Hi DQ – it seems two things are at play here, blogging as one who is morally ambivalent about capital punishment: the most important point is that Saddam will never kill again. Those that hoped to restore him to power will never achieve that goal. The second is that others will now be on notice that the long arm of Justice can eventually reach even those who believe that it could never happen to them. NoKo, Iran and Syria…take notice!
I agree with you that our system is lunacy raised to the level of an art form. Justice delayed is not justice. The Iraqi appropach is clearly superior, granted that you think it’s a good thing in the first place.
The debate about the death penalty in this country has always struck me as being on the spurious side, as we don’t particularly have a death penalty here. We have a weird sort of a lottery.
The last year for which I’m aware was 1999. The figures (from memory, I’m not going to bother looking it up now with dinner looming, so they’ll be imprecise) were something right in the immediate neighborhood of 19,800-some convictions for murder, with 47 executions. (Most of them the result of convictions obtained years earlier, sentences finally carried out after the usual years-consuming process DQ mentions.)
But accept for the sake of the point being made that the two numbers go together: 19,800 convictions, 47 sentences carried out. That’s not a death penalty. That’s a lottery, in which you stand a .0024% chance of actually paying for your crime.
So the “death penalty debate” has always struck me as faintly amusing, because I wonder what it might be that the proponents and opponents think they’re debating – we don’t have, and never have had, an actual death penalty in this country.
To qualify as a penalty for a crime, retribution is supposed to be swift, and inevitable. If you did it, you go – if convicted. That’s the whole basis of punishment at any level, whether it’s $75 for speeding, 5 to 10 for assault, or your kid’s grounded for a week.
I love the argument, advanced by such philosophers as Mario Cuomo, that we shouldn’t have it because it’s not a deterrent. How would anybody know? It’s never been tried. The current system wherein you have a 99%+ chance of not being executed while you can still remember what you’re in prison for certainly does not deter, we’ve established that beyond all doubt. Punishment – of any kind – only deters when it’s a certainty. Even Mario should realize that.
Saddam goes now in a matter of hours, it’ll be on YouTube tomorrow morning.
Whether execution is morally proper or not I don’t know, but I believe it probably is. If you’ve earned it, and been adjudged to have earned it, you should probably get it. With the increasing usage of DNA evidence, we’re less and less likely to execute the wrong person these days, and once executed there’s no question that that guy has been deterred. Which may be good enough.
I’d have to agree with Don on this, and for the same reasons as well.
It just isn’t fair or even slightly stacking the deck, that you get endless appeals if found guilty, but Double Jeopardy if found innocent. This is supposed to be the fair trial in which defense attorny fights prosecutor, and the best man with the best evidence wins? Looks like evidence doesn’t matter because one side always has a couple of reloads available, in game parlance.
It won’t stop the verdict of guilty from coming in, of course, but what it does do is combine death penalty with life imprisonment.
So it becomes easier for people to put people in for life, and delay the judgement day, just so they can cover their arse and say later “see if he was innocent, we wouldn’t have killed him”. Totally ignoring the fact that even had an innocent person been sentenced to death, 10-20 years of his life would still be gone. Not good for him, but it seems to calm the moral outrage of the guilty. The guilty civilians and anti-DP proponents that is.
Helen, you are a beautiful soul and I’m sure your comment is heartfelt. But I hope if there is a God He cares enough about the misery Saddam caused that He doesn’t forgive him. When I was a child I was taught that the evil rot in hell forever. This is one of the few cases that seems like a fair outcome.
This discussion brings two passages to mind: Romans 12:19 teaches “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” and John 14:6 when Jesus states “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”