Category Archive 'Capital Punishment'

16 Jan 2015

Capital Punishment



Hat tip to Ratak Monodosico.

04 Jan 2007

Lynching Saddam


Christopher Hitchens basically agrees with our own position on the disgraceful business, though he is a dreadful Euro-sissy on the subject of capital punishment in general.

Americans, unlike Europeans, typically understand that some people just need killing. There is a certain type of defective individual, in whose case it’s far better for all concerned if he is simply taken out behind the barn and shot.

The problem with hanging Saddam is the cowardly manner in which it was done, the turning over of a helpless wretch to an equally despicable mob to be done to death, and its timing: far too late, and during Christmas.

The disgusting video of Saddam Hussein’s last moments on the planet is more than a reminder of the inescapable barbarity of capital punishment and of the intelligible and conventional reasons why it should always be opposed. The zoolike scenes in that dank, filthy shed (it seems that those attending were not even asked to turn off their cell phones or forbidden to use them to record souvenir film) were more like a lynching than an execution. At one point, one of the attending magistrates can be heard appealing for decency and calm, but otherwise the fact must be faced: In spite of his mad invective against “the Persians” and other traitors, the only character with a rag of dignity in the whole scene is the father of all hangmen, Saddam Hussein himself.

03 Jan 2007

They Hanged Unsaintly Saddam

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A number of readers have disagreed with my previous post disapproving of the then-impending execution of Saddam, which provokes further reflection on the subject.

I must confess that I thought allowing the execution right in the middle of our own Christmas season was in execrable taste.

It’s true that old Saddam was a brigand, and I’ve remarked before that the United States would have been justified in executing the old scoundrel out of hand when we reduced him to possession in the aftermath of the second war he provoked. But, the difference is, at the time, it would have been in hot blood.

I find the practice of housing and feeding and medicating a prisoner for years, and then cold-bloodedly turning him over to his approximately equally barbarous political adversaries for a farce of a show trial, followed by a rapid hanging, shabby behavior for a great power.

Saddam’s regime doubtless was a ruthless dictatorship, which suppressed revolts with brutal violence, but our own experience in Iraq seems to suggest that Iraqis are in general a bunch of belligerent and bloodthirsty primitives, bigoted, unruly, and inclined to violence. Preventing wholesale participation in the favorite local sport of homicidal feuding probably would require anyone in charge to resort to a fair quantity of brutal violence just to get the locals’ attention.

Saddam was, doubtless, a bloody-handed villain, but there do not seem to be a lot of leaders from the school of non-violence operating successfully in the Islamic Middle East these days. As thugs and villains go, Saddam was not really the worst of the lot. Nobody hanged Yassir Arafat (which seems a great pity to me). They gave him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Compared to the Ayatollas of Iran or Arafat, Saddam struck me as rather comical. He loved weapons, and obviously delighted in posing as a military leader, but he was spectacularly incompetent. Saddam resembled the perennial “loudest Mick in the bar.” He was the kind of overly-keen, self-admiring bully who makes a point of picking fights with larger and more talented opponents.

In his wars with the United States, Saddam presented a truly remarkable combination of hyperbolic braggadocio and complete military non-performance. He would say everything possible to provoke his adversary’s uttermost wrath, then do absolutely nothing effective at fighting. But, like Monty Python’s Black Knight (to whom Armed Liberal yesterday compared AP), Saddam persistently refused to acknowledge that he was defeated.

When you’ve knocked your adversary flat, and he is at your mercy, and time has gone by, and your temper cooled down, it seems unchivalrous to me to do what was done here.

If the US really wanted to execute Saddam, we should have done it ourselves, and we should have done it right away.

Turning a helpless old man over to his cowardly political rivals to be slaughtered, so as to spare oneself responsibility was, I thought, a cowardly form of trimming typical of leaders of modern democracies.

Saddam was, I thought, at his best, at his execution. He held up manfully in the face of death, and I liked his final contemptuous snort of derision at the hostile crowd’s chanting of the name of that jackanapes “Muqtada.”

Personally, I think hanging Muqtada, and breaking up that Mahdi Army of his, would have been a great deal more to the point than taking poor old Saddam out of his cell and dispatching him.

Saddam may have been guilty of sufficient crimes against the United States to justify our executing him. But we neither immediately condemned him upon capture, nor tried him and proved a case against him ourselves. He may have been guilty of crime against Iraq, but this Iraqi government is full of homicidal criminals, and it is the sheerest hypocrisy to treat that trial as a meaningful process. The shouting mob at the hanging, and the shouting mob at the trial, the hangmen, and the court official were all the same mob.

26 Apr 2006

Why Don’t We Just Hang Them?

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Black Jack Ketchum 1901

Today’s New York Times editorial mendaciously asserts that the widely-adopted contemporary approach to execution featuring lethal injection, like all other forms of capital punishment, is “unconstitutional.” The editorialist is clearly historically illiterate. They executed convicted felons in every single one of the 13 states at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.

The same authority ascribes cruelty to lethal injection, on the basis that Human Rights Watch has declared that “there is mounting evidence that prisoners may have experienced excruciating pain during their executions.” One wonders exacty what that mounting evidence might be, since no reports of executed murderers coming back to complain have been so far appeared in the newspapers.

But, if lethal injection is too cruel for liberals, there is an obvious answer.

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