Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Lockerbie bomber

Has been in the news recently. Everything I know about the attack (other than that it happened) I found out because of the story. While I don't have a strong opinion about his release, I didn't like the cheering on his arrival back in Libya, which I very much doubt was just friends and family happy to see him again.

The thing that I find odd though is how often the fact that he didn't show compassion for his victims (as I understand it there's a lot of doubt over the extent of his involvement) has been used as an argument against his release on compassionate grounds.

I shouldn't find it odd, an eye for an eye is one of the most common phrases you'll hear in a discussion about punishment. But it is not something that anyone applies consistently! I seldom hear people arguing that torturers be tortured or rapists raped (though people often seem to like the fact that this may happen in prison). It isn't a principle that we associate with a civilised society because we like to think we're better than the criminals. Haven't we been talking about this recently in the torture debate?

I don't think anyone who's used this line in the Lockerbie case wants criminals hands cut off or anything, so I don't know why citing the criminal's own behaviour here seems like such a reasonable argument.

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