Obviously the only way anyone is spelling Dzhokhar Tsarnaev correctly is with cut and paste, as I just did. It’s been about fifteen minutes since he was taken alive into custody. I watched it live along with many across the country as the manhunt that begin in the wee hours of the morning came to a dramatic close on a boat.
The reaction was instant and palpable. Celebration. Relief. Well-earned and well-deserved cheers for the Boston Police and the many branches of the government involved in bringing definitive resolution so quickly in the wake of bombings. A massive outpouring of love to Boston in the hopes all Bostonians can sleep easy tonight. However, I found myself saddened by a strong revenge element of the instant emotional reaction as well. I was watching on Facebook and twitter through the last several hours and a number of responses were basically “I wish they’d shot him” or “I hope they get out the waterboard” or simply just “kill him.”
To be clear, I don’t begrudge anyone their anger or desire for revenge. I truly don’t. This is an unimaginable horror, and justice needs to be served. However, it needs to be justice.
There is still an incredible amount of information we do not know. The specifics of the evidence that led to these young men and how exactly each of them relates to the bombing is unknown. What role each of them played in enacting the bombing is unknown. Were others involved is unknown. Were they trained by someone else to do this is unknown.
An enormous part of justice is ensuring that all of the facts are made clear and made public. As CNN has woefully demonstrated in the last several days, information comes fast and furious and is not necessarily accurate the first time.
Let’s just be sure that rather than lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks, we allow our justice system to do the job we trust it to do. The purpose of an impartial justice system is to ensure that truth wins out. All of it. That way, when a sentence is passed, we can all be sure of exactly what happened and why he deserves the punishment he eventually receives.
It’s easy to remember our humanity when dealing with the wounded. It’s hardest, and most important, to remember it when dealing with a criminal or terrorist. The answer will never be to behave as they do and did, for if they can force us to become like them, then they have already done far more damage to us than any bomb could ever do.
Sleep well Boston. Thank you to all involved from the very first responders to the police on the scene at the moment of the arrest for representing the best of humanity and the best of Americans. Here’s to ensuring we do not sacrifice any more of our humanity for revenge, but remain vigilant in the name of justice instead.