Jeff Jacoby’s essay on the judicious use of the death penalty is both unfortunate and misguided (“Tsarnaev and the death penalty,” Op-ed, May 8). Murder, no matter how horrendous, is the sudden eruption of a moral disease within a society. To survive, a society depends on the recognition and collective acceptance of the moral code that constitutes the basic structure and coherence of that society.
The unspeakable violence of which the Tsarnaevs are accused is a threat to that moral code, a tearing of that fabric that holds society together. Capital punishment, by its example, simply legitimizes that violence, and thus perpetuates it.
The alternative of life in prison, and not the moral bankruptcy of the death penalty, speaks to the idea of moral justice as the proper response to an act of violence such as the Boston Marathon bombings.