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The Magistrate

(95,237 posts)
7. Probably The Chief Difference Is This, Ma'am
Sat Oct 18, 2014, 08:27 PM
Oct 2014

People executed in Saudi Arabia are executed for specific acts they have been convicted in court of doing. The act may not be one we consider a crime, such as sorcery or adultery, but nonetheless it is a specific thing the person is convicted of doing. The act may be one, such as drug smuggling or robbery, which even supporters here of capital punishment might not consider warrant death, but again, it is a specific crime, and the person executed has been convicted of it. Most beheadings are for murder. Personally, I do not consider Saudi police methods or court procedures particularly reliable, and expect there are erroneous convictions. But still, people are convicted of a specific crime, a particular act, and most likely actually did what they are convicted of.

A very large proportion of people killed by I.S.I.L. are killed for things someone else did, or for being something rather than doing something. The handful of Westerners killed were not killed for anything they personally did, but as vengeance for acts of Western governments. A large proportion of battlefield prisoners the I.S.I.L. kills are killed because other soldiers or militia have killed Sunnis, or even because I.S.I.L. fighters have been killed nearby in battle. People in areas I.S.I.L. controls are often killed simply for being of the wrong religion, with no attempt, even, made to dummy up a charge of espionage or sabotage.

That people are killed in an antique manner, and often in a very botched effort requiring much sawing and haggling, rather than by a clean sword cut delivered by a practiced professional, is simply a garnish piled atop a profound wrong and injustice. It becomes a ready focus for outrage, but the real outrage is not the how, but the why. The people I.S.I.L. kills are not by any stretch criminal, in most instances; in some instances they are genuine humanitarians, in others simply unfortunates caught on the wrong side of an armed line. This most people will regard as an outrage. The people Saudi Arabia executes are in most instances actual criminals, and these executions rouse little outrage. Outrage at Saudi executions is confined for most to specific instances where it is felt the person was not guilty of the crime, or is being executed for something that elsewhere is not regarded as a crime at all.

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