Saturday, December 30, 2006

Now what?

So the Butcher of Baghdad is dead - executed secretly this morning in a desperate rush to get him out of the way before he could tell the world about how the Americans backed his campaign of genocide against the Kurds. But now what? This isn't a bad fantasy novel, where everything is instantly better and the sun comes out the moment the Dark Lord is dead. Saddam's judicial murder will not end the insurgency in Iraq. It will not stop the deaths of more Iraqi civilians or US troops. Instead, it will simply add another body to Bush's pyramid of skulls, a pyramid which is more than high enough already.

Neither is this justice. He may have been guilty - though given the judicial standards displayed at his trial, this is more by accident than the result of any reliable judicial process - but not even Saddam deserved the death penalty. Instead, what happened today was a barbaric act of revenge, a state-sanctioned murder, morally no different from those inflicted by Saddam on his hapless victims at Dujail. Its only purpose was to bring the satisfaction of revenge. That is not justice; it is sadism, and those approving of it are displaying the ethics of kitten-strangling psychopaths rather than civilised human beings.

It is typical that Bush has called this "an important milestone" for Iraq. And it makes you wonder what the hell they use for road markers in Texas.


There, there I/S,

Have a nice cup of tea and a lie down and you will feel much better soon.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/30/2006 08:04:00 PM

yeah, because history has always rewarded those who have a nice cup of tea and a lie down.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/30/2006 10:01:00 PM

These are precisely (though expressed in more eloquence and detail) my thoughts on hearing the news. It's just one more murder, on top of thousands so far. The victim may have been relatively less innocent than most but that doesn't make him more deserving of such a barbaric act.

(By the way, I'd be interested in hearing your definition a good fantasy novel, perhaps with one or two examples...)


Posted by Anonymous : 12/31/2006 01:28:00 AM

E.H: Well, LOTR for one. While Tolkien had a Dark Lord, he knew it was a lot more complicated than that, and that getting rid of them didn't make everything perfect (see the scouring of the Shire for an example). I'm also quite fond of Guy Gavriel Kay, particularly The Lions of Al-Rassan. And of course Pratchett, though he has the advantage of also being funny.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 12/31/2006 03:03:00 AM

What about Sheri S Tepper?

On Saddam - I just don't see the point in killing him. Is it some weird worry that he may escape later and foment future trouble? (In which case, how's that Osama hunt going then?) No, it's simply about punishment, retribution, revenge. All nasty, pointless reasons to kill a person.

Posted by Span : 12/31/2006 09:40:00 AM

Span, are you particularly thinking of the one where the aliens just take Jerusalem away? A prospect that's still quite appealing...

Posted by Anonymous : 12/31/2006 01:38:00 PM

I don't think I've read that one yet Ghet (what's it called?). I was thinking about the Hobbs Land Gods ones, and her attempts to tackle hard-wired fundamentalism.

Also, readers here may be interested in Cheezy's response to Saddam's execution:

Posted by Span : 12/31/2006 03:47:00 PM

I had to go look it up, I couldn't remember which one it was. It's The Fresco, it's funnier and less strident than a lot of Tepper's stuff. The part where prominent American pro-life men find themselves impregnated with alien foetuses is... a hell of a lot funnier than I just made it sound.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/31/2006 04:59:00 PM

My 8 year old daughter has just read Eragon and Eldest, so I thought I had better read them myself to make sure I could talk to her about any disturbing stuff. All the criticism is right - derivative, simplistic writing, relying far too heavily on all the fantasy tropes, and really just an amalgam of Earthsea, Middle Earth, Pern and 'long long ago in a galaxy far, far away'. But... the characters have a nice moral ambiguity. The story admits shades of complexity that are belied by the childlike writing.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/31/2006 06:51:00 PM

Span: I haven't read a lot of Tepper, but according to my database, I have three around here somewhere. Hopefully I'll get around to them someday, but this year I haven't been reading a lot of fiction - or indeed anything much besides ephemera and dreary cabinet papers and government reports about climate change.

On the plus side, I did manage to knock off Thud! over xmas. Terry can be quite pointed when he gets angry...

(And of course none of this has anything to do with the death penalty or sham justice)

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 12/31/2006 09:01:00 PM