I’m sorry, but I can only bring myself to skim today’s reports on the playing of the cockpit voice recorder from Flight 93 for jurors in the Moussaoui trial. The pleading, the struggling, the creepy chanting about Allah as the hijackers prepared to slaughter a planeload of people. I know it’s important for everyone to remember how horrifying the attacks were, but the tidbits in today’s papers border on the pornographic.

This of course is exactly the gut-level revulsion that the Moussaoui prosecutors are hoping to provoke in jurors now deciding whether to sentence this sorry excuse for a human being to death. But while I see the logic of their strategy, I question its rightness. The contents of these tapes can only cloud jurors’ ability to approach their sentencing duties with anything resembling reason, and theirs is too important a duty to carry out based on raw emotion.

It’s not that I doubt that Moussaoui is complete scum. But there is a strong case to be made that he does not deserve to die—not because death would be too harsh a penalty, but because it would be too easy. I mean, how bad can the idea of lethal injection be to a guy who was ready to fly a plane into a building? So while I personally believe that, in a just world, Moussauoi would be torn apart by angry ferrets, I can’t help but question our rush to turn him into a shining example of martyrdom for all his aspiring terrorist pals. Better to throw the failed jihadist into a cell with a large, surly redneck with a scorching case of xenophobia and let him spend the rest of his miserable life learning about pain and terror firsthand. --Michelle

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