Killing Osama

In the weeks following 9/11, I wished death to Osama bin Laden. But I am against death penalties and war as much as I am against murder, so I struggled with my feelings. I lay awake at night pondering capital punishment. How can victims express their hurt and anger without becoming killers themselves? Having a government do the dirty work seems like a good solution until you realize governments are made of individuals, and when it comes down to it, someone has to pull a trigger, push a button. I thought about firing squads and public stonings, hangings and guillotines — all efficient but imperfect — and at last the poetic part of me came up with a theatrical solution. I imagined a pageant for mass-murderers that could be used all over the world in events that provide emotional closure for victims and a reckoning for those who have brought evil. Without making murder anyone's professional calling.

That night, here is how I imagined Osama's final moments:
At Ground Zero, a chair is prepared where he will sit. Above the chair a canopy is stretched, a simple tarpaulin suspended by poles. Outside the poles there is a walkway that goes around the perimeter of the canopy, with stairs leading up and down on either side. Nearby, bulldozers have delivered a pile of rubble saved from the dark mess he made.

The crowd gathers around, and anyone who has been hurt by his actions may take a piece of rubble in their hand. Children, parents, widows, friends, firefighters, rescuers, targeted Muslims, air travelers file past Osama and tell him what he did. They walk up the stairs and toss their object onto the tarp in the name of the Lost, perhaps with a shout, a silent prayer, or the words they've been dying to say. As the day goes on, each small stone adds to the next and the canopy begins to sag. At some point it will break, crushing him under the rubble and pain he created. But the pageant does not end until all the rubble is gone and every harm is spoken.