- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Bound by ethics, twisted by compassion
Justice Secretary of Scotland Kenny MacAskill:
“… the perpetuation of an atrocity cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are … Mr. Al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It’s one that no court … could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.”
Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi is the convicted terrorist responsible for exploding a bomb on a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. 270 people were killed. His was the sole conviction in a case that paralyzed and terrified the world community. Mr. Al-Megrahi was released after serving only eight years of his life sentence. The Scottish government felt it necessary to release him on compassionate grounds. Mr. Al-Megrahi has cancer, and it was deemed appropriate to allow this man to live out the rest of his days with family, in the seclusion of his home back in Libya. Are you outraged yet? I am. I am completely baffled and incensed.
Let me unequivocally say that I believe in compassion. I believe that all of us have an inherent feeling toward righting wrongs done to our fellow man or woman, and meting out humane justice when necessary. I also believe in ethics. I believe that we should recognize certain rules of conduct and apply them for certain human actions. The society of man has moral principles and laws that should be obeyed. We need ethics to keep our society from crashing into the abyss and to prevent complete anarchy. Scotland and Great Britain, in my estimation, have made a grave error in judgment and divine presumptuousness. Here are two reasons for my opinion:
1. If Al-Megrahi’s sentence was a death sentence, it was fairly safe to assume that he would die in prison. I would imagine that there are no allowances or variations on how he should die. It could have been old age. It could have been prison food, or too much sunlight. It could have been by a crudely-made sharp object lodged into the base of his skull. Or, it could have been his cancer. His conviction on 270 counts of mass murder made his sentence what it was. Compassion aside, he deserved his fate. I do not know how Kenny MacAskill arrived at his decision. I don’t know what ordained light shined brightly in his mind, giving him the authority from on high to pardon this man. Perhaps this “sentence from a higher power,” as MacAskill put it, was God’s retribution. I am too insignificant to say, but I’m sure the victims of Al-Megrahi’s ruthlessness wished to the heavens that they had such divine intervention. Then maybe their loved ones would be alive today.
2. Speaking of the victims’ families, how must they be taking this news? Not well, I assure you. I wonder if Scottish and British authorities spoke to the families about this decision? I can’t help but wonder where the compassion was for the families and victims of this tragedy? Surely Mr. MacAskill believes proper deference should have been paid to those still reeling from losing their family. This decision, however, does not reflect that in the slightest.
This decision has sparked clear outrage throughout the world, a clear example of how cohesive and necessary our ethical code is. We must live by these rules, lest we be cast into the fiery pits of madness. Compassion should have its place, but never at the expense of our ethics, and never at the expense of a just society. Al-Megrahi should die in prison.
Update: Maybe there is another reason for his release.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
My spouse of fifty years has a quirky brain. It looks for things that aren't there. Which is probably why one of his favorite poems is Antigonish or "The man who wasn't there," by Hughes Mearns. Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today, I wish, I wish he'd go away... When I came home last night at three, The man was waiting there for me But when I looked around the hall, I couldn't see him there at all! Go away, go away, don't you come back any more! Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door... Last night I Read on →
It is the morning of October 3rd. As I have for the past more than forty October 3rds, I take from the cupboard a special kind of candle and light it. As I do so, I think about my father. It was in the early morning hours of October 3, 1967, in a hospital in Minneapolis, that my father died. It was a great loss. He was not yet 49, I was 21, and his death came way too soon for me to be done needing him. The candle burning on my countertop is called a yahrzeit candle. (yahrzeit literally means “year-time.”) Bur Read on →
Let it not be said that our far Northwest state, Alaska, has a monopoly on Nowhere. While their "Bridge to Nowhere" garnered much national attention on the political and comedy circuit, here in Southeast Georgia, we've got a whole lot of nowhere. Not only have we got the state Department of Transportation doing a major expansion of a road to nowhere from two lanes to four, we've got a peninsula on our island (bet you didn't know that it was possible to have a peninsula on an insula), sporting more than fifteen mapped roads that aren't to be found on Read on →
After stating in his introduction that “history is written and marketed... to enforce existing political orthodoxy” and that “Those who control the present take great pains to control our understanding of the past.” Michael Parenti goes on to attempt to persuade the skeptical reader of the truth of those assertions. The persuasion takes the form of chapters on how those who have written history are of a certain class with predictable biases, how the victor's narrative is often the only one available, how the university keeps to the correct line, how publishing is kept orthodox, the death of President Zackary Taylor Read on →