From the simply absurd to the flat out crazy( Donald Trump tweets that Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber should be "waterboarded"- which inasmuch as "waterboarding" is considered a form of torture and has been correctly banned by Barack Obama upon assuming office says more about Trump than it does about Tsarnaev), a group of Republican senators want Tsrarnaev treated as an "enemy combatant"(whatever that means!) and tried by military tribunals, ignoring the fact that civilian federal courts have successfully tried and convicted more alleged terrorists since 9/11 than military commissions at "Gitmo" ever have, and now federal prosecutors want to seek the death penalty for him( Massachusetts has no death penalty).
Even allowing for the heinous crimes of which Tsarnaev is accused of, I will explain why this last move is an especially bad idea, given my society's experiences during the NI "Troubles".
The only justification that there can ever be for capital punishment is twofold- firstly deterrence and then retribution. In cases of terrorism, the idea that a man (or more rarely a woman) could pssibly be deterred from joining a terrorist group(be it the Provisional IRA or Al Qaeda) and taking part in its violent campaign(which obviously involves risk of life and if captured by authorities and convicted by courts, means years, possibly decades in prison, strikes me as ludicrous. Retribution( a polite euphemism for revenge) is even more problematic- we execute terrorists just to show our disgust and abhorrence of their violent crimes.
Whilst we can sympathise with the sentiments of an outraged citizenrey, cold hard logic makes both lines of thought dubious in the extreme- did Timothy McVeigh's execution in June 2001 prevent the hijackers of 9/11 flying planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon three months later? Or (assuming the death penalty was still in force during the NI "Troubles" which it was thankfully not) would the prospect of the gallows have seemd more terrifying Bobby Sands ans his fellow hunger strikers in the Maze Prison back in 1981 than the prospect of starving themselves to death?
No, to quote the Duc d' Enghien's remark to Napoleon after the latter's execution of a political rival " sire , it was worse than a crime-it was a blunder!", the worst thing we can do with this "loser" is to give him the mantle of martyrdom by putting him on Death Row- far better to let him live out his misbegotten life in an obscure cell!