Apology Scale Rating Verdict: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Pre-sentencing Statement


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young terrorist who was formally sentenced to die for his role in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing,, finally said something in court before judgment was passed: he apologized, somewhere in the middle of an infomercial for Islam.

You can read the whole statement here. This is the apology section:

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if you do not — if you are not merciful to Allah’s creation, Allah will not be merciful to you, so I’d like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors.

Immediately after the bombing, which I am guilty of — if there’s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother — I learned of some of the victims. I learned their names, their faces, their age. And throughout this trial more of those victims were given names, more of those victims had faces, and they had burdened souls.

Now, all those who got up on that witness stand and that podium related to us — to me — I was listening — the suffering that was and the hardship that still is, with strength and with patience and with dignity. Now, Allah says in the Quran that no soul is burdened with more than it can bear, and you told us just how unbearable it was, how horrendous it was, this thing I put you through. And I know that you kept that much. I know that there isn’t enough time in the day for you to have related to us everything. I also wish that far more people had a chance to get up there, but I took them from you.

Now, I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done, irreparable damage.

Now, I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. The God I worship, besides whom there is no other God, is Allah. And I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Quran that with every hardship there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.

Where does this apology rate on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale? There are few important features to note:

1. Timing. That this was a spontaneous, sincere apology would be easier to accept had it occurred earlier than more than two years after the bombing. Tsarnaev wasn’t moved to apologize until literally the last moment he could do so with any benefit to himself.

2. Motive. Let’s see: he knows that showing contrition, or pretending to, might save his life eventually, and he said at the outset that his “eye for an eye” religion threatens him with dire consequences if he is not “merciful” to Allah’s creations, meaning, presumably, the families of those he killed and his surviving victims. In other words, throw them a bone and maybe that will earn him an extra virgin or two in Isamic heaven. Or something.

3. Form. I know everyone isn’t a talker, but a prepared apology delivered from a text raises the rebuttable presumption of calculation and assistance. You can speak from the heart, or read from notes. It depends on the forum of course, and I have read some terrific written apologies that I accepted completely, particular when the apology was offered for something written the first place. Some offenses, however, are so terrible that only a spoken apology will suffice.

4. Forum. The apology occurred in a traditional and formal courtroom setting, at the point where every convicted defendant is given the chance to say something. It is apology time or defiance time.

5. Special features. It takes a lot of arrogance to tell the families of people you killed that you are “praying for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased.” Gee, that’s mighty big of you, kid.

Adding these factors to the usual apology criteria, the best I can give the younger Boston Marathon Bomber is a 10, the lowest on the scale:

“An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.”


Pointer: Fred

12 thoughts on “Apology Scale Rating Verdict: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Pre-sentencing Statement

  1. Yeah that little asshole Jihadist gets a negative 10 on my scale.

    Sorry chump change, but your stupid “religion” nullifies any accountability when in one instance it says “Allah won’t have mercy on you if you don’t have mercy on others” (really just an intelligent adaptation from Judeo-Christian statements) but then turns around and says to “slay non-Muslims wherever you meet them” and “dying in Jihad will get your 72 virgins” (interesting additions once Muhammad realized he needed to give teeth to his Pirate Philosophy).

    For Every Hardship There is Relief?

    Here’s an idea: DON’T INFLICT HARDSHIP asshole.

    • Dear kneejerkers, when you raise the argument “But God told the Israelites to kill the Canaanites”, just recall that you’ve been trounced on that line of reasoning time and again, let’s save ourselves the trouble and not bring up that strawman.

      • I don’t think I’m familiar with how that argument plays out. Just out of curiosity, does the rebuttal take the form of any of the following?

        A) Yes, and that was wrong, too.
        B) No, that’s not how it happened.
        C) [Other differentiating/mitigating factor the kneejerker wasn’t aware of]

        No matter what the rebuttal is, any such kneejerker should be called out for invoking the “They’re Just as Bad” Rationalization (#2).

        Also, I quite agree with your above sentiments. The guy’s apology strikes me as incoherent due to the fact that he never acknowledged that what he did was wrong nor explained why he decided to do it and how he came to realize it was wrong. He says he’s sorry, but that doesn’t tell me he knows it was wrong. I’m wondering why he left all that out, since that seems like an indispensable part of the apology to me.

        What’s left is just religious platitudes, which sound like they should be coming from friends and relatives instead. It’s freakishly dissonant hearing the cause of the tragedy go, “There, there. Whenever I close a door, God opens a window.” With such audacity, I might think he’s trying to convert them.

        • C would be the right answer. That Islam has an ongoing and open ended Command to murder non-Muslims IS NOT mitigated by pointing out that 4000 years ago the Israelites waged war against the Canaanites according to the single, close-ended, specified command of their God, as the knee jerkers would like to equate.

          And no, it isn’t a rationalization, it’s point out a false analogy.

  2. Is there a 10- category.
    An apology that is an advertisement and inducement for others of like mind to do the same thing.

  3. I’ll give it a 9, the second lowest and I base this on effect, not sincerity. If nothing else, I think people appreciate that he didn’t go into “defiance” mode and he made an admission so that there is no doubt in the future when some distant leader in Tehran or Demascus decides that there’s probably a conspiracy in America to frame these Islamic men for a bombing plotted by the American Gov’t.

    For that reason, I find a little value in his statement. Beyond that, the motives, the timing, everything else, is worthless.

  4. Let us, examine his apology from the perspective of a religious zealot. Let us assume that he sincerely believed in jihad against the infidel, America, at the time of the attack. His faith, then, would require him to accept martyrdom; to defy the infidel unto death by lethal injection.

    To apologize, then, is out of character. There would be no act of cowardliness to a righteous religious warrior worse than apologizing to the infidel, spitting in the face of Allah and the Prophet, all to preserve a his own filthy life. To then attribute this apology “act of cowardliness” to the command of Allah would be sheer blaspheme! (Not getting his 72 virgins would be the least of his problems after death…)

    If he were sincere in his prior belief in the righteousness of the attack, then his apology is bumped up at least a few notches. He admits that he drastically and criminally misunderstood the edicts of his God, and could only utter this statement if he truly believed his actions violated the faith he professed to commit the bombing in. Thus his asking Allah, the God he betrayed, to bless the victims, while violating the second niggardly principle would not be insincere.

    There are of course two other options: he really was a misguided schmuck manipulated by his brother, or he was a violent opportunist who saw an opportunity for infamy. His apology is valid only for the first scenario, the reformed terrorist making peace with his God. The other two possible explanations for his participation, however, are neither ruled out by his apology, nor would the apology suffice for either scenario if it were true.

    His apology recognizes that he intentionally harmed others, denying their humanity. He does not, however, explain his naivete in following his brother if that were the case, nor his choice to remain silent for so long in admitting his deathly foolishness. If he were a self-aggrandizing violent psychopath, then the apology is nothing more than a last ditch effort at self-preserving manipulation – no apology would really be possible from such a monster.

    His apology would be sincere if and only if he truly reformed. The lack of context given during the apology, and the last minute timing, however do not rule out other possible motives. It is weak, and would not inspire me to give him a break…

    If sincere, 6/10, for waiting til the last possible minute. Assuming a 10% chance of true sincerity, and equal probability for naivete or psychopathy (and a ruling of 10/10 for either scenario), we get a weighted average of 9.6/10 on the apology scale.

    (I’ll round it up to 10 anyways…)

    • Down to ten.

      Nice analysis. It cheers me that I didn’t apply half the analytic effort to my call that you did, and yet we still reached the same conclusion.

      I will just note that a true zealot would have either refused to plead at all, and require a system he does not grant jurisdiction to judge him, to proceed without his cooperation or participation, or to represent himself, and argue that what he did was not crime.

    • Ah ha, though!

      The pirate religion has allowed for such as well. it is called Taqqiyah. Lying to infidels and other forms of dishonesty are acceptable to advance islam.

      His insincere apology is righteous in the eyes of Allah.

      • And so this doesn’t even rate as an apology. It isn’t one. The slimy little fecal stain was just telling his victims they deserved it. The more I see of Islam’s effect on its most devoted adherents, the more I’m Convinced that any muslim who is a good, compassionate person is so IN SPITE of that religion, not because of it.

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