I disagree with most of Peggy Noonan’s remorse and dismay that Zacarias Moussaoui didn’t receive the death penalty, but this seems particularly insincere:
I happen, as most adults do, to feel a general ambivalence toward the death penalty. But I know why it exists. It is the expression of a certitude, of a shared national conviction, about the value of a human life. It says the deliberate and planned taking of a human life is so serious, such a wound to justice, such a tearing at the human fabric, that there is only one price that is justly paid for it, and that is the forfeiting of the life of the perpetrator. It is society’s way of saying that murder is serious, dreadfully serious, the most serious of all human transgressions. It is not a matter of vengeance. Murder can never be avenged, it can only be answered.
I hope I’m not the only person calling bullshit on that. It’s absolutely about vengeance. Otherwise, why all the pictures and interviews with family members of the September 11th victims? Why the sobbing testimony rehashing the gruesome details of that day and how it’s affected us since?
That day was awful. As much as we’d like it to do so, killing Moussaoui would never lessen that wound. The worst fate he can suffer now is to be relegated to the past. His lies and deceptions achieved his goals once. Imposing the death penalty would only increase his murderous impact. That’s not a sufficient reason to spare him, but we’re not the murderous thugs. This time, the jury didn’t forget that.
Post Script: It doesn’t sound like his incarceration will be a picnic, for those who want him to suffer.