No tears for Saddam, but I still can't watch

I couldn't watch it. I planned to. I bragged that I would. I looked forward to it for months, but in the end - when it came right down to it - I couldn't watch it.

I tried several times. I Googled it and found it and uploaded it to my computer. I waited for it to buffer - whatever the heck buffering is - and then I tried to watch it, but every time I got close to the moment of truth, I bailed out and clicked on the little box in the upper right-hand corner.

I just couldn't watch it.

I am speaking now, of course, of the execution of Saddam Hussein. You heard about Saddam's execution, didn't you? It made all the papers.

And make no mistake about it. I think Saddam's execution was long overdue and the appropriate punishment. They didn't call him the Butcher of Baghdad for nothing, you know.

He was a cruel and evil man. He killed and tortured hundreds of thousands of people just because he could. By all accounts he stole and raped and pillaged and plundered and created all kind of mayhem. And it took nearly 30 years for someone to actually do something about his malevolence.

He was a bully, but not of the schoolyard variety. He was the kind of bully that had the power and the wherewithal to commit crimes against all of humanity. He was an ogre.

Every Southerner is familiar with the age-old defense, "He just needed killing."

Saddam Hussein just needed killing.

He needed to pay for his crimes, and as long as he was in power, he was a threat to his own people and freedom-loving people everywhere.

Now, I can already hear some of you "pooh-poohing" that notion, but I believe it with all my heart. What was it Martin Luther King Jr. once said?

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Saddam was a threat to justice and freedom and security everywhere - including here - and he needed killing.

And yet, I couldn't watch the video of his execution.

I intended to all along. I celebrated when they caught him in that spider hole and jubilantly repeated the statement that may or may not have actually been made by an unnamed Iraqi official.

"We don't yet know where Saddam will be tried, but we know where he will be executed."

I followed the course of his trial, fuming at his antics and fearing the worst. My blood boiled at his unrepentant and outrageous behavior and at the constant delays and interruptions and doubted many times that justice would ever be served.

I celebrated all over again when he was pronounced guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. I was skeptical that the sentence would actually be carried out but hoped it would. I was surprised, as you may have been too, on the Friday evening before New Year's when my football game was interrupted with the news that Saddam's execution was imminent.

I turned to one of the all-news stations and stayed with the story the rest of the evening, telling myself that I wanted to see him swing. May God forgive me, but I was glad when the newscaster announced that the deed was done.

And then I began to scan the Internet for the video that I knew would eventually turn up. I found the videos that CNN and others posted of Saddam with a noose around his neck - but I wanted to see more. Or I thought I did.

And then I finally found the now controversial clips that promised "the real thing." They weren't talking about Coca-Cola.

And, like I said, I tried to watch it, but couldn't.

Maybe I'm just squeamish. Maybe it's my upbringing in a church that teaches "thou shalt not kill" trumps "an eye for an eye." For whatever reason, I have not and have now concluded that I will not watch Saddam swing.

But I still think that hanging him was the right thing to do. Weird, huh?

And I am also conflicted about the controversy surrounding his treatment on the gallows. There has been a public outcry over the fact his execution was recorded on a camera phone and that he may have been taunted by those enforcing his sentence.

People are saying that Saddam's execution wasn't carried out with proper dignity and decorum. In other words, we didn't kill him right.

Well, I'll tell you how I feel about that. I feel about like the legendary country entertainer Jerry Clower felt when the SPCA folks showed up at the rattlesnake roundup in Whigham to make sure the rattlesnakes were killed properly.

He said, "Man, I didn't know there was a wrong way to kill a rattlesnake."

I don't think there was a wrong way to kill Saddam Hussein even if I can't bring myself to watch.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.

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