Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Don't execute Moussaoui

Monday, the jury in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui ruled that he is eligible for the death penalty for his participation in the 9/11 conspiracy and his failure to disclose his knowledge of the details of that conspiracy following his arrest. It remains to be seen, though, whether or not he will be sentenced to death.

I have said before that I am in general opposed to the death penalty, because I consider it utterly barbaric, in addition to being ineffective as a deterrent to crime. Most importantly, the very existence of the death penalty sends the wrong message to our children. The message sent by the death penalty is that violence solves problems, revenge is morally acceptable, and that civilization is about honoring (rather than reining in) our caveman instincts.

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The one exception I draw to my opposition to the death penalty is a person who poses such an ongoing threat to society that the danger cannot be contained by a prison cell. That distinction put me in the odd position of supporting the execution of Clarence Allen, a man whose life the former warden of San Quentin Prison [where California executions take place] said we should spare. My reasoning was that Allen ordered from his prison cell the murder of a witness to his previous crime as part of a scheme to overturn the first conviction. Even though Allen succeeded in drawing out the appeals to the point that he was a physically broken man, incapable of harming anything much larger than a gnat, I felt that it was not only appropriate but in fact necessary to execute him, because he demonstrated in fact — not merely in theory — that putting him in a prison cell did not protect society.

My views on the death penalty are almost identical to those expressed by that wild-eyed leftie, Pope John-Paul II. He said that the death penalty lies in direct contradiction to the commandment Thou shalt not kill, and could only be justified when no other means exist to protect society from a particular criminal. To my way of thinking, people like Clarence Allen join deposed dictators in the rare circumstance of meriting execution. For example, I believe that it will almost certainly be necessary to execute Saparmurat Niyazov in order to establish democracy in the former Soviet nation of Turkmenistan, just as it was necessary to execute Nicolae Ceau┼čescu as a prerequisite to democracy in Romania. Of course, since Turkmenistan borders Afghanistan and Iran, don't count on any help from the United States any time soon. (For the record, I do not believe that it will be necessary to execute President Bush when he is tried and convicted for his crimes against the United States and against the community of nations. Watching him languish in jail will be much more satisfying.)

Back to Moussaoui, though; why do I not believe he should be executed?

  • Execution provides zero deterrence to religious fanatics bent on terrorism.

  • Moussaoui alive in a prison cell poses much less of a threat to American society than Moussaoui dead and martyred.

  • In a war of ideologies, the United States is far better served by demonstrating that we will not kill someone — even a deranged lunatic who hates us and wishes us dead with his every waking breath — unless we have no alternative.

  • Rotting in jail, watching year after year after year pass without seeing the global caliphate swallow the United States, would be a far worse punishment for Moussaoui than sending him to what he believes will be his heavenly reward. Indeed, it's too late for it now, but it would have been fitting to bunk Moussaoui down with his comrade Timothy McVeigh. Maybe we could put him in a cell with the "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski. Best of all would be to put Moussaoui in the position of being a prison bitch to some big, bad Jewish prisoner; he deserves 72 prison rapes in Florence, Colorado, far more than he deserves 72 virgins in paradise.

  • There is substantial reason to believe that Moussaoui's accounts of his own involvement in the 9/11 conspiracy are at least exaggerated, if not downright delusional. Executing him would elevate him to martyr status when he deserves derision and contempt, not only from Americans, but even from al Qaeda sympathizers and other Islamofascists.
I know that many of the family members of people killed on 9/11 feel strongly that Moussaoui should be executed, but revenge is not an acceptable reason for taking a human life, whether it is al Qaeda taking revenge on Americans for the presence of infidel soldiers in Saudi Arabia or 9/11 families taking revenge on Moussaoui for the loss of their loved ones. Not to harp on the obvious, but Moussaoui's death will do nothing to bring back his victims.

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