Friday, August 21, 2009

Sorry. I'm Not Feeling Compassionate Today.

I don't really remember much about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. In 1988, the news of the wider world mostly seemed too distant for me to worry over. (It was a happy way to live out a childhood.) However, I still reserve the right to be outraged at the early release of Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing. (To remind my future self,) Scottish officials recently made the "compassionate" decision to send Megrahi home to Libya after he recieved a diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer.

Apparently some (how many, I do not know, nor how justified their concern) question whether the man was guilty (though several years ago his country took credit for the attack), but the fact remains that he was convicted of the crime and has not served out his sentence.

What does this mean for future convicted criminals in Scotland (and eventually, elsewhere)? Is a terrible cancer diagnosis really enough to wipe clean a criminal record or balance the scales of justice? What about heart disease? High cholesterol? How low a life expectancy does the prison doctor have to give a man (or woman) before it is no longer "compassionate" to keep him behind bars? If he had died suddenly of a heart attack, would the Scottish authorities now be wringing their hands and wailing? "Oh, why didn't we release him sooner?! That poor, poor man! He died in prison, far from his family and native land! Cruel, cruel world!" Never mind about the hundreds he is convicted of murdering.

Compassion... Some people might suggest that it was compassionate enough to give a life sentence instead of condemning him to death. However, now that life has condemned him to death (as it will us all, sooner or later) something more is required.

Meanwhile, Megrahi has returned home to Libya, where he was met by a hero's welcome. Well, and isn't that a heart-warming end to this tale of woe?