Did You Watch a Man Die?

If I ruled the world, I would get rid of chain e-mails altogether and devise a special form of torture for those who send them. The e-mails are rarely funny, usually vaguely sexist or racist, and insulting to one’s intelligence. Last week at work I received one that was especially tasteless. It contained a gif titled Saddam’s Cat which shows a cat batting at dangling legs. I was in a coworker’s office with several other people when she opened the e-mail. Laughs all around. A few hours later, someone sent around an e-mail with the video of Saddam’s hanging attached. A quick search showed that millions of people have logged into YouTube or Google and watched Saddam Hussein die. Have you?

We talk about the “sanctity” of things often on the Bloggernacle: life, the temple, imaginary gay marriage. What about death?

Respect for the dead transcends national and cultural boundaries. The desecration of a body is almost universally taboo, and the veneration of one is a part of many cultural traditions, including my own. At the same time, we’re all aware of how popular public executions were throughout history. In 1936, the last public execution in America was attended by 20,000 people. What is this morbid fascination that makes us slow down to see a car wreck, to devour newspapers with grisly headlines, to glue our eyes to the computer screen in the absence of a public square?

If you click here, you can watch a man die. Will you?


  1. cantinflas says:

    I have not watched that video, and intend not to ever watch it.

  2. I think, after all that he did and all the rumors and conspiracy theories that work their way around the Middle East, that it was necessary to have a video that showed Saddam’s hanging. Otherwise, people would have been questioning whether he was really killed or not.

  3. I’ve seen people die violent deaths, but not by choice and not at a distance. What troubles me about things like the Hussein video or the old-time public executions is the way that they mediate death. The violence happens on a computer screen, or as part of a ritualized public festival. As a result, it doesn’t feel as universal and soul-shaking as I think it should.

  4. I thought Bush’ interview on 60 minutes was interesting. He said that someone had pulled up the first part of the execution, but that he declined to watch the end.

    Bush showed more humanity than most people to this point.

  5. Absolutely not! Those are images that will never leave your mind and alter the way you feel. Seeing him die even if he did terrible things is not necessary. There are other alternatives.

    I remeber a short clip coming on CNN with Saddam in the noose. That was too much. I turned the station immediately and have not been back since.

    I remember when similar videos were published to the web during the hunt for Osama in afghanistan. There were videos of decapitations of U.S. Soldiers. I had Similar experiences at my workplace with people watching those videos too. I remember hearing a squealing noise as i walked by the persons office who was watching the video, looking in the cube and seeing a brief image (which I will not describe here) then turning away. I remember the feeling of disgust even today as I write this. Such a terrible feeling in my stomach. That image with the noise of death are searing. Please stay away from this! Rarely do I feel as strongly about something as I do this.

  6. Nick Literski says:

    Not meaning to threadjack, but what on earth is “imaginary” gay marriage?

  7. Velikye Kniaz says:

    “Sic Semper Tyrannis”

  8. S.P. Bailey says:

    Some time ago there was a BCC poll about “who would you gay-marry?”

    The bloggernacle’s answer to Dr. Johnson (gst) observed: “You’re making a mockery of the sanctity of imaginary gay marriage.”

  9. Even worse. I linked to what I thought was a news story about one of the hostages being held in Iraq. Then all of a sudden, the soldier kicked the hostage over, pulled out a knife and proceeded to cut off his head. It seemed to happen in slow motion, yet for some reason, I didn’t click away or turn off the monitor.

    The images and sick feeling have not left me since. I was seriously troubled by this for quite some time, which is interesting since I have no aversions to seeing violence in movies, etc. But this affected me.

  10. I watched the video and feel completely fine about it (it being the act of watching the video). While I don’t question one’s choice not to watch, I’m confused by the reaction against people who choose to watch.

    While this video did not affect me, I remember when a radio station played the audio of the execution of Nick Berg. I had to change the station. It sickened me. Those few seconds are forever seared in my memory and still make me shake when I think about it.
    So is it the guilt of the one dying that tends to make it “ok” or not (at least for sickos like me)?

    To those who are against watching this video, how do you feel about watching movies like Saving Private Ryan? If you are willing to watch the movie, is it because its fake? But that movie portrays things that really happened. Would you be ok with watching Saddam being hanged if it was acted out in a Hollywood movie?

    Interesting topic.

  11. S.P. Bailey says:

    There are different ways to watch an execution. Laughing or celebrating (or screaming curses at the condemned) is degrading. I only saw the footage shown on the News Hour, and it was utterly depressing. S.Hussein came off as dignified and his executioners as blood-thirsty thugs. Tragic imagery. Like American soldiers mugging for the camera as they torture naked prisoners with dogs.

    But what about watching with the sanctity of human life in mind? It seems important not to distance ourselves too much from the physical reality of a government decision to take a human life. Hiding my eyes saves me from a small measure of suffering, but I still bear the same moral/ethical obligations that arise from that situation. (Which is depressing too, as I feel powerless to do much personally about Iraq, Islamofacism, terrorism, etc., etc.)

  12. Melissa De Leon Mason says:

    Good point, danithew, I think the video is important for some, particularly those directly affected by Hussein’s rule and those who don’t yet have trust in judicial processes. I’m more curious about the college students, office workers, basically normal Americans who view and forward this.

    I certainly don’t think those who watch such videos are sicker than those who don’t. Violence hurts me on a deep level and I avoid it as much as possible. I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes of Saving Private Ryan. At the same time, several weeks ago I was driving home from the photo lab late at night and saw more police and firetrucks than I’ve ever seen in my life flashing at a busy intersection. As I drove by, I definitely slowed down and craned my neck to see what happened. I didn’t want to see a dead body, but I couldn’t help looking.

    Interesting question. I wonder how much it actually has to do with our own guilt, rather than that of the one dying. Is it easier/more ok to watch Hussein’s death because his inhumane acts make give us immunity from the guilt of watching a death? With Daniel Pearl or others, we have no moral superiority to shield us, thus we feel more strongly that to watch the video would be a terrible thing.

  13. I chose not to watch it, but not because I think it is wrong to watch it, or because I have such great respect for the dead. I just have an extra efficient visual memory.

    Images stick with me- especially images that produce a physical response (fear, anger, lust, revulsion, whatever). After watching a horror movie 5 years ago (that, embarrassingly enough, still keeps me up some nights even though it wasn’t that scary) I decided that it wasn’t worth dealing with seeing these images in my mind over and over and over again, feeling the same reaction every time. Because of that I just stay away from all of it, horror movies, violent movies, chick flicks with sex scenes, even sports clips of people’s legs breaking.

    I’m fairly certain that if I watched that video it would be involuntarily replayed in my head while trying to fall asleep every few months for years, possibl the rest of my life. Sated curiousity is just not worth it to me.

  14. RE: Saving Private Ryan etc. Interesting to think that when in movies it sometimes does not feel real. You know it is hollywood and they are trying to evoke your emotions to feel the seriousness of the situation and portayal in a realistic setting as if you were there.

    Violence in movies tv, is an interesting topic, but completely different from this topic. The short clip on the news hour is not what’s being discussed, but the “smuggled” footage obtained from one’s cell phone who was present at the execution. This footage was then uploaded within hours on you tube and spread all over the web.

    I do not understand peoples obsession with finding the next shocking video ie. saddam death, or britney spears oops, on you tube and the like. I believe that is what is being asked here.

  15. I wonder do we have a counter for how many clicks melissa’s link above has received?

  16. I think that everyone who desired that America go to war in Iraq should watch this video. I know war to be a horrible thing. I think videos like this are very important to make people see the face of war so that they will think twice about it before they agree with it again. I cannot just mourn the Americans who have died or hurt. I must mourn for everyone. Iraqi, American, Muslim, Christian, they all deserve to live in peace and safety. Every time someone dies in a war, murder, execution, or some other form of violence, humanity somehow becomes soiled. We are the reason that man was killed. It is our troops that toppled him, caught him, and handed him over to be executed by his enemies. Until we learn that violence doesn’t work, we’ll never be the light of the world.

  17. I don’t really think that watching a grainy video of Saddam being hanged will do much damage to the adult mind. Especially since we’ve seen so much worse (even if the violence is fake) on prime time television.

    Frankly, though I was glad he was finally executed, I found the actual hanging to be anti-climactic.

    16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
    17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

  18. I do not understand peoples obsession with finding the next shocking video ie. saddam death, or britney spears oops

    How about this: people like their sex and violence.

    Now, if the millions of cube dwellers worldwide were a normally pious bunch, then the fascination with the spectacle of death might seem a little incongruous. On the other hand, maybe not, when even lifelong members of the church welcome Saddam’s death. Heck, it might even be the pious among us who are most at peace with executions, certain as we are of our own salvation and convinced of the need for a little smoke ascending to heaven as an offering for sin.

  19. I cannot understand why anyone would be surprised that someone, anyone, would welcome Saddam’s execution. It’s always a good thing when a vicious dictator is toppled and executed. Are we supposed to pull out our hankies and sniffle for this man who tortured and killed so many people?

    Justice, justice, shall you pursue. Deuteronomy 16:20

  20. MikeInWeHo says:

    I didn’t find the cell-phone clip of Saddam’s hanging nearly as traumatic as the knife-fight scene in Saving Private Ryan. That image haunts me to this day. So does the scene in Schindler’s List where the young architect is summarily executed after telling them how to secure a new building.

    We are exposed to so many images of death: movies, TV news (think even of the tsunami videos), violent video games, etc. It all blends together. Yet we rarely see death face-to-face because our society banishes that to the ICU or hospice floor. We don’t even see animal deaths anymore. There’s a long way between the slaughterhouse and the burger these days.

    What’s worse, twenty thousand people attending a public execution or twenty million people rushing off to see the latest slasher film on opening weekend?

  21. Dan,

    Your observation is interesting to me as I have a brother who postponed his law career to join the Army Rangers. Watching the twin towers fall, our soldiers get shot, and the execution of hostages were some of the things that compelled him to do this. I don’t want to turn this into a bash/defend the war thread, but video can inspire different people in different ways. What makes some people want to light candles and sing makes others pick up a gun and fight.

  22. I find it interesting that the only image I’ve seen of Saddam’s hanging was on an LDS blog (can’t remember which one, but it wasn’t this one), and the only link to the video I’ve been offered was this one.

    I have a brother-in-law who served in Iraq and I remember one email he sent talking about the culture of death there. He said the way videos and photos of death and people being killed were passed around, it was almost like it was pornography.

  23. Once, years ago, while driving in Berkeley, the guy in front of me hit a cat. I was far enough behind that I got to see the death writhing of the poor feline, while the guy who hit the animal sped away. That image has never left me, and it’s probably been 15 years.

    I have not seen the video, and I do not intend to. Like Starfoxy said, I don’t need those vivid imagages replaying in my mind. Perhaps he deserved to die, but I don’t want to watch, and frankly felt even a little horrified at the still-shots the newswires printed. But I do understand the need to do so for some.

  24. I’m with Starfoxy–can’t tolerate visual images of violence, real or fake. I won’t see Saving Private Ryan; I threw up during Schindler’s List; I have actually never watched video footage of the towers coming down on 9/11; I can’t watch the first five minutes of Law and Order.

    I’m not sure there’s any virtue in this squeamishness. In fact, I think it may be sinful in some way to refuse to bear witness to the suffering of others. I comfort myself slightly with the thought that I usually manage actual up-close-and-personal gore reasonably well–I’m pretty good with the hand-holding in the ER bit, though I tend to fall apart after the fact.

  25. Tracy, when I was 12 I saw a dog get run over by a large truck. I had a side view, it happened right in front of me, and I still remember what it looked like, going under, and what it looked like after. Since then I’ve seen other horrifying things. I’m with you—I don’t need to invite that into my head. Bad enough the things that are there that were *univited*.

    But I don’t really understand the need to do so for some.

  26. Ardis Parshall says:

    Someday I’m going to blog about kneeling in the desert, holding the bloodied hand of a stranger as he died. First I have to understand the difference — and there is a difference — between watching a real death and watching a simulated one.

    No, I haven’t watched Saddam’s hanging, and I never will.

  27. I haven’t watched Saddam’s hanging, nor have I seen Saving Private Ryan. Like several other commenters, I have a memory that hangs on to disturbing images and replays them again and again. When a show or newscast warns “viewer discretion advised”, I change the channel immediately. I don’t watch violent shows, including the news reports of murders and assaults.

    I don’t understand why people like watching other people get hurt or die, whether it’s fictional or not.

  28. One revisionist scholar has commented that public executions were actually a community ritual that elevated the life of a shabby criminal to a special status, that hiding their execution would contribute to their final marginalization. In life they never achieved the community’s attention, and in death they could not either, unless they had public execution. I’m not endorsing this view (in fact I reject capital punishment whether private or public), but I find it intriguing (though not for Hussein, who was immensely public beforehand). Others have felt that public executions were a way for people to confront their own mortality in a safe place, well away from the noose itself.

    Those who are commenting may be interested to understand more about the history of death culture and behavior, particularly Geoff Gorer’s landmark 1955 essay, “The Pornography of Death” (published in Encounter but widely reprinted). He argues that our fear of death had made of death a pornography equivalent to the Victorian fear of sensuality. Some of the disdain for this video seems to partake of this same revulsion toward death, unless you mean that no one should ever be executed. If you believe a state has the right to kill someone, how consistent is it to require that this happen in private?

    Regarding Hussein’s execution, what about the people whom he had terrorized? Should they be allowed to witness his execution? Could it bring to them some closure, some sense that justice had finally been achieved, that they could sleep without nightmares of Hussein and his political violence? The need to have “eye for an eye” restoration in matters of murder is extremely old and widespread in human culture. Having visual evidence can be quite reassuring to some. In fact, I believe that the family of the initial victim is still allowed to be present at the private execution of a murderer in the United States.

    I didn’t watch the video because I don’t believe in capital punishment and Hussein never frightened, violated, or threatened me personally, not because I think death must not be seen.

  29. I’ve seen enough death, thanks.

  30. kristine N says:

    I’m with you, Sam. I think those people who were traumatized by Hussein’s life should be allowed the closure of watching his death (assuming that really will bring closure to them–I have my doubts). Since my life is pretty well uninfluenced by anything Saddam did, I have no reason to watch his execution, nor do I need to see a real death. I have a hard enough time with movies (I had to walk out of Braveheart).

  31. Anonymous says:

    “have a brother-in-law who served in Iraq and I remember one email he sent talking about the culture of death there. He said the way videos and photos of death and people being killed were passed around, it was almost like it was pornography.”

    Ditto. My brother in law is training to fly helicopters for the Navy with the hopes of going off to kill our enemies. He watches those military videos that circulate on the web–grainy, infrared, distant shots of an insurgent being blown to bits by a gun fired from 5,000 yards away–like they are the Brittney Spears commando pics. He’s a good guy, good father and husband, good Church member.

    Is it just me or is the love of men waxing cold?

  32. Today my wife and I were visiting her mother. She had the TV on and it happened to be on TLC. They were showing doctors treating certain wounds. They showed a real live bullet wound to the chest, right close to the heart. Now, I’ve seen my share of bullet wounds in films, but there was something vastly different from seeing the real thing.

    That said, I saw Saddam’s hanging, and wasn’t disturbed. I’m more disturbed at the political implications of the way he was executed. Forgive me for being political, but Maliki is a member of DAWA. Saddam was convicted for his execution of DAWA members in 1982. Is there really any question why Maliki rushed the execution? Is anyone really surprised that he had Sadr men taking care of the execution? Maliki could not have done more to ruin the credibility of the trial of Saddam than what he did (and I hear that today’s hangings had one of the men decapitated!)

    That all said, America (and the world around us) is relishing too much in violence. We’re far too fascinated by death, but not death itself, rather the way someone dies, and the action itself. There’s a morbid curiosity to it.

    We also worship the “hero,” the soldier-warrior who kills “bad guys” to supposedly keep us safe. At what point will we draw a line at the level of violence we see and allow to happen? We’re slowly letting disturbing things become the norm, such as the dehumanization of human beings such as Jose Padilla and the men down in Gitmo. What price are we paying for this dehumanization?

  33. Brad Kramer says:

    Anon is right (as was Jesus). The love of men now waxes disturbingly cold.

  34. Anonymous,

    Is it just me or is the love of men waxing cold?

    It isn’t just you. You are most correct. I unfortunately watched once a video on YouTube made by Americans showing very graphic video of Iraqis being killed by American gunfire. Filled among those highly disturbing images were images of the Twin Towers burning and crashing, and of the men who jumped out the window to their deaths. I’ve never seen so much hatred as I saw in that video. I completely regret ever watching it. (I did not finish seeing it, I had to stop).

  35. No, I have not seen the videos. Nor will I. I just don’t get it.

  36. any mouse says:

    #22, yes! i was going to mention that also, that the only image i’ve seen of the hanging was posted on the front page of an lds blog. i was horrified. i have not seen the video and have NO desire to do so.

    i’m sensitive to that stuff. ultra sensitive. horror flick commercials can give me nightmares. i dated a guy who regularly checked the website rotten.com (WARNING! EXTREMEMLY GRAPHIC!) and i saw some of those images. it’s been years and they still stick with me.

    i can’t even handle medical shows, even fake ones (like “er”). for whatever reason, i can handle the blood and guts of childbirth, but nothing more.

  37. There’s a big difference between the death voyeur and the movie watcher/video game player. It’s a completely different need that is being satiated.

  38. interesting that more women are saying NO to violence in general than men – women’s brains respond differently to emotionally loaded images than men, and are shown to store those emotionally evocative images (particularly the negative ones) somewhat more efficiently. I have three journal articles on my desk detailing this exact phenomenon.

  39. Molly Bennion says:

    Ardis, How fortunate for the stranger.

    I won’t watch the video, but I think some of his victims need to see it. It would wound or callous me–or both–because it is not my immediate business.

    Once as a RS Pres I often visited a dying man. He wasn’t active and he was very alone. As I sat with him, he described his departed wife’s spirit standing quietly in a corner at the ceiling or at the foot of his bed or watching us from a chair. I never saw her, but I took hope that death may be less lonely and traumatic than we fear.

  40. I have not and will not watch the execution. (Nor have I or will I see SPR or other violent movies, whether history or fantasy.)

  41. Brad Kramer says:

    Interesting that Mr. Gibson’s take on the death of Jesus didn’t make the list of gratuitously, horrifically violent films summarily denounced on this thread.

  42. I haven’t seen the video, and don’t want to because, as someone said, his tyranny did not really affect me personally and, having no suthentic connection, feel like it would be voyeuristic. That said, I don’t think the imagery would really bother me that much.

    What’s worse than this, are these horrible videos called “Faces of Death.” I’ve never watched one (to be sure!), but I’ve seen them for sale. They are clips and snippets of people dying on video. Truly sickening. I think we are getting more and more jaded and desensitized to violence and are hearts are waxing cold.

  43. I wrote a post celebrating Saddam’s death on Mormon Mentality. Of course I watched Saddam die.

    There’s Daniel Perl, Nicholas Berg, Kim Sun, Paul Johnson, Robert Jacob, Durmus Kumere, the Nepal workers, Keneth Bigley, Eugene Armstrong, Jack Hensley. All these people were taken hostage. Nearly all of them were beheaded. And those are just the ones on video tape. Saddam’s not responsible for these, but he was responsible for many, many more who go largely unnamed. Let’s stop talking about Saddam, and spend our time remembering the folks who are worth remembering (and their families).

    And when I hear people crying foul because they take offense to the way that Saddam or his cronies were treated at death, it fills me with utter revulsion.

  44. In a few threads on the subject of Saddam Hussein, his exeuction etc. I’ve seen commenters state that Saddam Hussein didn’t hurt them (or their relatives, or anyone they know) personally. These comments seem to shrug the whole thing off a bit too casually. They basically seem to be saying “Saddam is far away, Iraq is far away, this stuff had nothing to do with me.” That approach strikes me as more than just a bit calloused.

    If someone is torturing and killing a lot of people, and is oppressing an entire nation and its neighbors, for a period of decades – and by the grace of God it doesn’t effect you, your family or your friends personally – you should still give a damn.

  45. And when I hear people crying foul because they take offense to the way that Saddam or his cronies were treated at death, it fills me with utter revulsion.

    Well, that’s just because you’re better than them. Revel in it.

  46. They basically seem to be saying “Saddam is far away, Iraq is far away, this stuff had nothing to do with me.” That approach strikes me as more than just a bit calloused.

    I think they’re just saying, “I don’t feel the need to wallow in or celebrate the death of a man I don’t know.” It’s perfectly reasonable to me to “give a damn” about violence in far away places and still be sickened by death by execution, no matter how, uhh, legal or legitimate the execution order.

  47. How long, I wonder, before the advocates of violence lose their voice and credibility? On both sides of a fight.

  48. Peter, what I’m saying is that we should not be wringing our hands over this execution. It was appropriate. Yes, the executioners were unprofessional … but frankly, after all that he did to people, a little jeering before he steps out onto the gallows is not a huge deal. I’m actually impressed that his body was delivered to his relatives for a dignified burial.

  49. danithew,

    but frankly, after all that he did to people, a little jeering before he steps out onto the gallows is not a huge deal.

    It is a huge deal though because executions of such influential people are supposed to be done in a way to bring closure to a fractured people. The way he died further inflamed the civil war. This is bad.

  50. Molly Bennion says:

    Avarell, Would you please post the citations on the 3 journal articles? Of course, if you haven’t time, I understand.

  51. Brad Kramer says:

    “Well, that’s just because you’re better than them.”

    And braver.

  52. any mouse says:

    re: 41, i actually meant to mention “the passion.” i caught flack from some for refusing to see it based on the gore factor. the commercials alone were enough to convince me that the movie was too graphic for both my stomach and my heart. “lamb of god” (formerly “to this end was i born?”) is enough to wrench my heart and make me feel uneasy. i don’t need extra scenes of violence to help me realize what christ physically suffered in the garden or on the cross.

  53. Re 50, Molly Bennion : Sure! Hope they’re helpful, it’s certainly an intriguing subject.

    -Canli et al, “Sex differences in the neural basis of emotional memories,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug 2002, 99 (16):10789 – 10793.

    -Cahill et al, “Sex-related difference in amygdala activity during emotionally influenced memory storage.” Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Jan 2001; 75 (1): 1-9.

    -Cahill et al. “Sex- and hemisphere-related influences on the neurobiology of emotionally influenced memory,” Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Dec;27(8):1235-41.

  54. Chuck McKinnon says:

    Whether or not you choose to watch the video (I haven’t and don’t intend to), it was necessary for Saddam to die and to be seen to die.

    Without proof of his death, there would always be some Baathist holdouts hoping to return to power on Saddam’s coattails. And the fear of future reprisals from Saddam that might have prevented others from participating in the new Iraqi government is gone as well. Iraq certainly has its problems but the fear of Saddam’s return is no longer one of them.

    I strongly disagree that the manner of Saddam’s death is further inflaming tensions in Iraq — it’s like saying that the Palestinians would leave the Jews alone if only Israel would cede more territory. Ideally there would have been a more solemn ceremony but it is sufficient that Saddam is dead.

    For me to see that video would be merely titillating, but if I try to imagine myself as someone who’d lost family or friends to Saddam’s despotic regime — say, someone who’d watched the police drag my mother out in the street, strap her to an iron bench and chop her head off in front of family and neighbors for the “crime” of having protested Saddam’s rule — then seeing Saddam’s execution might evoke feelings more like those described by Isaiah, as quoted in 2 Nephi 24:

    16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and shall consider thee, and shall say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?
    17 And made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof, and opened not the house of his prisoners?
    18 All the kings of the nations, yea, all of them, lie in glory, every one of them in his own house.
    19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and the remnant of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet.
    20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land and slain thy people; the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned.

  55. The jeers and taunts are nothing, absolutely NOTHING, in comparison to the deaths that Saddam and those in power with him inflicted on hundreds of thousands of their victims.

    To cry such crocodile tears over the taunting of Saddam, after he murdered to many, is itself shameful.

  56. Molly Bennion says:

    Thanks, Avarell!

  57. I was uncomfortable with the jeering (which I heard of, but haven’t seen — I didn’t watch CNN for days after the video came out; the noose stuff alone made me sick to my stomach) because I feel like it lessens the people doing the jeering. I don’t care much about what Saddam did or didn’t suffer, which I feel somewhat guilty about, but I do feel sorry for people who were cheering and mocking him while at his death. I’m not articulating it very well, but that’s more or less where I stand. I feel the same way about the people who jeered at Christ’s death: at that moment, it’s not so much about how good or bad the person dying was. It’s your response to your enemy’s pain and humiliation that disturbs me.

    As to fictional violence: I try to watch movies, or am in a position to watch movies, with graphic violence, and I always get burned. It started when I was a little kid and walked in on family watching RoboCop, which gave me nightmares for years. It wasn’t till the mid-1990s that I could sit through the comparatively mild violence of Star Trek episodes without hiding my eyes. And while I can, I think, technically claim to have seen Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List, I’ve only seen about half of each, as I have a finely tuned “now is the time to hide behind a pillow” reflex (and family members that tell me when it’s over.) Like many in this thread, I get nightmares from horror film ads. I always thought it was a part of a larger “highly sensitive” thing (I hate tags on shirts, the noise made by florescent lighting, any lights on while I’m trying to sleep, etc.) but maybe it’s just because I’m a girly girl. ^_^

  58. meems #42—as a teenager I used to watch those Faces of Death videos. The ones they had back then were not very graphic. (Do they still make them? Don’t know if today’s are worse, but I’m guessing they are.) I only remember the one I saw of a man being executed in an electric chair (I now wonder if it was real) and the video that showed autopsies in the LA Morgue. That morgue one was pretty graphic, but I don’t remember it being any worse than an episode of CSI today. (My memory’s not the greatest, though.)

  59. Peter: Well, that’s just because you’re better than them. Revel in it.

    No, Peter, it’s just because I’m better than you.

    Nothing to revel in — I’ve been used to for some time now.

  60. Given that for Latter-day Saints the ultimate good fate is to become like God, does anyone here doubt that God has “seen it all” (including the slow, torturous death of His Only Begotten)? There may be things in the job description of godhood that we tend to overlook.