(NECN: Jack Thurston, Hartford, Vt.) - Paul Keane told New England Cable News Tuesday that he is willing to give an unused family cemetery plot in Hamden, Conn. to the family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, to bury the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect right next to Keane's own mother.
"I'm offering a gift," Keane said. "I'm not pushing it on anyone."
Keane is a retired Hartford, Vt. high school English teacher, whose blog says he has a master's degree from the Yale Divinity School. He recalled his mother's reading of the Biblical Gospel of Matthew as a lesson to Christians to treat all people with mercy and kindness, the good and the bad alike, even elements of society they may find repugnant.
"She was a Sunday school teacher. She taught me to love thine enemy," Keane said of his mother, Barbara Keane, who died in 1985. "No matter how much of a pariah, no matter how despicable, no matter what a leper [Tsarnaev] is, he's a human being and he deserves the right to be buried like anybody else."
Keane told NECN he has been in touch with religious scholars and practitioners of Islam in Connecticut to help broker his offer directly to the bombing suspect's family. Keane acknowledged he is well aware his idea will likely stir emotional controversy in Connecticut. One person even warned him the gift could make his mother's grave a target for vandals.
"But my mother would laugh at that, too," he said. "She was not a materialist."
Keane insisted his mom's reminder to "love thine enemy" means she, too, would support the idea of having a suspected terrorist buried alongside her.