Friday, January 05, 2007

Hang it

Alright. I'm jumping in.

Some of you know (and others have probably assumed) that I'm anti-death penalty. Yes, I understand that to some it seems hypocritical to be pro-choice and anti-death penalty (and pro-assisted suicide, for the record). Just as it seems hypocritical to me that others are pro-life and pro-death penalty.

My argument: shouldn't the "culture of life" apply to everyone?

Their argument: if you think women can decide if their *innocent* fetus lives, shouldn't judges have the right to decide if *guilty* prisoners die?

My answer to their argument: No! Prisoners are PEOPLE. Fetuses are not. Ah, yes. That is the ultimate hurtle - they believe fetuses are human, I do not. That's the most basic level of these arguments, and it is unresolvable.

(Begin blog here)
So Saddam died. And everyone saw. And I have a problem with that.

The video is disgusting (the pundits on the Slate Political Gabfest called it a snuff film). There is no reason we should see a man about to die. Yes, he did some terrible things (which we enabled him to do - but that's a different blog). Yes, he caused many people to suffer (so did, I'm not calling Bush Saddam, don't freak out). But does he deserve billions of people across the world watching a noose surround his neck? Do people need that? Really?!

But according to the Gabfest, people aren't responding in the way I'd expect. They are questioning our voyeuristic nature. They are wondering what right we have to bastardize this man's last moments. And this is a good thing in my book.

I think this lack of blood lust has something to do with the method of execution. A hanging looks far more brutal than a lethal injection. True, hangings went on into the 20th century and were largely a spectator sport, but executions in America are now largely private. Though we *sometimes* read about them in the news, executions are viewed by only a small, select number of people. And I think this video proves things will stay this way.

I don't think life is sacred, but I think the choice to live or die lies in the private sphere. (This, of course, does not apply to a fetus in my book because I don't believe a fetus is a person.) No one can make the decision to kill another human unless that human decides for themselves (in a sound state of mind) that it's time to go.

So the Saddam video proved that we are not desensitized to death and the thought of vengeance doesn't entirely obscure our humanity. It also, I just read, proves that children are influenced at times by what they see on television (read the article here). But that's yet another blog.


Anonymous said...

hurdle, not hurtle, although your spelling makes it a more interesting word.

jmixont said...

Putting culture of life/sanctity of life issues aside, my biggest problem is what is apparently the prevailing meaning of justice. Justice to me is something other than vengeance. I believe many people (and in this case, not only Americans) confuse the two; justice and vengeance have almost become synonymous.

Many Christians (who, according to the most recent census make up the majority of Americans) will freely quote the Old Testament law, "An eye for an eye," etc. But they seem to miss Paul's missive in the New Testament. (Remember that Christianity is founded on Jesus's efforts to abolish the old law - testament - and establish a new one.)

Romans 12:19-21 -
"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

How can a Christian nation be so cavalier about the murder of anyone's enemy? It honestly makes no sense to me. How many atrocities does it take to make a mass murderer? Where is the line drawn? And who gets to draw it? For at least 6,000 years humanity has done a poor job of answering these questions. The most recent political hanging is just proof that we've come no further.

Anonymous said...

I tottally agree with you.
I mean, the guy did some horrible things to the kurds but that is not the justification to his hanging.
He should have been punished but not this way, this hummiliating way.

Anyway, goog blog.