Sacrificial Violence: Saddam Hussein’s Execution

I couldn’t agree more with Gil Bailie’s post here about Saddam Hussein’s impending state execution:

“News that Saddam Hussein’s execution may be imminent is sad news, regardless of what a psychopathic murderer and torturer he was. … While many Iraqis will no doubt take heart at Saddam’s execution, seeing it as a sign that the worst abuses of the Hussein regime are over, many will find it an excuse for more violence. Even at the level of sacrificial ritual, it will not ‘work.’ … To sincerely pray for Saddam in his final days or moments is to simply fulfill one’s Christian duty toward a fellow sinner who will soon be in need, as we all will [are], of God’s mercy.”

Years ago, I heard Sister Helen Prejean speak about capital punishment in the U.S.A. on a radio programme (may have been this). In her 1997 essay “Would Jesus Pull the Switch?,” she comments that,

“I don’t see capital punishment as a peripheral issue about some criminals at the edge of society that people want to execute. I see the death penalty connected to the three deepest wounds of our [U.S.A.] society: racism, poverty, and violence. … [T]he third wound is our penchant for trying to solve our problems with violence. When you witness an execution and watch the toll this process also takes on some of those who are charged with the actual execution — the 12 guards on the strap-down team and the warden — you recognize that part of the moral dilemma of the death penalty is also: who deserves to kill this man?

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