Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2007 / 12 Teves, 5767

Abusing the art of the gallows

By Wesley Pruden


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The witch is dead, and the Iraqi government (and a lot of the rest of us) got the carnival the Shiites demanded.


But now the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is not so sure a carnival was such a good idea. The Baghdad government, pushed by Washington, yesterday ordered an investigation of what it had wrought, the filming of the taunting of Saddam Hussein in the last few moments before he stepped into oblivion.


"There were a few guards who shouted slogans that were inappropriate, and that's now the subject of a government investigation," a spokesman for the prime minister says. It's not clear how or why the government could have expected anything else. Cell phone-cameras are commonplace, and a lot of people indulge a morbid fascination with death and celebrity.


The hanging of Saddam illustrates the least savory aspect of capital punishment, the debasing and coarsening of the public sensibility in whose name death is done. The gruesome Iraqi gala on the gallows was inevitable, given the depth of outrage at Saddam's imaginatively brutal expression of evil and the culture of evil that his dictatorship spawned. Never has a man deserved the ultimate punishment more.


But the rest of us deserve something better. Executions always brutalize the public sensibility. Even the most ardent fans of the chair, the gallows, the poison needle and the firing squad concede this. When the most heinous killers are put to death in America, there's often a ritual gathering of a mob at the prison gates, armed with homemade signs and banners, chanting for revenge. You might think that the act of dispatching criminals to the divine verdict from which there is no appeal would strike fear and awe in the hearts of spectators, but if you think that you haven't been paying attention.


Our English cousins reluctantly gave up boiling criminals alive not all that long ago, as history measures time. When they did they took up hanging with enthusiasm, and soon gallows were erected at every crossroads. Some of the hanging machines were privately owned and operated. The abbot of Westminster kept 16 gallows snapping and thudding in Middlesex alone. John Deane Potter, in his book "The Art of Hanging," tells of a shipwrecked sailor who climbed out of the sea, not knowing where he was, and scrambled up a cliff to see a gallows. He dropped to his knees in prayer: "Thank God," he cried, "I was shipwrecked in a Christian country."


The video of the Saddam spectacle was a smash hit on the Internet through the New Year's Eve weekend, no doubt all the more desirable for the absence of editing. The videos as broadcast by the television networks in the West were sanitized, stopping short of showing Saddam dropping through the trapdoor. The Internet video shows it all, with Saddam swinging from the rope, his open eyes straining in death from their sockets. This is what a coarsened public wants.


The movement to hang criminals out of sight ended the spectacle of public executions at "the tree at Tyburn," with their three-hour processions through central London with the mob following the condemned on his way to being throttled. But public hangings remained popular. "They object that the old method drew together a number of spectators," wrote Dr. Johnson. "Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators. If they do not draw spectators, they do not serve their purpose."


Occasionally naive advocates of eliminating capital punishment seek the reinstatement of public executions, arguing that the shock and awe of the spectacle would raise such a public outcry that repeal of the death penalty would inevitably follow. These advocates are naive and foolish. Public executions would become immensely popular; the television networks might bid to make them part of the halftime entertainment at the Super Bowl.


When I write about executions, betraying no enthusiasm for them, there's the inevitable cascade of letters accusing me of wussiehood. One correspondent in Illinois wrote to argue that "executing the rare innocent man is a small price to pay for the good that executions accomplish." Eager to be a good citizen, I forwarded his name to the governor in event the state needs volunteers to assist in teaching a needed lesson.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

Wesley Pruden Archives

© 2006 Wesley Pruden

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles