Warm Up The Electric Chair


Alleged DC sniper John Allen Muhammad is acting as his own laywer, which virtually guarantees not simply a conviction but the harshest possible sentence.

That is, if the experiences of other high-profile killers Colin Ferguson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Charles Manson are any guide.


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  1. Thomas-
    The sniper suspect’s “alleged” because he hasn’t been convicted. Nick is (rightly) speculating that he’s going to get his ass handed to him in court, like many other famous self-defenders.

    But then again, maybe I’m missing something sinister. After all, I was too dumb to spot the “subliminal” atrocity in actually saying the suspect’s name.

  2. Whoever you are at 1:26,

    I understand that the suspect is “alleged” because he hasn’t been convicted. That lack of a conviction is also the reason that it’s inaccurate to use the word “other” to modify “killers.” If not inaccurate, then inconsistent, at any rate.

    Additionally: I did not write that “saying the suspect’s name” is an atrocity. The atrocity is the sniper killings. The news coverage of the trial is thus associating the name “Muhammad” with that atrocity.

    Because you are so confused, it is probably good that you chose to remain unnamed.

  3. Unnamed, Thomas is glad that Islam is being sumliminally linked with random mass murder through the use of Mohammad’s name. Apparently, the hatred of Muslims in this country isn’t quite as white hot as he’d like it to be.

  4. Theodore Bundy represented himself, and despite his intelligence, was convicted.

  5. BTW, when is America going to get rid of the barbarous institution known as capital punishment? 🙂

  6. After we kill off all the barbarians. Or send them to France.

  7. When there’s enough room in our prisons to actually imprison murderers for the remainder of their natural lives. Reason # 2568 to end the war on drugs.

  8. But Brian, if we ended the Drug War there’d be a lot fewer murderers.

  9. I’m half-kidding, by the way…though it would be nice to see both the war on drugs ended and the death penalty done away with…

    I think it is going to take a realization that death penalty cases and the decades-long appeal process that inevitably follows every conviction is such a costly burden on the system that any benefit to be realized from executing people is simply not worth it. Barring a major cultural shift, the “barbarous” argument (which I happen to agree with, BTW) just isn’t going to fly around here.

  10. “Unnamed, Thomas is glad that Islam is being sumliminally linked with random mass murder through the use of Mohammad’s name. Apparently, the hatred of Muslims in this country isn’t quite as white hot as he’d like it to be.”

    Yes, because without this case, wherever would we get the idea to link Islam with random mass murder?

  11. Wait a minute. Islam is linked to random mass murder? Who knew? I thought it was terrorists, not Muslims, who did the killing.

  12. It’s worth remembering that Zacarias Moussouai is defending himself and winning, despite being a nutjob. (Of course, if he actually gets *acquitted*, Bush will call “do-overs” and send him to a military tribunal.)

  13. Abu-Jamal?? Harsh sentence? There’s a difference between a harsh sentence and a harsh sentence meted out.

    Perhaps Muhammad is articulate. Then, like Abu-Jamal he can get a short gig on NPR and become the darling of Paul Newman, Sarandon and the ANSWER crowd. It reminds me of the recent large “antiwar” rally in Boston where I kept seeing a bunch of “free Mumia” banners.

  14. . . . high-profile killers Colin Ferguson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Charles Manson . . .

    I can’t believe Reason has been ignorantof this matter, but Mumia is innocent and is the victim of a frame up!!!

    [Just kidding: I’ve always wanted to say that, though — just to see how it felt. 🙂 ]

  15. the future toast of paris

  16. I was just about to mention Moussaoui. He’s running rings around Ashcroft.

    Pretty smart for a whackjob. I bet he’d fit right in at AEI. Apart from being a Muslim who hates Jews, he’d go with the whole social conservative thing. Say what you want about Islam, but Sharia certainly isn’t soft on crime.

  17. Someone once said:

    “The man who serves as his own lawyer has a fool for an attorney.”

    ..or something like that.

  18. I actually got to use Mumia’s name once in a public context: I was a contestant on “Win Ben Stein’s Money” (yes, really!) and one of the questions was about some famous prisoner who had written an article or book or something. I couldn’t think of anybody besides Mumia Abu-Jamal. I was wrong, sadly, so Nancy Pimental got to make fun of me (that name is really a mouthful to pronounce, as Nancy mocked me for), and said she wasn’t asking who my taxi driver was.

  19. Wait, first you describe Muhammad as the “alleged” sniper, but then you definitively lump him in with “other high-profile killers.”

    Which is it?

    In other news, it is nice to see the name “Muhammad” get attached to this atrocity, every day in the news, over and over. Subliminal and effective.

  20. arjay,

    The death penalty was not eradicated from the law in France until 1981.

    The last execution was in 1977; it was of Hamida Djandoubi and was by the guillotine. The last public execution in France was in 1939. After WWII, around four thousand people were executed out of the half million tried for collaberation; another two hundred thousand lost all civic rights.

    As to the death penalty in Europe, for Britain and France at least, though numerous laws did award such a penalty, what tended to happen was transportation to a colony instead – this was how British and French judges got around meting out death penalty verdicts – thus the thousands of Britons who were transported to North American and Australia. In fact, during the Revolutionary War, when transport to North America became problematic, they were kept in ships at dock until Australia was opened up as a penal colony.

  21. Jean Bart

    As one who grew up in Tasmania, indeed, I am entirely familiar with how the British handled their penal problems.

    I am more interested at this point how we deal with these issues (make no mistake,I am an opponent of the death penalty but I see its appeal not only here in the US but in Europe as well).

  22. Jean Bart,

    Remember, in 1837 Michigan entered the Union with no Death Penalty (the first time anywhere?)
    This was in opposition to most of Europe with the “Death Penalty” for just about everything. This after Wm Penn’s colony in PA said execution should be the penalty for Treason and Murder, only (instead of the 175+ offenses in England at the time).

    My point being that the US was at the forefront of abolition of the death penalty until recently (I believe France had an execution in the 1980s, with, of all methods, the guillotine).

    The death penalty is law in only 38 states (altho Fed law provides for many cases, other than treason, which I don’t see in the Constitution) and even in those it is restricted.

    I also understand that polls in Europe indicate roughly the same support for the death penalty as in the US. Therefore I wonder which will change first.

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