Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Morality of Death

This is the first post of the New Year and I wish all of our multitudes of readers a Happy New Year.

LAM criticizes the execution of Saddam Hussein in the post below. Mr. M's degree was in philosophy and his living earned in law so he has some background to opine on this. I link to Professor Bainbridge a law professor who leans in a Thomistic direction and is generally anti-death penalty. I think Mr. M and I (and Professor Bainbridge) would agree that the presence of the Mahdi Army chanters and dancers and hecklers is an especially black mark against this execution. However, that aside I think the ten points laid out on the death penalty all argue for the rightness of Saddam's execution. There is no doubt of his crimes. He had a trial and defense (indeed lawyers from all over the world volunteered their time). Most importantly to me is the effect on society and its safety. Bainbridge notes that Saddam could escape and wreak havoc in Iraq but I have another question for LAM and any other Potpourrier: What if Baa'thist terrorists took over a school and said to release Saddam or they would kill all the children there. Do the children die or does he go free? We see this happen all the time in terrorist and drug cartel ridden states. I was once against the death penalty but am no longer for murder and especially mass murder. What risk to innocents is allowable so our fine sensibilities can let a stone cold killer live into old age cared for by the State?


LAM said...

I don't think we'd negotiate with terrorists. Sadam's execution cannot prevent or otherwise deter a school take over.

Given the Republican propensity to toss principles out the window when the going gets tough (e.g., the Constitution), it does not surprise me that you attempt to denigrate principles to mere "fine sensibilities."

Additionally, please review Commandment #6. I checked the footnotes for exceptions; none were found.

Dave S. said...

My degrees are in Russian Studies and I earn my living in IT so perhaps I should shut up.

Nevertheless, the negative reaction to the execution seems to stem more from the circumstances under which it took place rather than general opposition to the death penalty, LAM's position notwithstanding. The rushed nature of the legal proceedings and the execution itself are more than a "black mark." They actually made Saddam look relatively dignified and fast-tracked him to martyrdom.

JJV's invocation of the hostage dilemma is a shiny object that distracts no one. Besides, the Mahdi Army would be on the Baathists before the glue dried on their pasted-together ransom note.

Did Saddam Hussein deserve execution for his crimes? Yes. Did we and our erstwhile allies screw this one up royally too? You betcha.

jjv said...

I think you to cavalierly dismiss my hostage scenario. All over the world these things play out when we fail to execute "rally point" prisoners which Saddam would certainly be.

I suppose I only disagree as to intensity of the screw-up. It is minor. The guy had a long trial full of his rantings and was put to death swiftly upon guilt.

I can do without the chanting and epithets but their are 100's of executions in the Arab world and if all of them followed this procedure and script the place would be less of hell hole, not more of one.

Dave S. said...

I am still feeling cavalier so I will continue to dismiss your hostage scenario, with prejudice this time. We had Saddam for three years; you would think such a scenario would have already occurred, although of course the insurgency was in its last throes at that point. I will also have to ask you to provide examples of "rally point prisoners" from all over the world.

A screwup that enhances the martyr status of Saddam Freaking Hussein for one side of the Iraqi civil war while emphasizing the key role played by the other side of the Iraqi civil war, all while making borderline mockery of the rule of law, is NOT minor.

LAM said...

Does anyone else find JJV's advocacy for more sectarian lynchings a bit troublesome?

Dave S. said...

Lynchings for thee but not for me? Or something like that.

jjv said...

Uhmm...a lynching by definition excludes any trial or due process. I was advocating the death penalty after such a trial that Saddam had. In early America and in England execution day could be quite festive but they were not lynchings. I am neither for lynchings nor tauntings at the time of a just execution. Nor in good will could any such thing be gleaned from my posts. I could just as easily say that LAM and Dave are for the execution of school children rather than Saddam Hussein. But I would never do that.

LAM said...

Only if you compromise and debase your definition of a "trial" or "due process," can you reasonably come to any other conclusion. If such a trial was conducted in the US, say a municipal court in NY, no one would reasonably say "justice was done." But given the unmitigated disaster your ilk has unleashed in that hell hole, it does not surprise me that you attempt to justify Sadam's preordained end.