Fraysters celebrate Secretary's Day

What's happening in our readers' forum.
April 28 2006 6:18 AM

Does Your Job Suck?

Fraysters celebrate Secretary's Day

(Continued from Page 3)

mallardsballad thinks Moussaoui's lawyers have overlooked a potentially more compelling line of defense:

To use the abuse excuse on not only a self proclaimed terrorist, but someone who is considered "the other" is not only a desperate tactic on the part of the defense attorneys, but an incompetent one…

The better argument would be, that Moussaoui wants to be a martyr. That's all he has left. Like a lot of these terrorist losers, pride is everything to them.

Take that away from him. To him, execution is a celebrated warrior's death, with promises of those 90 virgins or whatever childish promises were offered to him. Let him rot away in a prison, where there are obviously no female virgins to molest.

… The only satisfaction the victims families would derive from his execution is that the state could have control over exactly when that would be and maybe he suffers a little. That's immediate gratification, but personally I'd like him to suffer a lifetime of the State's control over almost every aspect of his life, with no redemption.

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According to jacoxnet,Dershowitz badly misses the point altogether

of Zacharias Moussaoui's defense. His lawyers are not claiming that he should be shown sympathy because he had a "bum childhood" … They are arguing -- and proving, in my view -- that Moussaoui is a delusional schizophrenic whose testimony is not credible. Moussoui's experiences in childhood and young adulthood are just part of the story of the effects of serious mental illness on his life.

In my view, criticism ought to be leveled not at the defense but at the government lawyers. They know as well as the defense that Moussaoui is seriously mentally ill. But they are intentionally misusing Moussaoui's delusions -- and the resulting outrageous statements that Moussaoui has made -- to try to get the jury angry enough at him to impose the death penalty. They are doing so not because Moussaoui really deserves the death penalty -- clearly, he does not -- but because our government wants SOMEONE to be sentenced to death for the September 11 attacks and Moussaoui is all they have.

Finally, Arlington2 asks a more sociological question:

Why not explore what type of people are recruited by extremist movements, and how they're brainwashed into believing all people not like themselves are evil?

Terrorist organizations appear to function like cults, looking for people who are insecure and looking for "the answer." They isolate their recruits and pound them with propaganda, making them believe outrageous things. The Hale Bopp comet will transport us to heaven. We must drink poisoned Kool Aid to save our souls. We get 81 virgins if we blow ourselves to bits.

The best defense might be to call in a couple FBI profilers to give the jury a picture of what kind of person Moussaoui really is.

Unaddressed thus far is what Dershowitz should have called the "remorse recourse": Would Moussaoui be best served by saying sorry? Contribute your thoughts here. AC12:10pm

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

In "The Gerrymander That Ate America," Juliet Eilperin proposes a new system for drawing electoral maps. Under Eilperin's proposal, a nonpartisan mapmaking czar, supported by a bipartisan panel of viziers, would assume complete responsibility for drawing state legislative districts. This proposition has spurred a cyber-civic debate in the Fray of uncommon creativity and depth—illustrating how important the issue of gerrymandering is to American citizens today.

Many readers find the prospect of investing so much power in one person quease-making. The best description of this concern is stated by k_chandrasekar:

Mr. Hersch's proposal is too dangerous in my opinion for the sole reason that it vests absolute power in the hands of one man. Trusting to a man's impartiality, incorruptibility, and resistance to inevitable pressures, both fair and foul, in such situations is probably utopian.

Where can one turn to find an honest broker in this day and age? A surprisingly popular option appears to be turning over legislative mapmaking to a computer program—"making the process purely mechanical rather than political," as Gilker_Kimmel eloquently puts it. Fray Editor suspects, based on the Diebold example, that this would just transfer suspicion from the politicians to the programmers. rundeep nominates the common man as a neutral decision-maker, advocating that election maps be approved by referendum. In defense of the status quo, 20yearsfromnow finds politicians to be the best-suited decision-makers: "[D]espite the illogic that sometimes seems to prevail in the defining of districts, the process [is] a fine example of the art of politics and compromise that is the heart of our republic."

Rules that would limit the potential for maps based on self-serving goals are another promising angle of approach. Several posters suggest geometry as a limiting principle. Trebuchet advocates applying a "fractal index" to see if districts are too complex. Auros4 goes furthest in developing actual language to state the rule:

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