Thursday, September 01, 2005

Just Like Home

Via The Wash Post:
Iraq hanged three convicted murderers Thursday, the first executions since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein, the government said...he government announced Aug. 17 that the three had been sentenced to death after having been convicted in May by a court in the Shiite city of Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad.The government statement said they were convicted of killing three police officers, kidnapping and rape. Kubba said the men were hanged.
Mmmm...just like home.

While I disagree vehemontly with the death penalty in almost all circumstances, I won't burden anyone with a long argument against it. Sometimes literature is all you need. Here's a passage from Orwell's A Hanging, which always discomforts me when I think about the death penalty:
It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working — bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming — all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned — reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone — one mind less, one world less.