The Fetishization of Revenge

In this courtroom sketch, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is depicted sitting in federal court in Boston Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, for a final hearing before his trial begins in January. Tsarnaev is charged with the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He could face the death penalty if convicted. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has just been sentenced to death by a federal jury for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings. The sentence has been met with a lot of discomfort in Boston and the surrounding environs. Massachusetts is predisposed to rejecting capital punishment as a general rule. Even in this case, where the terror and horror hit so close to home, the people of Massachusetts are leery of the death penalty.

And for good reason.

The application of the death penalty in the United States is rife with racism, false guilt, and corruption. The nation is slowly but surely moving towards abolishing the practice. But there are still many men (and a few women) on death row, and it stands to statistical reasoning that at least some are innocent. With an average of 4 people exonerated annually from death row, it’s impossible to believe some have not fallen through the cracks.

In light of the at best questionable guilt of many of the people facing execution or already killed, trusting the United States to apply the death penalty fairly requires a suspension of disbelief. This suspension of disbelief is as follows: the United States has the right to put people to death and even though it may have erred in the past, this time will be different. This time, the United States is acting in accordance to its own rules and justice will be served.

Unfortunately for that point of view, the US has proven again and again that it has little to no understanding of or care for the rule of law when it comes to acts of oppression against its own citizens.

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