Keeping fear alive.

Nothing like keeping the population in a state of fear to make them more compliant.

Careful with those values.

If you want to gauge the decency and morality of people, keep a close eye on them when dealing with an enemy that has been totally and utterly defeated.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and a despotic madman. There is no question about that. In the end he had his trial, was found guilty and had to pay the price. All fine with me.

What bothers me is that although it is really easy to judge Saddam as a criminal and a morally bankrupt person, I don't think that this should make it OK for "us" to act in an undignified manner. To effectively lower ourselves to the level of those we despise.

Today I stumbled across an article about the South Park creators being presented with an autographed picture of Saddam Hussein. Apparently, Saddam was forced to repeatedly watch an episode of South Park in which he is portrayed as the gay boyfriend of satan.

Yeah, I watched the episode and I enjoyed it. It was funny. But as much as I think Saddam was a brutal, murderous, criminal deserving of his ultimate fate, and as much as I found the episode funny, I found it very disturbing that it should be okay to torture the prisoner in this manner.

This is not how we treat our prisoners. We are supposed to be better than this. A lot better. This is the sort of nonsense that validates any hatred our enemies feel towards us.

For those who only care about "winning": this is the sort of base behavior that detracts from victory. The sort of behavior that brings us closer to those we despise for their uncivilized behavior and hollows out victories and reduces them moral embarassments. It is the sort of thing that detracts from the sacrifices made by serious people.

As much as I enjoy South Park: I think Matt and Trey should be be deeply ashamed of themselves for taking pleasure in someone else's suffering. They should be ashamed of expressing, not only consent, but a generous measure of joy in knowing that their work was used in this manner.

What sort of dickless, unprincipled weaklings take joy in the humiliation of a beaten enemy.

Careful what you believe in.

When watching this video question pops up in my mind: why is it that many religious people are so spineless when it comes to questioning the morality of what their canon preaches?

In some ways, christianity has a militant structure.  The most important principle is obedience. Not love, not doing unto others, not tolerance -- obedience. In fact,  the ten commandments start off by stating that you are not allowed to even think about following other gods.  (Which is a curious thing to say if you claim to be the only god in existence.  Then again, would you attribute any credibility to some guy with no sense of direction who claims to have spoken to God and would like to share some notes with you?  Perhaps a few thousand years ago)

You do as you are told.  Unquestioningly.  If God orders you to commit such unspeakable crimes as slitting your offspring's throat, you are supposed to comply.  And compliance is hailed as virtuous -- as the right thing to do.  

The inclusion of this story in the christian canon can only mean that a significant number of people (or a number of significant people) think this is illustrative of what being a good christian means.  It is disturbing to ponder that this sort of utter moral perversity is served up in churches with a straight face.  One has to wonder how ministers and priests manage to distance themselves from such vile and base atrocities.

Fortunately, since christianity cannot be trusted to provide a modicum of morality, we have secular values that represent at least a minimum of decency.  The difference between the militant dogmatism of the church and the military itself is that the military does not absolve you from your responsibility.  In the military you are responsible for your own actions and if you have reason to believe that your commanders are in the wrong, you are not only required to not follow orders, but you are obliged to remove your commanders from their duties.  By force if needed.

It is telling that in the secular world, one values morality and decency higher than in the christian world.

It is also telling that the new testament largely seems to be some sort of apology for the hard-line tyranny propagated by the old testament, yet no church of note seems to have seen it as much of a priority to purge the blood-thirsty, petty, unforgiving and morally objectionable god of the old testament from their canon.