Now that charges have officially been filed against Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, I’m sure that we’ll soon be overwhelmed with the many arguments regarding his future punishment. Since the federal government intends to try him for the use of a weapon of mass destruction and the malicious destruction of property resulting in a death, there’s certainly the distinct possibility that he will receive the death penalty.
According to this website, the federal government has only executed three people since the 1960s, one of whom was Timothy McVeigh. Seems highly probable that Tsarnaev will likely face the same fate.
And truthfully, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
First off, I know the death penalty doesn’t actually do anything. Study after study after study has demonstrated that it isn’t a deterrence against crime. It just isn’t. Get over it.
So if the death penalty doesn’t deter future criminals, in this case future terrorists, why should we even consider using it in Tsarnaev’s case?
Well, if you’re a religious type of person, maybe you think that the death penalty will put the accused on the fast-track to some type of eternal punishment. Fire and brimstone. Soul burning ice. Skin-flaying Cenobites. Or maybe just an eternity spotting Pat Robertson as he works out. Whatever.
But the same side of that religious coin also tells us that if the condemned adequately repents for his or her sins, then he or she might still be able to enter into an eternal paradise and enjoy such grandiose eternal rewards like infinitely singing church songs to god or deflowering giggly virgins. Well shit, that’s no damned good.
Fortunately, I am not a religious man, so neither one of those quandaries worries me. I think dead is dead and gone is gone, but I’m still torn on what to do. Here’s why:
Since I know the death penalty doesn’t really do anything, I also understand that the only logical reason to use it is as a form of vengeance or revenge. And I’m okay with that. Tsarnaev toyed with the lives of innocent people, incapacitated Boston for days, and reminded us all that we’re only one wacko away from a horrible death. So fuck that guy. Carlin said that once we realize the death penalty doesn’t deter crime we can actually start to have some fun with it. With that in mind, dress Mr. Tsarnaev as Bozo, place him into a circus cannon, and shoot him directly at a brick wall. Colorful and jolly!
But the more logical part of me understands that killing him, while immensely pleasurable, will also likely inspire other like-minded religious assholes in the years to come. His death will immortalize and mythologize the creep, and other extremists won’t remember him as a person, all lanky and pre-pubescent looking, but rather as a proud, deified hero.
Secondly, he wants to die. All these religious nutbags want a publicly grand death because they think it guarantees them a place in whatever Disneyland-like afterlife they’ve invented for themselves. Which means that if we put him to death, we’re giving him exactly what he wants.
So killing him just won’t do.
What makes sense is to keep him alive in jail. By all accounts, he’s got a hole in his throat. I’m sure in prison that little wound will get’em a great nickname. Probably something like “Ole Rectum Neck,” or “Mr. Vagina Throat.” We can cross our fingers and hope that his cellmate is a hardass from Dorchester or Mattapan. Mr. Tsarnaev would spend every waking moment terrified that the angry Bostonite would rape him in his throat-hole.
We’d also have the opportunity to see him grow old and senile. You know the press would trot him out every so often like they do with Manson. And like Manson, as the years go by, he’ll get less and less scary and more and more pathetic.
It’s easy to deify an angry, vibrant, young hero. It’s much harder to deify a doddering old man who drools simultaneously from his mouth and his neckhole and who shits himself every time he farts.
And that would be the best punishment. Debased. Humiliated. Mocked.