Friday, January 05, 2007

So what's going on at the Telegraph these days ?

Piton post: needs to be read in reverse, starting at the end ! Colour -coded for convenience.
Update 1350 London time . It's finally appeared, my comment to Ben Fenton's blog, would you believe it ! Not the original, sent yesterday, but the duplicate sent a short while ago (see below). So what happened to the original, one may ask ? And why has the sequence of events described here happened time and time again in the past, with no satisfactory explanation ?
My next step is to email Ben Fenton and Shane Richmond, suggesting that they take a glance at this blog, and perhaps offer, if not an apology, at least an explanation.

Update 13.45 London. Despite sending a duplicate some 45 minutes ago, there are still no Comments on Ben Fenton's Saddam posting.
The Telegraph's main page for blogs ( now shows the latest 15 postings - an improvement on the past. But the window for seeing a particular post on that main page is now down to a couple of days or less, as new blogs flush old ones off the bottom, so to speak, into the archives.
Ben Fenton's is now 8th in the list. How long before it disappears from view, without my comment, possibly without any, for that matter ? So, to repeat the title, what IS going on at the Telegraph these days ?
I shall resubmit my comment a third and final time at 14.00 London.

Update 13.00 London time. Comment resubmitted under new title "Justice or Revenge ?". Original comment sent yesterday had still not appeared, needless to say.

Update: 12.56 London time. Still not appeared. In the past when this had happened, like yesterday for example (details later) one's first reaction is to think that the Comment was never received. But that has rarely if ever been the case. When one persists, by sending complaining emails etc. the Comment is always found, and does finally appear. But why was it held up in the first place ? Is it an attempt at half-hearted censorship ? If so, of the particular Comment, or the individual who sent it ? Does anyone else have this experience ?

At 1300 I will re-submit the Comment to see what happens !

This is what I previously called a "piton post". It's one that appears in instalments in real time. Updates, as they appear, will go at the top.

The starting point is the following Comment that I sent yesterday (4th Jan) at 19.00 hr approx London time to Ben Fenton's latest Telegraph blog post. It's entitled "We've played into Saddam's hands".

Here's what I wrote, which I consider relevant to the topic, and which makes a serious point at the end.

It begin's by quoting a line from Ben's post:

"To others, the only good that can come from a bad deed is by the careful and judicial exercise of revenge."

Judicial exercise of revenge ? Is that not a curious juxtaposition of the sublime and ridiculous ? Since when has justice, and the entire apparatus of courts, been about revenge ?

The whole point of having proper legal channels for prosecution of crime is surely to prevent a relapse into a lynch mob society in which everyone feels it necessary to take the law into their own hands. Justice and subsequent punishment are about holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions, so that the victims of crimes, or their surviving relatives, do not suffer the added insult of feeling that criminals are allowed to get off scot-free.

Wanting revenge is natural, and some may indeed gloat over the imposition of a heavy sentence, but that is surely not the purpose of the punishment: it is to bolster confidence in the rule of law, and hopefully (but not assuredly) deter others from committing the same crime.

There are many, myself included, who in general oppose the death penalty for even the vilest of crimes. That can be for any number of reasons - on grounds of principle (all human life is sacred), or to avoid acting as God, or merely out of recognition that judges and juries occasionally get it wrong.

But in the case of Saddam Hussein, there were special, almost unique, circumstances. Given the man's track record in exacting the most terrible revenge on entire communities - women and children included, it could be seen as a gross injustice to Kurds, Shias, Marsh Arabs, Kuwaitis and others to have allowed that monster to get off with a prison sentence. It would have left open the possibility, no matter how remote, that he might one day have been released, say as a result of terrorist blackmail, to return to power as Mr.Invincible, only to initiate a whole new cycle of revenge.

I believe, reluctantly, that the death sentence was appropriate. What I do not understand is why he was denied his stated wish to die by firing squad, instead of a hangman's noose. Is it not enough that someone forfeits their life? Why inflict the added ignominy of selecting a particular form of capital punishment deemed appropriate for a common criminals (hanging) ? And with the wisdom of hindsight, admittedly, a firing squad gives less opportunity for sadists to surround the condemned man at the moment of death with their taunting and gloating.

On a final technical note, is it not time that we dropped the use of the "hanging" as a generic term. Saddam Hussein died by virtually instantaneous cervical dislocation , ie severing of the spinal cord in the neck, which is altogether different, and more humane, than hanging as carried out elsewhere, eg Iran, where the condemned are hoisted up on cranes. That type of hanging does not involve a drop, and so causes an unspeakably brutal, protracted death by slow throttling. Sorry to end on such a grim note.

At the time of writing ( 13.40 London time today, 5th Jan) my Comment has still not appeared, despite the latest crop of comments starting to go up at about 11.00 hours London time .

Now why is that you may ask ? Watch this space for further developments !


richard of orléans said...

Unfortunately your message shows the typical disdain for human rights, democracy and justice which we have become accustomed to from the Anglo Saxon world.

Of what is Saddam Hussein guilty? I remind you that a basic principle of natural justice is that one is innocent until proven guilty by a formal court of law, where one is judged by one’s peers. Therefore Saddam Hussein is innocent of all crimes other than the Dujail incident where he was found guilty of crimes against humanity and was implicated in the killing of 148 people. No, he is not guilty of any other crime, and presumably never will be since condemnation by Murdoch headlines will hopefully never be recognised as an international proof of guilt.

What about the Dujail crime of which Saddam was found guilty? There are any number of ways in which jurists challenge the injustice of the process to which Saddam was submitted. The special court that was created, the political pressure on the presiding judge, the inability to protect the defence lawyers. The lack of qualified jurists since the dismantlement of the Iraq state by the Anglo Saxons.I believe all of these aspects invalidate the trial. But over and above these points what really persuades me that the justice was no better than the Wild West was the disgraceful brevity of the appeal. Let us remind ourselves that the Dujail incident was an insurrection against the head of state in the time of war, in support of the enemy, during which a battle ensued for three hours. What exactly is a head of state entitled to do in such circumstances? There are obviously complex legal issues which were never reviewed during the few weeks of the appeal process. So the inexorable conclusion is that Saddam Hussein went to the gallows an innocent man.

Oh yes I can hear all the outrages, Saddam Hussein an innocent man. The point is, if like many in the West you believe in the principles of liberty, justice and democracy then yes he was innocent because he received not proper legal process. That is not to say he would not have eventually been found guilty of something. If like the Anglo Saxon community who now believe in torture, unjustified detainment, illegal wars then its hang ‘em high and don’t fuss about the details. It is time for a country like France to sever diplomatic relations with a world that shares none of our fundamental beliefs.

ColinB said...

Speaking as an Anglo-Saxon, or possibly a Basque, I'd be ecstatically happy if you were to sever diplomatic relations with my blog, R of O, as I said repeatedly in 2006.

richard of orléans said...

No doubt Colinb. But the days when the world followed the instructions of the Anglo Saxon empires are long gone. I have never been diplomatic with you so there is nothing to sever.