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ISSUE 119 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/21/2006

Moussaoui deserves life

By Charles Braman
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 21, 2006

Since the beginning of the Zacarias Moussaoui trial, I have been lamenting how ridiculous it is for a society to accept the death penalty. A modern society, I repeat time after time, should not be so uncivilized, barbaric. Why continue the cycle of death, condoning murder as a punishment for murder, when we have been told since we were children that two wrongs don't make a right?

Maybe this is oversimplifying a very complicated issue, but weren't the Sept. 11 hijackers using murder as a means to seek what they define as justice? And now, aren't we turning around and adopting their same mindset, seeking Moussaoui's death in the name of justice?

But this morning, for a brief time, something changed in me. I listened to a description of the audiotape from United Airlines Flight 93, and later read the previously classified transcript. The audiotape is a live recording of the Sept. 11 hijackers storming the cockpit, explaining to the flight crew, and then passengers, that there is a bomb on board and that they all need to sit down, be still and shut up. There is a sense of panic on board, an unexplainable, instantaneous moment when a distant nightmare becomes a reality.

There has been a lot written about the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 since Sept. 11, but it wasn't until this morning, upon hearing that the cockpit audiotape was played as the closing argument by the prosecution in the Zacarias Moussaoui sentencing trial, that I really thought about what it must have been like to be a passenger on Flight 93. And to be honest, I began thinking, “Moussaoui deserves to die. I hope we kill him.”

But I kept thinking and something else occurred to me. Didn't the terrorists think that the Americans killed on Sept. 11 deserved to die? I'm guessing most of them probably thought something along this line. Might this be a hint that any philosophy or thinking that operates on the principle that one person or group of people should be able to decide when another person or group of people “deserve to die” is very flawed? We shouldn't negotiate with terrorists, but are we willing to adopt their disgusting sense of justice?

The passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 thought this thinking was flawed and chose to sacrifice their lives instead of cooperating with a plot based on the principle that another person, or people ever “deserve to die.” Don't we owe it to these righteous men and women to continue the fight they began?

Shouldn't we continue to fight against any fanatic or radical action that accepts murder on the basis that we can decide when a person should or should not live, just as terrorists should not be able to decide who should and should not exist on this earth, neither should any government, state, nor court?

Why should murder be outlawed by citizens and terrorists, but be considered justice when sentenced by a nation or court? Murder, killing and justice are words terrorists use in the same sentence. Should we do the same?

I don't think many people would deny there is a struggle going on between the terrorists and so-called peace-loving people of the world. History, and the definition of conflict, says that a conflict, or war, is not over until the killing has ceased. Who is more likely to be the first one to stop killing? Us, or the terrorists? Is the headline, “"The Americans kill Moussaoui”" more likely to help end the conflict or fuel the fire? What if the headline read, “"Americans reject murder as a means of justice, Moussaoui gets life in prison?”"

Contributing Writer Charles Braman '‘05 is an alum who teaches English in Montevideo, Uraguay.

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