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YouSpeak: The Death Penalty for Tsarnaev?

Crime’s nature, accused bomber’s lack of remorse cited as justification


Dzhokar Tsarnaev, one of the two men accused of carrying out last April’s Boston Marathon bombings, was back in the news last week after a federal judge announced that he had set a trial date of November 3 in the case.

The 20-year-old Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges for masterminding the bombings that killed 3 people—among them BU graduate student Lu Lingzi (GRS’13)—and injured more than 260. The second man, Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, was killed four days after the bombings.

Late last month, federal prosecutors announced that they would seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev. Citing the alleged bomber’s lack of remorse, the age of one of the victim’s (eight-year-old Martin Richard), and the “heinous, cruel, and depraved manner” of the attacks, the US Department of Justice said that the death penalty was warranted.

While Massachusetts law does not allow the death penalty, Tsarnaev could be executed because the charges against him are federal charges brought by a federal court. If he is convicted at the end of his trial in November, a separate sentencing trial—lasting up to two months—would follow.

Despite the severity of his alleged crimes, news that prosecutors would seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev has divided Massachusetts residents. A Boston Globe poll taken in September, before prosecutors had announced their decision, found that 57 percent favored a life sentence for Tsarnaev, with just 33 percent voicing support for the death penalty.

We’re interested in hearing your thoughts. So this week’s “YouSpeak” asks: “Should Dzokhar Tsarnaev receive the death penalty?”

YouSpeak” typically appears on Mondays. If you have a suggestion for a topic, leave it in the Comment section below.

Devin Hahn, Producer/Editor, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Devin Hahn

Devin Hahn can be reached at dhahn@bu.edu.

73 Comments on YouSpeak: The Death Penalty for Tsarnaev?

  • Patrick on 02.18.2014 at 5:19 am

    Absolutely,there are crimes which are so heinous the only recourse for society is the imposition of the death penalty! Killed, maimed and terrorized innocent members of our community and then callously and cowardly “partied with friends”. Repugnant.

    • Alex on 02.18.2014 at 2:45 pm

      I completely disagree. Putting a convicted person to death does nothing but satiate society’s lust for revenge. Let this man spend the rest of his days confined by walls.

      We don’t need any more killing.

      • Anonymous on 02.20.2014 at 8:21 am

        It does a lot than satiate society lust for revenge! It sends a message to others who contemplate such a gutless act. It helps bring closure to those who have suffered!

        • Anon on 02.21.2014 at 12:58 pm

          It doesn’t help bring closure to those who suffered because killing Tsarnaev will not undo his actions. The problem with these types of terrorist attacks is that often times the perpetrators are willing to die; granting the death penalty to someone who wants to or at least is willing to die already isn’t much of a punishment. And what kind of message does killing him send? That our society punishes killing with more killing? A so-called advanced civilization like ours surely can find a better solution.

    • Dom on 02.18.2014 at 2:56 pm

      I find the notion that “the only recourse for society is the imposition of the death penalty,” absolutely appalling. He’ll no longer be a threat to society regardless of the outcome of his sentencing, so why should this event warrant yet another death? The safety of the public doesn’t necessitate his execution– you’re just looking for revenge.

    • gcollins on 02.20.2014 at 1:07 pm

      We shouldn’t care about this poor excuse for a human being.
      Stop making him to look like some movie matinee idol.
      He and his family were given an opportunity to come to the US and look what they did.His mother has a warrant out for her arrest for shop lifting. Supposedly they were political refugees and fearful to stay in their country, yet, the older boy and parents went back to the country.
      The older boy may have been involved in other murders related to selling of pot.
      Lets focus on the people who were killed and those that now have to live their lives with permanent disabilities.

      • Anon on 02.21.2014 at 12:59 pm

        Despite your efforts to dehumanize him, he is still a human. If you are so convinced that the death penalty is the best solution, ask yourself this question: could you pull the trigger yourself?

  • Kristen on 02.18.2014 at 5:39 am

    I think the death penalty would give him an easy out. I think he will be a martyr in the eyes of those that believe he did something noble. I am a much stronger supporter of life without the possibility of parole.

    • Anonymous on 02.18.2014 at 3:19 pm

      How would you like it if you had a limb amputated or a sibling killed by this party animal.

      • Anon on 02.21.2014 at 1:02 pm

        Killing him will not make the limb grow back or bring the sibling back to life. A better course would be for society to truly understand why the Tsarnaevs did what they did. The only thing killing him will do is show that we are just as barbaric as our “enemies”

    • BUAlum2013 on 02.21.2014 at 4:29 am

      This is actually a very good point outside of the obvious moral argument.

  • Anya on 02.18.2014 at 5:43 am

    No death penalty. But life sentence. The biggest value of this country is in it’s religious beliefs, so we need to follow that. It’s for God to decide to take his life or not.

    • Diana Tortolini on 02.18.2014 at 8:51 am

      The biggest value of this country is in its religious beliefs? That sentence doesn’t make any sense.

      Putting aside for a minute that there are millions of non-religious people in the US and that this is a country founded on Enlightenment values, not Biblical ones, the Tsarnaev brothers were religious too. People justify acts of extreme kindness and acts of extreme hate using religion, and these young men didn’t have a “hands off” approach when it came to determining whether other people would live or die; they murdered and maimed them, themselves.

      There will never be any way the victims of this crime will get justice, no matter the sentence given to this kid. I can only hope that given his age he is given life in prison, and learns what it’s like to rot in a cage for 60 years.

  • MuratÇolak on 02.18.2014 at 6:02 am

    This is not a question. Nobody deserves death penalty. Nobody deserves ‘death’ intentionally brought by other people, however, if it is the ‘authority’ bringing death, that’s even worse.

    Plus, it will solve nothing. It will NOT put an end to ‘terrorism’, which is, definitely, not being established by a 19 year old ‘kid’.

    • Sandepantz on 02.18.2014 at 9:27 am

      ^^ Totally agree

      • Chispita on 02.19.2014 at 7:58 am

        I totally agree. The Death penalty is a measure associated to fundamentalist States.

    • Kevin Shoe on 02.18.2014 at 11:27 am

      Is putting him in jail going to put an end to terrorism? Although I am not advocating the death penalty, I fail to see how him dying and him living in prison for life changes how terrorism in the world ends up being.

      Tell me, why is it “worse” for the authority to bring death to people? Why does nobody deserve to die, even when they’ve killed others?

      • but on 02.19.2014 at 5:35 am

        why do we kill people for killing people to show that killing people is wrong?

  • tanj on 02.18.2014 at 6:50 am

    I am only for the death penalty when there is 100% certainty that the perpetrator committed the crime. In this case, there exists insurmountable evidence (read: proof) of Tsarnaev’s guilt of this premeditated heinous act. He, his brother and possibly others plotted and carried out a plan to bring pain, suffering and death on innocent people. This was indeed an act of terrorism, if you question this, look at the faces of the people at the finish line. His disdain and lack of respect for human life is appalling. We must send a firm message to him and to others like him, that the USA will exact Justice and execute a punishment that fits the crime. With this, he should not be permitted to live out the rest of his days (in prison or solitary confinement) since he so carelessly and cowardly took the lives of others.

    • Kevin Shoe on 02.18.2014 at 11:29 am

      Why does there only have to be 100% certainty for only the death penalty? Many people in this video said that rotting in prison for 60 years was worse than dying? There doesn’t have to be 100% certainty for the people sentenced to prison for 60 years?

      • tanj on 02.19.2014 at 6:36 am

        I’m not referring to a prison sentence, I’m referring to the death penalty. The death penalty is a much ‘graver’ sentence.

        Let me ask you this: Do dou think the families of the victims tax dollars should go to support him getting fed 3 times a day or health care when he gets a tooth ache or a mental breakdown while he is in prison? Where is the justice in that?

    • DMP on 02.20.2014 at 10:35 am

      Really? Insurmountable evidence? And what have you seen that has convinced you so of the Tsarnaev brothers’ guilt? Because I’m assuming it’s that “evidence” that the FBI claims to have but refuses to show. Not only do they refuse to show *us*, but they won’t allow Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers to see it. Do people really think like all of you in every comment section of a news site that reports on this case? Why are we asking questions like “Should he die or rot in prison?”, a question that will only lead to us rehashing the same two views and bashing each other for not thinking one is better than the other. Shouldn’t the REAL question up for public debate be “Are these brothers guilty?” Now THAT would lead to people actually doing some research and having an invigorating conversation rather than spewing out the same old opinions at each other over. and over. and over again. In our judicial system we have this crazy little concept that a person is “innocent until proven guilty”, and everybody already has this kid’s head on a pole without a shred of REAL evidence to plant it on. I don’t know whether or not he’s guilty, but my god. I hope if I am ever innocent and put in jail it will not be lynch mobs like you all contemplating my fate.

  • KB on 02.18.2014 at 7:39 am

    I support the death penalty only for serial murderers. Life in prison is a massive injury in and of itself, if you think of the loss of freedom for the rest of your existence, then it is rarely harsher than that. I think if the death penalty is eliminated as a punishment (it was never a legitimate deterrent) then what is left to punish those that would continue to kill? Give a murderer life in prison, and he/she commits another murder in prison there is no additional punishment if there is no death penalty… what would you do, give them another life sentence; there would be no real consequence to killing with impunity at that point, as the punishment would get no worse. Kill another inmate or a correctional officer, and with no death penalty there really is no punishment.

    In this instance, for Tsarnaev, he deserves life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will forever be a danger to society if released, and he is so fully indoctrinated into devout, radical, religious hatred that there is little hope for rehabilitation. He is young enough that life in prison will be a fitting punishment; one in which he suffers the misery of captivity and confinement for decades to come… if he doesn’t suffer a violent death at the hands of some other sociopathic prisoner.

  • BU Student on 02.18.2014 at 7:50 am

    Yes, because prisoners who receive the death sentence sometimes kill other prisoners. So, by refusing the death sentence to Tsarnaev and sentencing him to a life sentence in prison, we may be indirectly contributing to another innocent death.

    • bob ross on 02.18.2014 at 10:51 am

      Very insightful! You would agree that the same should apply to people who have committed burglary, tax evasion, and drug dealing. Kill ’em all, right?

    • tanj on 02.19.2014 at 6:43 am

      Except in this case it wouldn’t be an innocent death! Wake up people, we are ALL going to die eventually. If in this life you kill others you have no respect for human life and thereby forfeit your right to life. Tsarnaev deserves to die. “You kill innocent people and children-you deserve death”.

      God forbid that 1 red cent from the victim’s families go to taxes to keep this man alive in prison.

  • Anonymous on 02.18.2014 at 8:01 am

    I agreed with Patrick. And to set an example, I think that a televised execution held in a public place would be fitting. It will make others think twice.

  • Jane on 02.18.2014 at 8:05 am

    The death penalty will serve only to further elevate his “status” in the eyes of psycho would-be terrorists like Dzhokar and his brother. In this case, I really don’t think he should be given death.

  • John on 02.18.2014 at 8:33 am

    I feel that the death penalty is only an act of retribution and doesn’t serve a means to protect. We imprison someone because they are a danger to society. We imprison someone for life because we deemed they will always be a danger to society. By bringing the death penalty what are we trying to say? That him being alive in a cell poses a risk to society? If anything, the inverse is probably true.

    • greg on 02.18.2014 at 9:49 am


      Hello, college students are 20, how can we pretend having the ability to decide who deserves to die ?

      As a foreign man living in the US I’m not sure I have my word to say,
      but as a human I’m horrified.

      On a less dramatic tone : as someone said in the video, don’t you think that the death sentence was suggested because his murders have for frame US’ biggest paranoia ? This looks more like satisfaction for the mass than justice.

      • tanj on 02.19.2014 at 6:45 am

        Oh no greg. Death for death, no more justice than that!

  • Jessica on 02.18.2014 at 8:39 am

    Of course he should get the death penalty. Why should MA tax payers pay for him to sit in prison?

    • Diana Tortolini on 02.18.2014 at 8:58 am

      I believe if convicted on federal charges he’d go to a federal prison, so it wouldn’t be MA taxpayers specifically footing this bill. Regardless, I have no problem paying for life imprisonment of a multiple murderer. What I have a problem paying for is imprisonment of non-violent drug offenders. Whole lot more of them propping up the prison-industrial complex draining the public coffers with no social benefit.

      • Chris on 02.24.2014 at 2:15 am

        Beware! If indeed he ends up in another state such as New York; Governor Cuomo is suggesting that prisoners should have access to free college education! Those willing to pay for that should not impose on the rest of us taxpayers to carry the burden.

    • Dan Cusher on 02.18.2014 at 9:27 am

      Type “is the death penalty less expensive than a life sentence” into Google and hit enter. You’ll be surprised.

      Spoiler alert: the answer is no – in fact, each death sentence costs millions more than life without parole would have. I know it sounds backwards at first, but you have to consider that death penalty cases take way longer and involve more appeals, so when you total up all the costs involved, the additional cost of the death penalty process is more than the price of prison-quality room and board for life…especially when you consider that all the money already invested in a death penalty case can go down the drain if they have a successful appeal and get reduced to life without parole anyway! So if your primary concern is tax burden, then “let him rot” should be your rallying cry.

      • Jimmy on 02.20.2014 at 3:57 pm

        “if your primary concern is tax burden, then “let him rot” should be your rallying cry.”

        Yep, that’s correct.

  • RG on 02.18.2014 at 9:02 am

    Yes, execute. It is a well-documented fact prison does not rehabilitate. What will it do for another criminal showing zero remorse? This was a new chapter in foreign-born, domestically grown and taxpayer subsidized terrorism. Call it what you want…retribution or the appropriate sentence but close the chapter.

    • bob ross on 02.18.2014 at 10:53 am

      It is a well-documented fact. Is that why the justice system either gives people life sentences or executes them.

  • Anne Walton on 02.18.2014 at 9:02 am

    He should be made to face his victims and their families and hear from each one of them, about their lives before and after the bombing…how they feel about what he did to them and he should be made to answer any questions they have. Hiding in prison or being put to death are both too easy.

  • Jessica on 02.18.2014 at 9:27 am

    I don’t believe he should get the death penalty. Yes, he did a completely heinous crime and showed no remorse. But, he is so young and it seems like he had nobody looking out for him but his radical lunatic of an older brother. His own parents seemed to know nothing about him in the interviews so they clearly did not care about him. They thought he was in med school at his age! Think about it: if you were in a country that you were not born in and had nobody to care about whether you lived or died but your crazy older brother, you could very easily get brainwashed into the craziest things. I also agree with the other Jessica that I would not want MA tax payers to pay for him to sit in prison for 70 years though…tough situation.

  • Welm on 02.18.2014 at 9:38 am

    Jessica, firstly, don’t you think he’d be going to a federal prison if these are federal charges… so all states get to split his hotel tabs! Secondly, in general, it costs way more to execute someone than to put them in prison for life. Who do you think pays for years of appeals and legal proceedings for people on death row? Besides the costs, I’m pretty sure he’d suffer more in a federal prison than in a grave.

  • Richard on 02.18.2014 at 9:39 am

    he will get the death penalty under federal law so this question is a mute point. lets not forget that he killed a police officer in cold blood, which ironically would only be a state crime and the state of Massachusetts has no death penalty

  • Colleen on 02.18.2014 at 9:41 am

    Death penalties deny people opportunities to change, but conventional prison is costly. As apparent in Dzhokar’s interactions with his friends prior to the bombing, he is human and is capable of compassion. He is young and his brain is still very malleable. Let those seeds of nonviolence within him have a chance to grow.

    Let many, but not one psychiatrist, psychologists, spiritual leaders, ethicists, criminologists, neuroscientists, and whoever else we could expect to be well-versed in such matters chime in to help society reach a decision on whether Dzhokar is truly, intrinsically harmful to society. Let him live, for a life of guilt, remorse, and regret holds more suffering than a death penalty alone– that is not to say that he will definitely feel these emotions, but he may.

    Let him be a subject of study. Let those who are studying things about the relationship between religion and violence use him as a research subject. If he forever decides to hold onto his interpretation of jihad as violence, then yes… keep him away from society. But don’t just put him in prison; make good use out of him. Gaining a better understanding of his motives/physiology/values/past might help shed light on the matters of peace and violence. Let him explain to us what he believes is his mission in life. Let him reflect upon his religious values and them express to us, for little do we know… Maybe there is something greater, some untranslated meaning behind all of the chaos.

  • Anonymous on 02.18.2014 at 9:46 am

    Life is prison is no picnic but it gives “hope” to the imprisoned. He does not deserve hope. When he lives, he may used as a “bargaining chip” for hostage exchange negotiations in unknown. Let there be closure for the victims (how many amputations were there?) and their families!

  • Cylde Biggums on 02.18.2014 at 9:51 am

    This monster absolutely deserves the death penalty. A lot of people are saying “life in prison without parole”, and I know I don’t want my tax dollars keeping a terrorist and murderer alive. Death may be a quick way out, but Tsarnev already clearly shows no remorse for his actions and that, in my opinion, is enough of a reason for Uncle Sam to put the boot down on this ones windpipe.

  • Anon on 02.18.2014 at 9:59 am

    Of all the possible reasons to use the death penalty, this is pretty much the one that it’s reserved for.

  • Giacomo on 02.18.2014 at 10:23 am

    No one should be killed. No nation or state should abdicate to this absolutely basic law of human dignity. Exceptional circumstances shall not infringe principles, which are principles by their virtue of unrenounceability.

  • Tanmay on 02.18.2014 at 10:29 am

    Dzokhar does not deserve the death penalty; life in prison would probably be more appropriate. Here is a young man who grew up being indoctrinated by his elder brother in a new land. His crimes are heinous, yes, but the law should ascertain the extent to which Dzokhar was swayed by his brother.

    • Kevin Shoe on 02.18.2014 at 11:31 am

      Would you say that his brother, if he was alive and in the same situation as Dzokhar, deserves the death penalty?

  • Rusty on 02.18.2014 at 10:31 am

    How many did he kill? How many did he maim and how many other family members suffer for it? And he did this for the religion of peace? Or was it because he hated America? Or just marathons? He and his family came to the US to be given welfare, EBT. Cards, free education, free housing…. Not giving the death penalty will cost taxpayers $40k/yr for, say, 30 yrs minimum = $1,200,000 in today’s dollars. Is there any question what to do?

  • Amin on 02.18.2014 at 10:49 am

    Death penalty is not the right punishment for anyone. He should get a life sentence, then simultaneously and mandatorily go through appropriate education and mental therapy; so that at some point in future he truly understands his mistake and the ways to prevent it and teaches them to others in similar situations.

    • tanj on 02.19.2014 at 6:49 am

      He kills innocent people-of course he deserves an education. Preposterous!

  • Cheryl on 02.18.2014 at 10:49 am

    I have no problem with the Death Penalty for him and think the “martyrdom” angle is a very weak argument against it. I don’t think he was “duped” by his brother since he had enough normal life connections to keep him grounded in reality. His age has no bearing on this since right and wrong is imparted at a very early age. It was a conscious choice on his part to intentionally plan and execute the murders of as many people as possible that day and to continue murdering innocents in the future.

  • Kevin Shoe on 02.18.2014 at 11:14 am

    The death penalty is such a confusing debate because people have different reasons to believe in it or not to believe in it. To see whether justice by killing is appropriate or moral, we have to first see what the purpose of punishing someone for crime is.

    For example, people in the video said that they simply didn’t believe in the death penalty. Why? I think it’s safe to assume that they thought it was immoral. Another one said that there is no need to use the death penalty because it wouldn’t bring any closure to the victims’ lives. Others said that serving that amount of time in jail would be a more severe punishment than being killed.

    So we basically have 2 different purposes of crime punishment that are implied by these people’s responses:
    1. Criminals go to jail to be unable to do further crime to society (and perhaps be rehabilitated).
    2. Criminals go to jail to suffer for the crimes they have committed.

    People responded to either one or both of these functions in the video, but I believe that the ambiguity of what the purpose of crime punishment is makes this debate overly-complicated and unable to be resolved.

    — So, what do you believe the purpose of sending a criminal to jail is?
    — Is it to incapacitate them from society?
    — Is it to have them suffer for their bad deeds?

    I think your answer to this question should dictate whether the death penalty is appropriate in America’s legal system.

  • Rei on 02.18.2014 at 11:14 am

    You call it “death penalty”, I call it “murder”. If you wanna murder the guy, fine. But don’t sugar coat it. Personally I don’t believe we have the right to choose who lives or dies. But hey, if you wanna kill the guy, kill him. Just stop pretending it’s anything short of one human taking another’s life away.

  • Sean D on 02.18.2014 at 11:17 am

    This is not about Dzhokar. Its about MA state law. We as Massachusetts citizens have chosen to ban the death penalty because giving the state this power makes them no better then the murderers they are killing. This man could have literally killed 50% of MA and still would not receive the death penalty because under MA law no one can be executed. The only reason that the death penalty is an option is because the federal government deemed his actions terrorism and escalated his crimes to federal court.

    • rusty on 02.19.2014 at 3:23 pm

      The death penalty was law in MA but was ruled unconstituional by the by a series of court decisions.. THis was followe by a referendum passed by the voters to reinstate the death penalty. Since then a series of court decisions and votes by the legislature – one was decided by 1 vote – invalidated and then prevented from being reinstituted by law by the legislature. The courts and the legislature have taken away the death penalty – despite the will and votes of the citizens.

  • Just another BU parent on 02.18.2014 at 11:27 am

    I personally find it terrifying that BU Today is polling people about the death penalty in a particular criminal case without reviewing the charges that could have applied to each of the two brothers. Public support of law enforcement was amazing during the first five days after the bombings but, how the investigation proceeded after that is really questionable. I find the focus of this article really disturbing and a smokescreen for what really needs to be done to combat terrorism.

  • Aliana on 02.18.2014 at 11:49 am

    My Christian values will not allow me to stand in favor of a death sentence, even when the crimes are this disgusting.

    • Nathan on 02.18.2014 at 3:48 pm

      My non-Christian values allow me to impose a death sentence. My understanding of the way a death penalty AFFECTS SOCIETY causes me to oppose the death penalty.

  • Katherine on 02.18.2014 at 12:09 pm

    It doesn’t matter what he did. The death penalty is objectively wrong.

    • tanj on 02.19.2014 at 6:52 am


  • Jessica on 02.18.2014 at 1:00 pm

    I think BU should hold a live debate between students on this topic. Everyone would go.

  • Unknown on 02.18.2014 at 2:50 pm

    As Martin Luther king said, violence is not the answer. Let him go and he will see how nice we are and will most likely not bomb us again.

    • KB on 02.18.2014 at 8:15 pm

      I sincerely hope this is just a “troll” post, meant as a joke. However, given the lack of real world experience among some, this sort of naive thinking is not out of the realm of possibility.

  • Chris on 02.19.2014 at 4:36 am

    Frankly I think death is better than life in solitary. We need more realism about this. Not that I support either penalty. The prison system is barbaric.

    • Scott on 02.19.2014 at 9:58 am

      Well said.

      • Jimmy on 02.20.2014 at 3:59 pm

        I want to agree, but death is worse because… well, it just is, isn’t it?

  • Scott on 02.19.2014 at 9:51 am

    The comments above are a reflection of the bloodthirsty nature of Americans. All policy (even on drugs and poverty) has to be pitched to the masses as a “war” by the ruling class. The War on Drugs, the War on Poverty..
    The fervor with which Americans clamor for the execution of violent criminals makes them appear just as wicked, understandably a society that breeds violent criminals to begin with. The ‘execution lottery’ for the execution of Timothy McVeigh is a reminder of just what public, state sanctioned violence is in our society – a spectacle, a carnival; we have hardly progressed past the point of public executions in medieval times. The rest of the world hangs its head in shame while we wet our hands in blood. As do I.

  • Society on 02.19.2014 at 10:30 am

    Why not give him the death penalty? Why should we keep feeding him, with our tax dollars, for crimes he committed against us? Living in an overpopulated world with 6 billion people, who cares if a mass murder dies. Well, maybe his parents, but I couldn’t care enough to spend my tax dollars on keeping them happy anyway. And if you want to talk morals, you should consider the death penalty a blessing for this man. No one will pay minimal wage for a 50+ year old mass murder when they can hire a teenager to do a monkey’s job, no family, no friends, no children, no education, and no future. He is literally as good as dead.

    • BUAlum2013 on 02.21.2014 at 4:16 am

      Society must be better than the individual.

  • BU Alum on 02.19.2014 at 1:38 pm

    I find it disturbing that you guys at BU Today chose a glamorous picture of a degenerate murdered. Maybe next time you can run a story about Hilter and use a picture in the style of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn Diptych)

  • BUAlum2013 on 02.21.2014 at 4:08 am

    Killing someone to show that killing is wrong just doesn’t make sense. We shouldn’t wish death upon anyone, and seeing him die isn’t justice for the families of the dead and wounded.

    Also please stop with the ‘rotting in jail for years is worse than death’ argument. If you cared about people rotting in jail and view that as torturous and worse than the death penalty, your concern is better placed elsewhere: more black men are imprisoned in the U.S. today than were enslaved in 1850 (http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/03/more_black_men_in_prison_today_than_enslaved_in_1850.html) while tens of thousands of Americans are tortured by way of solitary confinement (http://ccrjustice.org/solitary-factsheet). I find it remarkable that so many people have strong pro-death penalty opinions in this situation when their core argument is at stark odds with their own internalization (and acceptance) of the American criminal justice system and its practices.

    We shouldn’t be asking ‘should Tsarnaev receive the dealth penalty’ but rather what constitutes moral justice in this case? What this kid did was a crime no doubt, but I think the presence (and apparent popularity) of the death penalty reflects very poorly on our social values. We can do better than to dismiss someone’s life, unlike the terrorist in question.

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