The death penalty is wrong, even for a piece of dirt like Zacarias Moussaoui.
His execution might satisfy our thirst for vengeance — even if he was sitting in a jail cell on Sept. 11, 2001 — but what would it tell us about Moussaoui that we already don't know?
He hates Americans, and as a member of al-Qaida, wants to kill as many of us as he can. He said as much during his sentencing trial, which culminated Wednesday with the jury's recommendation that he be sentenced to life in prison.
Would his execution stop al-Qaida from wanting to kill us, and worse, trying to kill us?
The more important question — and a question that should guide our thinking about the death penalty in general — is what would executing Moussaoui say about us as a society?
Is the only way we know how respond to violence and mass killings like on 9/11 is with more violence and death?
The sense of vengeance is execution would bring might be sweet, but it would be short-lived and ultimately only an illusion.
Some of the family members of 9/11 victims understand that.
"My husband and I both opposed the death penalty in general. For me, now, this particular case is no exception,” said Andrea LeBlanc, whose husband Robert was a passenger on United Flight 175, the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center, hitting the South Tower.
“Violence takes many forms and killing another human being will never undo the harm that has been done. Killing Zacarius Moussaoui would not have helped us understand those things that lead to 9/11. Nor would it have helped create the kind of compassionate world I want to live in."
Abolish the Death Penalty has more comments from other family members who opposed the death penalty for Moussaoui.