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Better off dead

Of late, I have discussed the death penalty. More specifically, I came out in favor of it for Zacarias Moussaoui and Saddam Hussein (a real stretch on both counts), and for the summary execution of Saddam. That brought up the usual disagreements, in particular the "making a martyr out of them" theory. "lunacy" quite effectively shredded that argument by mentionind Uday and Qusay Hussein, but I really think the issue deserves more attention.

Dead terrorists and dictators have quite a few things to recommend them.

1) They won't ever plot or act again. Very few corpses commit crimes against humanity. In fact, they tend to renounce composing plots and schemes in favor of de-composing.

2) They tend to make lousy bargaining chips. Recently, a German terrorist who killed American sailor Robert Stethem during a hijacking was released from prison. While not officially stated, it is widely believed that he was traded as a concession to other terrorists. But if someone kidnaps some Americans and wants us to turn over Moussaoui's rotting corpse, fine.

3) They make rotting rotten political bargaining chips. A dead terrorist may somehow win a pardon (Dr. Mudd won his pardon about a century after he was falsely convicted in the Lincoln assassination), but will never gain their freedom.

4) They will never be the subject of sympathetic interviews, sob-stories, and gain renown among the elites as "wrongfully oppressed" victims. Does the name Mumia Abu-Jamal ring any bells?

5) There will be no endless string of appeals, hearings, and the like. The families of their victims will be spared the endless recaps of how their loved ones were killed. They will no longer suck up scarce resources in keeping their worthless lives going.

On the other hand, sometimes the death of someone leads to major upheaval, and to great triumphs for the cause they stood for. I've heard something like that happened about 2,000 years ago, and something kinda similar happened in 1968. But that's only two incidents in two millenia, and in both cases they were men of peace, not of violence -- and the changes their deaths brought about were pretty good ones.

Now, I'm not calling for the wholesale execution of criminals. But there are those whose crimes are so beyond the pale that they merit death, and in the worst of cases (such as Saddam) the trial is a waste. They literally have no reason to continue living and the sooner they are gone, the sooner the rest of the world can hope to move on and get over their evil.


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Comments (10)

Where's the fun in agreeing... (Below threshold)

Where's the fun in agreeing? I can't get my Irish up over this!... AH-HAH! Mudd WAS guilty! (That's better!)

Actually, it wasn't the dea... (Below threshold)

Actually, it wasn't the death 2000 years ago that mattered; it was His resurrection.

Of course, the latter was predicated on the former.

Why go through the hassle a... (Below threshold)

Why go through the hassle and delays of a death sentence? Just put 'em in jail and have some well planted CIA operatives take care of business. It's hard to be a martyer when a prisoner kills you.

I think in Texas "He just n... (Below threshold)

I think in Texas "He just needed killing" is a legal defense. (Of course, I'm neither a lawyer nor a Texan, so you're on your own if you try to do a homemade Mythbusters episode on this...)

All this fuss over a maggot... (Below threshold)

All this fuss over a maggot? Just step on it and be done with it.

Terrorists, once proven to ... (Below threshold)

Terrorists, once proven to be such, deserve no quarter.

4) They will never be the s... (Below threshold)

4) They will never be the subject of sympathetic interviews, sob-stories, and gain renown among the elites as "wrongfully oppressed" victims. Does the name Mumia Abu-Jamal ring any bells?

Can we apply this to Barry Bonds?

After reading some articles... (Below threshold)

After reading some articles pertaining to the relationship between Dr. Mudd and Booth I wonder at his innocence. Still, Booth was diabolical in his efforts to entrap those that came too near to his flame so we will never know for sure. The pardon was for appearances and whatever relation still attaches to him.

When you look back at other famous despots and revolutionary icons that ended up on the wrong side of the throne you will see that they were uniformly killed. Bees and ants do the same. The human need to kill former rulers is probably to remove any possibility for their return and completely chill any such thoughts stirring in the minds of malcontents.

You didn't mention the tragedy of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in 1999 where Ibrahim Athar, Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Sunny Ahmed Qazi, Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim, Shakir were all released to the Taliban in exchange for the release of hostages.(information copied from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Airlines_Flight_814

Not to mention the financia... (Below threshold)

Not to mention the financial savings...

Even dead, they can be a pa... (Below threshold)

Even dead, they can be a pain in the ass.

Consider Arafat. His minions want to bury him on the Temple Mount.

Until the corpse is captured and obliterated, he will be a problem forever.






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