It always starts with a similar refrain: “I know this is sick and insensitive, but…” I know now to take that as my warning, since I usually can’t stomach the punchlines of that kind of “joke.” And so it is that today’s Internet chatter and headlines are making me feel a bit ill.
Saddam Hussein was executed last night; and while some of us are seeing this as a somber, reflective moment in history, others are dancing on his grave, laughing and whooping it up. I need the celebratory noise to end so I can think.
I do understand that this isn’t a black-and-white issue; the man whose lifeless body swung from the gallows last night was a murderous tyrant, guilty of atrocities against countless innocent victims and, by all accounts, an altogether evil man. For his crimes against humanity, people clamored for justice. But given our own government’s gladhanding of Saddam during the time he was committing his atrocities, do we also bear some measure of responsibility for those heinous crimes? And in any case, is capital punishment a means to justice or revenge?
When we choose or condone levity as a response to Saddam’s death by hanging, are we also laughing in the face of our own humanity? And if we celebrate the sight of his corpse, twisting in that noose, are we making a mockery of all that’s good within ourselves?
I certainly can’t speak for anyone else about all this…I’m just asking some serious questions of myself.