Modia Minotaur

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Happy 2007

It's rather surreal to be seeing in the new year with the execution of Saddam Hussein. This is one of those things that was bound to happen one day, which doesn't make it any less strange now that it finally has. It's a moment George W. Bush has been waiting for for many years, as have countless Iraqis.

A common criticism of those who have opposed the war in Iraq is that this constitutes some sort of support for Hussein. Speaking as one such person, I can tell you it does not. Very few people would argue that the world is worse off without a brutal tyrant. Yet those living under equally brutal regimes and poltiical conditions such as Zimbabwe and Darfur might justly wonder why one was singled out but their situation left to fester.

Capital punishment is always an abomination, no matter whether the criminal is a naive young person or a notorious dictator. The notion of broadcasting such punishment is abhorrent, and I have been shocked by the decision to release footage of Hussein's execution to the media. There is no case in which our government can justify the execution of any prisoner. There are not `right' and `wrong' people to execute. Reading about Tony Burke's principled opposition to capital punishment brought to mind John Donne's magnificent Meditation XVII
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
The reflection that those who seek justice can be as brutal as those against whom it is sort is a sad way to end the year. Unfortunately, it often feels like all my reflections are about long-held, long-cherished principles that don't seem to matter anymore. To return to Donne's meditation, everyone who calls themselves a part of humanity and is concerned about the world has, in my opinion, a duty to themselves and to us all to work for the sort of world they want to live in.

On that note, I hope all of you have a safe and happy 2007. It's going to be an interesting one.

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