To say that death would make Tsarnaev a martyr for striking a blow for jihad against the Great Satan while he would be quickly forgotten if rots in prison is a political guess. Forgotten? You mean like Nelson Mandela?
Finally, the argument that justice should not be about revenge is half right. It should not be about individual revenge. That is why cases like this are not left to vigilante or mob justice. Not even the victims themselves or their families are allowed to take vengeance.
I suspect if Tsarnaev had been released to a Boston crowd right after he was caught, he would not have enjoyed the humane treatment; multiple defense lawyers, all at public expense; and other benefits of civilization. He would likely have been lynched.
We should give thanks that he will not.
Instead, the crime is a crime against society – against the state. And it is the state that has the right, and responsibility, to take vengeance, so mob rule does not prevail.
To contend otherwise is tantamount to saying we should not have sought to destroy al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks, or spent the blood and treasure it took to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden.
The death penalty should be rare. But in this case, it would not be cruel and unusual. It would be just and fair.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org