posted on Aug, 8 2010 @ 02:27 AM
Justice not Vengeance
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of Scotland's Roman Catholic community, has made an interesting intervention in the debate about the early release on
compassionate grounds of Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. His intervention is sure to cause controversy.
Writing in an article in the newspaper Scotland on Sunday, the Cardinal expresses his displeasure with the way serving Scottish government ministers
have been summoned like lapdogs to testify before a foreign legislature (a US Senate committee).
The First Minister is reported as having said that there was "no way on earth" that Scottish ministers would formally give evidence to a
committee hearing of a foreign legislature, even if it were to be held in the UK, adding pointedly that it was impossible to imagine US lawmakers
agreeing to such an interrogation on foreign soil. I too believe that Scottish ministers are accountable to the Scottish Parliament and ultimately the
Scottish people alone.
The Cardinal goes on to praise the Scottish justice system as having a "culture of compassion", whilst at the same time damning the justice system
in many parts of the United States.
At the core of this dispute, there seems to be what might be termed a "clash of cultures". In Scotland over many years we have cultivated
through our justice system what I hope can be described as a "culture of compassion". On the other hand, there still exists in many parts of the US,
if not nationally, an attitude towards the concept of justice which can only be described as a "culture of vengeance".
His damning of the US justice system appears to have little limit, the death penalty incurring his condemnation in particular.
On 18 June 2010, Ronnie Lee Gardner was hooded, strapped to a chair and shot by a firing squad at a prison in Utah. He had been condemned to death
for murder in 1985. He spent 25 years in solitary confinement, and ultimately was given an option as to how he preferred to die: by firing squad or by
lethal injection. While his actions were inexcusable, his death did not bring back the life of his victim. His death will not prevent other violent
murders. His death simply brought to an end a life of utter misery and darkness. His story is symptomatic of so many who sit incarcerated within the
US justice system waiting to die. Ronnie Lee Gardner was first picked up by the authorities at the age of two, abandoned, wandering the streets in a
nappy. He was sniffing glue by the time he was six, taking heroin at ten and sent to a mental home at 11 where he was sexually abused as a
Scotland on Sunday
His descent into violence was as predictable as it was piteous. Perhaps the consciences of some Americans, especially members of the US Senate,
should be stirred by the ways in which "justice" is administered in so many of their own states. Perhaps it is time for them to "cast out the beam
from their own eye before seeking the mote in their brothers". Perhaps they should direct their gaze inwards, rather than scrutinising the workings
of the Scottish justice system.
Now here's a man who puts so eloquently into words what so many of us think.
That the United States Congress is overreaching itself by summoning politicians and judicial officers from other sovereign states to testify before
it, as if anyone nowadays jumps when this busted flush of a post imperial USA cracks the whip.
And that any nation which still exercises the death penalty should thing long and hard before criticising the actions of judicial officers in other
parts of the world.
I said good on him for saying such a thing. He deserves nothing but praise.
[edit on 8-8-2010 by LeBombDiggity]