Sunday, December 31, 2006

She wants to see the video

It seems appropriate at the end of the year to comment briefly on a life that came to a violent end on Friday night. I despised Saddam Hussein and all he represented. He was a cold, calculating man, a monster and the photographs of the Kurds whom he executed bring a chill to my heart and tears to my eyes. Coming from wartorn Northern Ireland, I can relate in some way to the terrible pain some Iraqis have suffered as a result of his brutal ways including the punishments and/or killing of family members and friends.

That said, as someone born and bred in a European country, I do not believe the death penalty has a valid role to play in a civilized society (backed up by the cold fact that innocent people have been put to death here in the United States) and feel the news footage and spin surrounding his hanging was nothing more than a gross and disgusting spectacle. I feel his punishment would have been far more appropriately cruel had he been compelled to live in abject isolation reflecting solely on the pain, misery, mayhem and murder done by his hands and that of his administration.

It horrifies me that videos (albeit grainy, though I'm sure cleaner versions will be forthcoming)of a human being's death--no matter how odious that person--has become a source of entertainment on the internet, a sort of modern day equivalent of the death games in the ancient Roman ampitheatres or a ringside seat at the beheadings of French royalty. The mass rejoicing and shooting of rifles into the air--the latter perhaps ironic in that Hussein was himself caught on camera making one such display. The course laughter. The articulated joy and desire by a fifteen-year-old Iraqi girl now living with her family in Michigan whom I heard on teh radio saying she wants desperately to watch the death video. Yes, a fifteen-year-old girl whose parents will allow her to watch a man's execution yet will not allow her to smoke a cigarette, drink a glass of wine or even kiss a guy.
Could I envision my young nieces watching such a video or being allowed to do so? Absolutely not! What does all of this spectacle say about the people we have become?

Also equally startling is the results of an ad hoc poll (we Americans love our polls) done by our local telly station where many viewers (overwhelmingly women, which was a breath-usurping shocker) emailed to state they were happy he was executed.

There is certainly a downside to the technology we've spawned.

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