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Chechen Rebels to be buried in pigskin
November 4, 2002 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Chechen Rebels to be buried in pigskin It seems that the Russian security forces have decided that burying the Chechens in pig's skin will keep future Islamic terrorists from following suit in the attacks in a theater a little over a week ago. Instead of immediately going to 'heaven', the terrorists would preventing from doing so forever. sorry for the short link, just thought the headline was niche-y enough...
posted by djspicerack (70 comments total)

 
Well... it's a way to make a point.

It's also a way to make a lot of enemies. And enemies who are willing to kill and be killed for their beliefs are people you don't want as your enemies.
posted by twine42 at 12:03 PM on November 4, 2002


Aren't they already enemies willing to kill and be killed for their beliefs?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:10 PM on November 4, 2002


I think Knute Rockne was buried in pigskin...
Ba-dump-chshhh!

I'll be here all week.
posted by putzface_dickman at 12:14 PM on November 4, 2002


Reminds me of that story floating around about those soldiers dipping their bullets in pig fat to scare off the religious extremists
posted by Degaz at 12:16 PM on November 4, 2002


It's also a way to make a lot of enemies

Well, its not like the Chechens don't already have enough reasons to be sore at the Russians. It probably won't have much effect either way.

Reminds me of the punishments the British used putting down the Indian mutiny.
posted by ednopantz at 12:17 PM on November 4, 2002


I never thought I would say this, but I think that it's a fantastic idea.
posted by chinese_fashion at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2002


This is so stupid. There is nothing in Islam that says that wrapping people in pigskins has anything to do with one's treatment in the afterlife. Even if some Chechens believe that it is true, it probably comes from folklore and superstition rather than any basis in Islamic theology.
posted by laz-e-boy at 12:21 PM on November 4, 2002


I like the idea. Very elegant, poetic.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:21 PM on November 4, 2002


Bullshit alert! Bullshit alert!
posted by yhbc at 12:24 PM on November 4, 2002


If someone dies in the act of trying to kill you, do they really deserve the right to have you bury them according to their beliefs?

If I (a Mormon) were to attempt to kill you, I'd think you'd have every right to bury me in coffee grounds or tea leaves (is that any sillier than a pigskin?) or whatever other diabolical thing you could come up with.
posted by oissubke at 12:25 PM on November 4, 2002


It's an old Brit idea, indeed. The also tied them in front of cannon. In fact, one of the latter was almost blown up, when he received a last-minute reprieve--shortly thereafter being made into an important regional lord.

I think there was even a old story from the middle ages of two knights who had been ripped off by a Jewish merchant, and after catching up with him had considered doing that--after sewing a foreskin back on him. They didn't, but it showed their frame of mind.
posted by kablam at 12:25 PM on November 4, 2002


Dorayaki anyone?
posted by ginz at 12:26 PM on November 4, 2002


Pork...The other Kryptonite
posted by BentPenguin at 12:27 PM on November 4, 2002


If this happened in the United States, wouldn't this be a violation of their constitutional rights? Perhaps their wives should be raped to, and maybe hang their children. True freedom doesn't come until you treat EVERYONE the same. If you single out one group out then you are doing a tremendous evil. If this was done to someone in the USA (some sort of criminal) BECAUSE he was Jewish there would be all sorts of screaming. Or imagine if they were african-america and buried with a noose around their neck?
I recognize that these people did an immense evil and punishment should fit the crime, but this is a good idea?
I mean, come on people.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:28 PM on November 4, 2002


It's an old Brit idea, indeed. The also tied them in front of cannon
For the record, both the Mughals in India and later, the Qajars in Iran, did the same thing. Cannons were symbols of royal authority (as were elephants). Under the Mughals, mutineers were blown from cannons and crushed underneath elephants to leave no doubt as to who was boss.

I was thinking of how the British forced Hindu mutineers to lick up the blood of their victims, then hanged them and buried their bodies, while cremating the Muslims. Apparently, the practice inspired genuine terror.

I for one, prefer buring these guys with a bit of bacon to Russia's widely ignored practices of carpet bombing civilians in the Chechen war.
posted by ednopantz at 12:36 PM on November 4, 2002


I recognize that these people did an immense evil and punishment should fit the crime, but this is a good idea?
I mean, come on people.


If it were shown to deter terrorist martyrs and future acts of immense evil, I would have no problem with it. But I doubt it would work.
posted by Ty Webb at 12:38 PM on November 4, 2002


Call me insane, but I think burying the chechen rebels in pigskin is completely acceptable. Why should we care about religious beliefs when terrorists holding those beliefs are killing innocent people?
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:40 PM on November 4, 2002


Why should we care about religious beliefs when terrorists holding those beliefs are killing innocent people?

Because you're giving a certain efficacy and moral weight to those beliefs when you go out of your way to disrespect them.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:47 PM on November 4, 2002


Both sides in this one are doing plenty of killing of innocent people. If Russians had any superstitions as strong as this one, you can bet the Checans would use it to their advantage as well.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2002


Let's say that burying them in pigskin truly did prevent them from experiencing the afterlife.

Would it still be right?
posted by Pinwheel at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2002


Because how the losers are treated (in life or in death) shows the world what kind of people the winners are?
posted by eilatan at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2002


Doesn't the spirit zip up to Allah as soon as the Chechan dies? Is there a delayed reaction that allows the Russians to wrap up the ol' bod in a pigskin sack before spiritual departure to the Great Beyond? Is the amount of time before the spirit makes it up to Allah spelled out anywhere? For instance, is 2 days 5 hours and 15 minutes acceptible for dressing in pighide couture, while 2 days 5 hours and 30 minutes leaves the soul free to collect Heaven? How tightly must the pigskin be sown up, i.e., if there is a gap in the stitching, can the soul wriggle out? Who the heck thinks up these things? And how does the pig feel about this!?
posted by Shane at 12:51 PM on November 4, 2002


blue_beetle: Your constitutional rights are extinguished at death. People would certainly be outraged, but I'm not so sure that there'd be any legal issues involved. As to whether it's right or not, I would have some concerns about the government experimenting in this area on slippery slope grounds. I mean, what's next? Heads on pikes again ? But on the other hand, if they really believe that they are going to heaven for blowing people up, than it might be appropriate to use, er, creative tactics to disabuse them of that rather dangerous and absurd notion.
posted by boltman at 12:57 PM on November 4, 2002


My bullshit meter is still going off. 98 of 99 Google hits for "Moskovski Komsomol" are references to this story. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I bet dollars to donuts this never happened, and there ain't even any "Moskovski Komsomol". As I tried to point out above, this "story" is just too similar to several well-worn urban legends of the past to be anything other than a easily passed-around rumor.

What, you mean everything on the internet isn't true?
posted by yhbc at 12:57 PM on November 4, 2002


brilliant. simply brilliant.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 1:00 PM on November 4, 2002


Wulfgar! has the strongest argument, imo. Unmedia.com fleshes it out a bit at his house.
posted by BinGregory at 1:05 PM on November 4, 2002


Your constitutional rights are extinguished at death.

Well, I think you still have rights as far as burial, etc. But why would legislators/politicians give a f***? You can't vote anymore.
posted by Shane at 1:06 PM on November 4, 2002


What about launching dead pigs from big elastic bands a la the cow in Monty Python?
posted by ParisParamus at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2002


(Holy Grail)
posted by ParisParamus at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2002


If someone dies in the act of trying to kill you, do they really deserve the right to have you bury them according to their beliefs?

Disrespect (mutilation, exposure, etc.) of the enemy corpse is of course not new; nor is the "revival" of the practice. One might have thought that civilized response to the whole idea had been worked out in the Iliad (where the bitter and raging Achilles finally accepts his enemy's father's plea for the return of the mutilated corpse for proper burial) or in Sophocles' Antigone (where the intrusion of political authority and battle-lines into the realm of the afterlife is shown to be a dangerous principle).

Indeed, a look into more recent uses of the practice might give any would-be adopters (I hope) some pause concerning the moral quality of the company they'd be keeping: besides the cases mentioned in this thread, the Nazis' exposure of & denial of burial to participants in the Resistance, etc.

Are all of us here shouting "brilliant" and "delightful" more generally in love with the repaying barbarity with barbarity? Fine, as long as you like the title "barbaric" for yourself.
posted by Zurishaddai at 1:12 PM on November 4, 2002


Zurishaddi, actually, the beauty of the proposal is that it's not barabaric; tasteless, perhaps, but no one is proposing mutilation.

But, alas, if it's not a deterent, no need to bother.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:21 PM on November 4, 2002


While this has some sort of "appeal" (i.e., fighting absurdity with absurdity), doesn't this violate certain rules/laws of war? The Geneva Convention perhaps?

Just wait until PETA hears about this!
posted by probablysteve at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2002


I was thinking of how the British forced Hindu mutineers to lick up the blood of their victims, then hanged them and buried their bodies, while cremating the Muslims. Apparently, the practice inspired genuine terror.

Really? Where? Can you please cite a few references?
posted by justlooking at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2002


Are all of us here shouting "brilliant" and "delightful" more generally in love with the repaying barbarity with barbarity? Fine, as long as you like the title "barbaric" for yourself.

Spare me the moral equivalence. I don't think the pigskin solution is either brilliant or delightful, but if it's a choice between deferring to some people's religious sensibilities and deterring future acts of terrorism, well that's not really a choice at all. I also would have no problem, if the situation were different, burying a fundie-Christian terrorist with a few copies of Hustler and some Ozzy Osbourne records.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2002


yhbc - well, i think the b/s meter is definitely off the rocker on this one, as i have gotten some research in emails from some friends - we shall see -

but what amazes me is the discussion going on - not a bad thing.
posted by djspicerack at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2002


The fact that there is discussion going on about it only indicates that people want to believe its a true story, not that it is a true story. Yeah, and people on both ends of the spectrum are wanting to believe, so they can argue from their own perspectives, but that still doesn't make it a true story. This is like arguing whether Dorothy should have melted the Wicked Witch or not.

I'm going to go eat worms now.
posted by yhbc at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2002


it's not barabaric...no one is proposing mutilation

I disagree. Desecration is by nature culturally relative. Ancient Persians exposed corpses to be consumed by birds and dogs. Here is an act that even in the eyes of its supporters is "mockery based on their specific religious taboos."

I don't know what kind of actual status this may have in one or another form of Islam. But how forcing a Muslim (/Jewish/Christian/Hindu/whatever) criminal into religiously taboo behavior (/eating/bodily posture/false profession/whatever) is sick and barbaric. No less so because it is done to a lifeless corpse.

burying a fundie-Christian terrorist with a few copies of Hustler and some Ozzy Osbourne records

Sincere apologies if I sounded preachy, but someone has to say it: this is barbaric too. It's not deterrence to people to whom death was no deterrence! I wouldn't want police urinating on a Torah scroll in front of a Jewish terrorist in their custody, and I stick by my feeling that symbolically inflicting our crude hatred in religious terms on the dead is equally depraved. Call it deterrence, but posing the dead with porn seems perilously close to the logic of torture.

Again, note all the language of pleasure to discuss our feelings about inflicting this punishment. I am human too, I could get pleasure from inflicting pain on evil people. But that doesn't make it civilized behavior. It ought to be a red flag if administering "justice" or "deterrence" is such a big turn-on.
posted by Zurishaddai at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2002


Ancient Persians exposed corpses to be consumed by birds and dogs

Sorry--this wasn't clear. They did so as proper and respectful funeral rites.
posted by Zurishaddai at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2002


yhbc, the Komsomol was simply the Soviet-era Communist Youth League, or a rough analogue to the Scouts. There is a Moskovsky Komsomolets daily newspaper still, which may or may not be controlled by the organization (such things are hard to trace in Russia these days). Described as sensational and provocative, which probably means rabble-rousing and political in a way that doesn't fit the Western journalism model. In any event, I'm not literate enough in Russian to find the article or judge its veracity -- in short, I believe it's entirely believable that the MK newspaper reported this, but have no way of judging whether it is in turn true.
posted by dhartung at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2002


on preview, what dhartung said. I couldn't find the article in question either but my Russian's pathetic and PROMT's excellent translator didn't help.
posted by TimeFactor at 1:51 PM on November 4, 2002


...whether Dorothy should have melted the Wicked Witch or not.

She was well within her rights. Anyone says otherwise should f*** off and get their own 'blog.
posted by Shane at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2002


Call it deterrence, but posing the dead with porn seems perilously close to the logic of torture.

I will call it deterrence if in fact it is deterrence. As I wrote before, I doubt if it will actually deter anyone. There's nothing wrong with considering the tactic, and if it were somehow shown to deter future martyrs (and future murders) then it would be reaonable to use it.

Again, note all the language of pleasure to discuss our feelings about inflicting this punishment.

What language of pleasure? Which comments are you referring to, exactly? Smells like straw to me.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:57 PM on November 4, 2002


Reminds me of this thread.

Any Russian members? As I'm curious to their perspective as it happened in their country with their laws.

PS, supposedly the Russians hid the truth with Hitler.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:07 PM on November 4, 2002


I wouldn't want police urinating on a Torah scroll in front of a Jewish terrorist in their custody, and I stick by my feeling that symbolically inflicting our crude hatred in religious terms on the dead is equally depraved.

Agreed, assuming this is not already being done, or at least, wasn't already done. I think it was.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:11 PM on November 4, 2002


What language of pleasure? Which comments are you referring to, exactly?

I would imagine, ones like this.

yhbc, I do find this discussion fascinating, regardless of the verity of the linked story, simply because we're really discussing cruelty as a method of warfare. I tend to think that cruelty begets the same, and is of no value as a deterrent when you're already in a conflict with an enemy that has no recourse but violence. It simply makes the outcome more inevitable (the "necessity" of totally crushing the foe). Please see this thread and consider the actions of American settlers and frontier soldiers in conflict with Indigenous Americans, the current behavior of Israel, etc.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2002


On the Russian origins topic:

Here are a few older pages in Russian (some definitely predating 9/11, others from immediately thereafter) that refer to burial in pigskin:

1, 2, 3

source = Google (scan for the root for "burial," -khoron-. I might have missed some relevant pages).
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:19 PM on November 4, 2002


Anybody remember reading Antigone?
posted by sp dinsmoor at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2002


yhbc - while i said the b/s meter was off the rocker, that didn't mean i thought it was wrong, i thought the b/s meter was dead on.

Wulfgar! - good points on all...
posted by djspicerack at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2002


Space Coyote - If Russians had any superstitions as strong as this one, you can bet the Chec(he)ns would use it to their advantage as well.

Call me a crank-meister, but is there any point to that line of reasoning? Is it somehow okay to be a jerk because your opponent would be a jerk if he could?

Strength is displayed in your actions, not in your reactions to what you fear from your opponent. (If Iraq had nuclear weapons, you can bet they'd use 'em. So let's drop lots of bombs there so we won't have to be afraid ...) Maybe I'm being obtuse, but I would like to know what the point of that line of reasoning is.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2002


The point isn't being a jerk; it's the hope of a kind of elegant deterence. But even if the pig skin idea would have been effective at one point in time, it wouldn't be very difficult for some erzatz Islamofascist cleric to reinterpret things so it was not. Remember: it's not like Osama and Company reall have any principles.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:35 PM on November 4, 2002


"but if it's a choice between deferring to some people's religious sensibilities and deterring future acts of terrorism"

In this case it's neither. This act (if it happened) will just breed more terrorists. Somehow we've gotten the idea that Moslem terrorists are cowards. Which is silly. Cowards sit at home and accept their fate. The terrorists who are doing these things are trained, hardened killers. Dead pigs aren't going to scare them off. It's only going to confirm that their enemies are worth fighting.

It would be nice if the world was that simplistic wouldn't it? This is the Bush Fallacy - Sound bites = reality.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2002 [1 favorite]


What language of pleasure? Which comments are you referring to, exactly?

I would imagine, ones like this:


I like the idea. Very elegant, poetic.

Wulfgar, if that's the best you can come up with then I'll consider my point made. I'm not interested in cruelty, regardless of how much as you seem to want to frame the discussion that way, I'm interested in deterring future acts of mass murder. If burying Muslim terrorists in pigskin were shown to decrease the number of willing Muslim murderer-martyrs, then it would be irresponsible not to consider that tactic.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:40 PM on November 4, 2002


Ty Webb, you were asking about another's opinions concerning the tenor of certain comments. Your "point" is simply a contrary opinion. I never said or implied that you were interested in cruelty. I remain convinced by historical precedent that the kind of cruelty involved in religious terror tactics doesn't work. Have either you or ParisParamus shown these tactics to have any effectiveness at all?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:51 PM on November 4, 2002


Ty Webb, you were asking about another's opinions concerning the tenor of certain comments. Your "point" is simply a contrary opinion.

Wulfgar, I was asking Zurishaddai to support the comment: note all the language of pleasure to discuss our feelings about inflicting this punishment, and my point was that this was an attempt to frame the argument in terms of "pleasure at cruelty" or some other such straw.

Have either you or ParisParamus shown these tactics to have any effectiveness at all?

I have not claimed that the "bury 'em in pigskin" tactic would work, in fact I've expressed the opinion that it probably wouldn't. But, again, if it were shown to work there would be nothing wrong with using it.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:08 PM on November 4, 2002


The point isn't being a jerk; it's the hope of a kind of elegant deterence.

Elegant, ParisParamus? I agree the simplicity of this appearant solution is appealing, but that doesn't mean it's either right or effective. I, too, am tempted to do anything that will prevent the further deaths of innocent people. If this tactic was really shown to deter martyrs, I'd reluctantly endorse it. But it seems to me that dishonoring someone's dead (which I think is really the issue here, not whether the souls would *actually* miss out on the afterlife) is not likely to end their antipathy towards you. Also, what Zurishaddai said: I am human too, I could get pleasure from inflicting pain on evil people. But that doesn't make it civilized behavior.
posted by hippugeek at 3:14 PM on November 4, 2002


Thought experiment for a second:

Say wrapping these guys in pig-skin did prevent them from reaching the afterlife.

And as we know, Muslims believe that killing innocents sends you to hell, not heaven.

Therefore, wrapping them in pig-skin would prevent them from reaching Hell.

Wouldn't that be somewhat of a bonus for them?
posted by Neale at 3:20 PM on November 4, 2002


hippugeek, the candidates for this treatment would have already dishonored themselves well beyond us worrying about doing it ourselves.

In any case, interesting academic discussion...I'm proud of Mefi. Neale, too.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:01 PM on November 4, 2002


the candidates for this treatment would have already dishonored themselves well beyond us worrying about doing it ourselves.

ParisParamus, I still think you miss the obvious simple point: This sort of abuse isn't meant to affect the dead, but rather the living. I wonder, who exactly have they (the living Chechens) dishonored themselves with? Wanting a better life and relief from oppression is dishonorable? You confuse me here. If we're really talking about deterrence, your statements make no sense. They make sense only if we're talking about cruelty to the dead for the sake of shaming the dead. I find that despicably low, and a waste of effort. And you?
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:19 PM on November 4, 2002


Wulfgar, you are right, ultimately.
There are ethics and laws involved in the way war is waged. I would not advocate doing this--seriously.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:38 PM on November 4, 2002


To the victor, the means of spoilage.

There are ethics and laws involved in the way war is waged.

I find that notion preposterous and self-serving. War is what happens when ethics and laws break down or are abandoned.
posted by rushmc at 4:51 PM on November 4, 2002


Pinwheel: Let's say that burying them in pigskin truly did prevent them from experiencing the afterlife.
Would it still be right?

Interesting philosophical question, but not applicable in this case. The Russians do not share the beliefs of the Muslims being buried. The Russians, therefore are not messing with the afterlife of the dead, but rather with the minds of the living. Still it would be interesting to debate this if both the bury-ers and the bury-ees were of the same religious mindset.

Y6Y6Y6: The terrorists who are doing these things are trained, hardened killers. Dead pigs aren't going to scare them off.

Chechen Wannabe Terrorist: I'm going to terrify those scummy Russians and kill their women and children. Even if I die, Allah will welcome me into paradise for all eternity and give me all the virgins/raisins I want.

Russian Soldier: If you die in my country I'm going to make sure you don't get to paradise.

Chechen: Hmmm let me think about this for a little bit more. After all, the afterlife is for eternity.

ParisParamus: it wouldn't be very difficult for some erzatz Islamofascist cleric to reinterpret things so it was not.

Chechen Priest: Don't worry. Allah assures me, if you die killing Russians, nothing can stop you from getting into heaven.

Chechen Wannabe Terrorist: All Right then! Let's Go team Muslim!

Heh! ParisParamus wins.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:02 PM on November 4, 2002


At least you can't say the Russians are unprofessional. Oh, wait, you can.

Anyone who uses the expression "moral equivalence" is a dork.
posted by inksyndicate at 5:23 PM on November 4, 2002


the pigs will never agree to it.
posted by quonsar at 6:20 PM on November 4, 2002


In Catholic school I was taught: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."

To desecrate the bodies of the shaheed will only make them seem more heroic to those for whom they gave their "last full measure of devotion." As Talleyrand said of Napoleon's murder of the Duc d'Enghien: "It is worse than a sin: it is a blunder."
posted by rdone at 6:22 PM on November 4, 2002


Cruelty to the dead only insults those left behind. Under the circumstances it seems much less cruel than direct mental and physical cruelty to live people. But who can top Dracula in getting "respect" by having people impaled alive to decorate the road he marched on?
posted by semmi at 8:36 PM on November 4, 2002


Even if some Chechens believe that it is true, it probably comes from folklore and superstition rather than any basis in Islamic theology.

Oh right and the two are so very different. One belief might be writting down more than the other but they're both folklore and superstition in the end.
posted by holycola at 4:59 PM on November 5, 2002


I thought we were supposed to be the good guys here?
posted by dg at 5:44 PM on November 5, 2002


I thought we were supposed to be the good guys here?

Aren't we? To defend yourself, your family, your community is good, isn't it?
posted by semmi at 10:13 AM on November 8, 2002


So you're saying that what Vlad the Impaler did was okay, because it was done to defend Christendom from the Turks? Are there any moral restraints on what you might do to keep others from trying to hurt you and yours?

Both sides think they're the good guys. How can you tell for sure, if not by their conduct in peace and war?
posted by skoosh at 8:30 AM on November 9, 2002


How can you tell for sure, if not by their conduct in peace and war?

My point exactly - part of the reason it is so hard for "us" to fight terrorism is that we, as the token "guy in the white hat", have to play by the rules and the bad guys don't even have to acknowledge that the rules exist. This sort of tactic says that we are no more humane or caring than those we publicly describe as animals.
posted by dg at 10:55 PM on November 10, 2002


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