Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How I'd Have Staged It

Mark Steyn, the theater critic, didn't think much of the hanging:
Saddam was dispatched in some dingy low-ceilinged windowless room of one of his old secret-police torture joints by a handful of goons in ski masks and black leather jackets. It looked less like the dawn of a new Iraq than a Russian mafia mob hit.
Of course, that's all Saddam really deserved.

But suppose you were in charge? How would you stage the execution?
I'd hold it in the middle of a sports stadium before a crowd of 100,000, tickets awarded by lottery. Security would have to be extremely tight, and even so the suicide bombers would be going off like popcorn, but that's just part of the general ambiance. In the center of the field, surrounded by row upon row of Iraqi police in crisp new uniforms, a stage twenty feet high. And on that stage a gleaming new stainless steel guillotine, enormously tall — sixty feet or more — so high that when the blade is released a full two seconds will pass before it reaches its destination.

Saddam will appear wearing his courtroom suit, hands cuffed behind his back, a hooded executioner on each side. They're enormous, seven feet tall at least, four hundred pounds, so that Saddam looks like a small boy between them. They reach the block and force him to kneel and then bow, and as they place his head in the lunette the crowd roars. Then they step back and hand the rope to a young woman, the daughter of one of Saddam's victims, again chosen by lottery. She faces the monster and waits for the signal.

Loudspeakers call for silence. Total silence. The execution will not proceed until the crowd is silent. The roar dies away to a murmur. The executioners stand with arms crossed. The murmur, amazingly, gives way to a whisper, and then silence. Crows circle overhead cawing. A hand signals. The young woman tugs the rope. We hear the swish of the blade, steel on steel. A low moan from the murderer. And then — chop.

The executioner steps forward and lifts the head, streaming blood, from the basket. The crowd roars. The young woman faints and is carried from the stage. Justice has been served.
That's how I would have done it, anyway.