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Saturday, December 30, 2006 

Scum-watch: Saddammed.

The Sun is utterly ecstatic with the death of Saddam Hussein. Following on from celebrating the deaths of other mass murderers, such as Harold Shipman (SHIP SHIP HOORAY was the following day's front page headline) the Sun printed a "3 AM NEWS SPECIAL" which screams "SADDAM HANGED - Iraq butcher sent to hell". Previous editions had used puns based around "OGRE" having used up "SADDAMMED TO HELL" when he was first sentenced.

The website meanwhile advertises the "Amazing" first picture from his execution. It's not amazing - the image instead conveys the banal, less than extraordinary reality of a man about to have his life taken from him. If anything, the video of his final moments is remarkable for its similarity to the tapes released by Zarqawi et al - the denouement may not be as brutal, bloody, sadistic or shocking, Saddam may have been convicted by a court of law - yet the rough edges and the general lack of humanity are still evident in both.

As could also be expected, the Sun leader does its best to justify the execution:

NO ONE should lose any sleep over Saddam going to the gallows.

A few bleeding hearts have managed to protest at his sentence — but without much conviction.

As Prime Minister Tony Blair has pointed out, this country stands against capital punishment anywhere.

But WE haven’t been under the heel of a murderous dictator for nearly three decades.

WE don’t know what it’s like to see members of our families disappear in the night.

Or witness tens of thousands of our fellow countrymen put to death.

The fate of Saddam was sensibly left in the hands of the Iraqis.

It’s no surprise they decided to put a noose round his neck.

It would be worth pointing out that we also weren't subjected to sanctions for 13 years that resulted in the deaths of a possible 500,000 children, a statistic which former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright said was worth it. Our houses also haven't been under threat for 16 years from the skies, with us not knowing whether the night might result in our families being vapourised by good-faith US/UK bombers, who have always only wanted to remove the Butcher of Baghdad and help the Iraqi people. One death should never justify another. As Stalin pointed out, one death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic.

Juan Cole and David Hirst, in his exemplary obituary of Saddam, have also pointed out examples of how we stood by and watched, only intervening when Saddam threatened "our" interests.

The Sun is right however in its main point that there should be no sleep lost for Saddam. I very much doubt there will be. I challenge anyone though not to admit to feeling at least uncomfortable watching the pictures of the man having the noose placed around his neck, even though we have been spared his dropping through the scaffold. Not to feel at least some pang of pity or another emotion is surely down either to comprehensive desensitisation or a general lack of humanity, whatever the person being executed is responsible for.

Elsewhere, the Sun yesterday continued its campaign of pointing out the foibles of "our Muslim community" which Osama Saeed excellently puts into context.

Happy new year!

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