Michael McNeil (author of Impearls) emailed me about an omission from the long-running Classical Values torture poll. (“What ancient form of execution would you LEAST prefer?”)
I neglected the fine old tradition of impalement. It’s certainly one of the most dreadful of punishments, and I really should have included it.
Anyway, Michael sent me a link to this Halloween post from Far Outliers. It’s pretty awful to read, and it describes in grotesque detail the Ottoman sultan’s punishment of a Christian accused of sabotaging a bridge the Turks were building over the Drina River. Warns Michael,

don’t read it unless you’ve got a momentarily strong stomach.

I certainly agree, and readers are warned accordingly.
Of course, Vlad the Impaler seems to have cheerfully treated the Turks the same way:

Vlad Tepes committed even more impalements and other tortures against invading forces, namely Ottomans. It was once reported that an invading Ottoman army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube. In 1462 Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, a man not noted for his squeamishness, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of 20,000 impaled corpses outside of Vlad’s capital of Targoviste. Many of the victims were Turkish prisoners of war Vlad had previously captured during the Turkish invasion. The total Turkish casualty toll in this battle reached over 40,000. The warrior sultan turned command of the campaign against Vlad over to subordinates and returned to Istanbul, even though his army had initially tripled Vlad’s in size and was better equipped.

Cycles of impaling, perhaps?
Lest anyone think such behavior typifies Muslims today, Michael also noted what appears to be genuine progress — an “Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI” affirming the Koranic injunction that “There is no compulsion in religion.” David Warren (hardly an apologist for Islamists) has more:

The signatories renounced and condemned violence against Christians in the name of Islam. They accepted without qualification the Pope’s post-Regensburg clarifications, and both accepted and applauded his call for dialogue. They unambiguously denounced and rejected all terrorist interpretations of the word “jihad”; they insisted on the priority of Surah 2:256 of the Koran (“There is no compulsion in religion”), stating explicitly that it is not obviated by later Koranic passages or Hadiths. They went so far as to aver that the declaration of Jesus in Mark 12:29-31 expresses the essence of all Abrahamic religion — Muslim, Christian, Jewish.
That is Mark’s version of the Gospel message that there are “two great commandments”. The first is to love God with all thy heart and soul and mind; and the second, to love thy neighbour as thyself. (And please, secular humanists, note the order in which those commandments are always given: first God, then man.)
The signatories agree with the Pope that the dialogue between Christianity and Islam must be founded in reason. They admit, just as Christians admit, there are limitations to human reason, for what is divine goes beyond what humans can know. But what is divine is not incompatible with reason, and within the sphere of human relations, between peoples who do not confess the same faith, reason is the only sound guide.

Michael McNeil called this “an important step forward by the Muslim community,” and “what many of us have been waiting and hoping would issue forth from the Islamic *Umma* for years — and getting increasingly disappointed and bitter about when it didn’t occur.”
As Michael points out, David Warren is the originator of the “flypaper strategy” concept:

Nor is David Warren some naive leftist, eager to surrender to the new Nazis on the block. As you’re likely aware, Warren is a very thoughtful and conscientious Catholic, who best I can tell, is also very knowledgeable about Islam; moreover, he’s the originator of the “flypaper strategy” concept as to what (at least effectively) is happening in Iraq, whence the Coalition’s presence is attracting terrorists “like flies,” where the Coalition and Iraqi forces can kill them by the thousands. As a result, when Warren’s interest is significantly piqued by this occurrence, I too take notice.

I’d like to be optimistic too. What worries me is that extremists win for the same reason that activists win.
Reasonable people simply want to get along, and they tend to “go along to get along.” Among reasonable people, that’s a fine principle. The problem is that extremists who don’t want to get along are reason-impaired.
There’s no bridging the gap between reasonable people and those who would impale reason.