Ever notice how death-penalty opponents love to argue that life imprisonment is worse than execution -- even though death row inmates' copious appeals deny that argument? That argument has returned.
"Let him rot," the Hartford Courant editorialized. Don't sentence Moussaoui to death, when "he deserves to live his worst dream, which is to spend his remaining years looking at four bare walls in a cell separated from everyone else and monitored round the clock." The Los Angeles Times editorialized, "Capital punishment gives (jihadists like Moussaoui) the martyrdom they crave."
Of course, the Times and the Post's Cohen would oppose the death penalty even for Osama bin Laden himself. And it's a safe bet that if jurors do not sentence Moussaoui to death, then in the future they'll be arguing that if a man involved in close to 3,000 homicides can beat the death rap, then jurors would be wrong to mete out a capital sentence to a man who, say, has killed only two people.
The Times argued that the death penalty "debases our society." Nice sounding words -- but that's a mantra, not an argument.
It debases a society when a group of hateful extremists murder nearly 3,000 innocent people and there is so little outrage. It debases a society when elites are so concerned about feeling civilized that they fool themselves into believing that life behind bars can atone for so much senseless carnage. It cannot.