Friday, 21 August 2009

Compassion and realpolitik

No surprises that the release of the Lockerbie bomber has caused a mighty and understandable stink. Victims families outraged, fury at the hero's welcome in sunny Tripoli. But it's worth quoting what the Scottish Justice Minister said.

"Mr Al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal final and irrevocable. He is going to die.

In Scotland we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people. The perpetration of atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis of losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.

Our justice system demands that judgement be imposed, but compassion be available.

Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown.

Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, by remaining true to our values as a people. No matter what the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated."

I am not a Nationalist, but I agree with this. It is as fine and clear a statement of liberal principle as one could expect from a Government based in the Home of the Scottish Enlightenment. When we sink to the vengeful level of the enemies of reason , democracy and tolerance then we have lost the battle and ceded the field to the opposition by default. This speaks to "the better angels of our nature" - words written by a great American. Well said and done Kenny McCaskill.

Of course, the Libyan regime have abused the freedom with their "hero's welcome". But that was not unexpected. It doesn't detract from the rightness of the decision.

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