would you watch Saddam Hussein die?

This got started in the comments section of another post, but it seems to me more than deserving of its own post; it is far more important than Saddam Hussein’s last words. I started to watch the Daniel Pearl video, then I stopped it and did not go on. But I have read all kinds of banned documents, including the manual of Afghani Jihad, and I think I would watch the Steve Irwin video if his family would allow it to be released, so why I draw the line here but not there, I am not really sure I know.

Here’s the debate so far:

16 Comments

  1. Steven_L said,

    December 31, 2006 at 3:58 pm · Edit

    Are you going to give us the link for the video? I don’t think it’s that unconscionable to watch him swing.

  2. Metro said,

    December 31, 2006 at 4:40 pm · Edit

    It is said of Hitler that when he had the briefcase bombers strung up he had the event filmed, so that he could watch their death struggles over and over again.

    Mind the company you keep, Steve.

  3. theylion said,

    December 31, 2006 at 6:01 pm · Edit

    I’m with raincoaster on this one, for sure. Watching the video of an execution is quite possibly the creepiest kind of voyeurism I can imagine– it’s like watching snuff films.

  4. Creatrix said,

    December 31, 2006 at 7:02 pm · Edit

    Yes, theylion — it literally IS watching snuff films. There are websites where you can watch gruesome videos of terrorists performing decapitations, for example, but I pity the people who visit those sites, and wonder at their sick motivations. We think people in the 1500s were primitive for bringing their children to watch public burnings at the stake, but it looks like many of us are no different. Thanks, Raincoaster, for not showing it.

  5. raincoaster said,

    January 1, 2007 at 12:18 am · Edit

    I’m not going to put up the link to the video. This is not Steve Irwin who wanted the film shown; this is Saddam Hussein, being deliberately executed for political reasons. I don’t support capital punishment, and I don’t support morbid voyeurism either.

  6. Brian said,

    January 1, 2007 at 1:24 am · Edit

    Raincoaster,

    I also refuse to watch the video. I think it’s sickening that so many people are rejoicing and watching someone die, even if he was a monster. Capital punishment is proof that we haven’t changed much in hundreds of years.

  7. raincoaster said,

    January 1, 2007 at 1:29 am · Edit

    Indeed. Vengence is mine, saith the Lord, for those of you who are religious. And while I understand the desire for revenge and have felt it myself, both on a political/global and on a personal level against different people, I have been presented with the opportunity and motive to take life, even a pretty good self-defence motive, but I turned away from it. There are some acts which should simply not be performed, and killing a fellow human being, no matter how evil, is one of them.

    As for watching the execution, who could put it better than Metro already has?

  8. archiearchive said,

    January 1, 2007 at 1:51 am · Edit

    Exactly! Metro got it in one. I do not approve of capital punishment. It merely creates another murderer.

  9. Simen said,

    January 1, 2007 at 2:23 am · Edit

    I’m all against death penalty, but I don’t see it as unethical to watch Saddam’s execution. If anything, it reminds me why I’m against death penalty. I don’t find joy in watching people die – it just strengthens my opinion that killing someone for killing someone is just plain wrong.

    What I don’t understand, though, is why people are celebrating a murder like this.

    I have been presented with the opportunity and motive to take life, even a pretty good self-defence motive, but I turned away from it. There are some acts which should simply not be performed, and killing a fellow human being, no matter how evil, is one of them.

    Does that mean that if you were in a situation where one of the two of you would die, you wouldn’t defend yourself? Or just that you didn’t find it right under the circumstances? Self defence is a long way from execution.

  10. raincoaster said,

    January 1, 2007 at 2:30 am · Edit

    I had the opportunity to kill someone who had attempted to kill me, and I didn’t. What would I do in a violent confrontation? It’s very difficult to say. My philosophy ties morality to action, not to intention or consequence. If you knife someone to death, you’ve killed him and you’re morally responsible for that. If you try and miss, you’re responsible for the murder attempt. If you are driving and someone jumps in front of your car deliberately you’ve had an accident and are not morally responsible for the death. I will consciously take no action designed to end a human life; if I do, it is a moral failing, regardless of circumstances.

    I’m not so attached to life that I see it as a value per se. I see it as a prerequisite for action, no more.

  11. Simen said,

    January 1, 2007 at 2:52 am · Edit

    Well, since taking away someone’s life is the same as taking away their opportunity to do actions, life would still be the most precious thing you have.

  12. raincoaster said,

    January 1, 2007 at 3:04 am · Edit

    Not really; it can’t be commodified, although commercial fertility treatments and fetus stem cell farming (which is apparently happening in the Ukraine) are attempts to do so, as are ransoms.

    The question is, is life worth fighting for, does it have intrinsic value or does its value derive from the potential for action? I’d say the latter, and because one cannot control outcomes of action, potential actions are themselves valueless.

    I make it sound like Immanuel Kant was an existentialist, but of course that’s not the case. Perhaps I’ll be able to make myself clearer once I’m weaned from this Sudafed.

  13. Simen said,

    January 1, 2007 at 3:13 am · Edit

    Well, imprisoning someone restricts their potential actions, and I’d guess it has value to them. Prison is, after all, a punishment and not only a means to keep people away from society. If that were the case, things that doesn’t hurt others but is still illegal shouldn’t require prison, but it does. But should it?

  14. raincoaster said,

    January 1, 2007 at 3:26 am · Edit

    I think there’s a tendency to label things “victimless crimes” when, in fact, they do have victims. We’ve got a solipsistic society that sees things in terms of the individual alone, but a crack addict, someone who drives without a seatbelt, etc, all hurt other people by their actions, if only because everyone is loved by someone and would be missed.

    Prison is not only a punishment or a societal-protection mechanism; it’s also (or WAS also, long ago in the mists of time) supposed to be an opportunity for rehabilitation. That is a good justification, but only if it works, and studies show that some programs work for some, but there aren’t one size fits all solutions. Further, governments do have an incentive to fail to rehabilitate people, because a handy criminal class gives them something to point at and say, “You need us to protect you from these people.” It’s like why they don’t make run-proof pantyhose. They maintain their position by selling a solution which fails, so you buy another solution, etc etc.

    I think society should be behaviorist. I think Antigone is the most important work of art ever committed to paper, and I see both sides. I don’t think motivation should count (we’re so easily misled, too, don’t forget), I don’t think outcomes should count (should manslaughter be the equivalent of first-degree murder?), I think only actions themselves should count. So, if you were really drunk when you knifed the guy the issue wouldn’t be that you were drunk, or that you were clinically depressed because the postman stole your wife; the issue would simply be that you knifed the guy.

    I’m having difficulty reconciling this with my stand as an anarchal communist, but if you ARE going to have a government, it should be behaviorist. It’s not nurturing, it’s not moral, but it would be just, efficient, and effective.

  15. timethief said,

    January 1, 2007 at 4:08 am · Edit

    I don’t watch animals being butchered and I don’t watch butchers being snuffed.

  16. raincoaster said,

    January 1, 2007 at 4:12 am · Edit

    Well put. I think I’m going to start a new post with this topic, copying the posts here. Seems like an important and topical question.

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51 thoughts on “would you watch Saddam Hussein die?

  1. It is a good day for all people that Saddam is gone.And I think he got off ez.
    Maby it will make other people like him think. Hay If I get cought there going to kill me for what I have done.!!
    I’m pro DP. and with my Country had the DP. But like all thing it had its pro’s and cons but the world is a better place now.
    He has come and gone but I honestly think thay should have made him suffer like all his vic’s. I just wish the camphone was better I didn’t see the fear in his eyes.

  2. Troy, I do not support the death penalty. However, in your case I shall make an exception. Murder of the English language should be a capital offence.

    What really worries me is that with your lack of critical thought, incoherence and supreme faith in your Government, soon you will be able to vote! Oh well, there goes democracy again.

    btw, are you REALLY over 13?

  3. Although I admit to having a certain amount of morbid curiosity I know I could never bring myself to actually watch the execution. I would feel slimed by it and also that in some way, however indirectly, I had supported it by viewing the video.

  4. In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq–or rather the one he took power in (thanks in large part to some powerful friends), the penalty for failure to hold power was always death.

    Knowing that helped make him the brutal bastard he was.

    And now anyone who holds power in Iraq can clearly see that nothing has changed.

  5. Still on the bleeding edge I see Metro, you are exporting hot house flower prissiness to an enviroment where its inappropriateness is epic. The only problem is that one death is not enough for him but its a lot better than none . The notion that watching it is a bad thing defeats me entirely .Is it ..uncomfortable , inconvenient ..in bad taste ?

    Love and sympathy without justice are an evil. We will never see the return of the death penalty in the UK despite the consistent majority in favour . We have lost so much.

    ( And he was brutal bastard from day one commiting his first murder as a teenager)

    I rejoice .

  6. It’s fascinating what some consider “appropriate” and “justice”.

    As to why watching it would be a bad thing; for me it comes under the heading of “they also serve who only stand and wait”. If you approve of the death penalty, or if you believe Saddam really got a fair trial, I suppose those arguments might not apply.

    I don’t especially like watching people get killed even on the news, where it’s at least arguably legitimate. To seek out and participate in an execution I don’t believe is particularly useful by watching archived video of it is the most grotesque voyeurism.

  7. Just saw “Elizabeth 1” the other day and shuddered at the fact that people showed up to see people’s hands or heads get chopped of. “Thank God” we don’t do this nowadays” I thought to myself. Well, maybe I am wrong…..

  8. The video is just 3 clicks away from your website raincoaster. I watched it out of sheer morbid curiosity. It’s not as graphic as the beheading scene on Michael Moore’s Faranhite 9/11 or as clear as the video footage I saw on a history channel that showed one of the Nazi’s being hanged.

    We watch animals ripping each other to shreds on wildlife documentries without emotion. We watch space shuttles explode, we watched people jumping out of windows of the World Trade Centre, we watched the Asian Tsunami wash people away. No-one seemed to vioce any objections about all these innocent deaths being shown on the news.

    There’s nothing wrong with watching Saddam hang if you ask me, it’s a historical event and in a few years the footage will probably be used on some documentry and no-one will make the slightest fuss about it.

  9. Duh, Steven. It’s every single video on the front page of YouTube.

    You watched all of those things without emotion? How wonderful for you not to have any at all; it must save so much time. But that’s not really the point here, is it? We’re not really talking about emotion but about justice, about dignity of the condemned and dignity of the witnesses, and about whether or not a human being has the fundamental right to his own life. I’m sure you can find emotion-laden arguments somewhere, but they’re not here.

    You can, for instance, find them all over the 911 reporting; the networks were excoriated and vigorously sued when they showed that footage.

    There are lots of historical events that are also morally repugnant. The question is not “was this an important event” but rather “was this justice?” and “is any purpose served by witnessing this? Does doing so imply support?”

  10. 911 reporting; . Did you know that in the US within two weeks a company called “Precision Dynamics” were marketing a “Building escape parachute” Love that! The triumph of the free spirit of enterprise.

    I support the death penalty on moral grounds whether or not it makes people feel a bit upset is secondary . To actually watch the process has no more interest than to watch an abattoir in action for me I haven’t bothered .The morbid curiosity of outsiders is slightly unhealthy isn’t it but running off to your therapist to discuss how “you feel about it” is a hilarious response.

    . I am going to take it upon myself to help Metro work through his issues next year . Lucky fellow

  11. Who cares about Saddams dignity? Surely there’s far more worthy causes the bleeding-heart brigade can latch onto. Anyway it’s not for us to start bleating on at the Iraqis telling them how they should or shouldn’t manage their justice system. Their system puts ours to shame really. If he was tried at the Hague the whole chirade would still be going on, costing millions and Saddam would end up in the relative comfort of a Western prison. Looks like they’ve got the right idea to me. If only our justice system over here was so swift and efficient at dispatching scum.

  12. Steven, can you possibly believe that this trial was instigated or controlled by the Iraqis? Or are you saying Iraq’s justice system is superior to yours? You probably committed several flogging-level crimes just since breakfast, for god’s sake.

    If the trial had gone on at the Hague, at least there’d be no question of the fairness. We all know Hussein was an evil dictator, and guilty of the deaths of tens of thousands. But I haven’t seen anyone actually offer justification for capital punishment, except you, and that on the grounds that it’s cost-effective. Carrying that through to its logical conclusion, isn’t an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure? Executing newborns is far cheaper than waiting till they grow up and turn into criminals.

  13. justification for capital punishment,

    Actually capital punishment is a prodigiously expensive legal option and it would be vastly cheaper to shut the 40 nor so ,who in my opinion should be dead, in a metal box. Steven L is very wrong about this .
    Steven L is otherwise quite right as usual (except about cricket)

    Justice is the “justification” not expedience. It is a difficult idea certainly but the traditional model for it has been “scales.” When a murder is committed those scale are tipped towards evil and by killing the perpetrator the balance is restored . The importance of justice being seen to be done is that otherwise it is all to convenient for the dead to be filed away and for us all to pretend nothing happened.
    If we have no such idea then punishment is simply a matter of social convenience which I do not believe .We would then , as Tom Stoppard mentioned in the philosophical farce ”Jumpers” simply cart the inconvenient bodies (all of them) away in plastic bags at night….lets see who is not to my liking today. After all we have dispensed with justice R ..why not ?
    Belief or faith has been assumed, therefore , to be the philosophical underpinning but not in my view . Bertrand Russell quoting JS Mill pointed out that if God was responsible for morals he either picked them at random (ie he could have made murder good ) or right and wrong can have nothing to do with god .This is would accord with the Jewish relationship with god which I very much like .( See Abraham’s bargaining with Yahweh over the tricky Sodom and Gomorrah issue ). Justice sits above god . I see no need for faith here .
    Justice springs from the human heart and is closely associated with revenge , a form of love .To kill the murderer comes from love of the victim , it may be an unpleasant duty but it is a duty . The Hamlet problem of becoming the “deeds creature” is part of the sacrifice we expect from those committed to the good .It is an interesting paradox of course that the a just man in a “naughtie” world may lose his soul in the process.. Such problems were in the past faced rather than avoided.

    Without justice why not love the murderer? It some times seems to me that some luxuriate so decadently in their warm Jaccuzzi of empathising that they actually prefer to do this . Clearly this would be evil.

    My view of capital punishment springs from love operating within Justice .With a proper perspective of the short time we are alive and the long time we are dead such decisions seem less heartless than they might to those with a Telly Tubby group hug vision of the world.

    Executing new borns by the way is on the table in Holland right now and has been seriously discussed in the UK as a form of abortion.

  14. Newmania, as a Pom, do you know anything about cricket? (gloat, gloat, Aussie gloat).

    With respect to your comment about an execution restoring balance.
    Let us use correct terms here. Capital Punishment people use terms like “The State”, “the Courts” and “Justice”. The reality is, that after a person kills another, a whole lot of people conspire together to approve (OK, Ok, “Followed the legal process”) and then one person kills another. To me that does not restore a balance. It adds to the imbalance.

    Oh dear. I just read your second last paragraph. “Judicial” murder as an act of love?
    And “Proper Perspective”? If I do not agree with you I do not have the proper perspective? That is one step away from telling those who do not agree with you that they are not truly human! And we all know where that leads! http://archiearchive.wordpress.com/2006/12/17/we-are-all-racist/

  15. I think they’ve got the right idea in Singapore. Hang all murderers, drug dealers and firearms offenders, make the world a better place.

  16. Archie, unfortunately newmania would have no problem whatsoever with saying that everyone who disagrees with him is not truly human. He’s already made remarks to that effect about Muslims, and on this blog you know how welcome that would be.

    Steven, does it seem to you that Singapore is a preferable place to live, compared to London? Does it seem to you that the world is a better place when the citizens of a country have blood on their hands? There is a Singaporean blog in the blogroll here, and you’ll find that he’s a bit more sceptical about his government making the world a better place than you are. “Creativity Monday” for instance, seems to imply (and in fact does mean) that it’s more or less forbidden to be creative the rest of the week. Free thought and free action are not permitted in Singapore; it’s a functional fascism. Hey, Mussolini made the trains run on time, so I guess the guy wasn’t all bad, eh? And of course, Stalin used the death penalty as well. As did, in fact, Saddam Hussein.

  17. Raincoaster I have not said anything of the sort . On the contrary there are aspects of the disgust Muslims feel for the West I can sympathise with. I think people that go out to bomb other people deserve all that is coming to them and the IRA having gone quiet Muslims are the main problem here . Do you know how close on 7.7 assorted loons came to ploughing 14 jets into populous area of America. I would prefer the death sentence was an option for such people. I also think that it is valid to make judgements about groups to some extent .
    Everyone used the death penalty and the assumption is we are morally improving as evidenced by our abandoning it .
    I admit that pity and sympathy have advanced but so have cowardice moral and physical , selfishness and “truthiness” as in lying. Your remarks are wearingly familiar however and common amongst those who wish to close down legitimate areas of disagreement .Shame .The socila efficacy of capital punishment is secondary. Sometimes it is right

    ARCHIE – I do not accept that anything is happening . I deny its existence ..and if you wanta really good laugh go and look at poor Steven L`s predictions .

    ..you may have a point

  18. newmania, you said “all muslims are scum” and quite a bit more. If you don’t remember it, quit drinking and troll the archives because that and more are right here on this site.

  19. James Wolcott has a lot to say on the topic, and all very interesting, as usual.

    I’m opposed to capital punishment, but if it’s going to be carried out it should be done with gravity, dignity, and a semblance of authority. It should not look like some shabby impromptu of gangsterish thuggery. But then why should we expect this administration to handle this any less hamfistedly than they’ve handled everything else related to Iraq?

  20. Whether you believe in the death penalty or not, if it is necessary to record such things, the document of record should not be a video shot from a smuggled cell phone.

  21. Indeed, especially since the conspiracy theorists are already having a field day with it. In my opinion, if it is fair for a trial to be televised, it’s fair for the judgment to be televised as well, frankly, even if they’re morally wrong. You don’t get pressure to change without awareness of the problem. I choose not to watch the video, but I am coming to believe that its existence may be critical.

    Several hours ago EVERY SINGLE VIDEO on the front page of Youtube, ie http://YouTube.com, was an execution video of Saddam Hussein. Now, there are none to be seen. YouTube has asserted its cultural norms, over the obvious wishes of its viewers. And I wonder if WordPress’s terms of service preclude the posting of this video. It’s bumping up against all of our cultural taboos, and thus is important, if repugnant.

    BTW, his ghost is already hanging out in Baghdad, according to reports.

  22. should be done with gravity, dignity, and a semblance of authority. It

    Or with jugglers , hog raosts and laughing children celebrating the triumph of good over evil…………….”all Muslims are scum”…oops . Well it was obviosuly a sophisticated irony al;though a lot of them are dangerous lunatics

  23. And he’s going to help me “work through my issues” this year.

    Could someone please strike me with a slightly-less blunt instrument?

    Hang on a sec–I am experiencing a moment of what might in some circles pass for clarity:

    Could someone please strike HIM with a slightly-less blunt instrument?
    .

  24. I noticed he’d posted it. What’s that to me? Guido is a big boy and he makes his own decisions. This isn’t the first time we’ve disagreed about an issue.

    But did you know it’s entirely possible to post a video without having seen it, yourself? I wonder how many people wanted to jump on this hit-bonanza bandwagon but couldn’t bring themselves to watch. Given Guido’s past, I’m pretty sure he watched it, but I bet there are a lot who want the hits, but who didn’t feel the need to watch, just to pander. God knows, I’ve been tempted. I posted the tasering of the UC student without watching it, because it was important and I knew that it would bring about change, but I can’t watch it, myself. It would be too frustrating. Tasering I find repugnant and unforgivable, but execution, particularly a politically-driven execution, carried out in a tawdry and sectarian fashion, is so far beyond that that there are no words.

  25. Interesting. I watched the tasering. It was indeed repugnant. But perhaps it depends on your reason for watching?

    In the tasering video no-one actually died. And that event could only become politicized after the video.

    Depending on what you saw in that video, you might feel it was an appropriate reaction to the threat posed by a person with a book in a library. Or you might feel it was a fairly typical case of hamfisted morons going to town on someone who “disrespected” The Law as embodied by ther noble selves.

    But in Saddam’s execution there were no new facts, no information that could change the nature of what was being done, no lessons to draw. What could I see in that video that would give me anything new or useful?

  26. Oddly for all my attractive political incorrectness I feel not the slightest interest in watching anyone being killed hurt or much of the rest of the “dangerous edge of things” some are so excitied by.

    On the death penalty it seems clear that it is sometimes right and I have yet to hear any even faintly coherent moral defence of its absence.Is anyhone up to it . Doubt it

    Metro you can relax now I `m here for you. Let go of the fear and allow yourself to fall in love with Metro again.

    next session £50 up front

  27. Pingback: Saddam Hussein’s last words « raincoaster

  28. Here’s an interesting article from the Guardian about the video:

    “It is curious, but till that moment I had never realised what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man,” wrote George Orwell after witnessing a hanging. Proximity to death, which shocked him as a police officer in pre-war Burma, has been brought to the world in a different form at the start of 2007 through the images and sounds surrounding Saddam Hussein’s execution, recorded on a camera phone and released on the internet. John Prescott, who yesterday described the manner of the dictator’s death as “quite deplorable” in an interview with the BBC, would not have been so outspoken had coverage been restricted to the official, edited and silent film…
    The pictures are shocking because they serve as a graphic conclusion to the terrible story of the rise and fall of Saddam, a story in which this country has played a part. For all the talk of Iraqi sovereignty, the former leader was tried by a special tribunal shaped by western forces, and was kept by the US until the final hours before his hanging. His body was flown to Tikrit on a US helicopter and US embarrassment over the bungling of his death has put pressure on the Iraqi government to investigate. The mayhem revealed in the new film, like the wider mayhem across most of Iraq, is in part mayhem that we have created. Like the image of Saddam’s statue being toppled in 2003, and pictures of torture from Abu Ghraib prison, the illicit pictures of his death will come to define the conflict, evidence of just how disastrous the whole project has proved.

  29. I would never watch the Daniel Pearl video, it’s disrespectful to his family. However, I did watch the execution of Saddam Hussein and it was really no big deal. A nice, swift and clean death. He was lucky in that regard.

  30. Hanging, if it’s done right, is instant. Of course, it’s not always performed expertly and it’s clear from what’s come out that Hussein was in the hands of people who had no particular motive to do this cleanly. If the rope is too long, their heads pop off. If it’s too short, they strangle, which takes several minutes and is unpleasant to watch. I saw, and wanted to buy, a book on how to hang people properly, but Criterion Books know the value of what they’ve got, and it was $35!

    Is watching the Saddam Hussein video disrespectful to his family? After all, Uday is dead, and he must, presumably, have living relatives who are not entirely bloodthirsty.

  31. Thanks Newmania, but I’ve already resolved to lose fifty pounds by other, less “make me want to bathe in holy water and then burn my clothing and run far, far away”-ish methods.

    Sweet of you to offer though. Are you ill?

    “No convincing moral defence” for the absence of the death penalty?

    1) Aphoristic: “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

    2) Pragmatic: It’s not a deterrent. In fact, it’s an incetive to kill: “Might as well be hanged for sheep as for a lamb”.

    3) Religious: If you’re a person of faith, it’s second-guessing God.

    4) Educational: As a lesson, killing someone for killing someone ranks about the same as, well, killing someone.

    5) Democratic: Given a choice of life without parole or the death penalty a large majority of Americans would go for LWP, if it actually meant “life”.

    6) Financial: it costs more than locking someone up for forty years or so unless the country isn’t concerned with justice and terminates the right of appeal, as the Clinton administration did, partly as a cost-cutting measure.

    But you’re right. Lots of other reasons, but no moral ones, so how about this:

    7) The death penalty condemns innocents, quite likely in a higher proportion than we are led to believe. Stephen Truscott can tell you. In the US, between 1900 and 1992 as many as 400 documented cases have been recorded. Of those innocent people, over 20 were executed.

    8) It’s societally biased: If you’re gay, the jury is stacked agin you from the start. Don’t even get me started about the killing of children and the mentally incompetent.

    9) It’s racist: If you’re a black male, particularly if a white woman was involved, you may as well hold your wake now so you don’t miss out on the fun. Latinos are also over-represented.

    10) It’s biased toward the rich. OJ Simpson, with his multi-million-dollar defense team, got off even though he’s as guilty as they come. Court-appointed attorneys have mislaid paperwork, gotten the name of their client wrong in their summings-up, and slept through death penalty determinations.

    So having walked you carefully through the moral and amoral arguments against the death penalty we come to this “perfect storm” case. Saddam Hussein: despot, genocide, chemical terrorist and all-around bad guy.

    On the assumption that every bad word said about him was true–and given the history of the American relationship with him I’m not at all easy about accepting that as read–we still have to ask ourselves if it needed doing. I’m not defending him: He was a bad guy, a murderer and almost unquestionably deserved to die.

    But “we” the victors, the champions of democracy, the pioneers of justice, are supposed to be better than he was.
    Morally better.

  32. I knew you were going to ask that, raincoaster. Is it disrespectful to his family? I suppose so but I think his “crimes against humanity” carries a far greater shame than the stain that falls on his family tree.

    The death penalty is a waste of time, money, and resources. However, I’m not morally opposed to it – I think you may take issue with Saddam’s death because of the hypocrisy surrounding it (and you’re obviously opposed to the death penalty, no?) As you said, there are greater monsters and this particular one just became inconvenient. To snuff out someone’s life merely on the fact that they became inconvenient is disturbing. But note I said merely, for could we not agree the world is a better place without monsters like Saddam? Although he wasn’t always a monster – he was actually pretty progressive back in the day and cared about education and women’s issues, which makes you wonder how this could be the same person.

  33. Thanks for your comments. I’m absolutely opposed to capital punishment, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean I’m without judgment. I don’t think Mumia is necessarily innocent, although I don’t want him killed. As for whether we can agree the world is a better place without villains, I suppose this will out me as a pessimist and an optimist at the same time, but I believe that this material world is the only place where we WILL encounter villains. I’m a Manichean; this world is the battleground between good and evil, and when we have the chance NOT to be the people who put other people to death, we should seize it.

    Saddam Hussein was indeed a complicated man, and once upon a time he was the great secular hope of Iraq, rescuing it from a generation enthralled to theocracy, like Iran.

    There are no heroes in this saga, alas.

    (BTW blogrolled you. Nice blog)

  34. i saw the video. it wasnt too bad. sucks for him. just search for it on you tube if you want to see it, dumbasses

  35. I tried to watch the video, but couldn’t. However I can understand why people would want to see an evil man die. I think watching death is akin to watching porn. I would not judge those who watch porn or who watch death. I would only judge those who kill and those who commit sex crimes.

  36. I will most definitely not watch the video. I see no joy in watching a man being hanged. Especially when the war, trial and execution are all so botched. I do not understand the people who want to see these things. What is it, such extreme boredom and need for something more interesting in their lives?

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  38. Haha, double that!

    You were going to watch the Daniel Pearl video? I don’t know why I didn’t catch on to that before, probably cuz it was my first post here and I was so adamant about posting my two cents about Saddam…anyway, there’s no way I could watch that Pearl video.

  39. I’d feel a lot more uneasy if I had the ability to watch people I considered enemies die but not people I considered allies. To me, either the act is heinous or it is not, and not context-dependent. But then I’m an absolutist and a behaviourist, so what do you expect.

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