Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This May Sound Horribly Twisted, But .....

I have to admit that I did a giant "Yes!" to seeing this headline:

Moussaoui Sentenced to Life for Role in 9/11 Plot ~ Jurors Reject Death Penalty

Please do not misunderstand and report me to Homeland Security. Remember ... I was teaching 10 minutes outside the District line that Tuesday morning. I was extremely upset once I made the connection that my mom had just started working downtown and hadn't initially wanted to -- and we talked her into it; it wasn't until later that evening that I discovered that her new office was in fact two blocks away from the Capitol. Amazingly enough, my sisters called her the moment the planes hit New York and told her to clear out, and she was able to grab a cab home right before all hell broke loose. I had friends with relatives affected; the landscape of my "home" was extremely changed. I went down to the Pentagon a week later to make it all real, separate it from all the fancy-schmancy cinematic techniques that we see on TV every day.
Do I like what happened on that sunny Tuesday morning? Of course not.

Do I believe that, had Moussaoui told the truth, the New York skyline would look the same as it did ten years ago? Quite frankly, I don't think so.

And yet .... even if he was the sole individual responsible for the planning, coordinating, and implementing of the entire event, would I think he should be killed? On my behalf?

I don't think so.

I felt like I was hitting a brick wall this morning during my Social Justice class. In trying to get these kids to broaden their horizons, some times are easier than others. Over and over, I try to explain the "Seamless Garment" approach to life issues. That, no matter what, we are all beloved children of God, deserving of dignity and respect, because we all were created in the image and likeness of God ... all of which God found to be very good. A concept, which today also included the non-human aspects of God's creation ... at least in my mind. There was some disagreement on the part of a few kids. But I digress ....

Over and over and over I've blogged about the all-loving all-merciful God that Jesus preached. Over and over I've questioned my right to judge .... even if it's my right to judge those who pass judgements on others that I don't like, Fred Phelps et al. And I have yet to even venture near a keyboard with my growing frustration over the past few weeks about all the division we create in our "us/them" world.

Which should help explain why I was stopped cold on my way to school last week, when I heard the line from the prosecuting attorney during his closing arguments: "Let me be blunt, ladies and gentlemen. There is no place on this good earth for Zacarias Moussaoui . . . Cruel, heinous and depraved do not even begin to tell the story."

And yet, in looking up the quote, I came across his comments right before this line, which would be absolutely hilarious if it weren't so horrendously ironic: "Enough is enough. It's time to put an end to his hatred and venom."

But what about our hatred and venom?

In trying to find that quote for my kids last week, I came across
this USAToday blog, and I wonder how people don't see how some of their comments are right on par with what they're hating Moussaoui and the others for. Granted, these are just random people spouting off in some anonymous comment box .... I could label them extremists, insist that they don't represent me .... but doesn't that hold true as well for the Islamic world?
Just a sampling:
Lethal injection is too quick. Turn him loose in the street of NYC and let the people give him American style execution.
Give him a choice: life in prison in total isolation, no yardbreaks, no reading material, no eletronic media, no human interaction of any kind. Meals can be taken in/removed. Simply, his own mind/soul in his own cell forever....or.....give him a gas can and a box of matches in an empty stainless steel room that has nothing to burn and wait until the smell of smoke is gone.
Both options offer both great pro's and con's. My suggestion for the best solution? Take out a full page ad in all of the NY newspapers that you will be depositing this man at "ground zero" on X date at X time. I believe that justice will then be served!
I say put him to death in a firing squad with guns loaded with bullets that have been soaked in pigs blood. Martyr or not, the boy won't make it to his Heaven with that nasty abomination. Send the message to all his fellow partakers that a similar fate awaits them all.
Here's an idea. We could always let him spend 1-2 years in American prison and them strap him to a daisey-cutter bomb as it is dropped over taht armpit of a country known as Iran. That way we kill two birds with one stone and we'll be all nice and done!!
I feel so hopeless. And yet, that jury gave me hope. None of them bought the martyr line, and none felt that a life in prison would be the worst option. But either way, and regardless of which arguments they accepted or not, at least they weren't immediately trigger-happy, reaching for that syringe.

Which apparently isn't out of the ordinary in cases like these. According to the Post article, "Federal juries nationwide have chosen life over death by a 2 to 1 margin since the early 1990s, statistics show. None of the five defendants eligible for the death penalty in the Alexandria courthouse have received it."

Course .... I wonder if they'll try to revisit this issue if/when the Death Penalty Enhancement Act is finalized and approved.

But really, we are a civilized nation. Our death penalty practices don't really need any enhancing. As long as we overlook headlines like this that we might see right alongside the Moussaoui verdict: Man tells executioners "It's not working."

I had just entered the monastery when the snipers laid seige to the DC area. It began with five shootings in a 1.5-mile radius area; when I looked at the little circle on the graphic in the paper, I could point out the house where I grew up (and where my parents still live). So, when they spoke of a Mobil gas station, even though there are several gas stations right around one particular intersection, I knew exactly which one they were talking about. And while I was living 600 miles away at the time, I was terrorized by this even more than if I was still at home, because it was a couple weeks before it became national news. For those 22 days, I was compulsive about checking the Washington Post -- has the headline changed in the last 15 minutes? When someone told me they caught the guys, I didn't buy it right off; I was wary, thinking it was too good to be true. Believe me, even in the Monastery Nowheresville, I felt the impact of those guys.

But, to see the jockeying for position once they were caught? Where would we have the best chances of watching them fry? One death sentence isn't enough; let's keep trying, just in case. The jury didn't understand that they had options, gave the kid life in prison? Darn. Guess we'll retry him somewhere else. Wait, we can't execute juveniles anymore? Well, then, why bother with another trial.

Is it justice we want, or vengence?

Let us not become the evil we deplore.


Blogger HeyJules said...

I'm so with you on this. Does he deserve to die? Oh yeah. Is it our right to kill him? Sure it is. Does that mean we should do it anyway?

I like to think those jurors made the right choice. Life in prison for a good 40 years can't possibly be all that fun.

5/04/2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger Kiker said...

Steph, I have had so much trouble expressing my thoughts (on ANYTHING) lately. Thank you for such a probing and insightful post. It kind of made me want to come to Nowheresville and give you a hug.

5/04/2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Dennis said...

From my perspective, which I believe is the same as the Catholic perspective, but I'm open to correction, the only thing a jury should ask themselves concerning the death penalty is this: Can we effectively prevent this criminal from continuing to harm others by any means other than execution. If the answer is yes, then we cannot execute.

As for this guy, I'm just glad he won't be yet another martyr that the people who hate America can use to stir up the pot. Just from a pragmatic point of view as regards our relations with others, I'm glad the jury decided we should be merciful.

Kiker, you really should come to Nowheresville. I was there the other night, and I think it's a great place. (Especially if you think you might have a vocation.)

5/04/2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

Steph, I am completely in agreement with you on this. People have always said, 'But what if it's your family who is murdered, would you go for the death penalty?' Well, my family has not been murdered (thank God), and if that were to happen I might change my mind. But the US is one of only a handful of nations that uses the death penalty, and it is hardly a deterrent. Besides, everyone knows that an execution in this case would be an excellent recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

It really annoyed me this morning to hear Bush snidely talking about how Moussaui didn't give the same respect to the lives of American people as the jury did... and yet he executed more people as governor of Texas than anyone in history. You could tell in his voice he really wanted to do the execution. Respect for life, indeed.

5/04/2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

Lorem, I understand not liking Bush. Lots of people don't like him. But it might be a little unfair to knock his pro-life-ness. Many people make distinctions like, "If a mother's life is in danger, abortion might be ok," or "If a person is guilty of heinous crimes and is an ongoing threat to society, capital punishment might be ok."

Yeah, Texas is probably a little trigger happy. And a perfectly consistent person would say that we can't as a society ever sanction the taking of a life.

I'd like all my politicians to be consistent. Cardinal Bernadin taught us about the consisten life-ethic. But I think many reasonable people make distinctions like the ones above, and we wouldn't necessarily question their conviction on life issues.

It's just when you dislike someone strongly, like maybe Bush, it's easy to point out their inconsistencies, I guess.

With kind regards,

5/04/2006 9:33 PM  

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