I’m seeing a lot of crap on my social media feeds about particular cruelties that should be applied to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the recently convicted Boston Marathon Bomber.
Can we just not?
I’ll be honest here, I don’t want to stand next to you at the playground if you seem to spend your off hours thinking up highly-detailed Medieval-style cruelties that can be applied to another human being, no matter how loathsome. And the willingness for people to try and support about the most anti-American thing you can say, “We shouldn’t even have bothered to have a trial” followed by some kind of town-square-type justice proposal that sounds like it’s out of the KKK lynching manual makes my skin crawl.
I understand the passions of the moment during the attack. I was there myself. But it’s been two years. We need to fall back on that thing we call “having a civilization worth defending.” The anger we felt in the moment needs to give way to what makes us better than the Tsarnaev brothers and what they could ever try to pass off as some kind of “philosophy.” That thing is called The Rule of Law. You should check it out, the Babylonians dreamed it up then those crazy Jews turned it into a groove successful cultures have rocked for over eight thousand years.
The bombers’ plan to scare us and make us cow backfired so spectacularly because Boston is and always has been the place where, for all our (many) faults, in the end our belief in that rule of law, along with our general sense of ethics and morals, actually mean something. Not bullshit posturing like the Indiana idiots who want to let people refuse to make pizza for gay weddings (because Jesus never would have made some kind of concoction for a party full of “undesirables”), but here we actually have a history of giving a shit about real matters of human dignity and decency.
From the original patriots desiring freedom from actual tyranny to the abolitionists fighting against slavery to things like healthcare and (again) gay marriage, good education for all and the support of the rational disciplines of science, technology and the environment, we’re undisputed leaders. The 24th city by size in our country leads in a huge number of categories from our average public school students (who challenge countries like Finland and Japan) to our social outcomes where we have the lowest divorce rates, low crime rates, low teen pregnancy rates, all that stuff that would make a social conservative get warm in sinful places. We punch so high above our weight class not because we move our mouths around, but because we actually do the hard work of understanding root causes and then taking the actions which will make the outcomes we want real.
I know it’s more emotionally satisfying to just talk tough and then never actually do anything meaningful to solve the problems at hand, but that crap doesn’t fly here. Move to fucking Florida if you want that shit. Living here takes work. You need a snow shovel and a brain and a tough skin. And you have to use all three in equal measures.
And sorry, but that means not going all Atilla on pressure-cooker boy who’s name I hope to never have to try and spell again and who I plan on beginning to forget about starting the day after his sentencing. That’s my plan and I hope you’ll join me in it.
Oh, and for all you death penalty fans out there, read what the parents of Martin Richard, the 8 year old (my son’s age at the time of the attack) killed in the attack have to say about seeking the death penalty in this case.
“As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours,” they said. “The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family.”
They’ve had to think about this a lot. Maybe we should listen to them.
Excellent post. Thank you.
Thank you, Jim. This message needs to be spread far and wide.
I might be the only American who pities this boy…
Why the Florida hate?
I can’t help but disagree here. I believe in ‘an eye for an eye’. I have zero sympathy for this individual. He took a few lives so effortlessly, what makes him exempt from the same fate?
You can’t treat animals as if they are people, it will bite you in the ass in the end.
I think you just proved Jim’s point much to his dismay.
Not really. I don’t talk about it or think about it on a regular basis, nor will I once he’s either thrown in jail or dead. I just believe the punishment should fit the crime.
I am reading this book, which I highly recommend:
The early chapters go into excruciating (!) detail on the types of punishments you are talking about, how widespread they were in the Middle Ages, and how the Age of Reason ushered in their almost universal disappearance.
It’s a remarkable book.