Society has a right to punish, but it doesn’t have the right to kill.

Tonight, I will kneel at the end of my bed, eyes closed, hands pressed together and I will pray. I’m not religious. In fact at best at would call myself agnostic, perhaps even atheist. Tonight, though, I will pray for a man who has been condemned to death.

In bombing the 2013 Boston marathon, the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerian and Dzhokar, committed a terrible act. One which will forever haunt the memories of everyone in that city and which cost the lives of 3 people whilst injuring 260. Whatever the brothers were hoping to achieve through their actions, it cannot be denied by any right thinking person that they were simply wrong to do what they did.

However, as a modern society we should consider whether we can, in good conscience, continue to ‘punish’ those who commit even such heinous crimes in such a barbaric way as that which has been handed out to Dzhokar Tsarnaev in a Boston courtroom today. I say again, I am not a religious man. But I cannot help but be reminded of a scene from The West Wing:

As Rabbi Glassman explains in such a delightfully eloquent manner, “Society has a right to protect itself but it doesn’t have a right to be vengeful, it has a right to punish but it doesn’t have the right to kill.”

I have nothing against our American cousins, but in cases such as this one I really think that large parts of what can be a wonderful society are stuck in 2,000 year old thinking.

So, tonight, I will pray for Dzhokar Tsarnaev and pray that one day, the USA will join the rest of civilised society here in the 21st century.

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