Sep 21 2005

Heads Roll In Saudi Arabia

Here’s a news brief that stirs up from deep within the Twisty essence some troubling and funkily mixed feelings about capital punishment. I’m opposed to the variety we have here in Texas, which amounts to a kind of bloodsport for redneck cowards (like the current POTUS) who like to see retarded, innocent black folks get the needle at the rate of 2 per month. In fact, until five minutes ago I was opposed to any other variety of death penalty you can name, including impalement, scaphism, iron maidens, death-by-a-thousand-cuts, what have you. Yet when I read that these two assholes were beheaded in the public square for raping a woman, I felt–what was it I felt, was it a spasm of satisfaction? Yes. I believe it was.


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  1. Lura

    It’s about fucking time.

  2. SneakySnu

    Don’t give in to that sentiment. No state should have the right to execute its citizens, under any circumstances.

    I’m with you in anger towards the crime. My mother has provided me with plenty of other examples in our own country that have tested a firm stance against the death penalty. She has worked with abused children for over 25 years and every time I think I’ve heard the worst story, she comes home with one that tops it. You have to wonder if someone capable of raping an infant, for example, is recuperable in any way.

    The public beheading of the 2 men in Saudi Arabia reaffirms their version of “protecting” women (i.e. you can’t drive a car, but you won’t get raped, and if you do, we’ll kill the guys). It’s part and parcel of the patriarchy. It’s no kind of “justice” at all.

  3. octopod

    Regarding rape:

  4. Twisty

    Please don’t misunderstand me, Sneaky. There is true justice, which has real consequences, and there is poetic justice, which is a narrative construct, and it is possible to advocate the one without entirely forgoing the occasional inner smirk over the other.

  5. Pinko Punko

    I just worry about whether they were tortured to confess, and how the Saudi’s decided to actually pursue this case. The sad fact is probably that money or prestige oiled the wheels of justice for this crime and not the actual crime. *sigh*

    I’m not gonna come down on you like a ton o’ bricks on this one. Cap punishment just cannot be trusted. Let’s just say if the US routinely fucks it up, I can only imagine what everyone else does with it.

  6. Twisty

    No doubt, Pinko, no doubt. But yikes, am I still unclear? I’m not condoning the actuality of it; I’m merely having a flight of fancy over the abstract idea of it. There isn’t a woman alive who hasn’t mused quietly to herself on violent retributive punishments for rapists. On accounta rape is, ya know, patriarchy’s #1 tool. Capital punishment, as SneakySnu correctly asserts, is most definitely also patriarchy’s tool.

  7. SneakySnu

    I guess the only problem I have is that in this case the poetic justice is inextricably linked to the act of punishment, which was real and not abstract.

    I think I can overlook this incident if you can forgive my irritating use of scare quotes in my original post.

  8. Kyra

    “Let’s just say if the US routinely fucks it up.”

    Name something that they don’t routinely fuck up.
    Well, maybe, because you need more than one of something to “routinely” fuck it up, one could say that about hurricanes for a few more hours, until Rita hits, but that’s about it.

  9. Ron Sullivan

    Oh, hell, I knew what you meant.

    And, Yeah.

  10. fayrene

    Um, yeah, me too.

    Public execution of rapists would have to be the number one benefit of living in a theocracy. I already feel like I’m living in a theocracy, so perhaps I’ll just call my senator and tell her that if she’s not willing to vote against John Roberts, the least she could do is introduce a bill providing for federal execution of rapists.

    I’m sure Kay Bailey will take up the cause.

  11. Pinko Punko

    First off, I don’t think anyone can deny they don’t viscerally feel a desire to punish the really bad guys- we all do, it’s just that we’ve been marinating in these revenge fantasies that are sold to us as pleasing to justify essentially vigilante behavior. I mean every single cop show on TV plays wink wink with search warrants and police brutality because, like we know those are the bad guys so its OK, and this admin likes to tell us every day how the evildoers aren’t really people- it’s like they hit the trifecta of their fascist utopia of law and order, the dehumanization of the criminal element, and the emotional release of brutalizing someone. I guess because I know the feeling (and from only watching movies with bad guys that I want taken care of) I shy away from it, because when bad stuff happens, “civilization” and shit, that’s right out the window.

    Make sure everyone is tied down in your state there- this Hurricane is going to be a nasty ride for a lot of people.

  12. Wordlackey

    I can go along with that momentary blooming satisfaction. While I agree with other comments about the inextricable problems with actually judicially carrying out the death penalty, there’s something almost primally satisfying about the phrase “Rapist beheaded.”

    The torture, possible miscarriage of justice, official state sanctioning of deliberate death, theocratic decisions, etc. are all troubling. But leaving all that aside, I admit to a grim, almost pleasant, feeling inside. “Rapist beheaded.” Probably because the phrase has no ambiguity. No qualifier on “rapist” therefore no doubt about guilt.

    Uh, am I dwelling a little too long and gleefully on this? Sorry…

  13. BitingBeaver

    No apologies here, I absolutely *did* have an internal smirk at this story. Of course, to be able to smirk I also had to push all doubts from my mind as to the accused guilt.

    I know where you’re coming from on this one Twisty. Occasionally, when the sort of poetic justice you speak of raises it’s head, one can’t help but to find a sort of dark, gleeful satisfaction…I chalk it up to my own little ‘Gollum’ capering around in the darkest reaches of my gut.

  14. Kelley

    I’m on board with the concept of poetic justice, Twisty!! I’ll admit to the same twinge of smug glee upon reading the story that I felt when I heard Lorena Bobbit was acquitted. Not that I condone the use of a death penalty in any country, particularly given the strenght of the patriarchy in Saudi Arabia; HOWEVER, that does not negate the small twinge of initial glee in hearing the story. Then the critical analysis began…

  15. Steph

    I totally get what you’re saying. It made me think of that part in The Handmaid’s Tale where the women stone/beat/swarm a suspected rapist to death and the main character Offred is repulsed/excited by the whole thing.

    The problem with those who advocate captial punishment is they get so caught up in the “justice excitement” they don’t bother with the critical analysis/repulsion part.

  16. WookieMonster

    Have you seen this similar story from Pandagon?

  17. Josef K

    I recently blogged about a solution to please the fluffy liberals *and* the hard-core lovers of retributive justice.


  18. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    Capital punishment is something I’ve really never been able to get behind.

    But for rapists? Suddenly everything changes. I know more women who HAVE been raped/sexually abused than women who haven’t. It’s really FUCKED.

    I’m not a violent person, but I have nothing but the utmost hatred and ill-will toward rapists. Beheading? Fuck– skin them & give them a bath in lemon juice.

  19. peacebug

    does no one note the utter anomaly in the men being punished for the rape? more often, these countries punish the woman (by stoning, for example) for being raped because obviously it was her fault.

  20. BritGirlSF

    I had a very different initial reaction, probably because I have actually lived in Saudi Arabia. My first thought was to wonder if they killed the woman too – it is very common for women who are raped to be stoned to death for adultery, if they’re married, or killed by their families for staining the family honor if they’re single. Apparently the charming patriarchal theory is that women about to be raped should either fight to the death or kill themselves to avoid the “dishonor”.
    This actually seems like a perfect example of why revelling in our baser instincts is rarely a good idea. Any good patriarchy-blamer should know that nothing good ever comes out of Saudi Arabia. If anything good was ever done to a woman there I’m pretty sure it must have been an accident, and they probably “corrected” their mistake later. Saudi Arabia is the sin qua non of all that patriarchy means. I find the sight of any feminist not viewing anything happening there with extreme suspicion rather disturbing.

  21. Twisty

    Ha, Peacebug and Britgirlsf, you are both quite right to remind me that we’re talking about Saudi Arabia. But, as I keep trying to say in this, what is perhaps my most misunderstood post ever, it was just a flight of fancy!

  22. BritGirlSF

    I got that part, Twisty, I was just a bit surprised that one would not immediately default to “OK, so what happened to the woman they raped”? Because if they were prepared to kill the MEN, then what do you think they might be prepared to do to the victim?
    The problem with Arab-style vigilante justice is that the flip side of men being beheaded for rape is honor killing. I just saw a documentary about Pakistan so I may be a bit oversensitive about this subject right now…

  23. Pinko Punko

    Of course to top off this discussion a certain geek boy show popular amongst the sci-fi loving lefty blogworld just had a season finale in which a rapist was killed in the attempt of his crime and I felt like cheering. I don’t know what it is, perhaps the TV-ness of it all let me feel it where in the complete horribleness of reality I put the brakes on and am troubled by the death penalty. I wanted the guy to die, and to have the shit beat out of him. It was just an awful feeling. The only reason I could even give the show a pass for “entertaining” in such a cynical way was that the allegory was cleary Abu Ghraib etc. and it’s something that needs to be discussed even in the form of “entertainment”.

  24. me

    this question is dedicated to SneakySnu.
    are u a girl . what u get raped . what sort of justice would you wnat . beheading is PERFECT fro those who have destroyed a womans life by raping her . i repeat. BEHEADING IS PERFECT . you do harsh things . harsh things happen to you . BEHEADING IS FAIR.

  25. me

    this question is dedicated to SneakySnu.
    are u a girl . what IF u get raped . what sort of justice would you want . beheading is PERFECT for those who have destroyed a womans life by raping her . i repeat. BEHEADING IS PERFECT . you do harsh things . harsh things happen to you . BEHEADING IS FAIR.

  26. Amy

    I’ve done some research on criminal punishments in Saudi Arabia, and I have to say that this actually happened is probably a blessing. If a woman is raped in Saudi Arabia she runs a particularly high risk of being charged with adultery, particularly if she becomes pregnant. In order to prove that she did not, in fact, consent she must provide four male witnesses which is usually impossible. If she can’t prove it, she is then charged with slander against the accused.

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