In un editoriale apparso ieri sul Los Angeles Times («Saddam should have been studied, not executed», 4 gennaio 2007), Richard Dawkins sosteneva che compiere ricerche psicologiche sul dittatore sarebbe stato più vantaggioso che giustiziarlo. A Dawkins ha risposto così lo stesso giorno il paleoantropologo John Hawks («Dawkins advocates experiments on deposed dictators», John Hawks Weblog):
I guess the reason why I am so revulsed is that Dawkins explicitly sets his interest in scientific inquiry above the cause of justice. Dawkins rationalizes this choice in several ways: the research can value society, prevent more mass-murdering dictators from rising to power, provide evidence to convict his own Prime Minister of war crimes, etc. In these rationalizations, he attempts to align his preference (study, not execute) with a “higher” sense of justice – he writes, “These questions are not just academically fascinating but potentially of vital importance to our future.”Nonostante il tono leggermente sopra le righe, tenderei ad essere d’accordo con Hawks.
I don’t think these rationalizations work. Saddam had minimal, if any, scientific interest – unless I’ve been missing all the valuable studies based on Manuel Noriega’s prison diaries. It’s not like his blood had a serum to cure Ebola.
I’d say that far more important to our future is the value of justice over science. Certainly, many people believe that Saddam’s execution did not serve justice. But scientific value should not be part of that calculation. A society where a curious scientist can play “get out of execution free” cards is hopefully a vestige of regimes like Saddam’s, not part of an “enlightened” future.