Saturday, April 20, 2013

Justice or Vengeance?

I've been fairly quiet about the events in Boston this week, mostly because I don't like to speculate without data, and despite round-the-clock coverage by just about every news medium known to man there has been very little actual data.  But now that the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing (just in case you don't know what I'm talking about) are accounted for I'm going to go ahead and discuss. The facts, in a nutshell, are that for reasons as yet unknown two naturalized Chechen immigrants, neither with a history of any sort of violence, suddenly decided to set off bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing two and maiming hundreds.  After being identified by various videos of the event they were found, fled, one was shot and killed, and the other was eventually captured alive, albeit in serious condition. The two are brothers, the dead one was 26 while the other is 19, and that is what I want to discuss.

Many people are calling for the head of the living assailant, and it is quite understandable, but I'm not so sure about that yet. One friend of mine even asked on Facebook what an appropriate sentence would be, and many respondents seem all too willing to get Medieval on him. Ordinarily, if, indeed such a word can be used here, I'd be all for getting out the rack and hot pokers too, but pending further information I'm reserving my vengeful desires. Let me explain why.

In my job I work with 18-20 year old boys every day. Notice I said boys. Physically yes, they are men, and many of them even deserve the appellation 'man', but many of them do not. The brain of a 19 year old human male is far from finished developing, and while many of them can be very, very smart when it comes to things like information storage and retrieval, they tend to be rock stupid when it comes to things like actually functioning in the real world. I don't know what the relationship was between this boy and his brother, and if it turns out that the younger one was every bit as complicit and guilty of bomb construction and trigger pulling then I'll be first in line at the hanging. But if this is a situation where the older man used the gullibility and malleability of his younger brother to twist him into someone he wasn't, then I hope those who are prosecuting the case have the compassion to at least try to rehabilitate him. Yes he must pay for the crimes he has committed, but we must determine if he is both perpetrator and victim before deciding just how he must pay. Only then will justice be served.


Shane Thomas said...

Thing is, I don't think justice & vengeance are (generally) the same thing. It's a natural reaction to want to see someone who's committed a heinous act punished, but is that because that's what's fair, or because one's angry - and wants a place to deposit said anger?

flurrious said...

Based on the very little we still know, I was wondering last night if the younger brother had been influenced by the older brother, who it seems was known to the FBI for some unspecified activity and who, unlike the younger, didn't seem to have anything going on in his life. In the final analysis, though, it won't matter. The purpose of the criminal justice system is punishment, in theory and by state and federal statute. Rehabilitation does happen, but rarely on purpose. I agree that his age is likely a factor in his actions -- emotionally, 19-year-olds are essentially children -- but it won't be a factor in how the case is prosecuted.

rosebuckle said...

Isn't it interesting how malleable ages 13-22ish are in the courts and public eye? Someone in the younger range commits a deadly act of violence and the clamour is to try them as adults. Someone above 18 makes a sexual decision the public doesn't like, and they are called children who don't know what they are doing. Hmm.
Glad to hear a voice of reason from the corner.