Jerry Coyne argues that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should not be held morally responsible for his terrorism. This is where New Atheism leads……..
At this moment, a jury in Boston is weighing imposing a federal death penalty on 21-year-old Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after he was convicted on all 30 criminal counts. […]the Boston Globe notes, Tsarnaev’s circumstances are special since the bombing is seen as a terrorist act, a public one, and a gory one. He may well be sentenced to death, and actually executed. Attorney General Eric Holder made the decision to request the death penalty, and he’s supported by several of the maimed victims or relatives of those who died.
Defense attorneys are arguing that Tsarnaev did not act independently, but was under the sway of his older brother Tamerlan. This is what they must argue to avoid execution, and I’m firmly on their side. But their argument could go further: Tsarnaev was acting under the influence of his genes and his environment, of which Tamerlan was a part, and he had no choice other than to plant the bombs. [….] All criminals have the same extenuating circumstance: they had no choice. In what sense, then, are murderers “morally” responsible for what they did?
The fault, dear Brutus, is indeed in our stars—or rather in our genes and our circumstances. Tsarnaev was simply unlucky in what his parents and his life vouchsafed him, and he wound up an odious and murderous person. For that he should be put away for life, as the possibility of rehabilitation seems slim. But let’s not pretend that he could have done anything other than place those bombs.
The entire blog entry is filled with incoherent and inconsistent claims. I’ll try to explain when I get the time, but then again, we can’t really hold Jerry Coyne intellectually responsible for his claims, now can we? Let’s not pretend that he could have done anything other than write that blog entry, right?