We've become completely sissified in the war on terror.
The root word is sissy. That's: sis sy. N. pl. sis sies. Meaning: 1) A boy or man regarded as effeminate, 2) A person regarded as timid or cowardly, (sis si·ness or sis sy·ness n.; sis sy adj.; sis sy·ish adj.). Hence sis si·fied: adj. of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a sissy.
Sissified is the only word to describe a federal jury's decision to give Zacarias Moussaoui a verdict of life rather than death.
Don't believe me?
Consider that in rendering its verdict, the jury was guided by a 42-page questionnaire that forced them to contemplate the following statements before determining his fate:
That ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI's unstable early childhood and dysfunctional family resulted in his being placed in orphanages and having a home life without structure and emotional and financial support eventually resulting in his leaving home due to his hostile relationship with his mother.
That ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI's father had a violent temper and physically and emotionally abused his son.
That ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI's father abandoned Zacarias and his siblings, leaving Zacarias's mother to support and raise their children on her own.
That ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI was subject to racism as a youngster because of his Moroccan background with affected him deeply.
That ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI's mother had a violent uncle or men unrelated to the family living in the home with the family.
That ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI's two sisters and his father all suffered from psychotic illnesses.
That even though ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI arrived in England with no money and lived in a homeless shelter, he endured hardship and through perseverance graduated with a masters degree from South Bank University.
That his mother's failure to provide her children with any meaningful religious training or practice left ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI without the theological or intellectual basis to resist the preachings and propaganda of radical Muslim fundamentalists in London who provided him with a sense of group identity he never had.
That ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI suffers from a psychotic disorder, most likely schizophrenia, paranoid subtype.
And so on for 42 pages! I have the answer to each one: who gives a fuck?
Al Qaeda is planning which throat to slit next with a box cutter. Meanwhile we're kvetching over Zacarias Moussaoui's dysfunctional family, violent father, his mother's uncle, and his psychotic sisters.
I mean, are you kidding me? This is a guy who had knowledge of the 9/11 plot and wishes he had flown an airplane into some landmark on 9/11 or thereafter. He pleaded guilty! And two weeks before refusing to sentence this jerkoff to death, the same jury concluded that his lies to investigators (three weeks before 9/11) were the direct cause of death on 9/11. And yet, when asked to punish Moussaoui, they couldn't put him down?
I now know why.
It's because, in an utter perversion of justice, the jury's attention was diverted from the images of people jumping to their death from the Twin Towers, and the sound from the Flight 93 cockpit recorder, to this touchy-feely BS. The questionnaire statements I cited each came under the heading of so-called "mitigating factors", and although the jury did not agree with all of them, they were forced to consider each--an ordeal that clearly sidetracked their work.
The thick, convoluted, Moussaoui verdict slip is itself an indictment of what we have become in this country. It's an embarrassing account of how in our quest to be fair and just, we have abdicated concern for victims of crime in favor of self-guilt and rationalization.
Finley Peter Dunn was a Chicago-based author and humorist who wrote as the fictitious Mr. Dooley in the early 20th century. "Mr. Dooley" would dispense his wisdom from an Irish pub where he bartended. I'm pretty sure it is from him that we were first given this gem, that the job of a jury in a murder case is threefold: Did Smith kill Jones? Did Jones deserve it? And, when do we eat?
Truth in jest indeed. Too bad the Moussaoui jury didn't keep it that simple. While the law requires a modern jury to consider mitigating factors, there was no reason why Judge Leonie Brinkema had to burden them with a 42-page questionnaire.
The net effect? That laughter you hear is coming from a cave on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
And say what you will about Moussaoui's truthfulness during trial, but at least we know he was being honest when it ended, and he said:
"America, you lost, I won."
Follow Michael Smerconish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@smerconish