As I write this (in the courtroom during a trial. Gee, I hope nothing bad happens to my client!) the hunt for Osama bin Laden seems to be going well. The Taliban has collapsed, and Osama has been reduced to posing as a spelunker named “Hank” from Eugene Oregon as US Marines comb through his caves. It seems likely he will soon die with some profound Islamic prayer on his lips, like “Holy Shit, that’s a big machine gu…” That ending is just fine with me.

However, as the judge asks me if I have anything I’d like to say in my client’s behalf (Huh?…What?…Uh, no thanks your honor.), I ponder what happens if he is caught alive. What do we do with him? Do we jail him? Do we give him a business loan? Do we torture him to death? Do we let him play Vegas? All strong choices. My gut tells me that most will be demanding the death penalty. My gut also tells me that raw clams are best eaten fresh, if anyone’s interested.

Since the clamor to off Osama will be overwhelming, I find myself once again compelled to take the unpopular position (like when I came out strongly pro grave desecration). I say: “No death penalty for Osama!” And I mean it sincerely. This is not just another attempt to keep the hate mail and death threats coming.

I have always opposed the death penalty, and not just because there is a good chance I’ll get it someday. I am troubled by the inevitability of innocent people being executed. Our government is simply not infallible, as evidenced by the fact that the Social Security Administration still sends me mail addressed to “Klondike Peach.” Then there are the cases where the condemned is a 6 foot black man, even though the only witness originally described the killer as “Robert Blake. Not like Robert Blake. It was actually Robert Blake!”

Even if the guy is actually guilty, I still think there are some moral absolutes, my fondness for “Prison Chicks” movies notwithstanding. If there are to be such absolutes, not killing people in cold blood should be one of them. “No silent consonants” should be another. That’s it, just those two. No killing in cold blood, and no silent consonants.

In my profession, they say “Hard cases make bad law.” They say other stuff too, but I don’t really know what it is. Although, judging by the look on my client’s face, he sure wishes I did. Certainly, bin Laden is a hard case. Conjuring any sympathy for him is an uphill battle. But that’s not what I’m trying to do. I can’t even conjure sympathy for the client sitting next to me, and he didn’t murder 5000 people. I’m not sure what he did do (he told me, but I’ve got my own problems), but I doubt it was that bad.

I don’t oppose executing bin Laden because of what it does to him, but what it does to us. It makes us all complicit in a cold blooded killing. I for one want no part of that. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got enough on my head…what with all the stuff I’m hiding from the IRS, the CIA, and the Girl Scouts of America. I have 12 aliases, and that’s just with Columbia House Record Club. My mother thinks I’m a Turkey farmer in Luxembourg, and I hide under my bed whenever the lawn care truck drives by (no reason!). The last thing I need is to get involved in a killing.

Think of the message we send to the world about our respect for human rights if we respect the rights of even a vermin like bin Laden. It’s like letting Lee Majors act to show how far we take freedom of expression. Also, consider the possibility–admittedly remote–that bin Laden is theologically correct. The minute we kill him we are sending him to paradise where 72 virgins await him (or 71 virgins and one girl who went horseback riding a lot). Isn’t it better to at least send him to his eternal virgins with a little experience at the hands of a cellmate named “Meat” who thinks Osama is a “Hottie?”

As the Sheriff leads my client away in handcuffs (apparently the first time that’s happened in a zoning case!), I think of bin Laden, in a prison crewcut, all cuddled up with Meat, while watching “Baywatch” reruns. This image is far more appealing to me than giving the government the power to kill people in anything other than self defense.

Tomorrow: Since bin Laden has 4 wives, does he get 4 times as many conjugal visits? I say yes!