A few parting thoughts on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Ed wrote on Wednesday about Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s final moment in the spotlight when he proffered his “apology” to his victims. With the reading of the sentence, we are on to the appeals process and many years of keeping this creature alive in a Supermax in Indiana. The day before the sentencing hearing I had spent some time considering what the monster might say if he finally took the opportunity to address the world. To say the least, my feelings were conflicted.

The beast is still technically a US citizen, so if he decides to speak I suppose there’s no getting around it. And in some strange, perhaps disturbing way, I find myself almost hoping he will. It’s not that Tsarnaev has anything to say which we need to hear or some important message which is going to change my mind about him. I want the courts to get through the mandatory appeal process with all alacrity and put this vermin down and be done with it. But at the same time I find myself experiencing a kind of sick fascination, like seeing one of the vampires from a horror movie chained up in silver and caught for a moment in time.

The fact that there were no cameras in the room was disappointing. The transcript carries the words that the murderer spoke, but not the look in his eyes or the tone of his voice. Still, it gave us something to go on and I have to say that it was a rather empty conclusion given all of the anticipation.

There were no cameras in the courtroom to capture Tsarnaev’s words, but reporters at the scene offered their transcriptions of his statement. He invoked the name of God multiple times as he apologized for the death and mayhem he caused at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

“I would like to now apologize to the victims and to the survivors,” he said. “I want to ask for forgiveness from Allah … I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased.”

Perhaps he is sorry. More likely he’s sorry that he was caught, or possibly sorry that he agreed to join up with his brother in the first place. It doesn’t really matter to me at this point. I don’t believe him either way. I suppose it’s not unlikely that his legal team suggested that an apology might play well during the appeals to come. But I also have to wonder if invoking Allah at that moment was simply clueless or intentionally defiant and hurtful toward the victims’ families. With all due respect to the Muslim community in Boston, I don’t think the maimed and the grieving were at all impressed by invoking Allah after you’ve affirmed that your heinous act was done in the name of your vengeful god. But like everything else, whatever goes on inside that twisted brain of his will likely remain a mystery.

The overall impression I took away, even without the live cameras, was mostly an empty bag. There was no sense of a horror movie vampire captured in silver chains or a defiant Professor Moriarty cackling about his brilliance even after Holmes has somehow outwitted him at last and brought him before the bar. Tsarnaev just seems like a speck of garden variety evil that you can find in too many places around the world, in need of being quickly extinguished but not in any way remarkable or of note. This no mastermind or visionary with a message for the impressionable masses. He’s a dim bulb who managed to get lucky enough not to blow his own hands off before blowing up some decent, innocent people. Anything he had to say this week was, in the end, completely irrelevant.

I was reading some of Doug’s predictions as to how the appeals process will play out and I suppose I’m forced to agree. This isn’t going to happen quickly, even with his confession at sentencing. Lawyers will do what they will do and drag this out as far as possible. But it’s possible that this is an even better outcome. In my mind I picture him sitting in that tiny cell, deprived of both sunlight and the warmth of human compassion. He is young, with many long years to go before a natural death, but he will spend that time knowing that he won’t reach such an age. Without knowing the final date for a very long time he will nonetheless sit there feeling the seconds ticking away toward his date with his own mortality. Perhaps it will drive him insane as he waits in his tiny, steel room. But even if so, I hope he recovers his sanity in time for that final walk to be strapped down to the table and have the IV put in his arm. It’s a moment he deserves to experience in full.

And with that not terribly Christian thought, I hope I can close the book on this for a long time. Goodbye again, Dzhokhar. Go rot in a dark hole where we don’t need to think about you any longer until you die.