Absolutism is a bitch, as people used to say about Emanuel Kant behind his back. Absolute means absolute, and by taking an absolute position, you have waived the right to retreat, as rational ethical beings must sometimes, to the shelter of the Ethics Incompleteness Principle. Thus I confess to being thrilled at the dilemma President Biden has found himself in as the Supreme Court considers whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving partner of the Chechnyan terrorist bother act that bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, deserves the death penalty.
Oh, gee, let me thin–YES! Of course he should die. The position here on capitol punishment is that having the ultimate punishment as the penalty for ultimate evil is crucial in order to maintain society’s reverence for human life and the rule of law. I don’t care if we only haul out “Old Sparky” for true monsters, like the Cheshire home invaders, Jeffrey Dauhmer, and James Earl Ray. Heck, I don’t care if you decide to only execute Tsarnaev and monsters like him, meaning those who, like him and his big bro, plant deadly shrapnel bombs where they know a happy crowd and families will be gathering for an annual event, where they killed three people, injured 260, many of them badly, including seventeen people who lost limbs. The brothers also killed a law enforcement officer as they attempted to escape.
Opponents of the death penalty are a funny bunch, and by funny I mean “they love grandstanding until they learn the details.” In the aftermath of the D.C. Snipers case, pollsters found that a significant percentage of those who said that they were unalterably opposed to capital punishment also said “buuuut I wouldn’t fight making an exception with those snipers.”
Then you are not opposed to capital punishment. It’s that simple.
In March, SCOTUS heard arguments in an appeal of the ruling last year by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, That court upheld Tsarnaev’s convictions on 27 counts agaianst him, including First Degree Murder, but ruled that his death sentence should be overturned because the trial judge had not questioned jurors closely enough about their exposure to pretrial publicity and had excluded evidence concerning Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his older brother and accomplice.
“A core promise of our criminal justice system is that even the very worst among us deserves to be fairly tried and lawfully punished,” Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote for the panel. Wait, what was that? Surely he didn’t mean this even applies to brutal cops who inadvertently kill resisting felons…
Joe Biden, who has always cut his ethics to match whatever style is “in” that year among his liberal base, is supposedly an ardent foe of the death penalty. After the appeals court ruling, lawyers for the federal government during the Trump administration urged the Supreme Court to hear the case. If Biden’s administration refuses to pursue the death penalty against Tsarnaev, the Supreme Court case would become moot.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, was asked about how the President would approach the case.
“He has grave concerns about whether capital punishment as currently implemented is consistent with the values that are fundamental to our sense of justice and fairness,” Ms. Psaki said.“He has also expressed his horror at the events of that day and Tsarnaev’s actions.”
What laboratory made that Psaki human-weasel hybrid? But it’s only slightly more impressive than those human-sheep hybrids that now populate the staffs of major news organizations.
“Is the President opposed to the death penalty or isn’t he, Jen?”
It’s a simple question, at least for anyone with integrity.