December 30th, 2006


On so-called "justice".

I am sure most of you by now are aware that Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging earlier today. I'd like to express my thoughts on the matter, especially as I am a vehement opponent of the death penalty.

My opposition to the death penalty absolutely stands and I am disgusted with this complete miscarriage of justice. I have such an array of arguments that it is hard to know where to begin. Ultimately, the entire legal system that has carried Saddam to his death has lowered itself to his level, that of irrational and bloodthirsty barbarians who stoop to killing others. Many may say that now a monster and a tyrant has been removed from the planet, but the fact stands that he has been an impotent windbag since his capture in 2003. That was when his powers of tyranny were stripped from him, and ever since then, he has been locked in a jail cell without the ability to cause further death and destruction. This execution achieves nothing. It does not rid the world of a tyrant, as that had effectively already been achieved, and it does not bring back the victims of his tyranny or solve any other problems related to the man. It does not carry out justice, as the point of justice is to rehabilitate individuals into functioning members of society, or if this cannot be achieved, to keep them where they may cause no harm to either themselves or others while getting the treatment they so clearly need. Anyone who seeks to take the life of another person clearly has something wrong in their brain, a mental disorder or chemical imbalance of some sort, and it strikes me as heinous to kill someone whose mental faculties are distorted and not functioning properly.

In fact, it strikes me as heinous to kill anyone, full stop. Saddam may have had no respect for the lives of his political opponents, Kurds, Shi'ites, and others, but that by no means provides legitimation or an excuse for us to not show respect for his life. He may be guilty of foul and monstrous deeds, crimes so repulsive that it makes the skin crawl, but he is nonetheless a human being, a person with family and friends who must no doubt be in mourning, forced to suffer sorrow they did not ask to receive. Yes, Saddam inflicted vast amounts of sorrow upon thousands of innocent families, but that in no way grants us the right to inflict more. This cycle of sorrow should not be perpetuated. We should be above that. It sickens me that we allowed this cycle to revolve once more. Saddam should have instead been left in prison for the remainder of his natural life, where the memory of his crimes could gnaw away at his mind and perhaps even bring him to a state of remorse. Instead, he has died defiant, perhaps even a martyr for his cause and supporters. That, to me, defeats even the goals of those bloodthirsty individuals who sought and got his execution.

There is also one other important issue to consider here: Saddam's execution may have actually been illegal as it took place on the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Adha. I've researched this and am yet to find anything definitive such as a clear statement from an official Iraqi legal website, but I have found information from the news media, such as an article from the New York Times and this one from the Kansas City Star. Basically, a law written during Saddam's regime prohibits executions on public/religious holidays, and it has been left on the books rather than being revoked, so it is still in force. This sounds pretty simple, but it's a bit more complex due to the nature of Eid ul-Adha. It is not based on our Gregorian calendar but on an Islamic lunar calendar, so for us Gregorian calendar users, it falls on a different day each year, and matters are further complicated by differences between Sunnis and Shi'ites. Eid ul-Adha this year begins on 30 December for Sunnis (of which Saddam is one) and 31 December for Shi'ites (who control the current Iraqi government). So, at best, the execution is of dubious legal status - it may have been legal, it may not have been, and I have to wonder if those carrying it out even care if they have broken laws in the process. It seems some people so greatly desired Saddam's death that they aren't all too concerned with due legal process, a quality they funnily enough share with the tyrant himself.

For the sake of brevity, I shall conclude now, though this is by no means my full thoughts. I am appalled that people have taken delight and glee in Saddam's death. He may have committed some unspeakably horrific acts in his life, but he was nonetheless a human with a family. You certainly would not want me to express delight or glee if you or your father died, regardless of what you or he may have done in life. The complete lack of respect from some people is deplorable and reveals a lack of nuanced thought; respecting the man's family and respecting the man's humanity does in no way respect or condone the atrocious acts worthy of condemnation that he committed in life. RIP, Saddam Hussein. May you find the peace you evidently had not found in life. And I shall close with another RIP, an even more heartfelt one, for all of Saddam's innocent victims. May the memory of the lives of each and every one of them be cherished.