Saddam has been executed:
Saddam Hussein, the dictator who led Iraq through three decades of brutality, war and bombast before American forces chased him from his capital city and captured him in a filthy pit near his hometown, was hanged just before dawn Saturday during the morning call to prayer.
The final stages for Mr. Hussein, 69, came with terrible swiftness after he lost the appeal, five days ago, of his death sentence for the killings of 148 men and boys in the northern town of Dujail in 1982. He had received the sentence less than two months before from a special court set up to judge his reign as the almost unchallenged dictator of Iraq.
His execution at 6:10 a.m. was announced on state-run Iraqiya television. Witnesses said 14 Iraqi officials attended the hanging, at the former military intelligence building in northern Baghdad, now part of an American base. Those in the room said that Mr. Hussein was dressed entirely in black and carrying a Koran and that he was compliant as the noose was draped around his neck.
It is now just a matter of time before the pictures and videos are splashed over the airwaves, and currently the execution porn is in full effect on the cable news networks. While justice was served with the death of Saddam, it is hard to not feel like this is little more than revenge, in some regards. Perhaps it was the issuance of a Saddam invented red card to the condemned that really set the tone.
Contrary to what some may think from my previous post, I will shed no tears for Saddam. If ever there was a deserving candidate for execution, it was Hussein. I just oppose the death penalty on principle, and find it to be barbaric and wrong- even if the legal system allows it and others believe it accomplishes something. My opposition to the death penalty is not based upon my love for those who have earned it, but to the practice of execution in and of itself. That really shouldn’t be as difficult to understand as some of you have made it.
At any rate, I hope the end of Hussein will bring some calm to the region, as some calm and a cessation of violence is desparately needed. CNN is reporting that there are pockets of celebratory gunfire. I don’t know if that is accurate, or if their reporters just heard the gunfire that killed two more of our soldiers today.
*** Update ***
I guess I still haven’t made myself clear, although there is the good possibility I don’t really have a very clear position:
Surfing the ‘net today in the aftermath of the Saddam hanging I see the usual suspects decrying the the dictator’s execution in the predictable manners (Hello, Robert Scheer). What interests me more are the objections of capital punishment purists, because I can sympathize with their position. But I think their orthodox views are misguided in this instance. They may even have been blinded by a form of narcissism, by wanting to be considered “good.”
I almost always oppose capital punishment for the usual moral and practical reasons…
I dont think it is a form of narcissism- I just oppose the death penalty on principle (principles I have discussed numerous times). I see no purpose to it in general, and in this specific case, the way it was meted out, in such an inflammatory manner replete with the death card created by Hussein himself during his days of murder, it seems even less useful.
So, no matter who is to be executed, I generally do not support it. In this case, I loathed the convicted, which may be leading to some of the confusion regarding my position. I really don’t care if Saddam ever had another breath, and it is very difficult to oppose the death penalty for someone like him. I am in a hard place at the moment- I would have a difficult time getting worked up if Shia mobs had sprung Saddam out of jail and hanged him themselves, so it is difficult for me to object to Saddam’s execution. Again, with Saddam, I feel much like I did with the execution of Tookie Williams:
I have a lot of reasons why I dislike and oppose the death penalty, and not one of them has to do with a concern for the fate of guilty men. I dislike the death penalty because it is irreversible, it is arbitrary, it is seemingly enforced in a haphazard manner, it seems to be more about race and class than guilt, it does not seem to prevent crime, and because I see no need to have a system that could kill one innocent man when we could keep them all imprisoned and avoid that risk.
Like I said- my opposition to the death penalty is not based on guilty men dying, and that is what Tookie Williams is. He probably had a hand in far more than just the four murders for which he will be executed, is responsible for who knows how many deaths and how much violence with the formation of the Crips (and some believe he was involved with them well after his incarceration), and I really feel little to no sympathy for him.
Regardless, my objection to the death penalty is not based on a case by case basis- if that were so, I would not object to the death penalty, just the death penalty for some. Perhaps that is a purism of sorts. At any rate, it makes sense to me- I have managed to work out any internal contradictions satisfactorily enough that I can state that I loatehd Hussein, will not miss him, think the world is a better place off without him, but I can still despise the manner by which he was dispatched. I can also understand the arguments made for executing scum like Hussein- I just don’t think it is necessary. I hope that makes sense.