Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s Age Can’t Shield Him From Justice

by Bill Brenner on April 22, 2013

After the elation everyone felt Friday night when the second suspected Boston Marathon bomber was captured after a bloody manhunt, the mood dropped again.

Some fellow parents lamented the fact that a 19-year-old kid could do what Dzhokar Tsarnaev is accused of doing. They pictured him curled up in a ball in that backyard boat in Watertown, scared beyond all comprehension. Tsarnaev
is someone’s child, someone pointed out.

Here’s why I’m less sympathetic.

Mood music:


I was a real punk at 19. I had little to no respect for my elders. I had a violent temper and broke things on an almost daily basis. I drank, I smoked, I lied. I drove recklessly. I held people in contempt if they didn’t share my so-called values. You could say I was a time bomb. Sooner or later, I could have done something that would have landed me in jail. As it turned out, I chose to turn that destructive energy on myself instead.

I’m not a special case. I know a lot of people who were like that at 19. Some of them are no longer among us. Those who are have built beautiful families, careers and lives.

I never seriously plotted to hurt anyone. I sure as hell would never have dropped a bomb at someone’s feet and have run. Most of the young punks I knew wouldn’t have done so, either.

If the charges are proven true, Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan had something in them that most of us lack: the will and desire to take innocent lives.

I do feel badly for Dzhokar on one point: He was probably under the influence of and led astray by his older brother. It wouldn’t be the first time in history that a kid did things he wouldn’t have done unless pushed by an older sibling he revered and wanted to please at all costs. I wanted to please my older brother, too. But he was a better role model and, had he lived to adulthood, I’d have been better for it.

Dzhokar killed and maimed people. It’s harder to feel sympathy for him than for your typical 19 year old.

Maybe he’ll turn his life around and do some serious soul-scouring. He may earn forgiveness along the way and find ways to help people. If convicted, he’ll have to tend to those things from prison. When you hurt people the way he is accused of doing, you lose all rights to freedom.

That may be cold, but it’s how I feel.

suspect 4

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mina April 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

I real love the u think of and I may feel the same way.
Every one will need Forgiveness in some piont of his life…

matt hines May 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm

In spite of the fact that I want this dude to die, because everyone is a punk at age 19 – but sure as hell knows the difference between right and wrong enough to know this is abhorrent behavior…

And in spite of the fact that having been raised Catholic, that doesn’t play too large of a presence in my life these days (not that I’ve rejected Catholicism, I just don’t think much of the bureaucratic institution known as “the Catholic Church” and draw my beliefs from many different sources, not that anyone cares but I didn’t want you to think I was insulting your faith, Bill)…

And yup, despite the fact that I feel absolutely sure that these fn weasels killed an old college era buddy of mine the year before by slitting the throats of him and his roommates.. for dealing pot? … for being Jewish? … for being pro-Israeli pot dealers who potentially shipped their profits back to the middle east to support their Homeland? We’ll never know… oh no, wait, maybe we will.

Let’s pump this little weakling for every ounce of intelligence we can into the minds of an attacker and murderer AND force him to live with it every day surrounded by fellow (but surely much meaner tougher and aggressive, and hopefully more romantically inclined) prison mates…

Let’s make sure we get his admission for Raf and those guys who never deserved to die that way but have been forgotten because they sold… weed? To college kids?

Truthfully I don’t feel we as a society get to determine who lives or dies, at least not at the hands of our legal system, we seriously need to evolve beyond that (though it amuses me that the most outspoken death penalty peeps tend to identify as Christian – again, an observation not an insult BB)…

Let’s force him to LIVE with the horror he has created. Make him watch and deal with the people he hurt as they struggle through life, maybe let them visit him in jail and force him to deal with them and their anger and pain in the same way he and his rest-in-no-peace POS brother forced themselves on all of us.

Between living 3500 miles away, having friends and family running the race, peeps working as BPD right there in Coply Sq., because they killed an innocent peaceful guy I used to call a friend and shoot, because I feel like I grew up on that corner between skating at the library, working at the Swan Boats, drinking at night on the Charles and my mom working at 501 Boylston for decades… I want to kill this kid myself with my bare hands. He violated all of our lives…

But we mustn’t. Time to take a breath, calm down, consider the big picture.

He’ll meet his maker and have his hour of judgement someday, we all will….

Let’s make him live with us first.

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