As we thankfully hear of the apprehension of the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, many of us are glad that he was taken alive and hope he remains so for trial. The reason I and many others have this reaction is the sense that without a trial, we would be denied the opportunity to see justice done, to gain understanding of the crime rather than leaving it forever a mysterious attack, and to collectively experience the resolution of this awful event. We want to see him stand up before a courtroom and face his accusations rather than escaping from them, if there is anyone in the world who insists on his innocence or speaks sympathetically to his cause (should there turn out out to be one), we want those sympathizers’ faulty proclamations to be undeniably corrected as a matter of public record.
But a few people out there, including, sadly, sitting United States Senators, apparently need to be reminded that giving people their Constitutional rights and a fair trial is not being soft on them. Rather, it is a chance to demonstrate publicly and incontrovertibly their guilt, and to serve out justice—which, in this case, could even include death—in a transparent way on behalf of and in view of the entire public, while keeping the actions of the government visibly and unquestionably above reproach.
Moreover, when it is “the public” who has been attacked, every one of us has a stake in seeing things done right, and in understanding and getting to experience the outcome as clear justice done.