Thursday, August 20, 2009

The quality of mercy

"..... it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;

In the BBC on line news, as well as other sources, I see that the Lockerbie bomber is to be returned to Libya on humanitarian grounds. I am surprised to learn from the associated press that his conviction was not a life sentence but for only 27 years, that there is ground for an appeal, and that many in Britain think him innocent. This was not mentioned in the BBC report, and is rather important in forming an opinion about the situation. I find myself wondering what it means that the sentence was only 27 years, given the heinous nature of the crime, this in itself seems odd. further exploration of the BBC yields this report regarding the likelihood that he was simply a scapegoat. I encourage you to read it before forming an opinion regarding the release. It seems rather clear that the evidence was very tenuous, and even that may have been paid for by our own government, who are now vociferously protesting the release: he purchased clothing in the store of a Maltese merchant. Things often change there appearance when one starts comparing reports.

In the first BBC article, however, there is a statement that deserves careful attention. It is a statement from the Scottish Justice Secretary kenny MacAskill I quote the BBC
He said compassion and mercy were about "upholding the beliefs we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people, no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated".
There is an important concept in this, that we have values and be committed to live by them. In the post 2001 US it often seems to me that whatever the rhetoric about "The War On Terror" the fact is that in the aggressive curtailing of individual rights we give victory to the forces who attack our principles. I find myself asking what our principles are that the ideas of justice, of proof, of mercy and of compassion are so easily perverted by mass hysteria fanned by sound bites and the need for scapegoats. It is not very comforting, but Mr. MacAskill at least seems to have been paying attention to Shakespeare.

1 comment:

Carolyn Roosevelt said...

And to the psalms, as I recently had occasion to note: For the Lord is gracious, His mercy is everlasting, and his Truth endures from generation to generation.