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The Progressive

The Barbaric Lust to Execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

A few points on the prosecution of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

I’m glad the Obama administration is not treating him as an enemy combatant and is not trying him before a military commission or sending him down to Guantanamo. We haven’t slipped to the bottom of the hill yet.

But I wasn’t happy about the denial of his Miranda rights for hours and hours, and that denial may actually jeopardize the government’s case.

And I’m not thrilled that he’s charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. The common-sense definition of a weapon of mass destruction is a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon. A pressure cooker filled with nails, horrific as that was, is just not of the same scale.

It’s not like the prosecutors didn’t have anything else on him. Three counts of premeditated murder and 264 counts of attempted murder would have been plenty, if you count all those he allegedly injured.

But the Obama Administration wants this to be a federal capital offense so it went with the weapons of mass destruction charge. Other Democrats, like Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, also want Tsarnaev to be put to death if convicted.

Now really, what purpose would be served by that?

It would just be one more senseless death.


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I’m against capital punishment in all cases because I believe it is immoral.

I was against the execution of Timothy McVeigh. I would have been against the execution of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who apparently was the sociopathic mastermind behind the Boston bombings and may have psychologically coerced his brother to go along.

Yes, Dzhohkar Tsarnaev must be held accountable for his alleged actions. He’s nineteen: legally, an adult.

But would his execution make us any more safe? Not a bit.

Would it satisfy a blood lust? Perhaps, but vengeance should not be part of our penal system.

The cries for Dzhohkar’s Tsarnaev’s scalp are barbaric.

Let’s stop the killing.

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild was the senior editor of The Progressive magazine from 1994 to 2014.

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