Jack Tame: Let the bomber lie forgotten in a cell

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They clapped in Boston, and hugged some, too.

For each truck, each cop car, each ambulance to roll out from the Watertown cordons, the little pods of relieved residents celebrated their heroes.

"USA! USA! USA!"

It reminded me briefly of that night in 2011 when President Barack Obama announced Osama bin Laden's death to the world. This time the chanting groups were smaller, of course, and though in Boston their appreciation was entirely understandable, any claim to a national "victory" seemed equally as hollow as before.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev now lies in hospital, a corridor away from those he maimed. And as Boston stretches and dawns, a nation's attention will turn from questions of how and why, to that of what to do now.

Should Tsarnaev, the surviving bomber, a 19-year-old man, be nursed back to health in the city he fought only to be strapped to a gurney and executed?

It is worth noting that if charged under Massachusetts state law, Tsarnaev would have been immune from the death penalty. It's also worthy to note the US Federal Government tends not to slay its inmates with anywhere near the enthusiastic frequency of its more death-happy states.

Only three federally convicted inmates have been executed in the past 50 years. If Tsarnaev had bombed Texas he might already be in the ground.

The Boston attacks were extraordinary for their public nature and the numbers of those affected and grievously injured. But they weren't extraordinary for the number of those actually killed.

On Thursday this week, a gunman in Seattle murdered five members of the same family. Yet even without the complications of Russian consonant structures, few Americans could give you his name.

Despite all the fervour and emotion of Boston, perhaps a more satisfying punishment would be to deny Tsarnaev any sense of glorification. Label him a murderer not a terrorist. Let him lie forgotten in a cell.

Death by state would simply create a martyr. Despite all the chest beating and chants, it would be an outcome as gross, gutless and archaic as the Boston attacks themselves.

- Herald on Sunday

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