that Moussaoui was schizophrenic. The jury barely agreed with anything the defense said at all. So...why not kill him?
Despite actually rejecting most of the defense's claims, the jury still did not find enough evidence that Moussaoui ought to be executed. But maybe that's the wrong way to look at it.
The jury found plenty of evidence to kill Moussaoui...just not overtly. He will die, just in prison. In fact, he's going to the "super-max" prison in Colorado, under special circumstances which will not allow him to have any contact with the outside world. At all. For the rest of his miserable life, however long or short that may be. I think that U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema said it best when she stated that Moussaoui will "die with a whimper," for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A perfect way for such a man, so full of himself and full of bravado, to die: alone, in the dark, with nobody watching. I only hope that no newspapers run a story the day he dies.
Maybe it is a pefect ending for us as Americans. We retain the moral high ground. To have killed Moussaoui to make him pay not only for his crimes but the crimes of all of the other terrorists that day would be wrong. Our system of justice does not allow for us to exact punishment on people for what everyone else around them did. We only get to exact punishment on the person in question for what they did. To allow an exception, even in this extreme case, tears apart what we say we stand for. Killing him would have been a visceral reaction to what happened in total on September 11, but to sentence him instead to a lifetime of solitude leaves our justice system intact, and leaves Moussaoui to fade away with no punctuation to his miserable life.
Where I am torn is in my own visceral need to see him..someone..anyone pay for what happened. I want to watch someone burn for the tears of the families, especially the families who are angry with this verdict. Where are they supposed to find peace and closure, with him and his ideas still breathing?
And then it hits me: we have devalued him and his ideas. By killing him, we would have admitted his claims of dangerousness and his overblown claims of power and fear. By killing him, we lend creedence to the power of his message and ideas; that his message and ideas are so powerful and worrisome that our only choice is to kill him so they go away. But instead, we show the world what he truly means: nothing. He and his ideas stand alone, apart from everyone and everything else. Nobody is listening and nobody is taking him seriously. Silly, inept, failed and completely insignificant.
Maybe we did, then, exact incredible justice. America has sentenced Moussaoui to Hell on Earth: solitude and darkness. And hopefully, an afterlife to match.