Saddam Hussein to be Hanged

5 11 2006

Today, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death. Link to the NYT piece.

This is a case which really tries both those in favor and those against the death penalty in this country.

I for one, am not necessarily opposed to the death penalty in theory. I do however, think that it should only be used if one is %100 certain that the party is guilty. Since this can never happen, I am, practically, opposed to the death penalty.

But let us consider something more than just the crime of passion or the humble serial killer.  What do we do with the Hitler’s of the world?  The Stalins?  The Husseins even?  (Yes, I understand that it is unfair to draw any type of comparison between the three – but you get my point.)   Surely if there is a person in this world who deserves to be put to death, it is those responsible for genocide.

But, predictably, this takes us back to the Sodom and Gomorrah dilemma.  How many is too many?  1,000,000?  1,000?  100?  1?  In this sense hasn’t Dahlmer committed just as egregious an act as Hitler?  Or does quantity in this case bear a direct correlation with quality?

I suppose that in the end I do not think that I could sentence anyone to death.  To borrow a phrase from the Christians – ‘judge not less you be judged’.  Murdering a murderer doesn’t bring anyone back to life.  So is the possibility of that act, a useless act, worth the chance of murdering an innocent man?

The law says that murder is illegal.  Perhaps it should say that murder is illegal on a case by case basis.  There may be those that world would be better off without.  I would think that if I were ever to murder someone, it would be with damn good reason.  Unless I am willing to submit my actions for judgment, I can not possible judge the actions of a peer.

In the end there is no easy answer.  Killing Saddam will not right any of the wrongs he has committed – and yet his continued existence may not be a helpful thing for the world.  Like most things, we do the best we can at the time.  We will always be prone to making mistakes.  All we can hope for is that we will have the hindsight to recognize our mistakes and the wisdom to learn from them.

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