As a rule-of-thumb, genocidal tyrants are not terribly amusing (see: Idi Amin’s ill-advised stand-up tour of 1974). But the trial of Saddam Hussein yesterday made me chuckle if only because, resolute in the face of adversity, he reminded me so much of the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. He who, despite being chopped down to a bloody, limbless stump after losing both arms and legs in battle, refuses to admit defeat; refuses to accept that he is no longer the invincible keeper of the forest.
So when Saddam comes out with gems like the following:
“I am the president of Iraq. . . I do not respond to this so-called court, with all due respect to its people, and I retain my constitutional right as the president of Iraq.”
I experience two emotions. Firstly, I kind of admire the sheer balls of the man for trying to keep up this façade in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Secondly, I picture the defeated knight, beaten in every way, continuing to battle his assailant:
BLACK KNIGHT: Come ‘ere!
ARTHUR: What are you going to do, bleed on me?
BLACK KNIGHT: I’m invincible!
ARTHUR: You’re a loony.
BLACK KNIGHT: The Black Knight always triumphs! Have at you! Come on then.
[ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s other leg off]
BLACK KNIGHT: All right, we’ll call it a draw.
ARTHUR: Come, Patsy.
BLACK KNIGHT: Oh, oh, I see, running away then. You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to you. I’ll bite your legs off!
Methinks this trial could prove very interesting. . . .