Peggy Noonan has a good piece on why the Moussaoui verdict was wrong. I tend to agree with her, although hearing about his expected confinement last night on the news leads me to think what he got will be pretty horrible, so maybe life is the right verdict; it's a complicated issue.

She raises a good point, though: "It is as if we've become sophisticated beyond our intelligence, savvy beyond wisdom. Some might say we are showing a great and careful generosity, as befits a great nation. But maybe we're just, or also, rolling in our high-mindedness like a puppy in the grass." I sometimes wonder if I am the only one who has noticed this.

Think about it the next time you are discussing some issue with someone. Questions that seem open and shut bring a thoughtful pause, "well, but have you thought about..." It seems as though the lack of moral or intellectual clarity is considered a virtuous sign of sophistication. Everything's a grey area, every question deeper than it looks. Or it's a situation where the other party to the discussion actually agrees with you, but adopts the pseudo-complexity, grey area position.

Say there is a rape in your community and, after the perpetrator is convicted, you comment that they ought to cut the guy's n*ts off. And your friend brings up some point raised at trial by the defense, "well you know, he was abused himself as a child." Your friend really agrees with you, but he or she thinks it sounds smart and sophisticated to buy into the complexity line.

By the way, the second sentence of this piece illustrates it too.


Treasure State Jew said...

For some decisions, you just have to trust the guy in the room.

I happen to believe in the jury system. A jury of 12 citizens deliberated and decided Moussaoui's fate. It was a tough call, and those 12 people put their lives on hold for very little compensation to do their civic duty.

I was not in the room, and feel uncomfortable criticizing their decision.

WolfPack said...

I think the jury system is greatly flawed. I used to think it was a great system until I sat as a juror on two murder trials. One in Seattle had members who openly disliked the defendant because he was Mexican and conviction was easy (right answer wrong reason). The other in North Carolina couldn't convict because the black jurors couldn’t find a black man guilty (ala OJ) and the vote split along racial lines. One black juror actually told us fellow jurors that the 911 tape had to have been altered because it was too incriminating; it recorded the murder shots along with the voices of those involved. There can be some real nuts in the jury box and you would be shocked to hear the legal version of how sausage is made.