Letters

In sentencing for a murder, survivors' testimony is dubious

A source for the April 13 article about the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, "Testimony from 9/11 victims: How much is fair?," thinks jurors need to "get a true sense ... of ... how much suffering" Mr. Moussaoui's crime caused. She's right about jurors' ignorance, wrong in her conclusion.

Victims' survivors and specialists in "complicated mourning" know something that jurors, and people who kill, do not. The effects of every homicide on victims' survivors are far more extreme than we imagine. The emotional, spiritual, psychological, relational, and medical consequences can be enormous. Some may linger for a lifetime.

Testimony about such wounding is profoundly disturbing. Those who underfund victims' programs and crime-preventing social services should hear it. Jurors should not. Like them, the one who decided to kill had but an inkling of the appalling harm a murder causes, so why judge him for unintended consequences? The same effects follow even a barroom manslaughter, but they're presented as if they help show that - among many who have murdered - the one on trial is among the few deserving the ultimate penalty. And rather than considering society's sentencing standards, jurors are asked to vindicate the survivors' unspeakable suffering by choosing the most serious penalty.

All the penalties for murder reflect its seriousness. A particular sentence should depend on how the crime was committed, how the perpetrator came to be one who could kill, and his/her damning and redeeming qualities. Telling jurors the supposedly unique effects of a particular murder misleads them and floods them with emotion, when they should be making the soberest of decisions.
Michael Goldstein
Alameda, Calif.

Insightful portrayal of a teen hijabi

The April 12 article, "A teen hijabi comes of age," explains why so many Americans appreciate the Monitor. Regardless of race or religion, your insightful articles are generally accurate and impartial.

The story about Sarah Ismail is a case in point. As an American Muslim with five hijabi sisters, I felt that Sarah could easily have been mistaken for one of my sisters. Her modest dress code, strong belief in God, commitment to her education, compassion for her parents, and love of her Americanism - including the freedoms of expression and tolerance - all remind me of the ordinary young American Muslim females of today.

Thank you for sharing with the world how Muslims can also be Americans.
Nader Khalaf
Albuquerque, N.M.

Not much change in China

In response to the April 7 article "Misreading China: It's time to move beyond old stereotypes": Maybe looking at China through old stereotypes is the most accurate thing to do. It is a country of mystery: It has capitalism under a Communist party, the world's fourth largest economy with roughly $6,000 GDP per capita, and there is openness in a repressed society.

Having lived in China for more than nine years, I was beginning to believe China was loosening its repressive measures against its people, until China persistently practiced censorship of information - especially that found on the Internet - amid economic growth and prosperity. The government's stubbornness has convinced me to believe that China has not changed much from the past century.
Peter Jong Woo Jeong
Guangzhou, China

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK